Breastfeeding, bottle-feeding or both? Part II

In Part II, Anna Collinson discusses her experience of breastfeeding – telling us about why she chose to breastfeed, the teeth-gritting pain at the beginning and what made her push on through…

(This was originally published in December 2015)

Anna Collinson, 30, is mum to Alba, nine months.

“It was always my plan that if I could, I would breastfeed. There wasn’t ever a question of whether I would, amongst friends and family; it was always assumed. All the midwives I spoke to promoted it.

During pregnancy, I was really excited about it – looking forward to it. Although a little nervous for some reason that I wouldn’t be able to, and that would have made me feel bad. It was always very important to me to breastfeed if I was able to. I didn’t understand why people would choose not to.

I was pretty determined to make it work; in my head I think I would have felt like a failure if I couldn’t. However, now I have had a child and breastfed, I wouldn’t put so much pressure on myself if it wasn’t working another time – I’ve learnt to do anything that works to make life easy with a child.

I thought I was getting along fine but then the midwife came round the day after she was born and it turns out I wasn’t very good at it. Alba didn’t feed for 12 hours overnight when we first went home, and so it took a while for us to get into our groove.

She liked to fall asleep while feeding and because I wasn’t really sure (it would seem – with the power of hindsight) how to do it I got sore nipples and so it was very painful for the first few weeks. She also rejected one of my breasts for a few days, and I got quite engorged, but once the problems were solved it was great.

I wouldn’t put so much pressure on myself if it wasn’t working another time – I’ve learnt to do anything that works to make life easy with a child

Alba was three weeks early, so I managed to miss the breastfeeding class of my antenatal group (I went with her, when she was a week old, but it was probably a bit too late – although still actually quite helpful).

I always assumed it was going to be easy, I don’t know why; I just assumed it would happen naturally and we would both know what to do but turns out I didn’t have a scooby.

When she was born the midwives told me to try feeding but didn’t explain how, and then on the ward someone came round to show me with her knitted boob but I was a bit out of it and desperate to get home so don’t think I paid enough attention.

Eventually I called the Islington Breastfeeding Network and an amazing woman came round and sat with me and talked me through it and helped me out loads. It was like a huge weight off my shoulders when I knew there was someone to help. It turns out she hadn’t been latching on properly at first – she was feeding, but not ‘properly’.

All that aside, I just really enjoyed the bond it gave us. I had heard from people that it could be hard so I was aware that this was normal. Also, I knew it was the best thing for her, and I just really loved it even through the gritted teeth and pain. I’ll continue for no more than a year – give or take.

I occasionally express. I wish I did it more but my milk supply is dwindling a bit… I don’t mind expressing, it’s a bit boring but I like the idea that she will still be getting my milk even if it is not from me.

My partner is very keen for me to breastfeed – he encourages me to do it and is adamant he doesn’t want her to ever have formula (I am not so bothered about a bit of mixed feeding). He says he wishes he could do it.

If we have another baby, I will definitely, without a doubt, breastfeed again. I think I will be much better at it next time, too.”