Before Sam was born, I was very much of the mind set “I’ll
give Breast Feeding a go, and if it doesn’t work out, at least I tried.”
However once Sam arrived, I wanted to give him what the health
professionals had described as, “the best,” and I was determined to
breast feed exclusively.
Within 36 hours, things were very stressful.
He was feeding constantly, I was in agony, and he was screaming the house down.
Sam weighed 9lb at birth, and I’m only an A cup, so even when my milk came in, he never seemed satisfied.
The midwives kept insisting things would get easier when my milk came in so I stuck with it.
When my milk finally came in (on day 4), it became obvious Sam wasn’t
latched right, and despite the Midwives’ every effort, he had a
“shallow latch” more often than not, and this meant he didn’t get much
milk and I got sore – FAST.
Sam also screamed hysterically and waved his arms around when trying
to latch him on, which made things even harder. One midwife even
resorted to swaddling just his arms behind his back so we could try to
get him to latch on.
He was screaming morning, noon and night.
This was difficult for me & my hubby to watch and it made me feel
painfully guilty that I wasn’t giving him everything he needed.
After around 8 days, we gave him a formula top up at bedtime and for
the first time in a week, he went more than 2 hours between feeds.
At the time, I felt terrible that i’d given in and resorted to formula.
When Sam continued losing weight despite the formula top ups, the
midwives arranged for the local breast feeding counsellor to come and
After over 2 hours of trying to get Sam to latch on, she agreed his
shallow latch and flailing arms made breast feeding difficult for us.
She suggested Sam was probably not getting enough food as he had lost
weight continuously and the GP had said nothing else was wrong.
She gave me lots of tips and encouragement but Sam was still a nightmare
to latch on and she had no magic solution to that, other than “keep
trying and take him off if he isn’t on right”
3 days later, while sat in the lounge with Sam screaming on my knee,
frustrated he was hungry, I burst into tears too. I went to find hubby
(who works from home), and told him how I was feeling. I was very honest
& told him I was unhappy and miserable while breast feeding, and
that if we didn’t change something now, I was worried my feelings would
turn into depression.
Hubby was brilliant and asked me what I wanted to do. I said i’d
prefer to express my milk, give it to Sam in a bottle and then top up
with formula when needed.
Hubby said that sounded fine.
So for the next 3 weeks, I expressed milk every 3 hours, around the clock.
Sam FINALLY started gaining weight back too.
To begin with, Sam was having 50/50 breast milk and formula milk.
However, after 10 days, my supply started slowing down, so I went to see
my GP and was prescribed Domperidone to help it increase.
(I had tried the herbal remedy, Fenugreek before this but that didn’t help).
While taking the meds, my supply did increase slightly – I was
pumping for an hour every 3 hours (so 30 minutes on each side), and
getting a total of 2-3 oz altogether when on the meds, but 1-2 oz when I
wasn’t on them.
After the 10 day course, my supply began dropping even more, and I
realised this was probably linked to the fact I was getting next to no
I was feeling exhausted due to Sam waking 3 times nightly for feeds, and having to pump in between those.
By the time Sam was 6 weeks and 5 days old, I was getting less than
half an ounce each time I pumped, so I decided it was time to call it a
Sam was drinking the full amount of formula now, and just getting my
breast milk as a top up, but because I was pumping so much, he was
missing out on a lot of my time, and not getting out and about as much
as he should be.
Me and hubby decided Sam was doing fine on the formula, so I stopped pumping and Sam became a 100% formula fed baby.
That was 2 weeks ago now, and I have to say, I wish i’d done it sooner.
These past 2 weeks have been the best by miles since he was born.
He is happier, I am happier, he is gaining weight, and I am getting some sleep!
So, for Sam and I, breast feeding didn’t work out, but we are both
much happier now he is on formula. We are both emotionally and
physically healthier now, than we were when breast feeding.
I hope my story helps to show others who are unable to breast feed
that formula feeding is not failing. It took me a good while to see
this, and I missed out on the happy newborn moments, as he spent them
all screaming with hunger.
My advice: every baby is different.
Do what you feel is right – not what the health professionals or friends and family tell you to do.