My second son turns 6 months old on Monday and he is breastfed. It feels weird to say that as i never imagined I would get to this point after a very different experience last time around.
When my first son F was born I had a terrible time trying to get feeding sorted. I was very keen to breastfeed but it was incredibly painful from the start, I had cracked and bleeding nipples that just wouldn’t heal. Unable to feed him directly we started on a exhausting cycle of pumping, bottle feeding and topping up with formula. When I had healed enough I tried to feed him myself but we just ended up back in the same boat. After two bouts of infectious mastitis and a miserable start to what should have been a very happy time I threw in the towel. I felt guilty but the sight of him happily drinking formula from a bottle meant i could finally relax. My boobs let out a sign of relief.
So fast forward 2.5 years and i though to myself ‘Hey i’ll give it a go, if it works great, if not nothing lost’. Now I’m not going to pretend it was easy – it was still toe curlingly painful for the first 3 or 4 weeks but i got my latch checked again and again, took him off if it was at all painful, applied buckets of lansinoh after every feed and avoided the barrage of torment to my nipples.
It was like wearing in a new pair of heels. You practise in them at home and gradually your feet get used to them. You become more confident and step out in public with your head held high, you look good! So when i look at S now (and how big he is!) i feel proud that i have grown this human being from nothing but my own body, it’s really kind of amazing.
The key benefits for me and the main reason i keep putting off introducing formula is that i don’t have to bother with sterilising, preparing formula or carting about a load of bottles along with all the other baby/toddler paraphernalia already weighing down my buggy. Plus the extra calories equate to 2 bars or dairy milk a day – yum!
BUT i am not exactly what you would call pro breastfeeding, it sounds weird but sometimes i am actually embarrassed to be associated with EBFers – why do you even need to tell people your baby is ‘EXCLUSIVELY’ breastfed anyway? It’s almost like saying ‘Hey I just want to make sure you are 100% clear that my baby has never had any of that formula muck.’ Is there really a need to state it?
There are so many groups, support lines and councellors to support breastfeeding mums but nothing for formula feeders. Perhaps it’s just my experience but if you can’t breastfeed and want advice on how to stop or the best way to make up formula it’s difficult to find. How about a formula feeders support group? Or better still just a ‘feeding support group’ that can offer help and advice on both methods? Breastfeeders could socialise with formula feeders and vice versa and we could all exist together in a perfect feeding harmony!
**************P.S. I have a new book OUT NOW! You can nab it on Amazon here or in your lovely local bookshop :)
I BF all my kiddos and around 6 mos introduced formula for baby #4 when my supply was low. It was so hard to find one that worked for him! Good luck to you.
I had the same experience with my daughter. She wouldn’t latch and it hurt so much! I followed the advice of the midwife and mixed-fed her, after breastfeeding, I’d give her a bottle of formula. This went on for about three months and then she just decided she didn’t want to breastfeed anymore. I felt like a complete failure and a bad mother =(
I’m sorry you had a bad experience too. It’s terrible we have all this pressure and guilt put on us – in the grand scheme of things it really doesn’t matter at all!
Thanks for this post, I really enjoy reading other people’s views on breastfeeding. I have breastfed both my girls, my first with lots of dramas, and I am really proud to have done it. But I am not a massive breastfeeding activist either, I think that we should all be able to feed our babies however we want to feed them and not feel guilty for it! x
Thanks for your comment Katie :) I just don’t understand why other people really care how you feed your baby! The most important thing is to do what makes you both happiest x
Whatever works for you – that is all, whatever is best. Woohoo for anyone who says I feed my baby in the most appropriate way for both of us – my HV told me to stop BF’ing for the good of my health – it was common sense that I needed to hear. My two are now 8 and 6, they both had breast and bottle and seem to have got this far without any ill effects ;)
Exactly. I wish I has such a supportive HV the first time round who had told me to stop sooner. I wasted so much time feeling miserable :( thanks so much for your comment xx
Another great post! :-) its so silly the way we are made to feel like we have to pick a side and only support one point of view.
Ahh thank you that’s very sweet of you to say! I totally agree x
A general feeding support group sounds like a great idea! I remember going out with friends from my NCT class and when the babies were tiny the formula feeders got the stink eye from random strangers and then as they passed the six month ish mark the stink eye turned to me for ‘still’ feeding my baby, and the girls with bottles were considerd the norm – none of us can win so I agree, support for choice is the way forward, although I’ll admit to be sufficiently pro breast feeding that I wish everyone would at least try it.
Yep know all about the stink eye! I can’t believe people have enough energy to get angry about how a total stranger feeds their baby.
Now Seth is going to be 6 months I wonder if it’ll start up, although I live in a very breast feeding friendly area.
Thanks so much for your comment :) xx
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Thanks for sharing your story and it’s really encouraging to hear it worked out more easily with your second. I had a rough time feeding my newborn son directly but was able to express milk to combination feed with formula after a wonderful health visitor helped me but the judgements about the bottles were awful and surprising. A midwife told me she planned to set up a breast feeding cafe for breastfeeders only and “bottle feeders” wouldn’t want to go anyway, as if we are different types of mothers! The judging is awful and anyway it could be expressed milk in the bottle not that it’s anyone’s business. Thankfully none of my friends have had bad experiences publically breastfeeding but maybe that changes as the children get bigger as suggested in the comments. All the guilt and judgement isn’t good for the parents and certainly not for our little people!
Seriously?!?! That’s shocking. I feel for all the women she ‘supports’ :(
Katie I know this is an old post… I’m a bit slow on the uptake!!! But I read it and just breathed a sigh of relief. I couldn’t breastfeed my daughter… I didn’t get any milk.. I tried everything and it was a vicious cycle of trying to feed, sore boobs, pumping, no sleep, topping up with formula and upset baby if we didn’t. In the end my midwife told me that I needed to make a decision that was best for my baby and me and we decided to formula feed. I was so devastated and put so much pressure on myself not to mention the pressure I felt from the health professionals, friends and STRANGERS. If I had had the choice of course I would have breastfed but I didn’t have the choice.
I felt like I had utterly failed as a mother. Isn’t that awful?! Even though my little one was being fed and most of all loved, I felt like a failure. Now I look at her and see how well she is thriving and I think about how silly I was to have put that kind of pressure on myself let alone obsorbing it from society too. It’s such a personal thing…
That was pretty much the exact experience i had janelle, i really feel it ruined what should have been a very special time. I wish i could go back and shake myself and say ‘it doesn’t matter!’
I know.. That’s why when reading your blog made me write and just feel this utter sense of relief that I wasn’t the only person in the world who had had this experience. I’m so hopeful that like you, if we are blessed with no 2, I can give it another go and be successful.. If not, of course I will be disappointed but I’m definitely not going to put myself through the same devastation like last time.
That’s exactly how i felt about it the second time round, i thought i would give it a bash but put no pressure on myself. Perhaps that’s why it was easier?!
I love your posts – so so funny because they’re true. The way I see it is this- when our kids are all 25 and writing their ruddy PhD’s no- one’s gonna a give a rat’s rear end whether they were breastfed!! Like so many other things of childhood it’s such a big deal at the time but is of absolutely no consequence later.
Btw if readers are bf don’t drink coffee. Dries your milk up. Did with me and my mum said “oOh yeah that’s what they told us in the sixties if you wanted to dry your milk up!” Gee thanks mum!