From mum of 2, Sarah
When I ask questions on the Mum’s Days facebook page I get some brilliant, interesting, constructive answers and advice. From what should I put in a packed lunch to how do I get Reubs off his bottle…these mums know their stuff. So a couple of weeks ago I figured I should share this amazing resource with the other Likers! If there were any questions or issues they were currently struggling with, they could send me a message and I would post the question for them. It’s resulted in some really interesting discussions about a whole host of things that hadn’t even crossed my mind.
Now, Sarah posted a comment saying she’d be interested to hear from the other mums about bottle feeding because when she couldn’t breastfeed she was made to feel awful. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – the breastfeeding/bottle feeding debate is a killer. You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t, and you know who beats us up the most about it? Us mamas! You can read my story about stopping breastfeeding after 7 months here.
So, to get the ball rolling, I asked Sarah if she would be willing to share her story in the hope this could help other people who are currently going through the same thing, or those who still feel guilty for having not breastfed whatever the age of your babe now! And, kindly she has written this for us about feeding her 2 adorable girls.
Bottle Feeding – The Guilt!
When I was pregnant, I did the whole NCT thing and learnt about breast feeding and how wonderful it is and how your children will be more clever, artistic and healthy than their bottle fed counter parts.
It came as quite a shock when my first baby just couldn’t or wouldn’t breast feed. She was in SCBU for 3 days, which I don’t think helped and once I got her back she just couldn’t. I tried for six whole weeks. Six weeks of sitting on the sofa, post c-section, in floods of tears with an army of breast feeding counsellors and health visitors looking at my boobs. Her latch was fine. They were all a bit confused. It just didn’t happen.
Then one day, another new health visitor came to see me and said, “Please stop crying. You’re beating yourself up over this. Your baby won’t die if you don’t breastfeed her. She won’t be stupid, ugly or ill all the time. Maybe it’s time to try bottle feeding?” It was the most amazing feeling of relief. Everyone else had put so much pressure on me – my NCT mums, my mum, myself, general people in the street (or so I thought) and it was like a weight had been lifted.
So we started sterilising and measuring. No-one warns you that you’ll constantly be washing and sterilising bottles. And, the cost of formula – oh my! Trying to go on holiday, on a plane, was just too much faff.
Where I live in London isn’t far from a very deprived area and my health visitor told me that bottle feeding is much more common in less affluent areas. I was kind of shocked. It costs so much to bottle feed – approx £15 per week just for formula – how could poorer families afford it? I think it’s these families that the government are trying to convert, but it feels like they’ve gone about it the wrong way. I felt so guilty for bottle feeding my daughter, worrying that her brain cells were ebbing away with every ounce of formula, when in fact it was my bank balance. My NCT group used to go on walks in a forest where we lived. All the other mums would turn up with just their baby carriers and baby. And there was me with bottles, cartons of milk, scissors, etc! Don’t get me wrong – it was lovely to be able to get my husband involved and we were able to leave her with my mum and go to a wedding a few months after she was born.
With my second daughter, I was ready again but I couldn’t feed her either. She was tongue tied when she was born (apparently a side effect from folic acid). After that was fixed, she began to feed well, but it made me so ill (I’m a diabetic) that I had to stop. I feel less guilty this time. My eldest turned 3 in May and wrote all of her birthday cards. She’s never been ill and she can swim 2m underwater by herself!
The main downside, apart from the cost and sterilising, is that health professionals aren’t able to give you any advice about bottle feeding at all – things like how much should you be giving in each feed, the importance of sticking with the same milk in the early days, the fact that you can switch to cows milk after a year, that you can buy special milks – colic milk, etc. They’re not allowed to tell you any of this.
I’d definitely advise any new mum to breast feed, just because of the cost, but it’s not easy and it’s not the only way so don’t lose hope!
What do you think?
Thank you so much Sarah! I hope this helps and if you have any thoughts to add or your own experience to share, please do comment below, I’d love to hear your take on this.
Also if you have a questions for the Mum’s Days facebook page about bottle feeding or dealing with guilt or anything else for that matter, please don’t hesitate to get in touch and I’ll ask your question xx
When Facebook Answers!
Since I posted this last week, there has been some lovely feedback on Facebook. Some of the other mums have shared their own experiences of bottle feeding and, rather than let their stories get lost in the Facebook Timeline Ether (that’s an official thing, I’ve decided, hence the capitalisation), I thought I would add them to this post!
Another wonderful blog! Thank you for sharing Sarah. I had never thought about breast feeding and just presumed I would. When my first was born 6 weeks early by c-sec, it just didn’t happen for us. Whatever it was – my boobs, her earliness, lack of skill, who knows? – I have never cried so much in my life. After 6 weeks of missing out on my baby due to the pressure I put on myself, a wonderful breastfeeding counsellor said much the same – just let it go! My second was born at full term but still we had problems (so I guess my boobs are to thank!!) and when the tears started to roll it was so much easier to know what to do. Both my girls are bright, smart and happy – what more could a mum ask for?! 3 years down the line, no one cares less how my girls were fed! x
Thank you Sarah. I felt terrible guilt after not bf my daughter after 8 weeks of tears. My daughter is beautiful, intelligent and full of beans! It didn’t seem to do her any harm and I know now I made the right decision for both of us. I am now pregnant with my second, due in 5 weeks. I’d love to bf, and will try again, but hopefully won’t feel as guilty if it doesn’t work out.
With my first (born at 42wks) I struggled for about 7 days of breast feeding (my baby just didn’t seem to be interested!!)…..as much as I enjoyed the closeness…it never felt natural to me! The midwives even showed me how to ‘cup feed’ in hospital hoping that the breast feeding would take off for me but still allowed me to ensure baby was getting food. After one bad night my hubby and I said enough was enough and went onto the bottle….the midwife walked in the next morning, saw the bottle and said ‘so you’ve gone on to bottles then?’ She was fine with it despite being an ‘old school’ midwife! With my second (born at 38wks) it was the same! Baby showed no interest! I also worried that even when they had a good go they weren’t getting enough so I still supplemented with formula! I have lots of midwife friends who are so pro breast feeding so I struggled with the ‘stigma’ of not breast feeding!….but I know my baby is happy and healthy and so am I! It also means my hubby can be very involved with feeding too! Go with what’s best for you I say! If you can breast feed then do it!….if you can’t don’t beat yourself up! x
Sarah, I can identify with your experience with your first child, I did the NCT thing, had emergency C section and had to try bond with my little boy in the SCBU, firstly being on a constant feed through his nose, and then once he was taken off that breast feeding with drips connected that would set off an alarm depending on the angle it was at!
I expressed milk whilst he was tube fed from my hospital bed looking at a photo, the most disturbing experience of my life. I managed a week of BF and he lost weight a second time and I made the decision to switch to formula. 2 of the 4 other mums on my NCT had also struggled with BF so I was lucky to not feel like I was frowned upon. Not BF has given me more freedom to get out and about as the 2 mums who do BF seem very housebound. Saying this 16 weeks on, a lady asked if I was BF and I felt I had to justify why I wasn’t. There is far too much pressure today to BF. Formula works for me and, although my son suffers terribly with wind (he has done so since being taken off his constant tube feed, also when on breast milk too), he is putting on weight and not had any sniffles or illness (which I can’t say the same for the babies of the BF mums from my NCT ).
Breast is best for some and I do believe that baby should get the nutritious first breast milk, but every child and every mum is different and everyone should be accepted for the decisions they make and not be judged. Thanks for this blog. I no longer will ‘justify’ myself.
I am diabetic too and struggled to breast feed even thought my girls apparently latched on fine, luckily in my area no one judged me and with my second I managed to breast feed for 10 weeks. I think it was myself who put the most pressure on. And I felt so guilty when I couldn’t do it xxx