Milk Guilt

We had a great feeder in Olive. She was soooooo easy when it came to breastfeeding. Straight on and guzzled herself to a happy place every single time.  Her latch was perfect, almost instantly and she would feed quickly and regularly. Some would gloat about having The.Perfect.Breastfeeding.Baby and I did and true to form … that was going to turn out to be quite the jinx.

Enter Flynn Dixon, trouble with a capital F. He’s an arse man, it’s become clear that he’s definitely not a boob man, that is fo’sure.

When Flynn was born he was taken to special care not long after. He wouldn’t latch when he was with me at our very first meeting. I didn’t take any notice of it, honestly, I didn’t even think twice, we were too busy getting him sent off for light therapy and given he was only minutes old, you don’t expect much when it’s that early in the piece.  I actually never saw him again until about 9 or 10 hours later.

I expressed small amounts of colostrum that was taken to him and did so for a couple of days. He was given formula from birth as feeding can help eliminate jaundice. As as my milk was yet to come in they wanted to get a head start.

Great in theory, but when my little man came out of lights and I tried to feed him, he wouldn’t latch. A combination of a tongue tie and a love for the plastic nipple seemed to be the problem.

Throwing his head around like a wild animal, squealing and clearly distressed I decided that until his tongue tie was sorted I would express and bottle feed him. That way I knew he was feeding and I could see how much he would get.

Off I went, every three hours I would express, day and night, day and night and in the beginning, I was like the milk man on the first run of the day. Plenty for everyone! Flynn was loving it, he would drink plenty.

After 7 or so days after we had arrived home, Flynn still wasn’t latching and even though I tried, every time we had the same result. A distressed little boy who was getting no closer to feeding straight from his mum. After consulting a few people we were referred to have his tongue tie snipped. It was so simple, a quick procedure and all corrected. I attached him straight after and he fed really well. For the first time since we met him, he’d latched with ease and fed for longer than 30 seconds and the added bonus was, it didn’t hurt.

I left with confidence that I wouldn’t be spending my entire days expressing and feeding. The doubling up was ruling my day and stealing so much time from Olive so things were looking up.

So we left the clinic, got home and again, Flynn wouldn’t latch. I was told that if we were going to have success then it may take a few days for him to get the hang of it and not to worry if he didn’t. Like many other babies who are given a bottle at birth, it can be extremely hard for them to switch over to breastfeeding.

I tried for days, and the longer it went on, the more stressed I was getting. I had mum guilt. No matter what I did, I couldn’t win.  Express and feed Flynn which meant neglecting Olive for long periods of the day and night due to the double up, or, formula feed Flynn, meaning, more time with both kids but no breast milk for him.

As Flynn wasn’t my first child I found myself far more relaxed when it came to breast versus formula and even though in my head I had decided Flynn would be a formula baby, I felt terrible. All of a sudden everywhere I looked ‘Breast Is Best’ was staring back at me. Something that when Olive was breastfeeding I didn’t understand why people cared so much, and why other mums got so upset when they couldn’t breastfeed. I remember speaking to friends saying, “Who cares?!? As long as they’re healthy and being fed.”. Now I understand, I felt and still do in some ways like I was not doing the best for my baby. I was not giving him something I was able to give my first, like I had favoured her over him and like I didn’t care enough about him to persevere with it.

Instead now I know that I have made the best decision for my little boy and our family. There are days that I feel guilt, and when writing this I think maybe I’ll give it another go, but knowing how much time I spend trying to get Flynn to latch only to have him come off just seconds after and to see him so distressed while trying to shove my boob in his mouth.  In the grand scheme of things, it really is no sacrifice. The bond is still there and just as strong as it was with Olive, and this way Olive can be involved in feeding Flynn by helping hold his bottle. It means Brad feeds him while I cook dinner or overnight and that really takes the pressure off.

Having a second child has already opened my eyes to so many things, new emotions and experiences. I’m slowly feeling less guilt for not breastfeeding and am grateful for a very health happy little baby.

To any other mums out there going through similar issues, like me, I’m sure you’ve had many different emotions over the journey. All I can say is, do what your gut tells you. I knew from day two I wouldn’t be breastfeeding. I could just tell. I was more than happy to put Flynn on formula with the hope to breastfeed. The thing that I was so surprised about was how different one can be from another. How it can be so difficult to feed one when the first was a dream. It may have had something to do with a tongue tie, or him being prem, but at the end of the day I can’t change it and let’s face it, 1000’s of babies out there are formula fed, not every mother has the ability to breastfeed.

Oh, and if formula is so bad for babies why are they always sold out at the supermarket? Seriously that stuff is hard to get!!!

Tara Dixon
Tara Dixon
About me

I’m Tara and I’m the person behind No Cake For Breakfast. Feel free to visit the About page to learn more about what NCFB is all about.


October 20, 2015

Love love love this post!! I struggled to breastfeed my daughter (now 2) who also had a tongue tie. Her brother is now 6 weeks old and feeding like a champ and I feel guilty he's being breastfed and she wasn't. There is nothing wrong with formula, Mummy guilt is hard.

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