I’m absolutely all for mothers having a choice when it comes to feeding their baby. I wrote a post on here while still pregnant stating I would be trying to breastfeed but wouldn’t beat myself up if I wasn’t able to for whatever reason. I think moms should feel comfortable feeding wherever they like and shouldn’t have to deal with comments from ignorant jerks who don’t want to see a baby being fed by its mother.
However I can’t help but have this tiny bit of guilt attached to the fact I didn’t maintain breastfeeding. We tried to get Alexandra latched on pretty quickly after birth – although in my hazy drug-addled and exhausted state I have no memory about whether she actually fed properly that time. Over the next seven days I tried repeatedly to get breastfeeding to ‘work’ for us. I was producing milk, a lot of milk, so that wasn’t the problem. Alex just didn’t seem to want to go to the effort of feeding properly. She might latch on sometimes but then she wouldn’t actually do the necessary to get any milk.
Each day we seemed to spend longer and longer trying to get her to feed. It seemed I was either trying with her at my boob or expressing. She was being cup fed by Dylan occasionally and then we were also having to top her up with formula. Countless people tried to help us out (by people I mean midwives and healthcare assistants not just random passers by!) and offer advice and a helping hand. So many helping hands I felt like someone was constantly touching me!
By the Friday (she was born the previous Saturday) I was crying a lot about it. I know I’d just given birth and was hormonal anyway but I was very seriously ill by this point, I hadn’t been able to try breastfeeding for 24 hours due to a CT scan (they put dye through your veins which obviously isn’t safe for baby as it can get into your milk), during which time I’d had to express and throw it all away.
I was in pain, I was hooked up to oxygen 24/7, I couldn’t get to the bathroom and back on my own. Midwives were expressing concern Alex’s jaundice could return and she’d dropped the 10 per cent of her body weight and was a tiny 5lb 15 so we couldn’t afford for her to lose any more. Dylan and I had a chat and decided the best thing to do would be to formula feed. Immediately she began eating so much more and all the concerns about her health and the crying at every feed (from both of us) stopped. I knew we’d made the right decision. And thank heavens we did because three weeks later when I was back in hospital without her, how would we have coped then if I was still breastfeeding? And even if I’d managed to express enough to keep her going through the nights when we were apart, she would have to have been solely formula fed by the time I was in intensive care two weeks after that. By the time I came round my milk supply had ceased.
So all in all I think I have a reasonable back story to why I don’t breastfeed, even if I didn’t it would be absolutely fine. But I do still get these occasional pangs of guilt. I like to think I’d have tried for longer had I been well but who knows. I just know when people who don’t know me ask me whether she’s breast or bottle fed or when I perceive looks from people seeing me bottle feed her in public, I want to explain to them. I want to tell them I tried and it didn’t happen. I want to tell them even if we’d got through the first few weeks there’s no way we could still be breastfeeding now.
And I shouldn’t have to. I shouldn’t have to explain to anyone why we as a family made the decision we did. As much as it’s horrific for breastfeeding mothers to feel pushed out of social situations or to be sat at home feeling like they can’t go out, we also should be supporting bottle feeders! After all, we know the benefits of breast milk but as long as your child is happy, healthy and eating something – and you’re happy too – surely that’s the important thing?
Harriet and Alexandra X
20 week bump.
One of the biggest things which seems to divide opinion in the pregnancy/motherhood world is the whole battle between the breastfeeders and the bottle feeders. It really is the ‘issue du jour’ and seems to get people going more than most other subjects. I do find it bizarre when people have such a strong opinion they act so aghast at the other side’s reasoning – it seems like they’re forgetting these mothers are still going to feed, wash and look after their children. In some circles, saying ‘I’m not going to breastfeed’ does really produce the same reaction as if you said ‘I’m keeping the baby in a cupboard, putting it up the chimneys or down the mines when it’s seven and I’ll wash it only for birthdays and Christmases.
I completely understand how much research there is out there suggesting ‘breast is best’, detailing all of the wonderful things which will happen to your child if you choose to give it your own milk rather than Cow and Gate’s (other brands also available). We all know your baby will take its A-Levels aged 18 months, graduate at the age of four and probably be the world’s best piano player/runner/author before its tenth birthday if you breastfeed. But seriously, is there a need to be so anal about the whole thing? It’s not a war, both sides can win. I can’t imagine going to parents’ evening and the teacher saying ‘little Timmy is terribly behind with his times tables, it must be because you didn’t breastfeed.’
I also think the view is completely unfair on those who wanted to breastfeed but for whatever reason weren’t able to – if it’s out of their control then all you’re doing is being hugely spiteful rubbing it in their face how perfect you are because you managed to express liquid from your nipples. Well done.
When bump comes along I would like to give it a go – it might work, it might not. Myself and/or baby will come to some sort of agreement along the way I dare say – whether that’s a bottle, a boob (probably one of mine, not a random one) or a mix of the two. If it works, great! I’ll be happy, baby will be happy and maybe, just maybe, if someone asks for any helpful tips or advice I’ll impart what I’ve learned along the way. I definitely won’t judge, lecture or gloat. If it doesn’t work, then I’ll move on with my life and that’ll be that.
What’s your opinion? Did you/do you plan to breastfeed? Have you experienced bitchiness because you bottle fed?
Harriet and bump x