I didn’t think I would bottle feed. I knew that some people struggle to breastfeed and I don’t know why I was so sure I would be able to. I thought I would exclusively breastfeed for at least six months, then do a combination to give me a bit more freedom. I didn’t know that I would have all the problems I had – or that at five weeks, I would feel I had no option but to stop. You can read about what went wrong here but I wanted to write a post about why I am ok with bottle feeding. In fact, I’m more than ok with it.
There is so much pressure on mums to breastfeed and the bad thing is that pressure is not support. It’s quite telling that by 3 weeks after the last baby of 6 in my NCT group was born, none of us were still breastfeeding. That’s pretty bad. All of us tried – none of us managed to continue.
People who do manage to feed are very lucky and I’m not sure all of them always appreciate just how lucky they are. I didn’t give up lightly – nor did anyone else I know. I hate that feeling that you have to justify why you bottle feed your baby, as if you’re doing something wrong by them. I remember sitting in floods of tears, braless and in total agony, sobbing on my GP – telling him that there were times when I dreaded my baby waking up because the pain of feeding him was too much to bear. He looked me in the eye and said ‘why are you doing this to yourself? Formula isn’t poison! He will be perfectly healthy on formula.’ It was finally the reassurance that I needed and I started exclusively formula feeding Millar.
I was so worried that I was letting him down – that I had failed and that now he would be overweight, less intelligent and less bonded to me. But surely having a mother that loves it when you’re awake and is happy and pain-free is more valuable than breast milk that comes from a tense, miserable mother?
Bottle feeding has done many things for us. It means I am no longer in pain, which is the main thing
It has helped Millar’s reflux, as the tension of feeding was making this worse.
It helps my neurotic side of liking to know how much food he is getting.
It means he has regular feed times and I can structure the day around these.
He still tells me when he’s full and won’t guzzle a bottle if he doesn’t want it – one of the main ‘problems’ with bottle feeding.
I still have a wonderful bond with Millar. I do all the other things that lots of breastfeeding mums do – I babywear, we often co-sleep (necessity usually, not choice!) and I am doing baby led weaning, which is often associated more with breastfed babies.
It was a photo from my friends’ wedding that prompted this post – the photo at the top of the post. When I looked at it and saw me feeding Millar and both of us are happy, relaxed and close, I realised that I should not be ashamed of bottle feeding Millar. I have given him the best start I possibly could and I’m proud of that. Will I try to breastfeed next time? Of course. But I refuse to feel guilty about how I feed my baby.