The Boob Life

“I obviously knew she would have to be bottle fed from the start.”

Lorna's Breastfeeding Journey

I had my first baby in January 2012. He would never take a bottle, but I had no problems with breastfeeding so he was exclusively breastfed A LOT for 12 months. When he was 2 years old, I had a prophylactic (preventative) double mastectomy as I have the BRCA1 gene fault. My younger sister had died of breast cancer aged 25 so I didn’t feel I was in a position to take any chances.  

We didn’t think we would have another child, a lot had gone on emotionally with the issue of the breast cancer gene fault, so I am super grateful to have been able to have a second baby in August, 2019. I obviously knew she would have to be bottle fed from the start but she, thankfully, didn’t have any issues taking a bottle.  
First time round, I just assumed that I’d breastfeed. I didn’t have many friends with babies so didn’t have much of a reference point. It just felt like something that mothers of babies did! The second time round, knowing that I couldn’t breastfeed did make me have pangs of nostalgia, and guilt at not being able to feed my baby naturally, but the fact of being blessed with a second baby overrode those feelings. 

I didn’t have any difficulties with breastfeeding my first child, other than the sheer amount of time I spent doing it. But I was very intimidated by bottles and sterilising and the whole formula preparing process before my second baby arrived. With hindsight, I was more anxious that I wouldn’t get the hang of it than I was about the baby not taking to it. I thought it was a lot more complicated than it actually is, but after a week of it, it become second nature. I thought it would be more hassle than breastfeeding, which in a way it is, as you have to have prepared everything before you go out  (you can’t just whip a boob out) but the regularity of it meant that didn’t end up an issue. 

I enjoyed being able to share the responsibility, with bottle feeding, and see how much of a closer relationship my partner was able to have with the baby now that he was also involved in feeding. Friends and my partner have always been so supportive about feeding in general, just in chats about what is working and what isn’t etc. I’ve never had to go to a feeding clinic. I feel like breastfeeding is such an individual thing for both mum and baby that other than chatting with other mums who were doing it at the time, there wasn’t much support that could be offered. 

The first time round I’d say I didn’t do much to look after myself. I hated any routines, drank too much coffee, ate too many pastries, never caught up on sleep… the usual pitfalls. But hanging out with good friends to share the journey helped. Second time round (and with a much easier baby), I have found it a lot easier to look after myself through following the baby’s natural routine and my son’s school day.  

If I could go back and give myself some advice, knowing now that I wouldn’t be able to breastfeed my second baby, I would try to enjoy the time spent breastfeeding more. I loved the act of it, but it did take a long time, and he was a very hungry baby. Twelve months was such a short period of time in the grand scheme of my life and I would have liked to have been able to see the bigger picture more often and realise how precious the time was. I guess at that point I didn’t realise I might not have a second child and wasn’t even aware of BRCA1 or the concept of a preventative mastectomy, so I can also still understand the frustration at having to sit around for so long in the day and through the night. 

Every stage of parenting is fleeting, so trust yourself and your baby and get every bit of enjoyment you can out of them. Any failing that, on dark days, there’s friends and family, healthcare professionals and loads of information online and in books to turn to!