The way you decide to feed your baby is such a personal choice and all parents I’m sure make their choices for the best reasons. Some on the other hand are forced into formula feeding for reasons out of their control. I have recently been in contact with a new mum who has had a rough start to motherhood and due to having such a traumatic time is having difficulties breastfeeding. She had planned on breastfeeding and as a mother is finding it hard to come to terms with the possibility that this is now something she may not be able to do. This of course has left her riddled with mum guilt. I don’t think she should feel guilty, she is a fantastic mum with a thriving little baby who is surrounded by love but I do totally understand the way she is feeling and if it was the other way round I’m sure I would be feeling exactly the same.
I have realised just how lucky and easy I have had it dealt to me as a first time mum. I have so much respect and appreciation for those strong women who have encountered obstacles at beginnings of their motherhood journeys. Feeling guilty about the way you feed your baby is the last thing you need as a new mummy but as I have already discussed I think it is something we all encounter whatever the reason. After talking about my mum guilt before though I now feel gratitude that I was given a choice at all.
Eddie and I have always been social butterflies and it wasn’t until I fell pregnant and couldn’t drink anymore that I realised how much I enjoyed a glass of red wine. I missed it so much! Don’t get me wrong we weren’t raving alcoholics but we did enjoy a glass after a stressful day or liked to share a nice bottle of Rioja over dinner at the weekend with friends. And I missed that more than anything. Although I missed wine while pregnant I wasn’t fussed about missing the party or having to go home early, as let’s be honest I was knackered and would much prefer to be in bed. The first few months of being a mum was the same story. Despite wanting a glass of the red stuff just the thought of having one and then having to be up all night gave me a headache. I still didn’t mind missing out on social events either as my preference was to be sat at home on the sofa with my snuggly new baby instead of a noisy pub. This was lovely for the first three months but as we found our feet as parents I started to crave a fraction of my old life back. I also started to resent Eddie. I resented that he could still play football, that he could still drink and that he could pretty much do everything he could before we had Elbie. Now this was where my battle was. I had chosen to breastfeed and that wasn’t about to change but I was starting to feel like nothing but a milk machine. I felt like I was losing a bit of me and all at the same time wanted to breastfeed, which means having a baby stuck to you every 2 hours or so. I was starting to look forward to going to sainsbury’s for half an hour so that I could be free to wonder up and down the aisles thinking about anything but babies. I didn’t want a big night out or go and get drunk. I wanted to go to the cinema and yes you guessed it, a large glass of wine with my friends. I hated that I resented Eddie as it’s not his fault, I’m sure if he could he would breastfeed. And this is of course where mum guilt comes in. I felt guilty for even feeling like this let alone saying it out loud and admitting it. I felt awful that I would volunteer to pick up the pizzas just for 10 minutes alone time. Or enjoy taking the bins out. But I did say it out loud and it was the best thing I could have done.
I know I wanted to exclusively breast feed and you are probably wondering why I didn’t express so that Eddie could give bottles. I did begin with expressing and I still do but I don’t get much out each time and to be honest that was also contributing to me feeling like a milk machine. If I wasn’t feeding then I was expressing. We now give Elbie bottles of either full formula or half breast milk and half formula whenever I need a night off. It is working well for all of us. Elbie gets her much needed nutrition, Eddie gets some daddy/daughter time and mummy gets a bit of her old self back and everyone is happy.