Breastfeeding vs bottle-feeding. Why its ok not to breastfeed. Why we need to stop the shaming!
There is a huge amount of pressure put on women, from the moment they find out they are pregnant, to breastfeed. I remember from around 20 weeks pregnant, every midwife appointment I went to I was repeatedly asked whether I was planning on breastfeeding or not. Before I could even give them my answer, I was overwhelmed with leaflets and printouts and all sorts of information with all the benefits of breastfeeding and why breast is best and how I should absolutely, unquestionably choose breast over bottle. It didn’t seam like I was being offered a choice.
“Where were the leaflets about Cow and Gate over Aptamil? “
First of all, because I can already hear the cracking fingers of the mommy shamers preparing to knock out their finest breast is best arguments. I fully support breastfeeding, I did breastfeed and plan on breastfeeding my son too when he arrives. I understand there are tons of health benefits of choosing breast over bottle. Breastfeeding reduces the risk of infections resulting in fewer trips to the hospital, it protects baby from disease, it reduces the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) I could go on, but I think we all get it don’t we? Breastfeeding is great! With all that being said; Is it not still a woman’s personal decision whether to breastfeed or not?
When did choosing to breastfeed or formula feed our babies become the woman down the roads business? Or MommyShamer2k17’s? When did others decide that it was ok to make another woman feel guilty about the way they are feeding their child? Society puts an enormous amount of pressure on new mums, on women in general, do we really need this extra stress when we have just welcomed a little bundle of joy into the world? The answer is no. Trust that you are doing the best for you and your baby and know that that is all that matters! Who cares what Karen from the office says? Is she the one who has to deal with the decision you make? Does she have to wake up every 2 hours to feed a crying baby? Screw you Karen, I have a bag full of books, leaflets and printouts from my midwife with the health benefits of breast over bottle and I have google and I can make this decision without you. Unless you were in the room at the time of conception I don’t think you should have the right to dictate how I nurish my child thank you very much!… (Edit: Sorry fictional Karen from the fictional office, Im not sure what came over me then. Still on for coffee Monday?…)
I think some people forget that there are usually other variables involved when deciding whether to breast of bottle feed. For me, I always wanted to breastfeed, I wanted to feel a real bond with my daughter and from all that I had read, how better to do that than to exclusively breast feed. However, with life being life, that doesn’t always mean that you get what you want. I wasn’t producing enough milk and chose to supplement feeds with formula.
I managed to exclusively breastfeed for at least 2 and a half months. It was every 2 hours, it was tiring, it was hard, but it was worth it. I loved every second of it even though sometimes it hurt and I was absolutely exhausted. I was genuinely upset when my milk supply dropped after an illness. I tried for weeks to get it back. I spoke to my midwife and health visitor. I was referred to a lactation consultant where I could call for advice. I kept baby close, I tried to express after each feed, I did skin to skin, I googled how to increase milk supply almost every day and tried most of them but it wasn’t working.
I was making myself so upset and angry because I was trying everything and I wasn’t getting anywhere. My nipples were getting so sore because my daughter was suckling constantly just to get a couple of oz of mummy milk. In the end I couldn’t cope with how exhausted I was, and how my daughter would cry. I knew she wasn’t as full as she wanted to be and that made me feel sick. It came to the point where she would feed every 1.5-2 hours for around 45 minutes and I would feel massive amounts of anxiety when we were coming up to that time because I knew I didn’t have enough milk to give her. I made the decision that I would supplement a couple of feeds, usually the afternoon and night time feed with formula. I questioned myself and would constantly ask my husband whether he thought we were doing the right thing and whether it was ok for me to give her the formula. I remember him saying to me;
“Are you actually asking permission to make sure our daughter has a tummy full of milk?”
From then I decided to let all my worries and concerns over giving her formula go. I was not going to let my daughters health or my sanity be compromised because of the NEED to breastfeed because someone told me I had to. In the end my milk supply dropped so low that I had to stop breast feeding at around 5 months. That was ok for me.
The point is, there comes a point where a woman’s want to breastfeed cease to matter and actually feeding your baby with more than a few drops of mummy milk becomes the priority. Women SHOULD NOT have to feel guilt or shame over nursing their child in the best way they can.
There is enormous amount of pressure on women to breastfeed. I remember positing a photo on instagram of my husband doing his first feed. I felt the need to hashtag #expressedmilk #breastfeeding under the photo just incase someone was to look at this innocent photo and decided it was their right to make me feel guilty about bottle feeding. Even though it was expressed milk someone might think “oh hey is that formula?Yikes…” Its amazing how in this day and age people are made to feel like bad mums simply for feeding their baby. Am I right in thinking that formula has also been feeding babies since the late 1800’s? Am I missing something? It doesn’t have alcohol in does it? Drugs? You’d think we were giving our newborns pizza and coffee straight out of the womb!
I feel like I’ve rattled on at you for long enough now so I’ll end it here. I just wish women weren’t seen as selfish or like a failure if they choose to use formula over breastmilk by other mums who must have had a whole dairy farm concealed in their nursing bra. That somehow we are damaging our children by not offering the breast, and when we do we are told to cover up (but thats a whole other issue don’t get me started). I know I am going to get some negative responses here, thats ok. Like I said I totally support breastfeeding but its each individual mothers choice to choose breast or bottle and we should be able to make those choices without fear of shame.
My opinion is that I would rather have a healthy, happy baby who is full rather than an upset, grumpy and hungry baby. It shouldn’t matter whether its milk from Angela or Aptamil.