Why I Chose to Breastfeed – #KBBF2014

The theme for today in the Keep Britain Breastfeeding scavenger hunt is ‘Why I chose to breastfeed’, which I thought was a great title to write to. The so-called ‘benefits’ of breastfeeding are often talked about when people are trying to explain what’s so good about breastfeeding, and indeed there are many reasons why breastfeeding is a good thing. But I think each individual mum who chooses to breastfeed has particular ones among these many reasons that mean something to her personally. So why one mum chooses to breastfeed (or not) is not necessarily the same as the next mum’s reasons, and that’s why a title that acknowledges a personal story is, I feel, very important when it comes to the ‘benefits’ of breastfeeding.

And for me, this is a very good question – why did I choose to breastfeed? Well, if you’d have asked me this before my eldest son Andrew was born, when I was pregnant with him, I would have said something along the lines of “I’d like to breastfeed because I know it’s the natural way of feeding a baby, but if I hit problems and it’s too hard, then nevermind, I’ll just bottle feed instead.” Only after he was born and I hit major problems breastfeeding did the determination to carry on arise from somewhere inside me (hormones? natural instinct? back of my brain?).

I’ve told our story in full in previous posts, so I won’t go into too much detail here. The best post to read about how our breastfeeding story started in the first months of Andrew’s life is this one. It turned out that I have IGT (insufficient glandular (breast) tissue) or hypoplasia, and would never produce enough breast milk to exclusively breastfeed a baby. It’s estimated that only a tiny percentage of women have IGT, and therefore pro-breastfeeding literature is keen to point out that it is ‘rare’ to be unable to physically produce enough milk to breastfeed. And I think it’s important to point that out, of course, because there are many other reasons why mums might have (or perceive they have) a low milk supply – for example feeding to a schedule (rather than on demand), giving some bottles & skipping some breast feeds, baby isn’t growing the way the charts say they should, breasts don’t leak or feel full once feeding is established etc. etc., when actually things could be done about all of these and the mum could produce enough milk. But for me, it feels disappointing to be among the unlucky few who can’t produce enough milk, even if we try really really hard at doing things to increase our supply (though there is something special about being a ‘rare’ case).


However, just because I can’t exclusively breastfeed a baby, doesn’t mean I can’t breastfeed, and between us, Andrew and I figured out how to use a supplemental nursing system (SNS) to allow him to breastfeed as much as possible, whilst getting top ups of formula milk at my breasts. I’ve written more about this ingenious device here. It wasn’t always easy, and combination feeding like this is a bit of a minefield in terms of working out how much supplement to give and managing demand-led feeding alongside scheduled top ups in the early weeks. Many times I wondered why I was bothering to do this, when it would be easier to just give him bottles and give up trying to breastfeed.

So why did I choose to carry on breastfeeding, despite all the struggles? First, sheer determination is something that I’m well known for – once I get my mind set on doing something, I like to see it through, and I didn’t realise just how much I wanted to breastfeed until I started, and then stopping wasn’t something I was going to do without a fight. This is my personality, and I know not everyone is the same, for me it was a very personal choice to continue in this sense. Second, I learned through breastfeeding that it is not simply about getting calories into a baby to nourish them physically, despite how the medical professionals saw it like this whenever we saw them. Breastfeeding is part of my mothering, and I realised that I enjoyed it: I enjoyed being that close to my baby, calming him down when upset, soothing him off to sleep, letting him know that I was there whenever he needed me, and he seemed to like it at my breasts too, even if he wasn’t immediately hungry and just needed the comfort. I wouldn’t have had this amazing mothering tool if I had given up and turned to bottles.

KBB Scav Blue 14

That small baby continued to breast feed, even when he showed interest in solid foods and then took to them very well. In fact, when he got more calories from the solid stuff, the formula top ups went down and eventually he just breast fed alongside solids and water/other drinks. That little baby whom I struggled to establish a breastfeeding relationship with at the start, is now a lively 3.5 year old who still to this day likes some Mummy milk before bedtime, even if just a minute’s worth of sucks. Clearly he doesn’t need the calories in the milk (his appetite for food and drink is healthy!), but clearly he feels the need for the routine and the comfort (and probably the effect of stalling bedtime for another minute or two, he’s a clever chap!), and I’m happy to fulfil that need for as long as he requires it, it’s part of how I parent. I’ve also done the same for his little brother, who is now 19 months old and enjoying breastfeeding before bedtime still, plus the occasional other feed if he’s upset or in the early morning.

As well as the major reasons in my choice that I’ve outlined above, there are several other reasons that I was glad I was breastfeeding, like the antibodies in my milk (both of my boys have hardly been ill at all) and the need to buy less formula which is so expensive and produced by unethical companies. I wish I didn’t have the faff of sterilising the SNS and having to think about how much top up milk (if any) I needed to take out just in case we stayed out longer than I was planning – these are other reasons why I would have loved to exclusively breastfeed, but I didn’t have that choice.

So this is why I chose to carry on breastfeeding, I’m so glad I did – looking back now at how far we’ve come makes all the early struggles worthwhile. I’ll write more about breastfeeding beyond a year, including tandem nursing 2 children, in my next hunt post, so stay tuned 🙂

There are lots of other bloggers taking part in the hunt, so please head over and read some of their posts too. And don’t forget to enter the rafflecopter below to be in with the chance of winning some fab prizes!

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43 thoughts on “Why I Chose to Breastfeed – #KBBF2014”

  1. I wanted to give it a go and when it was difficult I decided to fight through the bad to make it work.

    1. I think lots of mums have had to be determined to breastfeed. Well done for persevering 🙂

  2. I always planned to breastfeed as it’s the natural way to feed babies for all mammals.

    1. I understood that at a scientific level, but didn’t realise the emotional side of it until we started

  3. I always intended to breastfeed because breastmilk is the most natural source of nutrition and comfort for a new babe. When my tiny dot was born she was only 4lb 4oz (at 38weeks due to preeclampsia). I felt like my body had failed to grow her. As she piled on the pounds with breastmilk, I was so proud of my body being able to grow her on the outside as well as all the other benefits she’s had from it. She still has 2-3 feeds a day at 15 months 🙂

  4. Great post! It’s posts like this that really helped me get clued up and go into breastfeeding with a determination to succeed.

    1. So glad my writing helps others – that’s one of the main reasons why I blog, so always good to hear, thank you 🙂

  5. Great post. Well done for having the determination to fight through your issues. I never made the choice to breastfeed until my daughter arrived. Then it just happened. We had our struggles. I had times when I was up for the 15th time that night that I considered sending my snoring peacefully other half to the nearest 24hr shop to buy formula. But I’m stubborn. So many people kept telling me its ok to give a bottle every now and then. But I didn’t see me being tired as a reason. We’re now at 12.5m and going strong. And thankfully its not often we’re up 15 times a night anymore!x

    1. I think stubbornness and determination feature in a lot of breastfeeding stories! Well done for keeping going, and it’s all worth it when you look back, isn’t it?

    1. Indeed, human milk for human babies BUT sometimes exclusive breastfeeding isn’t an option and then it’s a good job formula exists, particularly when donor breast milk is so hard to come by in this country. I see formula as a kind of medicine in our special case, that makes up for my medical condition which means I can’t produce enough milk myself.

  6. Brilliant post, thank you for sharing, we’ve gone through our battles when it comes to bf (tongue tie, non latch, lazy baby, hungry baby etc) so after several cries of failure, trying and trying we’ve opted for pumping as at least that way our babies still get the milk but husband can participate in the feeding process as well. I feel like if I can’t bf, at least I’m doing the best I can x

    1. Absolutely! You may like to read another post I wrote on breastfeeding vs. bottle feeding (featuring another pumping mummy!)

  7. wow that really is an amzing amount of dedication to breasfeeding your children, I’m so glad you were able to find a way and the strength to continue to breasfeed, we had to combination feed for a few months and it was hard work, so very impressed with your story.

  8. I planned to breast feed as I have lots of allergies and believed that breast milk is best for my baby

  9. It’s always struck me as the normal way to feed a baby. And I was brought up by my LLL leader mum in a house that very much boycotted Nestle. I don’t think there was any chance I would choose not to breastfeed 🙂

    1. No I think you’d have to choose it 😉 But good to have that first hand experience of why breastfeeding is so good, which I think is what many adults now having kids didn’t have when they were growing up.

  10. Just because my mum advised me to, after all, mum knows best, though unfortuneately it didn’t work out for us, glad I tried though, always the best option, if you can x

    1. Ah that’s lovely to have mums passing on good info down the generation 🙂 Sorry to hear it didn’t work out though, it can be very tough! x

  11. i was lucky and found it easy, relaxing and a great bonding time. now feeding my 2nd lo at 6 weeks i love the time we spend together feeding.

    1. Definitely lucky to find it easy, that’s good to hear. Yes it’s great binding time, even with 2 to look after I enjoyed the time I got to sit down with my youngest feeding as a baby

  12. Always wanted to – found it harder than I had hoped but so glad I persevered!

  13. With my second son, I wanted to breastfeed as it hadn’t worked the first time around, and in honesty I found getting up to make night feeds tedious 😉

    1. Yes, that’s definitely a down side of bottle feeding compared to breast feeding (although I had to supplement, we didn’t need to do it overnight except in the early days).

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