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My Breastfeeding Experience {Becky}

Author: Becky Sappor

Some of you may recognise today’s post. It was originally published on 8th June 2016 but we are revisiting it today as it is a very relevant topic for two reasons. Firstly, MP’s are debating the advertising and packaging of formula milk. When Becky wrote this post it was because she had actively chosen to bottle feed Leo from birth but, as the team well know, there are many other reasons why you might end up formula feeding your baby even if you originally intended to breastfeed. This leads us on to the second reason why this post is relevant today. It is because of this post that our lovely Becky has been asked to speak on the BBC Breakfast Show about her bottle feeding experience in light of the legislation and to discuss why she made the choices she did. If you are reading this bright and early then make sure you tune in to BBC Breakfast at 7 30am to see her interview. If you are reading after then hopefully you can watch it on i-player. We would love to hear your thoughts on the whole subject so please do leave us a comment.

This post may perhaps not be what you are expecting. I am the only one of the team to have exclusively bottle fed my baby from birth. So my experience with breastfeeding is well, non-existent.

Breastfeeding was never something I could picture myself doing. The most natural thing in the world always seemed to feel strange to me. It’s a difficult one to put into words but I’ll try.

I feel like when it came to breastfeeding, all I heard was negative stories; horror stories about bleeding, infection, the stress levels being unbearable. I know how I am when I feel stressed and that was something I certainly didn’t want to be around my newborn. For something that is so natural, why would it take 3 different women to help me get my baby to latch on? (this happened to my poor friend, she was so confused about the whole thing) Is this not something that babies just do? What if my boobs don’t work properly? Maybe it’s partly a control thing. I like to know what’s happening and I felt so uneasy about not being able to know exactly how much food my baby would be getting. Knowing I could see exactly what he was having made me feel better. And in hindsight, perhaps I could’ve expressed some milk if I felt uncomfortable feeding but at the time, that never crossed my mind. I think I over thought everything about it.

I didn’t feel a great amount of pressure put on me by midwives. I was disappointed at one appointment though when a midwife assumed I’d be breastfeeding but when I said I was still unsure and feeling like I was leaning more towards bottle feeding she threw a knitted boob at me and told me that I would regret it for the rest of my life and when my child asked me when it was older why he/she wasn’t breastfed I would want to cry and regret it even more. I also had extremely supportive friends and family who reassured me that I would know what was right for me and to go with my gut.

Anyway, as the weeks went on I remained open minded but I was definitely leaning towards bottle feeding and so went armed with some mini bottles to feed my baby once he was born should I decide that I didn’t want to give breastfeeding a go. After 30 hours from feeling my first contraction, Leo arrived in the world. I was very confused. I don’t really remember the moment he was born too clearly (thank god there is some video action seconds after his arrival!) and after a quick cuddle, he was passed to his Daddy who very successfully whipped out a little bottle and got my boy fed.

And it continued from there. I loved feeding him. We spent many hours in the middle of the night getting to stare into each others eyes as he chugged on his formula and felt full and happy and content. Everyone enjoyed a turn bonding with him at feeding time and I felt completely stress free regarding his feeding habits.

Do I regret not breastfeeding? No. Will I breast feed this time around? I’m not sure. Just because I didn’t breastfeed Leo doesn’t mean I won’t necessarily feed his brother. For me, it’s all about how I feel in the moment. How are my stress levels (I’m aware I may be reading too much into the stressfulness of the whole thing but it is always the one reaction I have when I think about it). I don’t think it would be unfair for me to breastfeed one and not the other but equally I will be totally happy to follow the route I did with Leo and bottle feed exclusively if that’s what I feel I need to do.

I feel like the world is becoming slightly less judgy of Mothers who decide not to breastfeed and I am encountering more and more moms who have felt strong enough to not bow into the pressure and feed when they really don’t want to. Of course, we all know ‘breast is best’ from a nutritional stand but my kid is doing great and for us, it was best for him to have a happy mama, that knew when and how much he was eating.

Did you bottle feed exclusively? Do you find it hard to explain why? Did you feel a pressure to justify your decision? Did you breastfeed one child and not the other? All comments welcome as always.

Author: Becky Sappor

134 thoughts on “My Breastfeeding Experience {Becky}

  1. I’m sorry that I have to say that I do find it incredibly difficult to understand why anyone wouldn’t give breastfeeding a go. I’ve been very lucky and exclusively bf my baby with no problems whatsoever though I know this doesn’t appear to be the norm. I find it sad that you didn’t feel able to give it a try and seems you perhaps didn’t think you’d have the support (perhaps from midwives?) to overcome any problems? However I guess at the end of the day your baby was fed which is the main thing. It must be hard deciding not to bf too. I find it difficult to get my head around though! Good luck with baby number 2. I hope you do feel able to give it a go – it CAN be an amazing experience.

    1. How condescending are you! “However I guess at the end of the day your baby was fed which is the main thing.” Why can’t people just respect other peoples choices – there is no right or wrong and you have to do what is right for you, including not trying to breast feed if that is what you feel is right. It is completely that person’s choice what they do and as long as the child is loved that is all that matters!

  2. Well done Becky for speaking up. Like many of the choices we have to make as mums, they are our choices to be supported and never vilified. Yes, breast may be best nutritionally, but overall a happy and healthy mum and baby must surely come first. Good luck with #2.

  3. This is going to generate some comments!

    I breast fed exclusively to 5 and a bit months then continued until she was 18 months. Way longer than I ever thought I ever would but I found it so easy and given that I regularly left the house without wipes, bibs and spare vests I’m not cut out to have to add bottles to the list of things to carry around. Hell, sometimes it felt like I could barely remember the baby!

    But, I was bottle fed myself from birth. Adopted, always formula fed, expressing wasn’t an option. It’s not affected my career prospects or levels of intelligence (I think!) or whatever the breast is best campaign throws out. I think it maybe came so easily to me because I felt exactly zero pressure to do it. I always knew formula was an option. Maybe if they put less pressure on new Mum’s there would be less stress, anxiety and feelings of doubt.

    As someone very wise once said, just go with it.

    1. Ahhh me too! I’ve turned out alright without being breast fed myself (also adopted as a baby), though I enjoy breastfeeding my baby (and the other two when they were). Every parent has the right to chose and to do what feels right don’t they, as long as all the support and information is there for women. X

  4. Great to hear your story as this is exactly how I feel at the moment. I’m due with my first in 2 weeks. I’m open minded but more sided with bottle feeding.

    1. Remember that the stressful stories were the ones that people like to share, plenty of people also feed with zero problems and it comes completely naturally. For me, my baby didn’t have a great latch to begin with so it was an effort for the first few days but after that it was just so easy and felt great to know that I didn’t have to worry about clean bottles etc (especially when my trains were cancelled one time and I thought I was stranded – I had my boobs with me so knew that baby would be fine!).
      I’d recommend trying to give it a go for a week or so, to see how you get on.

  5. Well done Becky for being so honest. I breast fed for 3 months and hated every minute (I am a control freak though ?), the reduction in my stress levels when I switched to formula at 12 weeks was enormous. If I have another baby I’ll try breast feeding again, but I won’t let myself get so down or feel so unbelievably guilty if I switch to formula feeding. I had a really nice GP who said ‘happy mum = happy baby’, it takes a strong woman to not bow to the enormous pressure placed on mums to BF. My mum only BF me for 12 days but then carried on to exclusively BF my three younger siblings and there is no difference in terms of our health etc. It’s really refreshing to hear a formula feeding story that hasn’t got a theme of guilt and denial. Go Becky! Breast feeding isn’t for everyone x

  6. Well done Becky, I really love the honesty of the RMF team. I definitely get what you mean about worrying about being stressed whilst also coping with a newborn. I’m still breastfeeding my almost 6 month old and surprised I made it this far after a rocky start! Looking back I do think all the issues we had to begin with made it very stressful. Now things are much easier I’m really pleased I carried on and feel a great sense of achievement. But if I’d have switched to bottle feeding I don’t feel I would have regretted it. I really believe having a mum who’s looking after herself and her physical and mental well-being (whether that means breastfeeding or bottle-feeding, and all the other millions of decisions we have to make) is vital to bringing up a happy baby! When I started giving my little one a bottle of expressed milk out and about here and there, at first I felt like I wanted to tell people it was expressed milk in case they were judging me – I then thought about it and realised that I was doing what I felt was best for me and my baby, no justification needed! I hope that whatever you decide with number 2 that it all goes well!x

  7. I never breastfed my son. It never appealed to me and I don’t regret it at all. He was just shy of 9lbs at birth and by 4 weeks old his average milk consumption over the course of a day was around 25 ounces, rising to nearer 35-40 by the time he was 10 weeks. He was putting on 10oz between his weekly weigh ins at one point. He’s was and still is (at almost 2 years old) a tall, lean, well built boy and I’m not sure I could ever have produced enough milk to keep him satisfied.

    I count myself lucky that I have never experienced any negative comments and most of my friends were bottle feeders too. I was bottle fed, as was my husband so it seemed natural for me to do so too.

    I don’t really have an opinion on breastfeeding but it does make me very uneasy that some people are almost militant about it, “breastapo” of you like and I can’t really get my head around that mentality.

    I don’t really believe that it makes you more intelligent – as I’ve been told before! No one asked if I’d been breastfed when I graduated from university haha!

    Much like everything else in life, it’s a personal choice and certainly not one that requires vilification.

  8. I think do what is right for you, the only thing I’d say is that I think it’s totally normal before you’ve ever breastfed to find the thought of it a bit ‘strange’ and be unsure about doing it, I know I totally did! And I definitely found the first few attempts a bit odd and was a bit embarrassed by it all, but this totally passed and before long it felt like the most natural thing in the the world! I thought I’d only feed for 3 months but ended up going to 20! By 3 months it felt so normal to me there was no reason to stop, and so it carried on. I’m not saying that’s right for everyone, but just that those feelings of thinking it’s not for you can pass quite quickly once you’ve started. Also with the ‘horror stories’ – they are completely valid and do happen of course, but much like labour stories it’s often the negative experiences that get shared the most and people don’t tell you when it’s all been pretty straightforward and worked out well! For me I think one of the biggest benefits of breastfeeding (aside from the nutritional aspect) was the convenience, no washing and sterilising, no thinking ahead to making up feeds etc, no getting up in the night. But then I’m not the best at being uber organised so it just suited me to have food on tap and not have to think about it! Good luck with whatever you go with ? X

  9. As you know, I’m a strong advocate of breastfeeding, BUT I’m a stronger advocate of doing what’s best for you and your baby. I really struggled with BFing and definitely had a bit of a horror story, but the end result was magical. And I’m so glad I stuck with it. We did have to give Elle some formula top ups for a week or so, and that gave me the sense of relief and breathing space I needed, so I can completely understand why for some mums it’s a life saver.

    My biggest issue is the lack of support and help – whether you formula feed or breastfeed (or bottle feed breastmilk) I think the current levels of support aren’t good enough. All too often a pushy, old fashioned midwife (like the knitted boob lady) makes people feel like they aren’t good enough for struggling with feeding, it’s ridiculous. New mums need a big hug and someone to tell them it’s going to be ok, however they end up feeding their baby.

    Being a good mum is about so much more than how you chose to feed your baby for the first six months!!! x

  10. Thanks for sharing Becky.

    I had an unfortunately really tricky time breastfeeding my children – after struggling for several weeks with both I ended up formula feeding and although I feel sad that I couldn’t make it work, I did the best thing for them and feel lucky to have formula as an option. I had loads of amazing support so was just unlucky I think.

    Is hard when bottle feeding after not being able to breastfed when people tell you how natural it is (it didn’t come naturally to me!) or how they had trouble but are so determined (determination wasn’t why it didn’t work!) or how they breastfeed because of the faff of sterilizing etc (that’s clearly no-ones primary reason for breastfeeding!). Also I spend a maximum of 10 mins a day washing bottles and sterilizing in case anyone is worried about it.

    The conversation should be open and honest as you have been here ‘I didn’t want to breastfeed’, ‘I’m breastfeeding because I want to’, ‘I had to switch to formula because my baby was losing too much weight’. There’s no shame in any of those sentences and the more we all support each other’s honesty and choices, the less we’ll all feel guilty/judged/whatever for breast or bottle feeding.

  11. Great to read a non breastfeeding story. I tried but failed miserably, I think a combination of a very long birth, a blood transfusion, a delay in actually getting to be with my baby and having very large boobs led to him really struggling to latch on and see what was actually going on down there.
    He lost too much weight and so we went out and bought a breast pump and I expressed for 4 weeks. finding the time to actually express was impossible once hubby went back to work and my mum went home after staying with me for a week.
    In the end we gradually moved to formula and to cut a long story short then found out he was allergic to cows milk and got put on a special formula.
    I felt I had to use this as an ‘excuse’ as to why I was bottle feeding which is absolutely ridiculous! There is still a lot of judgement around bottle feeding and I feel that this is really unfair as no one knows exactly what a bottle feeding mother has been through, whether that’s just the guilt of making the choice from the off and questioning if you’ve done the right thing, or if you’ve struggled and in the end chosen the option that means your baby will be fed and BOTH of you less stressed and happy!

  12. Well done for sticking to your guns and going with what you thought was best for you and your baby! #strongmama #happybaby

  13. I think it’s important share all experiences of feeding – I don’t really understand why anyone should judge a mother for feeding their baby. Whatever the method. My first son is 2 weeks old today and we are breast feeding. I was very lucky and have had some fantastic support both in and out of hospital but I know that’s not the case for all. I’d heard lots of sore, cracked, bleeding nipple horror stories too but what I want expecting was the self doubt and lack of confidence that I was doing it right, he was getting enough etc. I then completely understood why breastfeeding is so tricky physically and emotionally. As I said thankfully I had some wonderful support, reassurance and encouragement to help me through, so I just wish all new mothers got that, whether they breast or formula feed, and we all leave our judgements aside xx

  14. It is definitely about what is right for you and your baby. So long as everyone is healthy and happy that is all that matters. I did breastfeed both girls and found it easy but still slightly ‘odd’! My sister in law however was just like you and never wanted to. My niece and nephew were both bottle fed from birth on formula and are perfectly happy and healthy kids. I was also very jealous that my brother in law could share the night feeds and general bonding whereas my girls only ever wanted me and Edd obviously couldn’t help! xx

  15. What you say about only hearing awful stories is very interesting. I’m breastfeeding my second son as I type and with both boys I’ve found it easy peasy. No cracked nipples no mastitis and both boys had plenty of wet and dirty nappies so I knew they were getting enough. I think you rarely hear the good stories as there’s not that much to say and often anyone who advocates for breastfeeding gets labelled smug or even breastapo.
    My life philosophy is try anything once. In your position I’d have to try just to see what it was like.

  16. Such a good honest post. It’s so interesting how stress manifests differently for each of us. I was so so anxious about the prospect of formula- my well meaning MIL bought me a perfect prep machine and all the kit and I just sat looking at it- what if I didn’t get it right and made my baby sick? I always thought (pre seeing the kit) I would introduce formula at 6 months and express before that to share the feeds but in spite of mastitis at the start my anxiety over getting the prep right was always higher than my stress about feeding her on the boob. It helped that she was so obviously thriving too.

    Happy mama happy little. Nobody should be able to force you into anything you don’t want to do. Idiot midwives like knitted boob lady do so much damage even to their own cause let alone to new mums self esteem. Emotive language like that should be a disciplinary issue, it’s just not acceptable to bully patients (imho)

    Good luck with little man 2, however you decide.

  17. To add- it was my own idiocy that worried me, nothing about the kit or the process. It’s obviously very safe, I am just a tool.

  18. I’ve had very different experiences and I do totally believe that how we are as mommy a can make the difference, with my first I desperately wanted to breastfeed, as a newly qualified HV I thought it would be straight forward, but it was not, mastitis 3 times and a very unhappy baby and mommy, in hindsight I probably had a bad latch/position so off to formula we went. With my 2nd and newly arrived 3rd baby I was much more relaxed but did have unfinished business with breastfeeding and successfully managed to feed them both. Millie is as healthy and bright as the others, as long as our babies are fed and loved, what more can we ask for!

  19. I breast fed my first baby – I have to admit, I didn’t really enjoy it. I never felt “natural” doing it, and I think it contributed to me struggling with motherhood in general. I persisted out of a guilt at the idea of giving up and out of a hope I was doing the right thing, but by around 4-5 months moved over to exclusive bottle feeding. I had friends that loved it & were sad to stop when they went back to work etc… and that must be lovely, but I felt relief (it still feels odd to say that, but I might as well be honest!). If I have another baby I might consider breast feeding for the first few weeks, but would not feel bad about bottle feeding straight away if it helped my state of mind!

  20. People will judge and have opinions both positive and negative no matter what you do. I personally think so long as your child is happy healthy and fed so what. Our daughter is 21 weeks old and I’ve exclusively pumped (couldn’t breastfeed for numerous reasons) so started pumping in the hospital while we sorted issues and still doing it now. I feel like she has had the best of both worlds, my milk but lovely bottle feeding bonding time with Daddy and Nana, Grandma and even both Grandad’s have fed her. It’s not easy and is massively time consuming, did I intend on doing it this long absolutely not but I’m quite tenacious so I’m going to see it through, would I recommend it, not with a toddler on hand too but it works for us. Have I had many many opinions and comments directed at me absolutely, have I listened to them no not at all. I have however found myself explaining to strangers that yes it’s a bottle but it’s my milk then thinking you don’t need to justify yourself, get a grip. On the other side my cousin’s little boy is nearly one and exclusively breastfed, he won’t take a bottle, and she has received just as many ‘helpful’ comments. Good luck with whatever you choose. *I used a napping baby opportunity to write this whilst pumping. Multitasking at its finest.

    1. So pleased to read about someone else exclusively expressing. I’m 9 weeks in and, so far, it’s working for us and I hope I can keep going to 6 months. It is time consuming and I have days when I almost give up but it does make me happy to know my son is getting my milk and can be fed by others. Definitely fighting the urge to tell strangers it’s breast milk though!

  21. I tried breastfeeding but had awful problems, not with pain or sore nipples, which is what I was expecting, but my little one just wouldn’t feed, three sucks and she was out. I tried for 5 weeks, which doesn’t feel like that long now, but at the time was an eternity of heart ache. I made the decision to exclusively express for my daughter and we’re still going strong at almost 6 months. I’m really proud that I’m feeding this way but in the beginning when I whipped out a bottle rather than my boob in public I felt like shouting ‘it’s ok, it’s breastmilk’. Because people do judge. Unless you’ve been through it that is and then all that judgement goes away. We all make personal decisions about what is best for us and our babies and no one has the right to tell us we’re doing the wrong thing or that we should be doing things differently. We make a thousand decisions every day and all of them are routed in love. So carry on mummys, feed however you want to and be proud. You’re all amazing x

  22. So lovely to hear a successful feeding story regardless of whether it’s bottle or breast!

    I have experience of both, my first was bottle fed from week two after a nightmare start to breastfeeding…in short, I hated everything about it and it made me feel like a total failure! I should have asked for help but I thought that would force me to carry on with something I really didn’t enjoy or want to do. I didn’t find bottle feeding much easier, turns out we had a fussy/ hungry/ windy baby!
    Second time around I thought I’d give it another try, it came much more naturally and just seemed to work! I exclusively breastfed for 13 months….much longer than I expected to but it just happened that way!

    I’m now 9 days away from my due date with number 3 and I hope that breastfeeding works this time too. The thought of sterilising, making bottles and being organised as well as looking after 2 seriously energetic boys and a newborn makes me feel very stressed indeed!

    Well done for doing what made you (and beautiful Leo) happy. You know what’s best for your family. I think we are incredibly lucky to have the choice! X

  23. This is such a refreshing article, as soon as I saw the intro I thought “yes!”. Before I had my son (who is 9 weeks old), I kept a very open mind about breastfeeding but due to a number of reasons – including me being in quite a lot of pain post birth, my son having tongue tie (which docs didn’t think was severe enough to snip) and really confusing advice from nurses in the hospital -which led to my body going into shock after expressing too much – I didn’t enjoy breastfeeding at all and the whole experience made me feel very down.

    I can honestly say I do not regret deciding, when he was 2 weeks old, to exclusively formula feed and felt like a weight was lifted off. He is thriving and is a really alert, contented baby and that to me is what is important. As a mum and baby we are very happy and I don’t feel like our bond could be any stronger.

    As a control freak (!) I also love knowing how much he is getting. Although I completely respect that natures way is the best, isnt it wonderful that mums have the opportunity to make the choice that’s right for them and their baby.

    If you are able to breast feed – great, go for it, I take my hat off to all the breastfeeding mothers out there. But please don’t judge those who decide not to. I was bottle fed myself as were all my siblings and cousins. My brother didn’t get a cold until he was 16 and we have all been healthy, intelligent people. The health and prospects of a child are impacted by a whole spectrum of factors, not just the source of where their milk came from in the first months of your life.

    I’d possibly try breastfeeding a second time round but if it didn’t work out I’d happily have another formula fed baby. Surely the fact that they are well fed and loved is what’s important.

  24. This is interesting. I found bottle feeding/ expressing a real stress and once my baby managed to latch and feed at 6 weeks I felt a huge improvement in my mood. Maybe because the hormonal effect of breastfeeding for is an anti-depressant/ stress-reducing one. So if stress is a worry for you it could be worth giving a go for that reason? But I think the first few weeks can be so tough that lots of people give up, understandably, if their intention was just to give it a go.

    Having done both I’d never judge anyone for the way they chose to feed, but a tiny part of me feels sad that people miss out on the experience. I can’t describe it without sounding sappy, and maybe it’s the hormonal/ brain effect, but sometimes during breastfeeding there are these overwhelming moments when you feel such peace and love and connection, and nothing beats it. I joke to my husband I’ll be feeding til bub is 18 cos I’m addicted to those highs ?

  25. I am 23 weeks pregnant with numero 1 and hope that I will be able to breast feed, but am also very aware that it may not work out quite like that and in that case I hope that I will be able to formula feed without any guilt or feeling the need to justify my decision to anyone (seriously do people actually judge mothers for this? seems utterly ridiculous to me).
    My Mum’s best friend has 5 kids, all grown up now, and she said that the very thought of breast feeding made her feel physically sick. Whilst I don’t feel like that, I can relate to the feeling in that I have mahoosive boobs and certainly don’t think I will feel comfortable (or that it would be even be logistically possible to release a boob in public, it certainly wouldn’t be discreet anyhow lol) breastfeeding in public or in front of anyone other than my husband, mother and maybe my sisters at a push. I am aware that this will be incredibly prohibitive and I just hope that when the time comes I will manage or will overcome these insecurities.
    For me, there is another layer of complication, in that in the future (or not so distant future) I will be undergoing a preventative double mastectomy as I have a very high risk of developing breast cancer. If we are lucky enough to be blessed with more children I may not have my own boobs so formula will be the only option, so I think that makes me more determined to try and make it work with this little one, however I won’t be putting undue pressure on myself. Like many others it’ll be case of – whatever works best for Me and baby will be the best option for us.
    Thanks for sharing your story Becky and for doing what worked best for you and your gorgeous Leo xx

  26. I agree with Amy – we are incredibly lucky to have the choice! And to make the right choice for you and your baby is a very personal thing I think.
    I was fed on formula as was my sister and we’re fine! My mum just didn’t like the idea of it. Plus she swears we slept through the night far quicker than her friends’ babies because we were fuller for longer. I was born on 1st Nov and slept through from 24th Dec – nice Christmas present for my parents!!
    I’m think I’m going to give breast feeding a go when our little one arrives. I like the idea of expressing my milk so I know how much baby is getting – my friend is doing that at the moment and it really seems the best of both worlds. Dad (or anyone!) can get involved and do the feeding and I really like the sound of that!! 😉

  27. It was really nice to read this article – it did make me cry though as even though my daughter is two I still feel very raw about the fact that I failed to breastfeed.

    I was in intensive care straight after giving birth and was pumped full of a lot of different drugs. When I tried to feed a couple of days later nothing came out. I tried for three weeks to feed, I had several people over those weeks pulling at my boobs and still nothing came out (except blood from my poor cracked nipples).
    I cried every time I tried to feed and my daughter cried until she was given a bottle. When I decided to give up a wave of relief washed over me.

    I worried about what people thought of me. I had strangers asking how I was feeding her and I used to sit in the corner of a cafe trying to hide the bottle. I used to think that the people on checkouts were judging me when they put through the formula!

    Some people told me how it was easier for me as I could share feeds. NOOOOOOOOOOOO; My husband is great and helped at the weekend (if he woke up-deep sleeper) but during the week he was at work so I felt I should do it. I couldn’t just pop out a boob, I had to go downstairs with a crying baby, make up a fresh bottle, baby still crying and wait for it to cool, baby still crying. I couldn’t leave the house without working out how long I’d be out for and how much milk I thought she would drink. It isn’t easier!

    Breast is obviously best but don’t make the bottle feeders feel that they just didn’t try hard enough. Both are hard work. Whatever makes you all happy! xx

    1. Sorry to hear you had a hard time. I too felt the ‘wave of relief’ when I transitioned from breast to bottle. What got me was that no matter how bad things got, no one in healthcare would dare say just stop. Or provide any help with doing so. It was a very traumatising and lonely path. There should be more support to all women – not just breastfeeding ones.

      I did try my hardest to feed through the pain for 3.5 mths but recurring mastitis, a large abscess, numerous aspirations ( without anaesthetic) and finally surgery to remove a large chunk of my breast) were all too much. I was so brainwashed about bf that i continued to express on one side whilst having daily dressings on my gaping open wound on the other- waiting for the drugs to leave my system and feeding to recommence. Milk would seep through the dressings on the wounded side and more lumps were appearing on the good side. I had to return to hospital several times with baby for scans to check for more abscesses. Not once did anyone say it was ok to stop. And I didn’t know how to either- for fear of more abscesses if I didn’t feed or express every 2 hrs ( night or day)

      Finally the penny dropped. My child had been fine on formula while I had been in hospital. I took the plunge and a few days of sage tincture put an end to my pain – physically and emotionally. I began to enjoy parenthood – and by default became a better parent too. And it wasn’t just me that benefited from more sleep either – my baby finally enjoyed good rest too. Only after this did we really connect with each other. And only after this did a multitude of health issues resolve themselves. If only I had had support to do it sooner.

  28. My mum breastfed me until I was one. My sister had an undiagnosed tongue tie and wasn’t breastfed for very long at all. Can you tell the difference between us? Nope. Health and intelligence wise we’re pretty much identical.

    I know that anecdote does not equal evidence but although there are some broad advantages to breastfeeding, you have to look at a LOT of children to find them. We’re lucky, we live in a day and age where we have a healthy, safe alternative to breast milk. Hurrah! As long as babies get fed appropriately, who cares where it comes from?

    I went into it thinking that I’d give BF a try and if it didn’t work out (ie hurt, became a hassle, started to upset me or baby) then I’d switch to bottles. As it happens I had an extremely easy ride of it, and fed Juliet until she was 20 months. I did the same again this time around and am currently feeding 7wk old Tess while I play on the Internet on my phone. It worked for me but I know about 15 people it didn’t work for, or at least not easily. Life’s too short, you have to do what makes you happy.

  29. Breastfeeding really is such an emotive issue! I had a really tricky birth with my little boy and so my first milk was hand expressed by a nurse whilst I was only vaguely conscious of what was going on (dignity out the window!) however, when I first fed him he latched on immediately and we had no trouble (lucky I know). However, I found the constant round of feeds every 2 hours for 24 hours was not helping my recovery and actually making me ill. The decision to bottle feed was a hard and emotional one – we introduced it gradually from 6 weeks and then switched to formula – but we haven’t looked back! Everyone can feed him now, which is lovely, and I’m not on call every night! He is also now a strappingly robust 8 month old who lives both milk and solids. However, it doesn’t help him sleep – he’s still a real shocker!
    Good luck to anyone whichever decision they make – it’s not easy.

  30. I bottle fed both of mine, and don’t regret it for a second,

    I just didn’t want to, simple as that. I didn’t want responsibility for a baby all the time, I wanted my husband to equally share the night time feedings.

    Neither of mine are sickly or weak, they are both thriving.

    Breast is only best of its right for the mother. Babies are stressful enough without feeling forced into something you don’t think you want to do.

    Thanks for the honest post, I’m sure it will really help someone out there who is feeling a little confused and anxious.

  31. I breastfed my first with the odd bottle of formula to give me a break. Although that didn’t last long as she quite quickly refused the bottle. I found the first 6 weeks really tough and sore and demanding. I was also in a state of shock as I never realised it would be like that. feeding every hour – two hours is exhausting!

    However, after week 6 it’s almost like I turned a corner. It become easy and enjoyable. We found our routine and everything just clicked into place. I’ll not lie, I put a lot of pressure on myself to breastfeed and I would have felt immense guilt if I had given up too easily, especially since I know the outcome was great.

    I’ll never forget her last feed, on the sofa in the living room at 3pm. I was in tears that it was the last time. She was 9 months and I was going back to work. I’m expecting number 2 now and feel much more prepared about it this time and I’m def going to try again. I keep saying to myself not to stress if it doesn’t happen for whatever reason but I would be extremely upset if I couldn’t experience it again. I loved it eventually. I will however be introducing an expressed bottle from day one so that this baby can take a bottle if required from daddy / grandma! 🙂

  32. When I was due my son nearly 2 years ago my husband wasn’t keen for me to breastfeed, as he had heard lots of horror stories from the many women he works with of bleeding nipples, constant feeding and just lots of stress! I had an emergency caesarean and once in recovery the midwife suggested trying to feed my son and he just took to it straight away! He had a tongue tie cut at 10 weeks old but has been quite straightforward otherwise.

    I think I rushed home though after the birth and in the middle of our first night home I was panicking that he wasn’t getting any milk and my husband rushed to a 24h tesco to get the little ready made bottles of formula, but looking back I think I just needed that reassurance that he was getting what he needed.

    I’m still feeding him in the morning and before bed, which is amazing considering I started off just ‘giving it a go’ but it has been easier for us than preparing bottles etc when he was younger!

    I definitely believe in a fed baby being a happy baby, no matter how they are fed!

  33. Thank you thank you thank you. This echoes exactly how I felt before and after my baby was born but could never find anything that was honest like this. I had to pretend that breaths feeding hadn’t worked out just to cover up why I was bottle feeding. It’s as if you dare not say “I don’t want to breastfeed” for fear of being labelled a bad mum. My little boy is healthy and thriving and I am a happy well rested mum. Formula from day one has worked for us as a family and daddy has been super involved. I would do it again in a heart beat for any future baby. It has to be what’s right for you and your baby.

  34. Having seen a number of friends really struggle with breastfeeding (with one being pretty much housebound and another having her child admitted to hospital with the terribly titled “failure to thrive”) I realised that to be successful with breast feeding you had to really want it. Like have a deep rooted desire to breastfeed. And I just didn’t have that.

    I knew for me that bottle feeding would give me the freedom and control I needed to be a good parent.

    I admire women who do it because in a lot of cases it’s so hard – on top of all the other millions of things that are hard about being a parent! It never felt weird or uncomfortable the idea of breastfeeding – I just felt practically it wasn’t the right choice for me and my family.

    I can honestly say I’ve not regretted it for one second. My daughter is incredibly healthy, eats well and is very happy. And I absolutely love being a mum which is down to the choices I’ve made.

  35. The pressure to breastfeed is immense! You might see a difference this time round. My NCT group started meeting up at a BF support group. I quickly decided to quit and start our own as the bottle feeding mums felt that they couldn’t go. Why do people feel the need to make things so exclusive that some people are left without any support? I’m on the other side. I exclusively BF but I’ll never tell anyone it’s easy or stress free. I have to use nipple guards as my baby can’t latch (best product ever in my opinion, not a single bit of pain) I feed my 12wk old nearly every 2 hrs. I get more time between feeds if I’m out though. You would think that you get 2 hrs free time in between each feed, however this is not true. He feeds for an hr or more at a time! When you have guests or are experiencing the hottest May ever! You’re in the house or the shade feeding by yourself. Nobody can help you out unless you express. That’s another stress! Sometimes it can take an hr to express 5 ounces, where do I have a spare hr to express? The best part of BF is the bond (which you still get from bottle feeding) and the ease of night feeds. I also co – sleep during some feeds (that’s another post in itself, but I love it!) I think you do what’s best for you. It’s so hard to stick to your guns, but a mother’s instinct is not to be messed with. I’ve just found help The Gentle Sleep Guide (look on FB) she seems to be on th same wavelength as me and every time I read an article, I feel more confident in my own choices. Don’t ever let anyone make you feel guilty!

  36. Have read this post and every comment! I really do think each to their own, and why can’t we just let new Mums get on with it, make their own decisions and not even have to discuss what they are doing feeding wise, let alone have to justify it. I breastfed then mixed fed my little boy for 6 weeks before moving exclusively to formula and I’ve always been very comfortable with that. I don’t think any guilt or judgement should be attached to it at all. The other NCT Mums in my group all breastfed and some of the trauma they went through to make it work ! Good for you if that’s what you are determined to do but I was happy and relaxed from day one with my baby and for me, I didn’t understand why they put themselves through it at the time. I feel like it’s a big enough adjustment anyway as a new Mum without putting that kind of pressure on yourself. I’m due in 9 weeks with my second and plan to start off breastfeeding and see how I get on again and go with whatever works for me, my baby and our family.

  37. Yes breast is best for lots of reasons, but so is eating a 100% healthy diet and who does that?! There are many environmental factors that go into rasing a healthy child, breast milk is only one of them.

    You have to do what is best for you and your baby. As long as in making the decision the facts are given then I think we should start treating mothers like adults.

    I personally was intolerant to breast milk as a baby therefore was fed all sorts of prescription things that are no longer allowed due to health risk and it hasn’t stopped me in life.

    I do wish however that bottle feeding breast milk is considered an option. I think it slips most people’s minds.

  38. What winds me up is when people say ‘your child will wonder why they weren’t breastfed’ I can honestly say I really don’t care whether I was breastfed or not – being a twin it just wasn’t going to happen with me, my twin and another very slightly older. I hate the judgy people who say that they can’t understand. People are different.

  39. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to leave a comment today. Usually I try to reply to everyone but I felt today that everyone’s response was so succinct and perfect from their viewpoint that they didn’t require a follow up from me. I’m yet again blown away by the marvellous, open and honest community we have here at Rock My Family. We really are all in this together. Massive love and respect to each and everyone of you xx

  40. What frustrates me about this discussion is that it’s still happening. Why do we put spend so much time commenting on other parents choices. Becoming a parent is hard enough without others sharing their thoughts on how you have chosen to bring up your children. I wouldn’t expect someone to comment on what classes I join with my baby or which school I send my child to or what I gave them for their lunch on a Thursday or if I go back full time, part time or become a stay at home
    Mum. As parents we make hundreds of choices and decisions on a daily (sometimes hourly!) basis. We should be confident that we’re doing what’s best for our children and our families. I believe all a child cares about is that they have a loving home. That’s what we should focus on.

  41. So I have 4 children and always wanted to bf. The first, screamed uncontrollably never seemed full allways had terrible wind. The health visitor said it was my fault I wasn’t doing it properly and I gave up. ( turns out she had massive health issues meaning she couldn’t breath and feed ay once and I wasn’t doing anything wrong.) Baby 2 breastfed beautifully until 9 months when I went into hospital with child 1. And so she moved onto formula. Child 3 was born very sick and spent a week in intensive care but I still bf although at 3 months I gave up as he literally tore my nippes to shreds. When raking a bottle he was having 8 x 8oz bottles a day of hungry baby milk. ( he was a good eater and now a strapping 4 year old ) and baby number 4 well I’m bf whilst writing this although she is 16 months and really should give it up. She refuses cows mild formula or bottles so we’ve got our work cut out with this one ……. whatever any mummy decides is best then go for it. As long as baby is happy healthy and full what difference does it make? Although bf is a pretty good excuse to load up on delicious calories lol.

    1. As long as any baby is happy healthy and fed i dont see the problem my son was bottle fed exclusivly since birth and it was sooooooo hard while we were in hospital with the midwifes almost bullying me to “just give it a go” i was knackered i had a blood transfusion hucked up on pain relief and on a different ward to my son so i said no he can have a bottle. He thrived but it was a daily battle with midwifes then again with other mums when we left 🙁 x

  42. My eldest was born prematurely at 34 weeks. The pressure to breastfeed was IMMENSE. It wasn’t something I had been particularly keen on, but I tried. It failed. She dropped too much weight, never gained, became so jaundiced that we had to rush her back in to hospital less than 48 hours after discharge. She’d already endured NICU. She didn’t cry, wouldn’t feed, barely woke up. She was so tiny, so thin, so fragile, and I was on the verge of breaking. I switched to formula when she was 3 weeks old, and within a couple of days, her weight was going up, the jaundice was going, talk of more time in hospital and tube feeding had stopped. She recovered from the failed breastfeeding far more quickly than I did. I bottlefed my second child exclusively from birth. They’re now 11 and 8. Both slim and healthy, intelligent, and my bond with both of them is as tight as a bond can be. Breastfeeding is held up as the pinnacle of motherhood, but reality is that before formula, babies died when breastfeeding failed. We should not have to justify our decision. We need to STOP justifying our decision, and we need to STOP asking women to do so.

    1. My daughter was also born at 34 weeks by emergency c section. My milk didn’t come in at all for 3 days (despite lots of expressing attempts!) and I found the recovery from the section pretty brutal. I had a breast reduction many years ago and this can affect milk production too so I was really unsure about what to do. Of course the NICU had to start giving her the prem formula and so we just continued with this because her feeding routine was established. I did express and mix feed her when we went home but I just couldn’t find the time to do 8-10 times a day like the health visitor was telling me to!!!! Surely having a prem baby whilst recovering from a c section is enough to cope with?!? Our neonatal community team were happy because they could know exactly what she was getting and she gained weight beautifully. I really feel for you because what happened to you could so easily have happened to me……my daughter is nearly 5 months now and doing just brilliantly – happy & alert 🙂 And I feel I am a more relaxed first time mum because I stuck with her feeding routine established by NICU rather than getting pushed into trying to breastfeed by our health visitor…..

  43. This is great. Well done on sticking to your guns. My son is bottle fed. I tried breastfeeding initially after being dubious about it but so much pressure was put on me to breastfeed that I felt it was the only option. Even down to the midwives in hospital after I had 30hrs of labour ending in an emergency c-section. I had the midwives telling me forcefully that they weren’t going to get some of the milk I brought to feed him when I asked as I was in too much pain with him lay over my scar and that it doesn’t matter that I’m in pain I need to feed my baby.
    I tried for another few weeks and after finding out he was severely tongue tied which is why he wasn’t latching I switched to bottle feeding exclusively.
    He’s now 6 months old and thriving at everything. In my opinion as long as your baby is fed, happy and developing well that is all that matters. We shouldn’t be shamed for bottle feeding as not everyone knows your decision behind it.

  44. I love this post and can, in a way, relate to it. My little man is 5 weeks old but for the past week has been formula fed. The first 4 weeks I exclusively breastfed and it was the hardest 4 weeks of my life. Difficulties with latching and attachment resulted in a constantly hungry baby, full of trapped wind and developing suckling blisters on his top lip. We paid for private consultations with lactation specialists and even had to have a tongue tie released but nothing worked. My little man was just unable to feed off me and the pressure placed upon me to breastfeed meant that I felt robbed of my first month as a mummy because the weeks were spent in excruciating pain, sat up in bed ALL night whilst he fed and trying to settle a constantly screaming baby. I decided after the 4 weeks that surely breast was not best for us and decided to ignore pressure from midwives and go with my gut instinct. My little boy was unhappy and I needed to do something. Although the transition to formula was a little bumpy, I now have a much more content little man and I’m more relaxed knowing that he has a full tummy and does not have to struggle so hard to eat. In my opinion there just isn’t the support out there ( unless you’re willing to pay for it as we had to!) It was drummed into me at ante natal classes that beast is best but encounter any difficulties and midwives/HV had no clue how to help.

  45. My baby is 13 weeks old and I’ve been through hell and back with all three of my babies with tongue tie and septicaemia ! I was never pushed into breastfeeding but the difference with the help I recieved 6 years ago with my son is unbelievable!
    I had so much conflicting advice but no support with him ! And again wig my daughter a year later I felt I had no choice to stop breastfeeding with them both by 9 weeks as they were loosing weight and just couldn’t feed properly with the tongue tie issues despite then getting the snip! But I regretted it immensely afterwards feeling like a failure . Now my third baby has suffered the same issues but the advice and most importantly the support has been amazing !
    No pressure whatsoever just support and encouragement that what I ever I choose is the best option ! Now my baby is 13 weeks and I’m still struggling at times but now I choose to give her the off bottle of formula when I feel like she’s not getting enough from me ! Only for my boobs to fill with milk for the next feed!
    She’s loves both and the bond is there no matter what! But what’s important is that she is loved and that I ensure that its my choice how I feed her! That’s what makes the bond special ! It’s your baby and your choice ! With the support around you it’s amazing ! Life is hectic and my house is neglected but I will never get these moments back whereas the housework will always be there !
    If I choose to stop this time I know that I can’t regret a thing because it’s all been my decision and what’s best for my babies at the time but that decision is so much easier with the support around you xx

  46. This post really strikes a chord with me.
    I didn’t feel pressured by anyone else to breast feed but I put pressure on myself as I felt I had to give my son the best and all the evidence says breast is best. I have been to hell and back and all because I felt I’d have failed if l didn’t breastfeed.
    Firstly, he wouldn’t latch so I exclusively pumped for 7 weeks…through days of nipples so painful I couldn’t bear clothes or a shower on them, through days where I cried because I couldn’t settle the baby at the times I needed to express.
    I eventually got him to latch and I felt amazing, I could go out again and not worry about having to be home to express at certain times.
    Week 9 I developed redness and a fever, trip to out of hours gp resulted in antibiotics for mastitis. This helped the fever but I still had a hard tender lump in my breast…seen 3 GPs before I ended up admitted to hospital on iv antibiotics for an abscess. Have since been attending the breast clinic for multiple needle aspirations over past 2months, combined with maybe 8 courses of antibiotics. I had days where I couldn’t even pick up my baby as I was in so much pain (the original abscess was 14cm in size).
    I made the decision to wean gradually to prevent any complications with the other breast or the worry of a recurrence. I spent weeks desperate for my supply to reduce. When I finally gave up I felt a lot better.
    I feel pleased that my son got breast milk but I feel he would have benefited so much more from a mum that is well and happy not ill and stressed! There was so much support when I initially wanted to start breast feeding but I felt that the minute I developed the abscess I was just abandoned to get on with it and had no help to stop feeding!
    Breast is most definitely not always best…I understand my experience is unusual and most don’t have these problems but a happy mum makes a happy baby so wether that’s breast or bottle feeding is for nobody but the mum to decide. We need to support mums more in what ever decision they decide is for them.

  47. My daughter is 10 months and is still breastfed and I had a pretty easy going time with it. But none of my friends had my experience.

    Also do what you bloody well want to. Bottle, boob, formula or expressed. It’s your baby and your body.

  48. I had a funny experience with breast feeding. I honestly was not worried one bit. My mum breast fed three of us (me for 16months) and loved every second of it. She works with newborns too, as a nursery nurse, and never stops going on about what an amazing experience it was. I thought I’d feel the same. I didn’t! It was a real struggle. My son was tongue tied. It hurt, a lot! I wish I had stopped earlier. But for me it never seemed like an option. I also had something called d-mer which I only found a label for late on. It’s an intense feeling of anxiety and depression caused by falling dopamine levels right before let down. It made complete sense to me once I read about it, but prior to that I wondered why breast feeding made me feel so bad.
    My mum, of course, never understood why I felt like that. And feels awful that she ‘mis-sold’ the whole experience.
    I stopped at 10 months and felt relieved. I now feel that the best thing to do is what the mother feels is right. I’m not sure I’d put so much pressure on myself next time. There’s a niggling part of me that will always believe ‘breast is best’ though, and that may well be too loud for me to ignore.

  49. I really wish I had read this before I had my daughter.
    I was adamant I wanted to breastfeed throughout my pregnancy and never even considered what would happen if I couldn’t.
    Needless to say my little lady would not latch and simply screamed until she was red in the face, and both of us were near hysterical, when she was hungry. I remember vividly crying and begging the midwife to give her a bottle and then spending the next few weeks crying myself to sleep and feeling like a total failure because I couldn’t master ‘the most natural thing in the word’.
    Well now my gorgeous girl is nearly 1 and seeing her so lively and happy I’ve finally managed to let go of that pointless guilt.
    I do still envy those who have managed to breastfeed and I would probably try again if I had another baby.

  50. I have experience of both breast and bottlefeeding. Before my first was born I was determined to breastfeed, I had attended antenatal classes and ‘breast is best’ was certainly drummed into us, in fact the NCT teacher made it clear that the alternative would not be discussed. Being a naieve first time mum to be I also thought ‘well it’s natural, how hard can it really be?
    When my daughter was born despite trying all the different breastfeeding positions that the midwives and breastfeeding counsellors showed me, and being told she was latched on correctly, I still ended up with cracked, bleeding nipples which inevitably became very sore and I began to dread every feed. Then when she was 2 weeks I got mastitis and a breast abscess which required a visit to hospital to be drained and 3 rounds of antibiotics to get rid of the infection. I switched to formula and instead of guilt I felt relief. I know there are some mums who would have ‘battled through the pain’ and carried on, however I felt my mental health would have suffered if I did. I also didn’t want to look back on my daughter’s first few months in the future and remember being a stressed out emotional wreck of a mother, they are not little for long, maternity leave whizzes by in a flash and I wanted to be a happy mum who could enjoy my precious time with my baby. Formula does not seem to have done her any harm, she is 4.5 now, bright and happy and I can count on one hand the number of times I have taken her to the GP since birth.
    When I was pregnant with my second, I decided that I would give breastfeeding a go again, but if I experienced problems I would switch to formula. As I goes, my son was born at 30 weeks and spent the first 7 weeks of his life in NICU. Being so premature he was unable to either breast or bottlefeed to start with and had to be tube fed, so I started expressing from day 1 and built up my milk supply from there. Although expressing for a preterm baby is demanding (every 3 hours throughout the day including at night, and waking up to a breast pump is harder than waking up for a baby), it was very satisfying seeing how much milk I was producing and the fact he could be fed with my milk was the one thing I felt I had control over. When he was 35 weeks gestation he latched on for the first time, I was worried I would have the same issues I had with my daughter but he seemed to take to it easily, I had no pain or soreness and I ended up breastfeeding him for 15 months.
    Every mum does what she has to do given her situation at the time, and experiences of breastfeeding vary from mother to mother and also baby to baby. Bottom line is that as long as baby is fed and is well loved that is most important.

  51. I’m currently exclusively breastfeeding my 16 week old and I’ve actually felt under immense amounts of pressure to switch to bottle. Unfortunately most of this pressure has come from people very close to me who seem to think something’s wrong with me not leaving him at this point or maybe they would just like to feed him too, (so far he hasn’t accepted a bottle of expressed milk either, which I promise, myself and my hubby tried). Breastfeeding means a lot to me but the importance became greater after I didn’t have the delivery I was hoping for. I honestly feel that everyone should do what is right for them. I’ve been very lucky in that my breastfeeding experience has been fairly stress free as my son took to it very naturally. What is most important is to have support and respect for your decision from those closest to you. I’m never sure why people feel it is their place to challenge someone on an experience and decision which is so deeply personal.

  52. ‘Happy mum = happy baby!’
    It’s refreshing to read positive comments about bottle feeding. I tried to feed both my babies, with little success. With my first, the midwife said to me ‘I am telling you it’s ok to stop!’ And when struggling to feed those words were a breath of fresh air. I will always feel an incredible amount of guilt for not bf my babies, as I am fully aware (since it is consently rubbed in your face) that breast is best! But I have found on my journey that a happy mum = 2 happy thriving babies. I wish you all the best with your 2nd. It’s a interesting ride!!! X

  53. I breastfed my first son literally one time, then had a huge panic attack, cried and said I couldnt do it, I was so stressed and overwhelmed by the birth I just couldnt cope with it. I received little help or support from the midwives who just gave me bottles to use instead. Im happy with the way he was fed and hes a strong healthy 6 yr old now but I do feel massively in the minority for exclusively bottle feeding. Everyone always says things like ‘ oh I only breastfed for a short time, like 6 weeks’. I fed just the once! With my 2nd son I think I managed 2 days. Nothing overly negative or horrific happened, i just found it very stressful. The mental health and well being of the mother is massively important and noone knows whats going on in another persons head. Thank you for sharing your experience x

  54. Your story, feelings and overall experience almost mirrors mine. I gave birth on 19th may to a little boy after a long labour like yours. After being stressed about breastfeeding I surprised myself by trying to give it a go, only to feel a complete failure when I midwife plonked him under my boob when the both of us were totally exhausted and made me feel like I’d failed when he struggled to suck anything. We were then written off and classified as ‘artificially feeding’. I tried again once we were home but it just didn’t work and he was so used to formula by then I just carried on. I agree it is easier to swim against the tide of ‘breast is best’ advocates now but I still have to stop myself from justifying my decision making to people (mostly strangers) who stop to admire my baby and proceed to ask whether I’m breastfeeding! I admire any mum regardless of whether they breast or bottle feed and don’t regret my decision at all. We should be supporting one another rather than judging and offering opinions. We’re all women after all.

  55. I praise you for sharing your experiences and it’s a shame that some people can’t find it in them to support other mum’s own decisions.

    I attempted breastfeeding with both my daughter’s, I managed a fortnight with each. With my first, she wouldn’t latch and I had at least 5 people at the hospital and at my home afterwards try and teach us to feed. However it never worked and all I ended up with was mastitis, antibiotics, cracked nipples and in tears at every feed, completely stressed. When we switched to formula I felt relief and that I could finally bond properly,she instantly settled and I truly believe it was down to having a happy mum.

    With my second I gave breastfeeding a go again and although not so painful, she never fed for long enough and I knew the signs of mastitis by the end of week 1, I pushed further with expressing, but I dried up quick when juggling baby, toddler and pumping sessions didn’t work.

    Every mother has the right to choose and although nutritionally breast is best, it’s not for everyone. So let’s allow women to make a choice and support them whatever.

  56. I desperately wanted to breastfeed my twins, but gave up after a month of tube feeding and trying hard to bf. They never managed a single feed and I expressed for nearly 5 months because I felt so guilty. Now they are nearly 1, happy and healthy and I realise that the whole process massively affected us all very negatively. I am angry at the pressure that is put on women to bf when it isn’t always the best choice for a family.

    I have since read some new research that suggests that the benefits previously attributed to bf might be due to hormones in the womb instead, that also affect a woman’s ability to bf: correlation rather than causation. The only thing they can definitely link to the milk itself is an occasional increase in IQ of 1-2 points, and that is such a small margin that it shouldn’t make any noticeable difference to your life.

  57. Hi, I am a mother of 3 girls. The oldest I breast fed for 5 months, I had mastitis twice but battled my way through it. It came naturally to me to breast feed, it was restricting as she would not take a bottle of breast milk. However, her night feed from 4 months was formula. So this enabled me to go out in the evenings, as I knew she would take a bottle of she did wake during the night. My second, I breast fed for 10 weeks, she had quite bad reflux, which she took medication for. I couldn’t physically produce enough milk, as she would feed and then be sick. All day and most of the night. It was horrendous!!! Formula milk didn’t stop the sickness, however, early weaning did. She was weaned from 12 weeks and I never looked back. The less milk she had, the happier she was, and th sickness subsided. Did I feel that I had failed? NO way, for my sanity I made the best decision to stop breast feeding. I was shattered, and had her sister to care for aswell. Early weaning changed our lives for the better. Less sickness, she was happier and slept better. Baby number 3 is currently 7 months old, still breast feeding and currently on solids. I had quite a horrific birth, the placenta was fused to my womb, so I had to have the placenta surgically removed and 3 blood transfusions, due to blood loss. I was rushed to theatre straight after giving birth, I held her but didn’t feed her. The midwifes managed to express my breast milk and give it to her from a cup, as I was too poorly to handle her. I haven’t looked back since.I must admit I have tried to give formula in a bottle for bedtime, however she uses the breast as a comforter to sleep. She cat naps in the day and feeds a.m and p.m only. She is such a happy little baby that I don’t want upset her trying to wean her to formula. I don’t have to go back to work yet, but I must admit it’s restricting. I haven’t had a night out since before I was pregnant!! Luckily she sleeps well at night though. All I am trying to say is every baby is different, situations change, yes it’s hard to still be breast feeding when you have two other children to care for. But it’s working, and if we are all happy that’s all that matters. There are pros and cons to everything. You need to do what works for you and baby. Not what you think is expected from you. I was in a ward of 6 women and I was the only one breast feeding. It didn’t make me feel awkward, but then again it didn’t hurt, I was relaxed and suppose i knew what to expect. Don’t feel pressured by anyone.. You will know what’s right for you and baby when the time comes. My advice would be ( if you decide to breastfeed) to ensure they are latched on correctly, if not it WILL hurt!!! And make sure you have everything close to hand… Drink, phone, remote control and possibly sick cloth!!!
    Just enjoy, they grow so quickly, it’s not worth stressing over.
    Thanks, from a mother of 3 girls.

  58. It always amazes me still how judgemental some mothers can be. Even some of the comments on here, I did not feel the least bit sad when I decided to give up on breastfeeding, to be honest I actually felt relief! For me I strongly believe happy mum happy baby. But that’s the point, it’s different for everyone and it’s a shame that some women still criticise and look down on women that choose to bottle feed. What happened to sisterhood?!

  59. What a great piece Becky… I never normally comment on these things. But I have to. I am a mum of 3 beautiful boys… I exclusively breast fed my first two for 6 months. Which was so tough with the first but I really loved doing it for both. My 3rd son who is just 10 weeks old i have chosen to only formula feed. I could go on to explain my reasons why but it’s irrelevant. What’s relevant is that both me and my baby are happy. I have had amazing support from everyone for my decision and I have no regrets for any of my babies. My bottle fed baby is just as loved, happy and healthy as my breast fed boys. Too much pressure is put on new mums about everything. We need enjoy our babies… We shouldn’t have to explain ourselves. Especially to other mums. You follow your instinct and ignore anyone who judges you.

  60. There’s so much pressure around breastfeeding and I hate it. I desperately wanted to breastfeed my baby but after a horrible birth (we’re talking back-to-back, forceps, sudden pre-eclampsia and then eclampsia – seizures on the delivery bed and a life threatening situation) my boobs just decided that making milk was a step to far. I was devastated that it wasn’t working for us but kept trying and my baby, Albert, lost 11% of his body weight in the first few days. We had no choice but to switch to formula. I then found I was totally clueless about how to bottle feed, how to prepare it, sterilise things etc as throughout my whole pregnancy this had never been mentioned as an option. One of my good friends was a lifesaver and came round to show me soon after we got home as I felt so lost. I think it’s important to remember that some women have the choice to breastfeed taken away from them and judging anyone for how they feed their baby is bang out of order as you won’t know their story.
    As it is, Albert is now nearly 9 months old and is happy, healthy and thriving. Bottle or breast? Fed is best.

  61. I have exclusivley bottled fed both my daughters. The first I had to as I had chicken pox when she was born. With the second I decided I didn’t want to try to breast feed and it go wrong. Having suffered with post natal depression with my first I felt that failing to breast feed could make a depression worse. Now that baby is here it has just felt right to bottle feed. It lovely to watch daddy or gran feeding her and bonding. I was also very lucky to have had a midwife and health visitors who have supported bottle feeding.

  62. Your article strikes me as quite sad, if I’m honest. Breastfeeding isn’t about pain or stress, quite the opposite and its a shame you’ve been made to feel that way by your friends experiences. Yes, of course it’s about a mothers choice and quite right, however I’m tempted to think you weren’t given all the info regarding the risks of formula feeding.

  63. There’s a big (thirteen year) gap between my two children. When I had my son I was young and for a few reasons I decided I wanted to claim my own body back and I bottle-fed him from birth. Fast forward thirteen years and I’m currently exclusively breastfeeding my four month old daughter. Nutritionally, I believe formula is just as good (I’m in a minority there I know, but my bottle-fed son thrived, is one of the most intelligent people I know and I can count on one hand how many times he’s been unwell), but I still very much regret the decision I made to not breastfeed him – to the point that I’ve often felt really quite upset when I think of myself in the days after he was born suffering with engorgement when my milk came in, I wish I could go back in time, shake myself and say, “just feed him, you’ll love the breastfeeding journey!” but… I can’t. I know not everyone finds it easy but I’d encourage anyone who’s unsure to give it a go, you can never look back and regret doing that.

  64. When I had my son, I was determined to breastfeed exclusively. It never even crossed my mind that I couldn’t. My mum BF both me and my brother with no problems, that is all I knew.

    In reality, he wouldn’t latch properly, a parade of ‘helpful’ midwives came in and said, “he’s a lazy feeder”, or “don’t worry, he’ll get it eventually”. 2 days after the birth, my husband was admitted to hospital for spinal surgery. Turns out, helping me through Labour had exacerbated a herniated disc, that he had been nursing for 6 months. My husband was no longer there to offer immediate support, the following day I crashed, baby blues, post natal depression, total meltdown, STRESS. A midwife told me I would have to express or give my son formula, as he needed to feed. In my fugue, I resolutely determined to BF. I was attached to a pump day and night. My milk wasn’t coming due to stress and my son was losing weight. I caved (thankfully) and supplemented my baby with formula, in addition to whatever I could get.

    My husbands surgery went very well, so some stress was lifted. My son started putting on weight and finally I was allowed to go home. That day, my son latched for the first time 8 days post birth. I successfully BF for 5 months but never hit away from supplementing. He always took ages to feed, to the point where he would be on one side for 40 mins at a time, to get the ‘hind’ milk. BF was traumatic, isolating and time consuming for me. I’m a stubborn idiot though. I know people will pity this post, I don’t want that, I want people to see that even with dogged determination and grit it can still leave you feeling like you wished you had made a different decision. It is not easy for some women, and those who ‘give up?’ Are not quitters, they are doing what is right for their baby. Don’t ever question a mothers decision, you back it, support it and tell her she is brilliant no matter what.

  65. thanks for sharing your story. I’m having my second baby next week. with my daughter, I tried to breastfeed for a couple of days but with a third degree tear to recover from, I soon knocked it on the head as was struggling and in pain. I don’t regret bottlefeeding, it gave us a great routine and my little girl was happy and healthy. this time I’m thinking of just bottlefeeding however I found when both the midwife and health visitor have asked me what my thoughts are about feeding,I’ve felt unable to look them in the eye as I tell them! neither of them have put any pressure on me,so why do I feel embarrassed and guilty when explaining?

    1. I can relate to this so well Carly. My midwife has put no pressure on me but I felt the need to try and over explain myself?! We need to be confident in our choices and know we are doing what works best for us and our families as a whole. Good luck with everything x

  66. I breast fed my daughter till she was nine months. It was hard work and extremely demanding. She had silent reflux so screamed after feeding especially on an evening would feed until was sick. Which the cycle would start all over again. After her first lot of injections when she projectile vomited over the nurse she was prescribed gaviscon. Getting that down an exclusively breastfeeding baby that doesn’t take a bottle was a nightmare! I didn’t give her a bottle as I was told it would cause nipple confusion. She caught every illness going, coughs, colds, diarrhoea and vomiting.
    when my son was born I was going to give breastfeeding my best shot even with a 23 month old. After a 4 days I got mastitis no big problem I had that last time I fed through it. Not this time I needed two courses of antibiotics, was breast pumping the breast with mastitis. Then I got it in my other breast. Oh the agony!!! I was crying my nipples were bleeding, I wasnt producing enough milk for my son so he was suffering. After ten days I gave up and I was made to feel like a failure!! Why? For wanting my child to be fed and content? I’m no less of a mother if I bottle feed or breastfeed!! My son has reflux but it’s easier to manage due to him being bottle fed. My advice is no two babies are the same! My son is very content and growing, I know how much he’s eaten! As when my daughter cried she would use my breast for comfort a habit that is hard to break! Health professionals should just let mothers choose not be the breast feeding police! If I could have given myself any advice it would be do what is right for you, not what others expect!

  67. Very best of luck Becky!

    I want to say though, I do not like or trust “big formula,” who make vast profits and are highly manipulative- a respected academic recently demonstrated that she was asked by a formula company to put her name to an article she didn’t write all about how stressful breastfeeding is. That kind of underhand behaviour is grim and is presumably happening all the time and not being exposed.

    That said, banning formula ads and upping the pressure on Mums is NOT the answer, and given the huge funding cuts and their effect on breastfeeding support it is deeply hypocritical of the government to attempt to guilt trip women it has signally failed to support.

    Had our pre baby meet up with HV and she remembered the days when every hospital had a dedicated breastfeeding midwife on every shift who stood ready to help with any problems 24/7. Now even HV services and local children’s centres are being cut to shreds.

    But no, why invest in supporting all new Mums regardless of their choices when you can point the finger and make an easy law?

  68. Firstly, wow Becky! I’m in front of BBC1 at the moment so I will stick around. You’ll be amazing.

    I’m sure this comment will get lost in all of that ☝, but I couldn’t disappear without saying good luck.

    I remember reading the first time round and feeling so thankful Becky. I knew then I’d never be able to breastfeed my little one and up until then I felt pretty awful about it.

    You know how much I respect you as a mama, so to read this gave me reassurance that it was absolutely fine! As it is, our girl came to us 17-months into her little life but she still enjoys her morning and bedtime bottles, lying on my lap. I cherish every single one… In fact she’ll probably be right there while youre on the telly! Xx

      1. I think it’s relevant though Karen. One of the biggest scams is follow-on milk. Older children just don’t need it. It’s marketing BS. The age it’s marketed to will be getting all the nutrients they need from solids and other forms of naturally-derived milks (plant and dairy). It’s just another way for corporations to play on parents desire to “do the best” for their families. So in saying this I don’t judge patens who chose to use it, but I do judge the brands that peddle it.

  69. Thanks for highlighting this issue RMF. How’s it gone this time round with Tayo, Becky?

    I agree with Lucy S; this is just more demonisation of mothers both ways. I will repeat what I commented on Instagram. I dread the inevitable media sh!tstorm that will go down in the wake of this legislation as yet again women pitched against each other and depicted as taking sides. Whereas in reality we’ve got much more to deal with than worry about how another mother is feeding her child.

    It’s NO ONES business how anyone else chooses to feed their baby when their choice is a personal, informed one. That said, it’s EVERYONES business how information is disseminated by huge corporations with a primary financial agenda. This ought to be heavily regulated. BUT, as Lucy said, time, money and legislation should be invested in ensuring parents are given unbiased information and support, not easy headline-grabbing sweeping laws that just serve to antagonise.

    1. Yes Philippa- no way am I listening to women’s hour today! Media shitstorm is about right, I hope sensible voices like Becky’s are given more airtime than the usual polarised nonsense.

      Women supporting women to demand better for everyone.

    2. I’ll be putting a post together about my breastfeeding journey with Tayo in the near future so I can tell you all about it xx

    3. Amen Philippa. ? It’s so important that we don’t allow people to cause drama where there isn’t any. Most mothers I know put a lot of time, effort and thought into how they feed their kids so I’ll leave that decision up to them. Rock on, mamas.

      However (and I’ll be honest I haven’t looked into this legislation in any great detail) I do think it’s important NOT to conflate advertising with support and information. Advertising has a very specific goal in mind and its effects can be hugely damaging and thus should be tightly regulated. I’ll never forget the poster I saw recently from the 50s (?) – it was a cigarette manufacturer saying pregnant women should smoke their product because it leads to low birth weight in babies and, hey what a win/win as smaller babies are easier to push out. That sort of terrible message was once allowed in our society because a big company with lots of money wanted to make more money. So, yes, let’s NOT let the media distract us with a formula v breast debate because this isn’t what this is about.

  70. great post and good to get all sides. It’s also worth remembering that the whole bottle vs breast is only a debate at the start of your child’s life. As my father said it is probably the first of many decisions you will make for your child. What follows is do you use a dummy, when do you potty train, do you just feed your child sausages as that’s all he really likes (personal experience!). And it goes on and on for the rest of their lives. If I was asked I would say do what ever suits you and your child and trust that you’ll make the right decision. It really doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.

  71. I admit I find this a hard topic and one I’m so wary of discussing around my friends; as ultimately I believe ‘Happy Mummy, Happy Baby’. But I find it really really hard to understand why anyone wouldn’t want to at least try to breastfeed their baby. I hate how judgemental that sounds but its true 🙁 I 100% support women’s right to choose and understand how hard BF is. But it would still be my first choice if I could.

    1. You do realise the irony in that?!?! You’ve admitted you’re being judgemental then said how you 100% support the women’s right to choose?!?!

  72. Thank you Becky for speaking up on BBC breakfast,

    As a new mother, whilst in hospital and through community nursing I was pressured to feel like breast feeding was the only option if I wanted to do the best for my child.

    They made me feel like a complete failure for combination feeding my baby, even when this was 100% necessary to help me heal and recover from the initial feeding, and allowed me to continue to combination (majority breast) feed until 6+ months.

    They provided very little help on what formula to buy or even how to make it up for a day, I relied on friends’ experiences and information at the point of sale to help me make that decision!

  73. I just saw Becky on BBC Breakfast (Tayo is gorgeous!) and I think her comments were spot on about having correct information but not to encourage a stigma around formula. I personally find it bizarre that companies can advertise follow on milk (which you don’t need) but not the infant milk which is what parents need information on. I know that’s probably due to all the restrictions and wanting to promote breastfeeding but it certainly doesn’t help when you’re in the position of choosing which formula to feed your baby.

    I couldn’t breastfeed Freddie for a variety of reasons (I won’t bore you with) but it was unexpected so I was really a bit lost with bottle feeding as a whole and relied on my lovely NCT group to help get me started. Information is key and I feel there is a big lack of it when it comes to formula. Totally agree that follow on milk is a con!

  74. I find this really misleading RMF. The original blog post was clearly about bottle feeding versus breastfeeding and the segment on BBC was about advertising and packaging of formula milk. Two different topics and the MP interviewed on BBC clearly stated it was not questioning the mother’s choice – it is purely about ensuring they have accessible and accurate information so they can make an informed decision when selecting formula.

    1. Hi Joanne. Apologies if you find this misleading, that was of course not our intention. You are right that the two topics are slightly different but we chose to repost it as this article was the reason Becky was asked to speak on the BBC this morning and we therefore felt it was relevant to share again with our readers. Thank you for taking the time to comment. Lottie

  75. Well done Becky! I don’t think I would have kept it together in national TV but you’ve aced the interview. Tayo was like the most content and best behaved baby ever. I always hoped I would be able to breastfeed and had that not worked out I would have been so unprepared and wouldn’t know where to really start with choosing formula. I hate to say it but I was mostly swayed by marketing when I bought a couple of little bottles of Aptamil to take to the hospital with us in case I couldn’t breastfeed. There was certainly no research behind it. A more comprehensive and impartial feeding advice by the NHS would do more good than worrying about marketing – after all we navigate this every day with pretty much any other product.

  76. I’m not sure how I feel about this, I wholeheartedly believe happy mum happy baby and would never judge anyone for the choices they make for themselves and their family. I was lucky enough to breastfeed quite easily (with only one bout of mastitis). However, I did not feel supported in my breastfeeding experience (NHS, midwives etc were great) but once I’d left the safety of the hospital it was a different story, I felt everything I saw was aimed at bottle feeding parents to validate their choice or sensationalising breastfeeding with very public feeding photos . We all know breast is best but it would be nice for it to be acknowledged more and for us to get a small high five for the hard work we do too.

    1. This was my experience – formula feeding mothers constantly felt the need to tell me why they couldn’t or didn’t breastfeed. Sometimes they’d literally just walk up to me completely unprompted. Bizarre!

  77. I had planned to breastfeed both of my babies but with my first ended up needing 2 blood transfusions and combined with the shock of looking after a new baby plus no milk supply turned to bottle feeding. I was surprised at the total lack of support for this choice. I had been to many breastfeeding classes and had a breastfeeding support worker calling me all the time but didn’t know how to make up a bottle safely or how much to be feeding her.
    With my second he was tongue tied, jaundiced plus I had flat nipples so we really struggled. I cried every day for 3 weeks about it and my then 3 and a half year old witnessed this. I worried about how she would bond with her brother because of this and in the end decided to exclusively bottle feed him. I now have the happiest, healthiest 4 month old and his big sister adores him and I am one very happy mama. I think that is the most important thing.

  78. I couldn’t agree more – fed is best! And I really do not believe that anybody else should have an opinion on how you decide to feed your baby. Everybody’s experience is different and nobody has the right to pass judgment. I have bottle fed both of my girls after attempting breastfeeding, the first was a horrible experience, the second was taken out of my hands due to medical issues after birth, and they are amazing. Happy, content, no health issues and they have slept through from a very early age. It’s about time people started to respect other mums’ choices. And my absolute bug bear- NOBODY should be made to feel less adequate because they did not breastfeed! Breastfeeding mums are not doing a better job than bottle feeding mums! We are just making a different choice. Happy mum, happy baby!

  79. Good honest post!!
    Breastfeeding is often not a walk in the park. I breastfed my twins for 10 months.
    I feel somewhat embarrassed, as a doctor too, to say that I wouldn’t do it again. Not for twins. Although feeding them felt like the greatest accomplishment of my life I felt it lay the foundations for post natal anxiety, insomnia, guilt and crazy-I-don’t-recognise-myself moments like buying unlicensed supplements off the internet etc!! I hated the first 12 weeks, felt like I was on an endless cycle of try them on the boob, one at a time, then nipple shields, then express and top up. I was always feeding and forgot to enjoy my babies.
    We need to let Mum’s know that’s it’s okay not to. We are doing the best job we can do but our mental health matters to. And if you don’t want to from the start then I think that’s okay too.
    I’m a far less judgemental person now having had babies and come out the other side…
    We should be supporting all mummies regardless of their opinions/experiences with feeding.

  80. My experience with feeding, like many, hasn’t been particularly straightforward. While I was pregnant I was adamant that I wanted to breastfeed. It seemed simple, right?! WRONG.
    After a pretty traumatic labour which resulted in my needing a blood transfusion, and an MRI scan, both of us having five days worth of IV antibiotics and Oscar having a lumbar puncture, I found it pretty hard. I tried and tried and tried but genuinely I didn’t have enough milk. It will come in, I was repeatedly told. Well it most definitely didn’t! The pressure to breastfeed while spending the best part of a week in hospital was intense. But looking back, I was actually starving my baby!
    After about two weeks of a very unhappy baby and a miserable me, I decided to top up with formula ~ and the guilt was intense. Oscar was fuller but we unlocked another problem ~ reflux and eventually a diagnosis at seven weeks for a cows milk protein allergy {which was possibly caused after all the antibiotics at birth}.
    I was at my wits end ~ if I could exclusively breastfeed then Oscar wouldn’t have the milk issue… but obviously that wasn’t to be.
    It was actually a paediatrician that forced me to choose and there was only one answer as I couldn’t keep up with Oscar’s hunger.
    In all honesty, we’ve never looked back. I was a thousand times happier, once we found the right formula for Oscar he was like a new baby and to me, that being happy is the most important thing.
    If I’m lucky enough to have a next time then while I would initially like to try and breastfeed, I know I will switch to formula!

  81. It’s a difficult topic and so easy to offend but I do think there are some valid reasons for not advertising formula milk. We have one of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world and I think there are complex reasons behind this, one of the biggest ones being the sexualisation of breasts and strange attitude that so many in our culture have that using your breasts for their intended purpose is only acceptable behind closed doors… but anyways that’s another issue. I just think I can see the argument that advertising formula may be detrimental – marketing can spin anything to sound amazing and the bare fact of the matter is thar breast milk is what nature intended babies to drink and it is best for their health. That’s not to say that formula isn’t a perfectly adequate alternative but does it need to be pushed by advertising when to be fair it is already being very widely used? If a mum really doesn’t want to breastfeed then fair enough but I still think a huge amount DO want to and require more information and support in achieving that rather than seeing shiny adverts for formula that may encourage them to give up breastfeeding too soon. I would also agree with one of the posters above that actually once you’re past the very early days it is more bottle feeding that is deemed acceptable and pushed (when are you going to put them on a bottle?? – I must have heard this 100 times) with little support for breastfeeding beyond the early weeks x

    1. Great post Sarah – I would like to see formula advertising banned, I think the current advertising for follow on milk is very emotive and manipulative. I’d always intended to breastfeed but always had this image of motherhood as pacing the floor at night, and stacks of bottles by the sink – the exact scene formula adverts paint. I’d love to see a breastfeeding tv advert!

  82. Like so many others, breastfeeding wasn’t as smooth for us as I had hoped (my milk came in late due to severe blood loss) and we had to supplement with formula. I never felt judged by the midwives and health visitor and the general support was great. I will be sad when I stop feeding as – once it worked for both of us – it has been a wonderful bonding experience. And yes, you can definitely bond with a bottle, too (as our baby quite happily takes a bottle from anyone, including me). But emotionally, breastfeeding feels right to me.

    I definitely think that parents should be able to make an informed decision which works best for them. But I can’t imagine that anyone decided to formula feed based on advertising? And whilst breastfeeding is pushed by health services, there is no advertising as such so there is already an imbalance. Personally, I found it much more insulting that the government doesn’t allow Boots or Nectar points for formula for under 6 months old babies. Because obviously you’d decide to formula feed to collect shopping points ? .

    Well done on RMF for such an honest post!

      1. Right? I had the staff at Boots apologise a few times to me when they asked me for my Boots card and I said I can’t use it with the formula. It’s pretty expensive as it is so to take that away from families who might be struggling seems unfair to me. At the end of the day, breastfeeding is obviously cheaper so I doubt anyone would select to bottlefeed for the points.

  83. My choice of formula was partly based on the adverts for the follow-on milk … I went with the one that annoyed me the least! I never used follow-on milk, I just kept my son on the stage 1 milk until he was ready to go onto cow’s milk at one. From the discussion boards I noticed that people only changed because it’s cheaper, I’m personally not sure the advertising really makes that much difference.

    P.S I definitely agree that there needs to be more information for mothers who choose (for whatvever reason!) to bottle feed. We had no clue how much milk our son should have been taking at each feed during those first few weeks – surely this information should be contained in one of the many leaflets that are handed out! The rules on making bottles can be very overwhelming when it’s scary enough having a newborn to look after. I’m sure the midwifes could easily provide some tips before babies are born like they do for breastfeeding!

    1. I was quite lucky and my health visitor left me the bottle feeding leaflet as well as the usual breastfeeding advice. But I don’t think that this was the norm from talking to friends!

    2. I agree Suzy – there doesn’t seem to be a rule of thumb for formula – so some guidance from a healthcare practitioner would be useful!!

    3. It’s so interesting about the advertising Suzy. Love that you chose the one that annoyed you least!! Randomly we kept Molly on formula for her morning and evening bottles until she was nearly three. This was because she refused to drink cows milk. Flat out and although we could have stopped giving her milk altogether we didn’t. As she didn’t eat much (which we later found out was due to her tonsils) we wanted to make sure she was getting something. As you say I don’t think it was the advertising or the packaging that led me to do that. xx

  84. Well Done Becky – you looked so relaxed and comfortable being on the telly! Bravo! As did Tayo… sign of things to come maybe.

    I work in advertising. I am a mum. I breastfed for the first 4 months (not exclusively). My sister bottle fed from day 1. Friends of mine breastfed until toddler age.

    In my view, today’s conversation on BBC1 or on this re-post today is not about breastfed vs bottle fed but about whether or or not manufacturers/brands should be able to promote their product the way they currently do.

    I think it is interesting what Kat said about picking up a few bottles of Aptamil before going in to hospital – and feeling swayed by marketing. I picked some up too, Kat!

    Trust me, if advertising was THAT powerful my clients would never have anything to moan to me about – we would just buy loads of advertising and sit back and watch the pounds come rolling in. But the reality is that paying for advertising is never enough to line the back pockets for any brand. The more interesting point made my Alison (the MP on BBC1 this morning) is regarding the information that’s available on the packet and the misleading structure of the product portfolio (1, 2, 3, 4 etc) – both the responsibility of a marketer.

    Advertising is often a sign post to a shelf in store or a website (amongst many others) so that shoppers can find out more information… so there is a huge responsibility for brands to be more transparent here.

    Re the toddler milks, I also think that by the time our babies reach one-year-old that we are more savvy – the learning curve of parenthood is steep. I was told by a healthcare practitioner during my baby’s 12 month check that from one year old i should give my baby cow’s milk (my baby didn’t have any allergies) with vitamin supplement and that all the formula milk for 1+ was absolutely not necessary. Without that information I probably would have absent mindedly progressed to number 3 formula etc – in the belief that I was doing the best thing. So information from a trusted source at that stage was imperative for me.

    As first time parents, we are seeking soooo much info about sooo much stuff. We are more susceptible to messages, images, stories about all sorts of parenting topics – it is because of that focused attention that advertising has its best chance of appealing to people at that time. So there is a huge responsibility on these brands’ shoulders to provide accurate and non-misleading messaging – from what they say/don’t say in advertising right the way through to the info that is on the packaging and product website.

    Sorry – this is really long and a bit rambling, but wanted to share some insight from a marketers perspective.

    Again, well done Becky (and Tayo)

  85. Someone made a good point. When it comes to the decision to breast or bottle feed I’d be surprised to hear any mother saying ‘well I was going to breast feed but since seeing that formula advert I’m now going to bottle feed’. I’d say for most of us the decision is agonising. I agree that the key is that there needs to be no stigma attached to either and lots of support and information on both, provided by impartial organisations. On a separate note my 3 yr old is watching the iPad while I write this…I’m sure there’d be lots of judgment about that as well ?

  86. Advertising isn’t the factor that makes people choose formula I’m pretty certain. I totally agree with the all of the people above that there needs to be more breastfeeding support to help with really mastering it. The people I know that have got on really well have hired private midwifes who didn’t disappear after a week (the luxury!) of have had Mum’s staying who have done it themselves. Perhaps NCT classes being a bit more realistic, and setting expectations a little better about how hard it can be…I’ve never heard of any baby “crawling up” to the boob!! ? As a second time mum, I hardly got any support with feeding (even less than the first time!) so have resorted to feeding formula again after a few weeks.

    I was so lucky with my first, a midwife sensed I was on a slippery slope to PND thanks to my daughter failing to gain weight from breastfeeding over a number of weeks, and when I told her I couldn’t do it any more, actually taught me how to make a bottle, sterilise, and talked me through how much she should be taking…despite telling me she absolutely shouldn’t be talking to me about it at all.

  87. Thank you so much for posting this article: it almost made me cry as all the advice/information out there re feeding your baby is very much biased towards breast feeding. I am finding it very hard to tell people that I am intending not to breast feed, and at 6 months pregnant I have already had lectures and disappointed looks from work colleagues and family members. I even recently listened to a sales assistant at John Lewis go on for about 10 minutes about breast pumps and nipple creams as I felt too ashamed to tell her that I was intending to breast feed.

    It’s a shame that we should feel this way as I’m sure it’s not a decision any of us make lightly: we’re not just being lazy or selfish – we are making a judgement about what is best for everyone, as well as the baby. We all know that of course nutritionally, breast is best, and don’t need to be reminded of it at every turn. Some women can’t breast feed and I can’t imagine how it must feel to be judged for something you can’t do.

    For me, I have a multiple of factors that contribute to my decision, which probably like every one else’s decisions, are unique to me. I have had huge trouble staying pregnant, having suffered 4 miscarriages and an ectopic pregnancy which resulted in surgery where they had to remove half of my reproductive system. This left me with long term issues about my body – I felt it was failing me and my husband and I began to really loathe it for all the pain it was causing us. Luckily this story has a happy ending as I am now 28 weeks pregnant, but I have made the decision not to breastfeed as I don’t want to risk feeling that frustration with my body again and bring up old feelings, at a time so precious as having such a long awaited newborn. This is combined with wanted my husband to feel as involved as possible and being able to feed her too. Unfortunately when I state these feelings to those who ask, this is apparently not a good enough reason not to. We are all different and have different experiences, yet for some reason it seems okay for people who have not been through what you have experienced to try and tell you what to do. I am even apprehensive about starting my nct classes as I’m worried they will pressure me to change my mind or make me doubt my decision.

    Thank you RMF for posting the other side of the argument and making me feel more normal!

    1. Such a brave post – I did breastfed (my little one latch on himself at birth and fed for 2 hours- so I didn’t have a lot of choice in the matter!) and I guess am on the pro-breast camp – but totally get your decision and you absolutely shouldn’t feel scrutinised or judged by anyone. Good luck with your pregnancy, see what feels natural and works for you and try not to over think it (impossible I know at such an anxious time) x

  88. I’m sorry but I don’t think formula companies should be given free reign in advertising. It isn’t about presenting choice to mothers at all from their point of view, its about selling formula and making profit. All they would have to do is sow the seeds of doubt to a new pregnant mum – as becky said, she felt stressed by the thought of bf, she didn’t like the idea of not knowing how much baby was getting, she’d heard horror stories about pain and bleeding – formula companies will absolutely capitalise on completely normal worries such as these if they can. bf rates in this country are the lowest in the entire world. I at least give the government credit for trying to reverse this trend even though more 1 to 1 support is urgently needed. otherwise I can see it becoming a completely lost art/skill.

  89. I commented last time but given the different issue this time feel compelled to write.
    I breastfed my son until he was 13 months old and didn’t give him formula or a bottle – that was my choice and I was lucky that it worked well for us. I’m not an “earth mother” in any way shape or form and it was pure laziness not to try a bottle…. once he was 6 months he had expressed milk in a sippee cup
    I think the actual issue is the promotion of follow on milk which is unecessary and expensive for parents who I believe are misled into thinking it’s better (than cows milk) for their children. I don’t know enough about formula or formula feeding to comment on formula from birth but I do know that I would always choose to breastfeed where possible, and advertising of formula milk doesn’t make me want to go down that route this time either (I’m 32 weeks pregnant)
    I would also encourage anyone unsure to give breastfeeding a go – it can be a positive experience! There’s so much negativity surrounding it (bf) I think women feel that if they try and can’t they’re somehow a failure – that’s a bad message to be giving – and that formula feeding is easy (e.g. Those ready made bottles)
    Thats my twopence worth anyway!

  90. Breastfeeding at the beginning is hard work. There’s no two ways about that. All mums to be should be educated on the problems that can arise, how to solve common issues, how to contact someone for more help and the sheer amount of time you spend on the sofa in the early days. All of this sounds scary but it’s the reality and instead of glossing over these things women should be given the information so that they can make a truly informed decision. I really believe that many women give up within a few weeks because they just didn’t envision feeding for hours on end with red raw nipples that don’t get a break. It is hard but so are many things and it does get much easier after a while. However, if you don’t get a glimmer of wanting to breastfeed after hearing all of the nitty gritty then you shouldn’t be punished for using formula. Becky set out her reasons above based on being well informed and feeling that it would put a whole heap of extra stress on how she would be feeling. These feelings are so valid and not giving the safe information on how to make up a bottle properly is just dangerous, breeding a discontent between those that do and those that don’t is not empowering to anyone. The correct information and support is.

    1. Although I agree with some of your comments I have to say you’re wrong about breastfeeding being feeding for hours on end with red raw nipples … it’s exactly this sort of thing that puts people off wanting to try! Yes, it can be like that for people and much worse but also it can be easy and not the awful thing it can be made out to be! I totally agree women should be made aware of things that can happen but also that not everyone has any issues. Hope you don’t think I’m having a go at you personally I just wanted to put my experience across.

      1. Hi Victoria. I completely agree on differing experiences and we’ve tried to share as many different stories as we can from the RMF team over the last year (have a peek in the archives by searching breastfeeding). Some like Becky chose not to, some struggled, some couldn’t due to medical reasons and for others, like me, it happened very easily. I think it’s this balanced view that helps women make the right decision for them and as you say there is a whole mixed bag of experiences out there. x

      2. Absolutely every experience is different and despite the initial pain and long/frequent feeding I’m still doing it 4 months on. It’s so easy now and I love it. I wasn’t going to give it up though as I knew it would all pass eventually.

  91. 6 years ago I had a nightmare trying to breastfeed, the pressure was huge from midwives who ‘milked’ me daily and thought it was strange that I had no milk but “keep trying” while my poor unhappy baby was hungry! Fast forward 6 months ago and I didn’t even try, I had twins and the whole feeding experience was so much easier despite there being two of them! I didn’t even consider breastfeeding and the midwives didn’t question me (I was ready for a fight) either times are changing and the pressure is easing on new mums or they didn’t blame me after having twins! I was made to feel like a huge failure the first time this time mummy was happier as was daddy who enjoyed feeding and didn’t have a stressed out me whining at him! We shouldn’t need to feel any pressure it’s a decision that parents should be able to make without coercion. People who breastfeed are amazing but please stop chucking it down the rest of our throats!

  92. I’ll admit to buying Aptamil because it’s the most expensive and therefore (in my mind) must be the best for my baby! So more information on the nutritional benefits is welcome!

    For those who are pregnant for the first time and hoping to breastfeed, I’m not going to lie, in the beginning it’s tough. My LB is now 9 months old was was exclusively breastfed until he was 6 months old, and is now combi fed (formula 3 times a day and boob 3 times a day)

    My mum always said she had so much milk she found it easy (despite getting mastitis with my older brother). I didn’t have a big supply, so my mum didn’t really know how to advise, and the only advice I seemed to get from midwives was ‘if he is pooing and gaining weight then he is getting enough’. I can’t tell you the amount of times I looked on forums for advice on low supply, and had women say to me repeatedly ‘boobs are like factories, not warehouses, you can’t run out’. But my little boy definitely fed better when I had full boobs, so I found that tip very frustrating!

    I almost gave up when he was about 4/5 weeks old as he was slow at gaining weight, but I’m so glad I didn’t as it’s a wonderful experience and I’ll be sad to stop.

    My main point (after rambling) is cut yourself some slack, I think it’s actually quite a new thing to pressurise women into breast feeding. I was surprised to hear from my grandmother that she only breast fed my mum for 6 weeks, and didn’t breast feed my aunties at all (they are twins), after hearing that I didn’t feel so bad for considering bottle feeding, it was like I thought she would look down on me, when in fact she hadn’t even breast fed herself!

  93. I had brestfed my son from birth to approx 7 months. I had an extremely difficult labour was put to sleep as my placenta had abrupted. So as I was still under GA my partner had to feed my son a bottle, but as I awoke and came round and got my bearings back several hours later I asked the midwive if I could try to breastfeed and he latched on like a trooper and it continued from there, your nipples do slightly crack but I think its to do with them not being latched on correctly, but by the time I left the hospital 5 days later and with alot of help from the midwives I was shown and taught how to breastfeed properly to prevent any cracked nipples and soreness. I must admit though, I done it purely for nutritional purposes for my child and as he was my first, I thought I have more time to spend and concentrate on him. I however didnt really enjoy it to be honest, purely because I was not comfortable breastfeeding in public places and as it was the summer months I found it made me sweat more. I don’t no whether that was just me but I was sweating more than usual when I breastfed. I never ever felt comfortable except in my own home, there was many times where I wanted to give up but I felt guilty as it was something I wanted to do so I just carried on as it was a nice little bond when I was at home and comfortable but to be honest, I don’t know if I would do it all again as I find I was more stressed than relaxed about it and I honestly don’t think I enjoyed it to much. When I was at home I was fine but when I was out, I can honestly say I didn’t enjoy it one bit, I had a feeding apron also but I just never felt comfortable but I percieved for my child until he was fully weaned.

  94. My experience with my nearly 1 month old daughter mirrors that of Maike as the health visitor did leave a leaflet explaining how to bottle feed as well as the usual breastfeeding one. Though she comment on keeping up breastfeeding if possible and refered to the low rates of breastfeeding at 6 months.
    When I had my elder daughter – now just over two years – I’m sure I never received such a leaflet on bottle feeding so maybe things have changed in some areas?

  95. I myself have very similar views to Becky, i am due in 3 weeks and we’re expecting twins and i have no desire to breastfeed. It is just something which i have never personally imagined myself doing, i don’t feel comfortable with it and i don’t feel that it is a natural process to me. That’s just how i feel. I understand that there are SOME health benefits from breastfeeding however i was formula fed from birth due to my mum being very ill after my birth and in comparison to my brother who was bf, there is no health / intelligence difference (well, i am actually more intelligent but that’s a moot point!)

    I feel like midwives along with other mums are so persistent in telling you that you should be breastfeeding. My opinion is that as long as we are both healthy, happy and the baby is being fed enough then there is no issue and everyone should accept that. I’d like my partner and family to be involved in the feeding process of the babies and i think that will be a great way for them all to bond.

    I feel like people who say things like “even if its not for you, you should give it a try to see how it goes” are quite patronising as they appear to be accepting my decision when they truly aren’t. They should be saying “that’s great and good on you if that’s what you want to do” which is how i feel and what i say about mums who bf, i don’t say to them “oh, but i do think you should give formula a try to see which you prefer”

    I have my own opinions about breastfeeding which i don’t feel comfortable saying in front of people as i feel like i will be judged and i also wouldn’t want people to feel upset by things i may say. It is a very personal topic and i wish some people would take the same courtesy towards the non breastfeeders among us.

    Each to their own i say! We should all be supporting each other in the decisions we make, not critisicing and making this hard job even harder! Mums united!

  96. Wow, so many comments on this one 🙂 go Becky! Living in Paris I did not feel any pressure to breast feed as many new mums go back to work at 4 months and so bottle feed from birth so as not to get caught out at the end of mat leave with a baby who doesn’t take a bottle. I did however want to give breast feeding a go for a number of reasons, firstly that when Mum is ill, antibodies in the milk help to prevent baby getting the same, and my baby was born in November so I thought the impending cold/flu season was inevitable (you could also get the jab!). Another reason is that you have milk on tap! Any emergency meltdown from baby can be met with a boob! I didn’t want the expense and hassle of bottle feeding! And finally I wanted to continue the feeling of growing my baby! I know that sounds strange but it think it’s an amazing concept! Of course there are all those arguments about intelligence etc but I don’t think they are strong enough to make yourself miserable if bf isn’t working!! I also express everyday so my baby takes a bottle every evening, that works well and gives me a break to have a couple of glasses of wine if needed or go out for the evening!!

    I think mums should do what they feel is right, and what makes them calm and positive. When a Mum is stressed, baby can definitely feel it! I had no problems at all Breast feeding apart from the initial aches and pains of first few weeks and have loved it. I know I have been very lucky, but I want you to hear a positive story. This could easily be your story too!
    If you feel more confident to give bf a go with baby#2 then I’d say go for it, just to try the experience! And if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t matter! Bon courage for your new baby!

  97. I really wish I had read this before giving birth. It’s like reading my own thoughts. I never wanted to breastfeed and freaked out about it all through pregnancy. I tried it for about 3 days, hated every second, was super stressed. Baby wouldn’t latch and we wound up in hospital with him being fed through a tube. So from that day on I exclusively bottle fed. He is a happy thriving baby and I am so much more relaxed and so he is relaxed too. Happy mum, happy baby!
    However I do constantly feel judged at baby classes and by health visitors and midwives in the early days. But I stuck to my guns of bottle feeding and really glad I did. My baby my choice!

  98. I had my daughter last June and the pressure from our local hospital was incredible you had to take your own milk as it was provided and I was told on a number of occasions “everyone can breastfeed” well after 28 hours of labour then 5 hours in theatre post birth I came round to my frazzled husband a starving new born and the midwives ready there ramming my poor forceps bruised baby onto my boob, she screamed and screamed and wouldn’t latch and after about 10 mins I had enough and we got out our own bottles but the pressure didn’t stop there, on the hour throughout the next day staff were coming in trying to make me try no one would take no for an answer. At the end of the day my baby wouldn’t latch possibly if I’d tried harder I could have got her to latch in the end but I didn’t want the stress. I expressed and she also had formula and after a few weeks she was on formula exclusively and she’s gorgeous and healthy! I personally didn’t feel comfortable breast feeding in public or infront of family so perhaps my heart wasn’t in it from the start. Do whatever makes you happy and don’t judge anyone else.

  99. I can understand trying but then having to stop if the breastfeeding doesn’t work, the birth was terrible, or the feeding is just too painful – but to not even give it a go when the health benefits for bubs (and mums) are incredible- I find that hard to get my head around. Even feeding for a few days is amazing – when you’re producing colostrum – baby superfood 🙂
    You might love breastfeeding- it might come totally natural to you – but if you don’t try you never know.

  100. Breast milk is very important factor newborn baby. If you are busy mom you can use breast milk storage bag then you can collect it by breast pump, Finally you keep it freezing.

  101. Good day mums!

    I just noticed a good offer and thought I’d share with the group The Insiders are looking for parents to try various baby & toddler products for free and leave feedback. I’ve taken part in these before and they’re a pretty good way to try out new products.

    Checkout the links below!

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