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29th Jan 2015

As a new dad, Darren O’Connor was not prepared for the breast/bottle debate

'If you don't try breastfeeding, are they judging you?'

Darren O’Connor is a fresh-out-of-the-box dad to one screaming little boy. He’s on a mission to become the best dad he can be. His blogs and podcasts at are mostly about the positive things associated with becoming a Dad, while his hilarious 
tweets document his parent fails as a newbie. This guy is one for the bookmark (chuckle) list. It doesn’t get more real than this. Welcome to this week’s guest blog.

I never really gave breastfeeding much thought until my wife Sinead was expecting our first child. Our conversations were always geared towards breastfeeding, so I never questioned the benefits, but what happened when she did start breastfeeding, I did not expect!

Every midwife we’ve ever met has always assured us there is no pressure or judgement if you decide not to breastfeed. Secretly however, you get the feeling that if you don’t at least try, they are judging you. A little at least.

Our little boy spent a week in the neonatal unit at Limerick Maternity Hospital and was fed formula through a tube in his nose, although they did give him what Sinead pumped from a bottle.

When, after a week, he was returned to us, he had great difficulty latching on. The midwives were great and really helped get him on the boob, but when they weren’t around it was super stressful. It was like he was a ticking time bomb. Unless you got him latched on in the first three seconds he exploded with screams and then there wasn’t a hope.

Stress levels were through the roof.

‘Will we just put him on formula?’ became a frequent question.

Well the midwives did not like this. Not one bit! They were adamant Sinead could do it and they made us feel a little bad for even considering the formula.

So I went and bought some nipple shields to see if that would make any difference. And they did. He started to feed much more consistently. The relief was immense.

After we got home there was even more pressure. It was all: ‘Are you joining a breast feeding group? Here are the dates! Come to the group! We didn’t see you at the group! You need to get off those nipple shields! They will affect your milk supply! He’s not putting on weight quick enough! Are you still using the nipple shields?’

That pressure really started to affect Sinead. All of a sudden it was our only topic of conversation. It wasn’t until a lactation consultant told her that stress will dry up your milk supply quicker than any nipple shield will and that Nathan was doing fine, did she relax.

Don’t get me wrong. I think the midwives, nurses and doctors are doing an amazing job in a grossly under-resourced system, but it seems like when you take the advice and “do right thing” you open up a can of worms that it is tricky to get away from.

My boy Nathan is now two-months-old and thriving. Sinead is still breast feeding and still using nipple shields. My advice, for what it is worth? There are countless options and combinations when it comes to parenting. Do what’s right for you.