Breast or bottle? A controversial choice in some people’s eyes.
This week is world breastfeeding week so I thought I would do a post related to it.
Firstly, although I am all for breastfeeding, I am not a militant mum who thinks anyone who chooses to feed their children formula is nothing short of harming their children, there is absolutely nothing wrong with formula if that is the choice you make, but I do believe that when it works, breast is best. I have friends who tried it and despite persevering with expressing, nipple shields, lotions, bleeding nipples, mastitis, combined feeding etc, it was just making them and their baby miserable; then it cannot possibly be best. A happy mum, makes a happy baby! Some mums beat themselves up when it all seems impossible, heartbroken they can’t feed them. But every mum loves their baby the same and we all want the best for them, just by loving, caring, feeding them, you are doing a brilliant job. How they get that nourishment and whether breast or formula needs to be what works for you and your family.
I do believe however, that mums should give it a go, even if just for the colostrum, as this first few days the colostrum is supposed to have so many health benefits, not to mention the feeding certainly helped my uterus contract back to size but oh my goodness the after pains where dreadful, and got worse with each child!
I was fortunate in that although the first few weeks consisted of constant feeding, painful let down and exhaustion. After that , it just all fell into place with all three. With KW1, I mastered massaging my breasts when feeding to help with engorgement and painful lumps, at night I slept on a towel with no bra as I think the free flowing milk also helped prevent them getting sore. I also rubbed breast milk onto my nipples, before they got cracked, I had a Fridge full of special cooling pads, lansinoh etc and luckily I never needed any of it.
Don’t get me wrong it really was hard work for the first few weeks and I felt like all I was doing was feeding, as feeds could take up to 90 minutes, and breast feeding babies want feeding at least every three hours, often more. It also really did hurt and that moment they latched on was toe curling, which turned into a shooting kind of pins and needle pain with the let down reflex. Ow!
My partner is more pro breastfeeding than me, and was ultra supportive throughout. Although during childbirth NCT classes, I don’t think the breastfeeding counsellor appreciated his sense of humour! What I didn’t know until after the class I suppose, was that he really did think it was best, and was keen for me to do it. I always said I would do it if it worked, I desperately hoped it would work but I wasn’t wanting to beat myself up (although knowing me, I would have done). Luckily for me, I loved breastfeeding and so did my kiddiewinks. Breastfeeding all came naturally to me and I often joke that the reason breastfeeding works so well for me, is because childbirth has always been a trauma ( but that’s another story). Hubby’s positivity towards breastfeeding as grown with each child.He really believes it is best and cannot understand why people don’t persevere. In the days when there was no formula people used to breastfeeding so why do so many people have problems today? In some ways I wish he could try it, then he would see why some woman have to stop or give up trying to feed, despite desperately wanting to breastfeed. Whether he would be as pro breast feeding, if it hadn’t worked for me, I don’t know.
Being a milk machine
Expressing is definitely not glamorous, it is noisy and a royal pain in the bum! It is something I dreaded doing with KW2 and KW3 (although with my eldest it gave me an excuse to sit on my bottom watching the TV). With each baby I have expressed, although with number two and three I had a lot less time for expressing! I don’t find expressing easy and can only manage 2-4 oz in twenty minutes to an hour. With KW1 I expressed enough for my hubby to give her a dream feed at 11 each night, but this changed to formula when she started taking 6oz plus bottles at the dream feed, she naturally cut this out. With KW2 and 3 expressing was more sporadic so hubby got a lot less chance to feed them, but it worked for us,
How long did I feed for?
KW1 decided she had had enough of the boob at 5 months, she was screaming at bedtime at my boob as it just wasn’t coming quick enough for her, my hubby brought in a bottle of formula and that was that, the next few days I was rejected in favour of the bottle. (She had been having at least a bottle of formula a day since about six weeks)
KW2 hardly had any formula, as he weaned early and ate for Britain, 98th percentile plus. He cut some milk feeds out quite early as he was over eating and spewing the milk up, ( we didn’t worry as he was getting plenty of milk in food and had lots on his brekkie). I gave up breastfeeding completely when I returned to work at 8 months,
KW3 is nearly 6 months and had her first bottle of formula yesterday, I had gone out (naughty mummy) and clearly she had not been satisfied by her bedtime feed. She always senses when I am in a rush. Today I tried; well hubby tried and I went to the gym and for a swim. But, she refused her 5pm feed, she did then have both boobs and the formula at bedtime. if possible I would like to keep that bedtime feed going once back at work, as other friends have done. I have to admit though I was still a bit sad about her having that formula! I know it’s silly, but I was.
My pros and cons
I am going to look at the pros and cons for me, I will omit the health facts and benefits as I am not a doctor or medical professional and this information is freely available to all anyway. So it goes without saying that all the benefits to the babies and I is a big pro!
-Once established you do not need to plan how much milk to take with you on a day out. Flexibility when socialising!
-No need for thinking ahead, Storing, preparing, making etc
-Once established you can do it discretely anywhere. (Although I did have a feeding apron which helped me do it in places I might usually feel a bit on show, and gave me a bit more freedom to where non breastfeeding friendly clothes.
-releases a natural sleepy hormone so night feeding is just a case of whack it out, feed and go back to sleep. I love the convenience of feeding as soon as they wake.
– possible to feed lying down at night time
– save around £10 a week on formula, ( until they start drinking a bit less)
– if other people are cuddling my baby, I get to steal her back to feed her
– no forgetting how many scoops, checking water temperature, sterilising.
– family members don’t get the lovely experience of feeding the baby, I let the siblings help out with the expressed milk, but it was nowhere near as frequent as if I had formula fed
– occasional embarrassing leaks in tops, leaving a lovely milk circle over the nipple
– breast pads, these cost and you get through a fair few at the beginning. Not to mention the fact i would regularly accidentally let them go into the washing machine, to wish they reacted a bit like tissues. Or I would leave them on the sofa and someone would end up with a used breast pad stuck to their bottom, thigh, side…
I bought some reusable bamboo ones this time, which worked much better, but I swear the washing machine eats them, like it does with socks
– lack of freedom, unable to leave my babies and just pop put for the day or night (although this can also be a plus point when you aren’t wanting to leave them)
– having to be careful with alcohol, although I have to admit with each child I have become slightly more relaxed about the amount I am willing to drink and feed with. The other week, KW3 had been sleeping though, I went out and drinks cocktails, she then woke for a feed at 2am, we had no expressed milk in, so I had to feed her! Oops…
What Made breastfeeding easier
– bamboo little lambs breast pads
-supportive hubby and family
-bebe au lait feeding apron
– feeding cushion in the early days
I love breastfeeding but appreciate it is not for everyone and will never judge others for the choice they make! It does disappoint me that some people judge the way people choose to feed their children, people slating mums breastfeeding in public, people moaning about formula. At the end of the day we are all parents feeding are children!
I love the way all my children see breastfeeding as the most natural thing in the world. When my youngest was a few weeks old, I caught KW2 feeding his sisters dolly with his ‘breasts’. What really made me chuckle was when he said ” she’s finished that booby, she needs to change sides.
He is going though a very, very interested stage at the minute. Lots of jokes about boobie milk and too my surprise he pretended to go to drink milk from my boobies, telling me what he was doing before he did it, which meant I had time to react. He was firmly told no it was for his sister and he only had it as a baby, hopefully, he won’t try that one again. Both children talk openly about feeding their sister and how she eats. They wouldn’t bat an eyelid if they saw a baby breast or bottle feeding.
I know I will be gutted when KW3 weans herself off the booby! Chances are she is my last baby, and the thought of not breastfeeding again is actually quite a pulling at heart string kind of feeling . Even now my tummy does a little flip flop when she latches on, but not a painful experience now, instead a ‘oh I love you so much’ kind of feeling. I can’t explain it, but I love it. I love the little noises she makes when seeing the boob coming out, the noise when feeding and the way she looks at me when snuggled in for a feed. I love the closeness, bonding and the fact that it is down to me that she is gaining weight and thriving , I love the fact that I provide that. Such a special experience!
Useful websites and support