Expressing Is...

My new way of life.

On September 19th 2014 at 3:20am I gave birth to the most beautiful little baby boy in the world. Throughout my pregnancy I had my heart set on breastfeeding. Nobody in my family had ever done it, but I wanted to make my own decision and listening to all of the health benefits to my baby I didn't have to think twice. I began reading every breastfeeding tip available. I went into labor with all of the knowledge I could need, I understood that it would be hard, that it would hurt, but it didn't go to plan at all.

My baby boy was placed onto my chest and his very first latch took us ages, and it was painful. I had my heart set on it getting better. I held him in my arms and the hormones that hit me were incredible. I could never begin to explain to a mummy that hadn't breastfed just how amazing that feeling is. I still long for it now, nearly nine months later. I don't know what causes it, the rush of hormones, having a new life in your arms or feeling complete, but it is the best feeling that I have ever experienced.

Nearly a week had passed and my little boy still wouldn't latch, the breastfeeding counselors were at my door every so many hours in hospital. My baby wanted feeding every hour day and night which is normal but exhausting, and even harder when it is hurting. By the end of the week I was in tears, exhausted and desperate to go home. My son was being monitored because he couldn't get my milk and I was having to pump in between every latch to get my milk supply going. I literally couldn't rest. But mainly I was absolutely devastated that I had not yet managed one pain-free latch. I made the decision to put my baby onto formula, and I cried all night, but that way the hospital let me go home.

When I arrived home I was in a state. I cried every time I looked at my baby, held him, or even spoke to him. I felt hollow, like a failure. I begged family not to mention breastfeeding in front of me, I couldn't handle it. I had not planned for this. The next day midwives came to my home and asked me why I had stopped. I didn't even want to talk about it. I know it's hard for most mum's and they don't give up. But I had given up. I couldn't deal with it. It was then one of them held me while I sobbed and asked me why I didn't want to exclusively express. I looked up, alarmed. I had never heard of this feeding method. Was this possible? I asked.

The wonderful midwife organised a breastpump to be loaned to me immediately from the hospital, and she helped me to pump right there and then. And then I fed my baby my milk from a bottle. I cried with joy. It was the second best option, but it was the next best thing. I asked if they could send some more help around to my house and I carried on trying to latch my baby boy for three months alongside expressing. Three months later I still hadn't managed one pain free latch.

As time went on I came across a few people that told me exclusively expressing was impossible and that I should give up, that I couldn't keep up my milk supply. I refused to listen. I couldn't have done it without the support of my partner, my amazing breastfeeding counselor Bev and my mum who have stood by me when people have told me that I can't do it. Nine months later I still exclusively express breastmilk for my baby.

It hasn't been easy, but it has been worth it. For nine months I have had too pump every two hours day and night. I've had to carefully monitor my supply to keep up with my baby and I've still had to deal with that feeling that still haunts me known again, that I never managed to breastfeed my baby.

I have never cared what other people do. I don't believe that formula is terrible, it was just personal to me. I wanted to do this for my son, and I couldn't. It was nothing to do with formula being bad and I would never judge a formula feeding mummy.

But as I started expressing I felt stuck. I'm not breast, but I'm not bottle either. So where does that leave me? I started looking for other expressing mummies and thought that there must be some somewhere, and that's when I started a Facebook page to find them, and decided that I wanted to make it my goal to promote this third baby feeding method. I started wondering why parents weren't told about this. Surely it should be mentioned? There are three feeding methods, not two.

I'm going to make it my goal to support other mummies who decide to exclusively express and to share it as far as I possible can. It is not an impossible feeding method.

Boneata Bell

Text copyright Boneata Bell.
Images do not belong to me.


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