Anyone who knows me personally or has followed along on social media since Amelia was born will know how much I have struggled with breast feeding. I know it’s meant to be the most natural thing in the world and in a way it is, your body produces the milk your baby needs, just like that. I haven’t found it easy though and there have been countless times I’ve said the words “that’s it, I’m going to formula” but I never did.
I did go as far as buying a tub of formula and putting it in the cupboard but I never opened it, I’m not really sure why. I guess deep down inside I didn’t want to give up on breast feeding (or express feeding as I have done mostly), I think I didn’t want to look back at this experience and regret giving up, or feel guilt that I didn’t try harder or just suck it up for the sake of my baby.
After a while breast feeding got easier, I got myself into a good routine with expressing (thanks to my Philips Avent pump, review here) and forgot all about the tub of powder sitting in the cupboard. That was until I caught a cold, Amelia had a virus and I had a stinking head cold. I felt horrendous for about a week, and since I was breast feeding I couldn’t take anything to help get rid of it, add to that Amelia was feeling pretty sorry for herself with her virus too and neither of us were really getting the rest we needed.
About 3 days into my cold I realised my boobs weren’t filling up as much, normally if I go out or I don’t express for a few hours my boobs are rock hard and uncomfortable but this wasn’t happening. The amount I was able to express was dropping too and soon my milk supply in the fridge was dwindling.
Eventually it was time to reach for that tub in the cupboard, I was hopeful my milk supply would increase again once the cold had passed but in that moment I just knew I didn’t have enough milk available to satisfy her.
It was a weird moment for me, all those days spent debating over formula in the earlier weeks but now it was time to actually use it and a part of me really didn’t want to. Don’t get me wrong here, I really have no affiliation with whether breast or bottle is best, as I’ve said before a fed baby is a happy baby and that’s all that matters. I can’t tell you for sure why I didn’t want to use it, maybe because I had fought with myself so many times before about using it, maybe I was secretly quite proud of myself for not giving up but I knew I was using it for the right reasons this time. It wasn’t because it was hard work, or my boobs were sore, it was because I was unwell and my body had taken a set back.
So out came the tub, bloody hell the instructions are hard work aren’t they? Working out how much you should give in each feed, the water to scoop ratio. When I eventually got my head around it and gave the bottle to Amelia I was holding my breath slightly; would she like it? Would she be able to tell the difference? Would she be sick afterwards?
She bloody loved it! She guzzled it down and just sat there grinning on my lap when she was finished. I am sure the thicker consistency and my flagging boob supply probably made her feel like she was properly full that evening and she was just so content to sit with us and play before going to bed.
All the worries, anxiety and apprehension I had felt beforehand were gone. In fact she enjoyed it so much we decided to give it to her again the next day for her bed time feed and it’s now part of a combination feeding routine I’ve started with her which she is thriving on.
I’ll tell you, once you do something for the first time and get it over with it’s really not that big of a deal and I’m so glad I was prepared and had the formula in the cupboard for just an occasion as this.
I must also give a special thank you to Rebekah (@mrs_bexleigh_sw) who saw me post on Instagram about this and contacted me privately about how to store formula and to let me know that it should only be made up as and when you want to use it as bacteria can grow in the milk once it is mixed. I didn’t know this and to be honest I couldn’t find a definitive answer online when I looked. I’m so grateful for her getting in touch and now I know to prepare the water in advance and just warm it up before adding the powder as and when she is ready to feed. Thanks for saving my butt!
Anyway, I just really wanted to share this experience with you, there may be other mums out there who have had a similar situation or who are considering introducing formula but are unsure. After all, we’re all here to help each other out.