When your little new born baby gets put on your chest for the very first time, one of the very first decisions you make as a mother is, how am I going to feed this innocent little being? Breastfeeding or formula feeding?
I am not here to preach which one is better. Every mom makes her own decision based on what is best for her and the baby at that time. I am writing this post to inspire moms to believe in themselves and their decisions in motherhood.
Knixon-Rose was born 7lb 3oz an average weight of a newborn. As her mother, I chose to give breastfeeding a go for the second time around. For those who might not know, breastfeeding can be very mentally, emotionally and physically draining. Now if you add toddler running around into the mix, breastfeeding was by far the most challenging decision I had made with my second.
Knixon is a very busy baby. She likes to be involved, watch, and observe everything around her. She’s very inquisitive to her surroundings. With this said, when it is time to do a feed, it was a wrestle match trying to get her to feed consistently. She would snack a bit, pick her head up off of me, look around, snack again, stop look at me, look around again, snack again, watch her sister jump on my back. Then snack again. This had me worried. Is she getting everything that she needs from me? Was she gaining weight from these little feeds?
Now I won’t bore you with numbers, but I will share her chart with you. The average baby is meant to be following the 50th centile [shown with the black line]. Knixon’s weight [shown as the pink line] started off as average but then started dropping into 9th centile [shown with the white line]
Let me try to get this clear. She was not dropping weight. She was just not gaining weight FAST enough to be following the average centile that a baby her age is meant to be at.
After the first time being told that her weight gain was slowing down, I thought I knew what I needed to do. I started to feed her in a quiet room with no distractions so she can focus on just feeding. Well, this idea only worked on the days their dad was home. It was just impossible when I was by myself, considering I could not leave her sister out wandering in a room by herself. So the inconsistent feeds just carried on.
Knixon was nearly 4 months old and it was time to get her weighed again. I had arrived at the clinic. We sat and waited for our number to get called. More times than none we saw a different health visitor whenever we went. This time a young blonde lady called for us. As I undressed Knixon, the lady asked me how I was feeding her? How was the feeding coming along? How many times a day? My answers were a bit all over the place considering that her feeds were the same. I could feel her looking at me like I didn’t know what I was doing. I put Knixon’s naked little body on the scale, she looked at the scale and jotted her weight down on her chart. She then looked up at me and said, “You might need to consider bottle feeding her. Start giving her one bottle of formula a day and come back in two weeks .”
My heart must’ve fell to the ground. It was the ultimate feeling of failure as a breastfeeding mom. I looked at her in distraught. I wanted to say back to her, “Is this a joke?” But she was the professional and who was I? So instead I just nodded my head and said, “okay, I’ll give it a go.”
I remember walking home crying thinking that I had failed. I knew nothing about formula. I wanted to give my best to my baby girl. I wanted to feed her what I thought was better for her. I wanted to feed her breastmilk and I had failed.
But was I really failing? Or was her progress being compared to the average progress. Was Knixon developing properly? Was she alert? And was she happy? These were the questions the health visitor had missed when she was so quick to suggest an easy route to just get my baby on that average centile.
By the time I made it home, I had made the choice not to formula feed her and persist on our breastfeeding journey. Why?Because I am her mother and I know what’s best for her.
I chose to grow with her and learn with her. I chose to figure out when she was hungry but not overly hungry, where she fussy too much to feed properly. When she was getting tired but not overly tired, where she would feed on me while sleeping and not be bothered with distractions. We grew together as mother and daughter to figure out when was the best time for feeds. What her signs were and when she was ready for a meal. She was still nosey but I knew now she would come back for more milk. She would have her feeds broken up. Snack, play, snack, play, and this is just how she was going to be.
I went back to the clinic few weeks after, hoping for some kind of weight gain to show for my perseverance. Again, waited for my number to be called. This time it was an older lady who called us over. Before I got her undressed, I had felt the need to explain about Knixon’s past weigh-in experiences. As I finished telling her that I chose to continue to breastfeed, I again put her naked little body on the scale. She weighed 13lb 2oz, still under that average centile weight. Anticipating for another scolding and talk about formula. She looked at me and with reassurance she said , “It looks like she is following along this lower centile line nicely. This is probably how she just is and will be. She will just be a petite little baby.” I looked at her and smiled.
Knixon is a little pocket rocket. She’s eight months old now. She’s tiny. She’s petite. She’s sitting. She is happy. She is crawling. She is babbling. She is standing and nearly walking. She is still breastfeeding and now weaning onto food. But she is developing and shows us signs to be healthy. That’s all that matters.
To all my first time mother’s, second time mother’s, and even those fifth time mother’s, please please please take what anyone tells you about how to raise your babies with a pinch of salt. Just sit back and listen. Take in all the advices, suggestions, and opinions, but at the end of the day you know your baby. You know yourself. You do what is best for both of you. No right or wrong. At the end of the day you are the mother. Believe in yourself.
Squeal, Sign, Mumble,
The Bennett Babes