So first things first, I’m not here to preach to you about how you should or shouldn’t feed your baby. Every baby is different, every mum is different. Breast fed baby or bottle fed baby, a fed baby is a happy baby. But this week I really wanted to share with you my experience with breastfeeding and in particular breastfeeding a baby with Cystic Fibrosis, as it is international breastfeeding week.
Breastfeeding can sometimes be a funny one to discuss. Some people are very open talking about their experience, others can be a little more reserved and that’s fine either way. However I do think that the subject of breastfeeding can be a little taboo still, when really it’s one of the most natural things in this world.
So my experience? I always knew I wanted to breastfeed, not just because of what everyone said about the bonding process but also knowing the amazing health benefits it gave to my little one and the obvious fact – it was free!So when Parker came along I was determined. The nurses were so lovely and so helpful but I struggled, it was exhausting. I’m not going to lie it wasn’t the easiest thing in the world for me. However after a few days I felt like I was getting there, I thought I’d sort of got the hang of it. But then after more sleepless nights and constant feeding I worried. It was hard and Parker was losing weight. Then when the midwife questioned whether I felt as though I was doing it right, and maybe I should switch to formula. I felt as though I was failing fast. Which was so silly, as now I look back it would not have been a failure to switch at all.
At three weeks old we had the phone call to head to Bristol Children’s Hospital. Parker has been diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis. A life limiting, genetic disease that affects primarily the lungs and digestive system. And it all made sense. Parker’s pancreas is, always has been and always will be blocked with mucus, stopping him from absorbing vital fats, and it clicked. It all made sense. We started him on Creon Micro that day, a pancreatic enzyme that helps him absorb the fat and what a difference. That was the first night I slept for over 3 hours at a time. I had a happy baby, and it was bitter sweet for me. It all made sense but at the same time it was so hard to hear, this tiny baby I’d just had, this perfect baby had a life limiting disease. He wasn’t even a month old. It was hard.
Things have gotten a lot easier. I’ve become stronger, my understanding of CF is greater. I breast fed for about 6 months along side weaning, then I switched to formula. Parker is now just over 3 years old and he is a happy child who loves nothing more than fish and chips on the beach. Although Cystic Fibrosis is a life limiting disease we don’t let it hold him back. I guess what I just wanted to say with this blog is that no matter what you choose to do, that you shouldn’t worry, motherhood is hard. Breastfeeding is such a personal choice and if you feel like you’re struggling just know that there is so much help available. Whether you want to persist or switch to formula. It’s okay. And if you’ve just had the CF diagnosis or any other hurdle in the road to motherhood just know that it’s okay not to be okay. It is hard but there is so much support there for you. A happy mum and a fed baby is a happy baby. Do what’s best for the both of you.