From the moment I found out I was pregnant, I was adamant and dead-set on breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months of the baby’s life. Apart from the obvious mother-child bond breastfeeding establishes, it was the most beneficial option to give to the baby. Also I could not ignore the other perks breastfeeding brings along with it – it’s loads cheaper than formula and of course, you don’t have to prepare and heat breast milk. Our body produces milk at just the right temperature. So I decided that if my breasts co-operated and the baby successfully latched on, breastfeeding it would be.
From day one, Cesca showed an obvious preference to my left breast. Don’t ask me why but she gladly fed off my left side, but would start fidgeting around and refuse my right breast. For that reason, she would not latch on properly and that led to a cracked and a very sore nipple. And very very painful attempts at breastfeeding – I mean toe-churning and nearly tearful experiences. So I started expressing my right breast and giving it to C out of a bottle, which she took to immediately. After a couple of days, my right side healed and normal, equal feeding resumed.
However for the past week (and still counting), Cesca embarked on a major growth spurt. And I mean, totally major. I will give you one example – breastfeeding for around two hours (we feed, burp, sleep a bit and resume feeding), she would then gulp down three ounces of previously expressed milk, only to search for my breasts again. And when I say gulp, I mean properly gulp down milk, just as if she had not fed for days at end. A feeding session would take up hours, with only a short break for me (last Saturday’s afternoon feed took up five hours!) Thankfully, she kept to her nightly routine of waking up every two hours, and would feed and sleep without any difficulty (bar two very difficult nights). However, during the day, especially in the early evenings, her hunger level is sky-high. It is still in fact. So much so, that we have no established feeding routine – it’s basically C waking up and making herself heard after a couple of minutes which only means one thing – feeding time.
I love feeding her. I love looking at her, so peacefully, feeding off me. I love watching her grow and gaining weight by my milk alone. But I have to admit that she is a great feeder. And as much as I had sworn that I would exclusively breastfeed for the first six months of Cesca’s life, yesterday, upon her four-week mark, I introduced formula.
I gave her one 3-ounce bottle, which she drank effortlessly, and gave me (and my poor boobies) a short break. During which I could express more milk which I then gave to her in one of her nightly feeds. Cesca was satisfied, I got some more rest and in one short sentence, I do not feel guilty – at least, not as much as I had thought I would.
Because trying to keep C on breast milk alone, was becoming more and more difficult for me. I was starting to dread her feeding sessions because I knew that my milk was not filling her ‘enormous’ appetite. Her growth spurt does not seem to be ending, although I had been told it would last for a couple of days, so as long as she continues feeding on a near hourly basis, I will rely on that one bottle of formula a day. In a guilt-free manner.