Stop the Boobing Babe
Establishing breastfeeding is difficult and for some, impossible. For my first this was true. So I had ruminated from the get go about how to get going with feeding my second. The agony and heartache of never managing to breastfeed G made me thankful everyday that I could breastfeed D and I never took it for granted. I know I was one of the lucky ones, despite my problems. However, when the time came to wean my wean, I was flummoxed.
Due to my milk oversupply, D had received a bottle of breastmilk over night from week one. But I got lazy and as my milk supply normalised, the bottle feed dropped off. So by three months, he was totally addicted to the boob. My target to feed to six months was fast approaching. We started to reintroduce the bottle. My boy flatly refused it. He wouldn’t even let it near his mouth. He screamed and arched away. If I managed to catch him in a good mood, he would occasionally chew the teat, but NEVER sucked. And now with gnashers, he was also chewing my teat!
However, secretly I felt validated by his bottle refusal. He needed me, and only me. I had never had this with my first. But at nine months with D still refusing a bottle, I was beginning to panic. My body had belonged to another for a year and a half and I wanted it back. I was permanently leaking needing breast pads 24/7, still getting bouts of mastitis. My mojo, my vavavoom, my get up and go, had got up and gone. Not to mention the impending returning to work, to a job I love, that defines me, but has me working any hour, any day, any place.
He was eating three square meals resulting in one round belly. As we say up north, he was (and still is) a pie. The bottle trials were becoming increasingly elaborate. We tried formula, breastmilk, and cow’s milk (I know). We tried numerous bottle brands, sippy cups, straws even spoon feeding. We tried feeding when he was starving, to when he had just eaten. We tried dream feeds, morning feeds and milk with lunch.
Nothing worked. He loved boobs, I was beginning to loath them.
Out of despair I phoned the health visitor. At first, she tried to pursued me to continue feeding. With a frowny face that only my boys could see, I explained about work, and that frankly by this point, I was done. I needed to stop for myself.
Her advice was simple:
- Mix milk into everything.
- Give him vitamin D.
So his food started to take on the form of vomit inducing, Oliver Twist style gruel. It was grey and sloppy, like papier-mâché. A treat for the taste buds I'm sure. He had babyrice four times a day. Everything else had added milk; his favourite yogert was watered down with milk, cottage pie now came with milk, mashed banana with milk. I used formula, to try and get him used to the taste.
I had reduced my feeds to once a day, and because I was still ‘block feeding’, this meant I fed off one boob every 48 hours.
One morning, about seven days before Christmas, I went cold turkey. I gave my last feed, although at the time, I hadn’t quite realised. I thought, let’s just see what happens.
My boy is a chip off the old block, and so what happened was a real Christmas treat. We had a five day Mexican standoff. He refused to take a bottle and I refused to take out a boob. So for five days he had no drink of milk.
Then a Christmas miracle happened, he took 100ml of formula, out of a bottle. Something which I had tried everyday. The next day, he drank formula twice. I held my breath with every suck. Thinking he was going fling himself to the ground in protest, but he didn’t. And by the new year he was drinking milk out of a bottle as if he had never had it any other way.
I know dropping the boobing is something that other mamas have struggled with. And I really feel there is no right way. But I do think there are some tricks we can share with each other to help. My top tips are:
- Speak to a professional; get reassurance about your chosen method and whether it is the right time for you and your baby.
- Make sure they are eating plenty to maintain their nutritional intake. Use their nappies as a guide. Plenty of poos and wees.
- Follow the guidelines on vitamin D.
- Mix milk into everything.
- Try a bottle everyday. Get different people trying, at different times, with different milks, at different temperatures.
- Revisit things that haven’t worked before, they might work again.
- Relax. It maybe a bumpy hump day but minis and mamas are resilient.
- Finally a personal learning point. I felt guilty about bottle feeding my first born and guilty about forcing weaning on my boob monster of a second born. No guilt. We do what we can to sur-thrive. End of.
For more information try NHS Choices.
We would love to hear what worked for you. So if you would like to share your own story then please get in touch via Your Voice.