Is Breast Really Best? Our Breastfeeding Journey

Is Breast Really Best?

Now I’m not going to sit here and run down breastfeeding – it is the most natural and nutritious way to feed our babies. It is packed with vitamins and nutrients and is tailor made to suit your little one. 

I had full intentions of exclusively breastfeeding this time round for as long as possible. But not everything goes to plan.

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For the first week (almost 2) of Dáithí’s life, he was exclusively breastfed. The first few days he just fed and fed and fed. However, he had jaundice and it was not subsiding. He hadn’t had a bowel movement in almost a week and his wet nappies weren’t as wet as they had been. I trusted my ‘mammy instincts’ and had brought him to numerous health professionals who all said he was fine. At this time he was always on the breast and would feed well for a couple of minutes and then stop drinking. Everyone I told this to said he was still feeding and that there was a great latch. They asked if there was enough milk and I showed them there was. My biggest concern was that he never emptied the breast.. EVER. After a week of being home and him approaching two weeks old, I was sent up to hospital – to have his jaundice checked. They did bloods, took a urine sample, etc. The bilirubin levels were high, but not too high, so we were let go home. Again, doctors watched me feed him and said all was fine. One doctor said, if I was concerned, then express my milk and bottle feed it to him or top him up with a little formula after feeds for the next 2-3 days before he was reviewed again. So I did. 

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First, I expressed and fed it to him. Then I decided breastfeeding was demanding enough, without giving up more time to a pump (especially with another little one looking for my time aswell), so I started topping him up once a day with an ounce or two of formula. I immediately noticed him become more content and feed from me better. He was so much better even in 24 hours. The jaundice started to lighten and for the first time 

– HE SLEPT THROUGH THE NIGHT.

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 Now, after our check up, they told me to just continue breastfeeding and take away that top up of formula. (A lot easier said than done when a new mammy has just got the first nights sleep in almost 3 weeks). Which, because I had a section meant him coming in for a feed and ended with us co-sleeping (which meant no sleep for me out of fear anything would happen to him) . So I didn’t stop. I continued breastfeeding Dáithí every feed he wanted and after his last feed at night I had a bottle with maybe 2/3 oz of formula (Aptamil) in it. Some nights he would take 2 oz some nights 3. He would sleep from about 12/1 am until 7am. 

That bottle was going nowhere!!

I forgot to mention.. Dáithí also refused to take a dummy. This meant that on top of him wanting to be on me to feed, he also wanted to be on me for comfort, to sleep, to use as a dummy! Now, even though so many people offered their advice and told me not to ‘let’ him use me as a dummy, I continued to. He was a tiny newborn baby and this was his natural instinct. And to be honest, part of me loved that he NEEDED me and only me to comfort him.

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This continued until he was around 6 weeks and then I introduced another bottle mid morning. I never limited the breastfeeding, I let him feed as often as he wished and just topped him up with the formula. Soon, Dáithí was drinking 3/4 3oz bottles along with breastfeeding. Things couldn’t be better, he was still sleeping great at night and loved his naps during the day. By 10 weeks, he had 3/4 5oz bottles and still breastfed 2/3 times a day. At 15 weeks, we had him on 4 (sometimes 5) 6oz bottles and he still fed from me every night and if we didn’t need to get up and go early in the morning he would come in again for a feed. On a typical day at 15 weeks he woke around 8/9am and went to bed at 10 (last feed was always 9.30pm. If he happened to wake earlier than 8, he came in for a feed in the bed with me but this very  rarely happened. 

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So, although not the most straightforward routine, it worked for us. Most importantly, it worked for Dáithí. He was thriving being combination fed and enjoyed both bottle and breast equally. Now at 20 weeks Dáithí is on all formula feeds. He takes 4 6oz bottles throughout the day and a 7oz one at night. A typical day looks like this:

8am – 6oz

12pm – 6oz

3pm – 6oz

7pm – 6oz

9.30pm – 7oz

I stopped feeding him at around 17 weeks. He moved onto 5 6oz bottles then. He still sleeps sound at night and although he does take a dummy at times now, he doesn’t need it for sleep. He doesn’t finish every bottle during the day and there is days where he could sleep 5-6 hours and miss a bobo.. it just depends on where we are and what we are doing.

Most experts would say it is in you and baby’s best interest to hold off for about 3 to 4 weeks before introducing bottle feeding (if there is no medical reason to). This is so your milk supply is well established. And there is the rick (which happened me last time) of nipple confusion, where the baby can go off  the breast (or in my case – both breast and bottle). However, if you wait too long introduce a bottle there is a risk that your baby may refuse the bottle. 

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Every mother and every baby is different. So do what is right for you and your little one! 

FED IS BEST

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