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.