That is the question and unfortunately, I am providing no answers but counsel from personal experience. Disappointed? Don’t be but honestly, regarding this matter, I have my throw pillows, duvet and all necessary comfy materials on the fence where I have chosen to remain.
This has not always been the case. I was such an advocate for breastfeeding and would win any debate on why it is important to go au naturel. I am still for breastfeeding or booby-juice as I recently heard a 21st-century mum say. Why not? Its benefits are numerous, from providing an emotional bond between mother and child, reducing the baby’s risk of infection and lowering the mother’s risk of breast cancer, to mention a few.
And so before I had even carried out a pregnancy test over 18 years ago, I was too ready to breastfeed my baby. The health books, leaflets and numerous counsels had left me rearing to go. Six months exclusive was my target. Bring it on….well that was what I thought until I was handed my 11-pound baby (yes but that’s a story for another day). Although he was called newborn, he surely didn’t look or feed like one but I wasn’t fazed; I was ready for this journey of purposeful feeding until age 1 at least.
It was going well, I thought. Maybe it was meant to hurt a bit but by day 5, the fun, the joy and bonding had disappeared. Every time my SON (Seed Of Never-ending greatness) had to feed, I would run into the toilet to buy time, psych myself in prayer and then beg God to relieve the pain. As I approached the Moses basket in slow motion, I would dry my eyes as I prayed for grace. Once he latched on, the pain shot through my spine to my brain literally. I would scream, clench my fist and curl my toes because of the excruciating pain. To make matters worse, my baby would then let go and wail – out of fear. I’m sure he was wondering what had happened to his happy smiley mum. And of course, we would have to begin the process all over again.
Fast forward to day 8, the Health Visitor had come to weigh my son and of course, he had lost a lot of weight, much more than expected. She asked if I was ok and I quickly answered (no! lied) that I was fine. I was too ashamed to mention that I wasn’t getting the breastfeeding thing right.
After she left, it was time to feed and again I began my ritual of going into the toilet to cry – for this time booby-juice had metamorphosed to blood (apologies for the gory detail). Then it dawned on me that only Jesus was meant to shed His blood for His children and He had paid that price so why was I putting myself through this trauma? I was reminded of the words in Ecclesiastes 10 verse 10 (New International Version) which says that skill will bring success. The same verse in King James Version has the words, ‘Wisdom is profitable to direct’. Unfortunately, in this case, the skill and wisdom were lacking and thankfully, I had reached the point of recognising my error.
I summed up courage and with the softest tone one could imagine, I announced to my mum and Hubby Dearest that we had to make our way to the closest Pharmaceutical store to buy us some baby formula milk and medicines to nurse my wound. My mum could see the pain in my eyes but encouraged me that my change to formula milk didn’t make me less of a mum. She said, “Give yourself time to heal and you can try again”.
I did heal and resumed breastfeeding duties after I confessed to the Health Visitor.
This experience taught me a few things:-
  1. Pray about everything
  2. Breastfeeding is the best if you can
  3. Give it your best shot
  4. Do not feel pressured
  5. Mums that bottle-feed their children are great mums too
  6. There is a technique to getting the baby to latch on properly
  7. Ask the Health professionals for help before you leave the hospital
  8. Never lie to the Health professionals
  9. Purchase good nursing bras
  10. Ensure you have a good support network close by
  11. Do not be quick to judge a mum bottle feeding her young baby. You never know what she may be going through.
So now when I’m asked the question, ‘Should mothers’ breastfeed or bottle-feed?’ My response is loud and clear – please just feed the baby.