Friday, 28 October 2011

The Womanly Art of Breast-feeding??! Part Two

Ok, so I had effectively been told I was going to need help to feed my twins.  That basically meant formula, and where I come from, that word is only said in hushed tones and while making several signs to ward off evil.   It is just not done.  Or if it is, it is not talked about.  There is a huge amount of guilt associated with being a mum who feeds her babies formula.

Due to this fact, and also that I so badly wanted to feed the twins myself, I went through a fit of depression where I blamed everything (including the modern culture of wearing clothes) but mostly myself for the failure.  All the reasoned, supposed-to-be calming comments of the Sweetpea (comments made in what I call his Gynae Mode, in which he quotes a lot of statistics and something called randomised control studies) made not one whit of difference to me - I was upset and I wanted to wallow in my pity for myself and my boys.

However, as every psychologist knows, the next step along the grieving ladder is that of anger, and as time passed, I got angry.  It was probably the best thing that could have happened.  Just who were these people, with all their degrees and experience, to tell me that I couldn't feed my babies?  I knew myself better than they did!  I could do anything!  I was incensed!  It became a challenge for me.  

I started reading books.  I read that if you take more, you make more.  I went straight out and bought myself the strongest pump on the market (think milking cows, and you probably will be somewhere close); bought numerous potions, pills and odious old wives tales to increase milk (like brewer's yeast, fenugreek and some truly awful teas made of wing of bat or toe of dog or something); drank copious amounts of milk stout (not too much of a hardship there!); and finally started on a course of medication to increase my supply.

From then on I worked really hard at nothing else but producing enough milk to feed the boys.  Twenty minutes after feeding them, I expressed milk (after every feed, day or night).  I used the extra to top the boys up. At first, there was only one sorry little bottle of milk in the fridge, about 50 ml, standing by itself on the top shelf.  But later, as time went on and I managed to increase the supply, I realised that I was producing two and a half liters of milk a day.  That is enough to feed the average family (not that I think the average family would want to drink it!).  And best of all, the boys drank up every scrap of what I produced.

Eventually, I was able to slow down all the interventions, and managed to keep feeding them until I was six or seven moths pregnant with my next little one (they were almost two by then, and probably able to cope without it).  And boy, did I love feeding my little ones.  Not a day went past when I was not grateful for just one more day of being able to feed them.  When we had to start weaning (I could not see myself being able to feed three hungry mouths), I think I cried much more than they did.  In fact they didn't cry at all - I weaned them very slowly, over about two months, and substituted my milk with other milk.  

This all worked for me, but does not work for everyone.  The most important thing is that babies are healthy and happy and not hungry.  While breast is (for very obvious reasons) the best, don't beat yourself up about it if you are absolutely not able to do it.  A happy mum is a good thing for a baby too - one depressed by guilt is not going to help anyone. So if you can, fight for it, and if you can't, make peace with it!

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