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Feeding Story

September 20, 2023

Positive bottle feeding stories – Stellie

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.

It’s been a week or so since I last posted because I went on my holibobs and I forgot to forward plan in the chaos of packing with a one year old BUT here is another story about the ups and downs that my wonderful friend had feeding her little one. This one I know a little more about than previous submissions because I’ve been a little bit of a cheerleader to this family and I know it’s been tough so I’m very grateful to her for sharing her story!

I hope you enjoy and take something away from it….

Our feeding story was a bit of a rollercoaster, with quite a few hiccups and lots of lessons learned along the way. I had our daughter via caesarean section after going five days past our due date, and enduring a 36 hour induction process. After the amazing surgeons pulled her out, the doctors took her to check her vitals while I was closed up. They pretty quickly brought her back to me and we were taken back to the delivery room where we did get to enjoy lots and lots of skin to skin. 

We tried to latch her on as soon as possible but she wasn’t really having it. I had limited movement due to the spinal, so it wasn’t very easy to get into a good position, either. And she was soooo sleepy. They reassured me that this was normal, and a lot of C-section babies take awhile to “wake up” and get the hang of it, so I wasn’t worried. I had expressed and frozen colostrum that I’d brought to the hospital with me, so we fed her with a syringe at first. 

The first night was probably one of the hardest, as I couldn’t move below the waist. Any time Estella would cry or want feeding, I’d have to buzz a midwive to get her from her bassinet and hand her to me to try to feed. The following day, we kept trying to breastfeed but she was having trouble latching on. We managed to do a one twenty minute feed, but it was obvious the latch wasn’t right. It was painful and my nipple had already cracked. 

We were told that until we had an established feeding routine, we’d have to stay in hospital. I really wanted to give breastfeeding a good go, so I decided to stay in. If I’m totally honest, I didn’t get very much support with figuring out what wasn’t working, which made the whole situation very frustrating. 

During second night in the hospital, I’d had a minor breakdown in the middle of the night because she wasn’t latching. I was exhausted/in pain and she and I were both getting frustrated. The midwife on duty sat with me and tried her best to help. Eventually she said to me, so gently, “It’s okay if you want to try a bottle. There’s nothing wrong with that.” I just felt a huge weight lift from my shoulders. I cried and said yes and she went to get the backup formula we’d brought. Estella absolutely sucked it down, she must have been so hungry, poor lass! We tried a few more times to breastfeed but in the end, I was getting so stressed about it and I wanted to go home, so we went onto bottles permanently.

I still wanted to give Estella breastmilk, so when my milk came in a week later (this is apparently normal for C-section mums) I was pumping as much as I could. I luckily had a pretty good supply so we were able to give her breastmilk during the day, and formula at night. This felt like the best way for me to feel that I was giving her as much as I could without it costing my mental health.

I will admit, I was slightly disappointed to not be breastfeeding BUT in the end, I’m glad in a way that it didn’t work out. And I’ve always been a firm believer that fed is best, and the mental health of mum is important. Also, it was a really nice bonding experience for my husband to be able to feed Estella. To this day,  he still loves giving her a bottle. He always does the bedtime feed, and it’s like a lovely little daddy-daughter time for them. It was also nice for me to have that break, and to not be soley responsible for feeding. 

A few little things that we found really helpful:

1. The Nuby bottle cooler- Estella was (mis)diagnosed with CMPA around 16 weeks so we went onto a dairy free formula-that doesn’t come premade. The cooler makes it SOOO easy and quick to make a bottle. We’d bring a flask of boiling water, and here’s the hack: measure the water, pour all but 1-2 oz in the cooler, then put the formula in the remaining boiling water. When the rest is cooled down, you pour it in and the bottle is ready AND you don’t have to sterilise the cooler! Makes it so much easier when you’re out and about too!

2. Momcosy wearable breast pumps & the Medela harmony hand pump- both of these literally saved my breastmilk journey. There were times were I was literally holding Estella in one arm, and hand pumping with the other hand. The wearable pumps are great as well so that you can do other things (I frequently washed dishes and pumped at the same time). 

3. Take out frozen breastmilk the night before- nothing is more annoying than having to defrost breastmilk when you need it like, ten minutes ago. Every night I’d take out however much she drank in a day and put it in the fridge to defrost so by the time I’d need it, it was a case of warming it up, not defrosting it! 

4. Variable size teats- I didn’t know this was a thing. At a certain point, a size 1 was too slow for Estella, but a size 2 was too fast. A friend recommended the X type (or variable) which apparently allows the babies to control the flow. She took to them really well and still uses them now!

Looking back, I am really happy with the way things turned out with bottle feeding. And to be honest, I think I’d do the same things with any future children we have. We now have a gorgeous, bright, healthy and FED one year old and we couldn’t be more proud of her. At the end of the day, everyone’s journey is different and you just have to do what works for you!

A peak in to the gorgeous gal and her family at her first birthday shoot (which was actually her THIRD shoot so she’s a right pro at it by now).

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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