This week’s #bottlefeedingstories comes from one of my favourite bloggers – Maddy over at The Speed Bump. She had a tough time in hospital after a rough birth, and found the staff on the ward judged her for being a younger Mum.
My name is Maddy and I blog at www.thespeedbump.co.uk. I started bottle feeding a few days after my daughter was born, although I’d planned to breastfeed.
Had you given much thought to breastfeeding before/while you were pregnant?
I definitely wanted to breastfeed. I was nervous – I got pregnant while I was a student, and so I knew my daughter would go into childcare after a few months so I could continue studying, so I was nervous about what that meant for breastfeeding, but I definitely liked the free aspect of it, so I wanted to do it!
What was your opinion of bottle feeding?
I didn’t really have an opinion; I didn’t really want to because it’s expensive, but I’ve never judged bottle feeding mums – I was bottle-fed myself and I’ve never had any negative effects from it, I’ve always been top of my class so I was sceptical about the “higher intelligence” claims anyway.
Were you offered any classes on breastfeeding by your healthcare team/midwives? Did you take any classes of your own ie. NCT?
I was offered antenatal classes, but they clashed with university lectures and I prioritised university. I couldn’t afford NCT.
What support did you receive to start and continue breastfeeding? What support would you have liked?
I really didn’t have much support at all. I remember sitting in the postnatal ward the day after having my daughter, and buzzing for help from the HCPs (health care professionals). They’d literally walk into the cubicle, grab my boob without talking to me, and walk out again without checking that she’d latched on. I’d then have to sit there and watch the same HCP sitting with the women in their late twenties and thirties for half an hour at a time, helping them perfect their latch, and it hurt. I could tell they thought I wasn’t worth bothering with because I was under twenty and statistically likely to end up bottle feeding anyway; me and the other younger mum on the ward were totally neglected when it came to breastfeeding help.
I would have liked antenatal classes that work around university and college classes, making it easier for younger parents-to-be to attend. I would also have liked the HCPs to not judge based on age, and to give everyone who wants to try and breastfeed equal attention and support.
Did you have a personal breastfeeding goal?
I wanted to do it for as long as possible really.
What triggered your move to bottle feeding? Would you consider it a choice or a necessity?
Definitely a necessity. I begged for help and was told “She’s not latching”, they wouldn’t check her for tongue tie etc. I asked about expressing and they told me “It’s too much commitment”, so they wouldn’t support me on that either. In the end, they said “Either give formula or sort out breastfeeding, we won’t let you leave hospital until you do”. They weren’t giving me any support to “sort out” breastfeeding, so that was it – I had to give formula.
How did moving to bottle feeding make you feel?
So upset, and furious at the lack of support I’d been given because of my age. Looking back, it was a horrific state of affairs, and this is less than three years ago! I sat and sobbed as I signed their disclaimer saying “I understood the risks of the choice I was making”, but it wasn’t a choice really – I was 19, had just given birth and lost a lot of blood and was absolutely terrified, and although the midwives were brilliant, the healthcare assistants didn’t care because I wasn’t in their target demographic for breastfeeding.
Did you experience any backlash for bottle feeding?
The usual tuts, sighs, shaking heads. I think however we feed our babies we get backlash for it, to be honest! I remember an argument breaking out in a postnatal group I was on, when one of them admitted that she thought those of us who were formula feeding were lazy/irresponsible/just didn’t try hard enough, and that was tough. (She and those who agreed with her got kicked out of the group, thankfully!)
Do you have any advice for other new mums in your situation?
Don’t worry about it. I am pro-breastfeeding and pro-support but I am also pro-families doing what’s best for them. If you have no choice but to bottle feed, or you make that decision, don’t let people tell you that you are any less of a good parent, or your baby will be any less amazing than any other. My daughter was formula fed from a few days old onwards – she’s just written her name today, she isn’t even three yet. She’s happy and healthy. Formula fed babies are just as awesome, smart and healthy as breastfed babies.
Global statistics aren’t intended as individual insults. When you read the “breastfed babies are healthier/smarter” articles, they’re not saying “This breastfed baby is better than your formula fed baby” – they’re referring to studies on a global scale, which have no bearing on your individual baby. If you need any more convincing, take a look at your child’s baby group/nursery class. Can you point out which babies are breastfed and which are formula fed? Of course you can’t!
Know that you’re doing right by your child. In years to come, they won’t know or care what they were fed – they’ll just care that you were there, and filled their life with love.
Thank you to Maddy for sharing her story for #bottlefeedingstories – it’s hard enough being a new parent without being judged for something like your age!
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