Newborn baby photography, Baby photography, York, Yorkshire, family

Feeding Story

August 29, 2023

“Happy mum, happy baby, happy feeding journey!”

Hello lovely, if you’re new here, I’m Lucy – your Maternity, Newborn and Family photographer based in York bringing you all the best top tips, feeding stories and cutest photos to make you broodier than ever.

Another week, another injection of positive stories for you to peruse! I think my most favourite sentence of this entire feeding story is the very last one – if you read nothing, read that. We could all take a leaf out of that metaphorical book!

Take it away, Mama..

My decision to bottle feed my daughter started right in the hospital, I had pretty much every midwife on shift trying to help with her latch and although it looked as though she was feeding they told me her latch wasn’t great at all. I had to do the formula tuition before I could be discharged so they took me into a little room to learn how to make up a formula bottle. (I think this must be criteria for being able to discharge someone if they are struggling with feeding). 

When we got home and my milk came in, I set straight on with expressing using both the hand expressing device and I ordered the Elvie. 

I quickly got into the swing of things and created my own little routine of using the Elvie throughout the day to create breast milk bottles. In the early days my plan was to just express breast milk whilst still trying to work on her latch but as she was a very big baby (9lb 10) the midwives recommended I topped her up with formula as her weight had dropped quite a bit by my first midwife appointment. 

We continued with this combi feeding and really really enjoyed it. I didn’t feel any disappointment or guilt as I knew she was still getting the nutrition from my milk it just came via a bottle and I went into parenthood open minded and open to anything. I was just thrilled to finally be a mum. 

Shortly after having my daughter covid hit and services weren’t readily available in lockdown. She was my first baby so I had no idea how it should have been or what I’d missed out on but since I have realised just how much support there is for breastfeeding mums and maybe had that support been available I would have been able to persevere with breastfeeding however I felt completely comfortable with our decision and my husband was able to help with feeds more than he would if I’d have breastfed which was a winner in the sleep department! 

We kept this routine for quite a while and in my mind the formula was to fill her and the expressed milk was for nutrition (a bit like taking a multi vitamin on a morning ) and then eventually we transitioned onto solely formula around 6 months when food was introduced.  I then included the breast milk in food items,  things like porridge etc to gently lower the supply from expressing for bottles to just expressing for food use and it really helped to do that gentle phasing out to avoid any mastitis or pain. It worked a treat and I felt completely fulfilled in my feeding journey. 

Things that you enjoyed about your feeding journey?

  1. I loved expressing and knowing that even when someone else was feeding she was still getting my milk. I formed a lovely little bond with my Elvie machine 
  2. My daughter was used to a bottle from day one, although I was very rarely away from her in that first year due to lockdowns I can see that would be a positive for any parent going back to work or needing to be away from their child at any point for whatever reason. 
  3. This might be a weird one but I liked knowing how much milk she had had. I’m a bit of a spreadsheet kind of gal and I enjoyed the predictability of bottle feeding and being able to know exactly how much milk she had had. Eventually I got used to the difference in how formula vs breast milk filled her and how quickly she would be hungry after each feed. 

3 useful bottle feeding tips you picked up:

  1. Elvie (my breast friend) absolute game changer to have a pump you can wear whilst on the go. I vividly remember going to ikea to get things for my daughters nursery (just before lockdown) and I pumped all the way to ikea in the car and it was all fresh and ready for her for when we got there. Then did the same as we went around the shop and nobody would have known I was pumping. 
  2. Mini fridge – I had a mini fridge on my bedside table and every night I would take pre made bottles upstairs with me at bedtime and keep them at the correct temperature until she needed them. Depending on my pumping ability that day these would be a combination of forumula and breast milk bottles. I would also have the trusty Elvie to pump while I fed and then I could store the bottles of milk safely in the fridge until they were needed. No dashing to the kitchen to make up bottles in the middle of the night and it was a very calm process to keep us all in sleepy mode to make settling back down easier. 
  3. Bottle warmer – I had a bottle warmer by the bed too and as I heard her starting to stir, I would get the bottle warming up ready while I got her out of her bed and generally the timings worked quite well. 
  4. On the go bottle warmer – I also purchased the hot water canister for on the go feeding (when we were eventually allowed outside of our houses) I would fill it up with boiling water when leaving the house, then once I’d used it for a feed I simply popped into a cafe and ask them to top it up so I always had a hot water supply in the canister for whenever she needed a feed. 
  5. Pre made bottles – this can make the whole thing a lot easier and less time consuming when you’ve got a hungry unhappy baby waiting to be fed the last thing you want to be doing is fumbling about trying to make up bottles or get them sterilised so being organised in advance was the answer to this. You can also buy small pre made formula in ready to go bottles from the supermarket and I always made sure I took a couple out with me whenever I left the house just incase we got stuck in traffic or something came up which meant I didn’t have enough milk out with me. They are sealed and won’t spoil being out of the fridge. 

The only negative from our journey was the additional money we spent on these devices (Elvie, bottle warmers, bottle drying racks etc) that you wouldn’t have to spend if you just breastfed. But other than that I am 100% happy with our feeding journey and the route we took and I knew I was still giving her the nutrition from breast milk and she was a happy full little baby with the help of formula. Happy mum, happy baby, happy feeding journey!

A happy feeding memory – Another weird one but I remember the joy of seeing how much I’d been able to pump and seeing my supply increase each time. Even seeing the different colours in the milk and knowing that no matter how much or little I was able to produce she was still benefiting from pumping. 

I remember the relief of going to expressing rather than trying to get her to latch as the latching was so so so painful (I really understood the meaning of toe curling pain at that point) and as soon as I expressed it was a huge weight off my mind knowing there were these incredible tools we could use to help feed our babies. 

I’m also very aware some mums struggle to produce milk, I’m very fortunate that the supply wasn’t too much of an issue for me but I can imagine it’s very tough pumping for what feels like hours to not achieve much milk. The earlier days in hospital felt a bit like that as I was trying to withdraw colostrum into a syringe (before my milk came in) and thinking I’d done well and the midwife would say it wasn’t quite enough.

So it just goes to show that even if the colostrum stage doesn’t feel very successful it doesn’t mean your supply will be the same once your milk comes in. 

As this was my first baby I don’t have any experience of the difference breastfeeding would have made. I hear a lot about the bond being amazing and the clear benefits of everything being ready to go without washing bottles and pre making things in advance but I’m a big believer in that you play the hand you’re dealt.

No two parenting journeys are the same whether that’s feeding, sleeping, behaviour, parenting styles, capabilities, or circumstances so I found it much easier to focus on my own lane, know that my baby was fed and we were all happy and not look over into someone else’s journey and think the grass would be greener. We just focused on watering our own garden; to make our garden the best it could possibly be, filled with green grass, beautiful flowers and sunshine. 

Interested in having your own feeding shoot? Then get in touch here to find out more or follow me on my Instagram page here for more inspiration!

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