Column: Breast or bottle feeding is just a personal choice

If you're doing it properly it won't hurt said the midwife like a smiling assassin.

Friday, 16th March 2018, 1:44 pm
Updated Friday, 16th March 2018, 1:45 pm

This was the first of many lies I would hear about breast feeding.

I tried to fake a smile back as I sat with my toes literally curling in pain as I attempted to feed my daughter for the first time.

The parenting books may preach that it’s the most natural thing in the world, but having a baby suck on your nipple like a chew toy felt like anything but to me in those first few weeks.

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I remember someone from the Breast Feeding Support Team coming to visit with a knitted boob and a plastic doll and made it sound like such a breeze.

As enlightening as this realistic demonstration was I didn’t think the knitted nipple production was going to help me during the 3am, 4am and 5am feeds when I felt like my boob was about to drop off.

I remember sitting in the house with all the curtains closed in those first few days trying to master the art of feeding.

Days spent ‘Googling’ breast feeding tips with my bra off wandering round like some kind of zoo animal - what had I signed myself up for?

It wasn’t long before I had a full blown meltdown crying that I was such a bad mum because I couldn’t feed my daughter.

One of the problems I had in the first few days was that fact my milk hadn’t come in, but how would I know when the milk eventually arrived? How long would it take?

And then as if by magic one evening the boob job fairy visited and I woke up looking like Pamela Anderson in her Baywatch heyday, the milk had arrived!

Things did get a bit easier after this but it was still a struggle.

I used to see people out feeding making it look so easy.

What was their secret?

I was determined to give it a good go but nearly threw the towel in on several occasions.

Turns out I wasn’t alone. In fact almost three-quarters of women in England start breast feeding after giving birth, but less than half are still doing so two months later, according to NHS and Public Health England data.

Friends who had breast fed kept telling me that it would get easier and by week seven I would turn a corner. I was dubious.

Turns out around the seventh or eight week something genuinely just clicked - I couldn’t tell you what it was but maybe it was just a case of practice makes perfect.

I feel really proud that I managed to power through and breast feed my daughter for nine months.

As amazing as it is to breast feed it’s not for everyone and it genuinely frustrates me when I hear stories of mums who have been made to feel bad for deciding to formula feed.

One thing’s for sure, there’s no way I would have persevered if things hadn’t improved.

They say breast is best and the science certainly does back this up, but there’s no shame in just doing what’s right for you and your baby.

One of the first bits of advice I was given as a first time mum was happy mummy - happy baby and I couldn’t agree more.