Out of the four children I have, my eldest son is the only one I didn't try to breast feed. I was quite young and the shock of having my body taken over by raging hormones, extra fat to carry and a foreign body inside me, completely freaked me out and prompted thoughts that the continuation of sharing my body through breastfeeding after my baby was born, filled me with dread. So, I had already decided to bottle feed as soon as he was here.
Fortunately for me, I wasn't in the company of other mothers who breast fed and my support network didn't express their feelings that breast was best either, so I didn't have any shame or guilt for not breast feeding my new baby. Bottle feeding him allowed me to have my body back, well, a modified version of pre-pregnancy. It also empowered my husband to bond with him, especially during the night feeds. Yay for me.
However, by the time I had my second son, and felt a little less selfish, I decided to try and breast feed him when he arrived. I found it distressing as he didn't latch on properly, which was also quite painful. I also wasn't sure whether he was having enough milk, therefore I lasted just two days before turning to bottle feeding.
Then, by the time I was pregnant with my third child, experts had expressed that breast was best. I was also part of a group of mums who all breast fed or was breast feeding. I felt it was important to really try and breast fed this time and when my daughter was born, the first thing I requested was for her to latch on, (I had read before hand that this was important to increase the chances of breast feeding successfully). However, I wasn't very successful and when my milk came in three days later, the pain was so unbearable that I reverted to bottle feeding again.
I had very supportive friends who had reassured me that the first three days of breast milk, called colostrum, were the best that my baby could have anyway. This comforted me, by I felt like a complete failure.
Then, during my last pregnancy with my forth child, I once again decided that I wanted to breast fed. So I immersed myself in books, literature and conversed with a friend who was also a breast feeding mentor on the best techniques in successful breast feeding. I felt confident at the prospect of breast feeding my last baby.
When she arrived, I encouraged her to latch on. I was so sure it would work this time. But again, by the third day, when my milk came in, I was overcome with the pain in my breast. My breast were so large, that positioning her was also difficult. I would have preferred child birth than breast feeding, so once again, bottle feeding it was. I felt like I'd truly failed and became envious of other mothers who could do it.
It's not all bad though, my children are very fit and healthy, so bottle feeding them did them no harm. If I could do it all again, I would still try to breast feed and I'd encourage all new mums to try to. Encourage is the appropriate word here, and not to judge. It is the mum's decision what's best for her and her baby, but for those who do decide to breast feed, I have made a breast feeding reminder bracelet available here which is easily transferred from wrist to wrist with one hand (so mum can continue to hug baby).
I have been told by mother's who've breast fed that they often can't remember which breast to use next, therefore, they are my inspiration for the bracelet.