You were determined to give your baby the very best, and that included breastfeeding him. So, you read every bit of literature on nursing you could lay your hands on, asked your been-there-done-that mummy friends for advice, watched YouTube how-tos, even consulted lactation experts. Sadly, while some women take to nursing like the proverbial duck to water, you just aren’t one of them.
Whether it’s poor milk production, latching on is excruciating, or…. Don’t feel that you’re a bad mum just because baby’s on formula. Nor is it about you or your guilt…it’s about what your baby needs to thrive. Here are ways to come to terms with the result ― by the way, know that breastfeeding isn’t the only thing you can do to keep your child healthy.
1. Give him colostrum
Dubbed “liquid gold”, this is the ﬁrst milk your breasts produce during pregnancy, and is packed with antibodies, which protect newborns. “Even if you only manage a few days of breastfeeding, they’ll still get the all-important colostrum,” explains midwife Tess Randall.
2. Do what you can
“Anything is better than nothing,” Randall says. “One week is better than none, and two weeks is better than one week.”
“Your priority is to feed a hungry baby, whether it’s with breastmilk or formula.”
3. Do your best in other ways
“How you feed your child is just one part of your new role,” says midwife Nikki Khan. “Loving them, and keeping them warm, safe and happy is also important.”
4. Don’t listen to other mums
If you’ve encountered other mums who breastfeed, that’s great for them. But it doesn’t mean you should feel bad if you can’t — or don’t want to. “What works for one mum might not work for another. So, let go of any guilt,” notes lactation consultant Sioned Hilton.
5. A happy mum equals a happy baby
If you’re well-rested and happy, your baby will be, too. If you keep beating yourself up over not breastfeeding, or are struggling to feed and becoming exhausted as a result, then your baby won’t be getting the best of you.
6. Know that nature isn’t always perfect
“Despite what we’re told — that every single mum is able to breastfeed — I believe that nature doesn’t always get things 100 per cent right,” says breastfeeding counsellor Louisa Van den Bergh. “I’ve worked with plenty of women over the years who, for one reason or another, can’t get to grips with breastfeeding. Your priority is to feed a hungry baby, whether it’s with breastmilk or formula.”