Breastfeeding is hard work. It really is. Both emotionally, when it dosen't quite go to plan (or even when it does and it is just really repetitive) and physically, when it hurts or when your body is working on supplying energy for two of you from what you eat.
The UK has one of the lowest instances of breastfeeding continuing well into the first year. It is such an emotive subject it is a difficult one too discuss without upsetting people, so let me be clear. I am not suggesting that there is anything wrong with formula feeding. In fact, both my children have been (& in one case still are) combination fed. It's what works for us.
Both my children have also had that terrifying diagnosis of 'failing to thrive' when they were exclusively breastfed. Both of my children were ultimately diagnosed with a 'posterior tongue tie.' Both then had formula introduced while we waited for the tongue tie procedure to take place.
When The Girl was first diagnosed as 'failing th thrive' the Health Visitor told me to 'just give her formula.' Easier said then done, as she flat refused the bottle. But I wasn't happy with that answer, and saught out the help of the nearest lactation specialists. They found the tongue tie almost immediately and referred us (after following proper procedure) to a specialist. At this point, with baby refusing to use a bottle I took her to a private clinic (www.feedingfirst.co.uk they were great) and paid to have the procedure done. I was desperate, and scared that my baby was going to suffer. I was a first-time mum and I was already convinced I was failing her in several ways, now I felt I couldn't even feed her properly. She was 4 months when she had it done, and it took a while, but we got back into breastfeeding. I confess I also started to wean her onto solids early because she wouldn't take the bottle and because I was so worried.
With The Boy, I asked the lactation consultant while we were still in the hospital and it was diagnosed there and then. Still, it took us nearly three months, the 'failing to thrive diagnosis' and a bout of thrush for him and me (who knew that was a thing?) before we were referred and the procedure was carried out. This time via the NHS (www.kch.nhs.uk/service/a-z/tongue-tie). He would take a bottle however, so, after healing had happened properly I re-introduced his one bottle of formula a day (pumping didn't work for me this time because of the thrush, I will post separately about that!) And he happily combination feeds. Sometimes he gets one and a half bottles a day. Sometimes he gets none. It works for me because I worry less knowing that whatever he gets from me he is also being topped up with formula. Worry, (or stress), is the enemy of milk production, so it helps. Plus, alarmingly soon he will be introduced to solid food so he may as well get used to different tastes and textures in his mouth now.
The main thing that caused me difficulty in both these journeys was lack of support. I could have just switched to formula in that first instance when the Health Visitor told me to and got on with my life. My baby would have been fine, she would have 'thrived' in fact, but I would have felt like I had given up too soon, so I actively saught out help. It enabled me to continue breastfeeding The Girl until she was about 15 months, and I was pregnant again. We were down to one breastfeed a day by that point, but I liked knowing she was getting nutrients and anti-bodies she needed from me (breastmilk is so cleaver!) The support will mean I can continue to breastfeed The Boy until either he, or I, decide otherwise, but it will be under our control.
There is help out there, don't feel shy or undeserving, ask for it. Demand it if you have to. People like to help-they might get a cuddle with a newborn out of it, and you might feel back in control again, and that will help your sanity.