This week is World Breastfeeding Week and in recognition of that I wanted to share my experience.
Firstly my two children were born in different countries and that contributed to a different birth experience. Also I believe being prepared for my second child also gave me a different experience - a better one.
Sophie's birth was not easy, I started having contractions one afternoon but they stopped and started until by the evening they were 5 in 5 minutes so we went to the hospital, got sent home and a few hours later about midnight came back. The labour was long, we tried everything, pethidine, water, gas, epidural, drugs to speed up labour, manually breaking the waters etc. In the end she became distressed and they decided to do an emergency c-section, after almost 24 hours since we re-attended the hospital she was born. All in all, it was not a positive experience and I was in a lot of pain afterwards as you would with a c-section. I tried to breastfeed as I had planned to at least try, but it wouldnt work and was painful and I got to the point that I almost didnt want my child near me. I dreaded the next attempt at feeding time. After a few attempts I gave up, maybe I should have tried longer but Im sure after the difficult birth and the way I felt after, to continue would have been damaging to me and my baby. So I began bottle feeding and was relieved and started to bond with my baby. But at the time I was a little worried that I would not be allowed to easily make my choice, I was always hearing about women being 'pressured' into breastfeeding by disapproving midwives, which at the time added some pressure to make my decision.
My second birth was very different, my water broke before we went to the hospital and things progressed much quicker. But there werent any options, here in Portugal it seems they put you on a monitor and make you lie on a bed and give you an epidural if you want, no gas, no pethidine, its epidural or nothing! But it all went and she was born naturally after 8 hours. This time again I wanted to breastfeed and they gentily helped me, once I was out of the labour room and had had some time to adjust. And I had learnt some things from my first attempts with Sophie and it worked. And I loved it, it was a great thing to do, so easy, so convenient. I breastfeed for 9 months, (exclusively for 6) and would definately do it again.
Both my children are fine, happy. Breast is probably best but I dont feel I lost anything by bottle feeding my first child, nowadays bottle formula is so advanced that there probably isnt much difference between the two, except of course things like antibodies etc.
Breastfeeding is a wonderful thing to do but women shouldnt feel pressurised but they should have the help available - that is so important to its success.