I am definitely an advocate of breastfeeding, but my goodness, you don't 'arf get the point shoved down your throat! It is a beautiful thing being able to feed your child, but there is no doubt in my mind that it just isn't for everyone, and in some cases it's just not the right choice for a new mother.
And that was the issue.
Right from the word go me and Si had decided to combination feed. Preferably with me expressing milk for bottle feeds at night-time. I just could not comprehend having to do every feed. Especially at night.
I had some idea of how exhausted I would be after the birth, and knowing my MS, when I hit a certain point if I don't rest and recuperate, I'm done for! So, nah. It just wasn't going to happen.
Despite my concerns, I did give it a go, but it just didn't seem to come naturally to either of us really. We were ok in the beginning, but after a week or so we really started to struggle. Lib had trouble latching on, which made it painful and I found every feed ridiculously exhausting. It used to leave me dizzy and feeling faint. I was so weak I was even struggling to hold her during feeds.
It reached the point where, for my sanity, I had to do expressing so we could include some bottle feeds. As soon as I had made that decision in my head, and accepted it (because despite that being the plan originally, I still felt the pressure to continue), I felt so much better. Much brighter and in control of the situation.
That's why I mentioned that if a Mum chooses that it's not for her, then it's the right decision. I understand the health benefits, and through expressing I knew that Lib was getting a good start in life, but I'm a firm believer that 'happy mum = happy baby'. If I had carried on forcing the natural breast-feeding like I was encouraged to do (one midwife told me "I wouldn't quit a job after two weeks, so why this?") I know I would have struggled with the situation immensely, and probably reached breaking-point. In my mind, that didn't seem like a healthy thing to be doing for my baby.
In relation to my MS, I found expressing helped a great deal because it meant I had control over timings, which was a huge help. I roughly knew how long it would take me to express the right amount, and I knew how long it would take Lib to drink it and when I would need to express again. I also stock-piled it in the fridge, so if I needed a rest and couldn't express, there was a back-up. We were fine doing it this was until Lib's appetite increased, but I wasn't breast-feeding her naturally enough to increase my supply of milk accordingly. We started to top-up bottles with formula, and she started having just formula feeds at night. Not ideal, but again it was the right decision at the time. There's no way I could have gone back to breast-feeding more often because I felt like I had just started to get back on track!
We muddled through, and I did what I could. But it was tough going trying to convince myself that actually I knew what was best for me and my baby. Not the people putting the pressure on.
There were only a couple of midwives that seemed to take into account my MS when discussing the situation with me. Of course, those were the two that were supportive of my decision.