She successfully breastfed her children, and he she discusses why she decided to move from breast to bottle.
So a little background before we start the Q&A – I’m mummy to two gorgeous children: Darcie who is now 2 and Henry who has just turned 8 months old. I had always planned to breastfeed both my children and I was lucky enough to be able to do so both times: Darcie for just under 6 months and Henry for just under 5. At that point we moved over to bottle but for very different reasons. Darcie was because I was returning to work full time and I had it in my head that I wouldn’t be able to manage is by expressing….in hindsight, I think it would have been fine but by the time I realised that I was back at work and we had already made the transition. With Henry I planned to feed for longer but life very rarely goes to plan and we ended up moving to bottle when I just couldn’t keep up with a very hungry boy who was latched for up to 17 hours a day – add in a bored 2-year-old and it just wasn’t working for us anymore hence the decision was made to switch.
Had you given much thought to how you’d feed your baby before / while you were pregnant?
Absolutely – I do think it’s something you need to consider beforehand because there is preparation you need to do both for bottle and breastfeeding. I was pretty relaxed about the whole thing though, and although I planned to breastfeed I was also prepared to switch to bottle if we needed to and didn’t have my heart fixed on a particular method. This relaxed, non-pressured approach to breastfeeding I think is what ultimately made our journey a successful one.
What was your opinion of bottle feeding?
No real opinion really, other than it being a valid option available to parents. I was bottle fed as a child and have no real aversion to any feeding option available to us.
Were you offered any classes on breastfeeding by your healthcare team/midwives? Did you take any classes of your own ie. NCT? (If you planned on bottle feeding, how was that covered in these classes?)
Yes and no. There were apparently classes available but unfortunately I just couldn’t get onto any of them, but first time around with Darcie a midwife came to have a chat about how to prepare myself for breastfeeding and what my expectations were. The chat was refreshing as the midwife was great giving both formal advice along with a frank discussion on what the reality will be! Second time around there was zero support, just a “oh you did it before, so you’ll be able to do it again” attitude which was disappointing, for as I found out – each breastfeeding journey is different depending on the child.
What support did you receive to start and continue breastfeeding? What support would you have liked? OR When you decided to bottle feed from the outset, what was your health care team’s reaction? What support would you have liked?
While still in hospital with my daughter I had a horrendous experience with a breastfeeding professional which almost made me stop. I was having issues and was in pain every time I fed; this woman came into our cubical and manhandled Darcie while she was crying with hunger from position to position – hurting both me and the baby in the process. To the point where I told her to get out and demanded a bottle for my now frantic and inconsolable child. It was the first time she had formula and it was almost the end of the journey. Luckily though I quickly encountered a fabulous midwife who diagnosed Darcie with tongue tie which when fixed that week, helped with a lot of our problems.
Did you have a personal breastfeeding goal?
In the beginning it was just to make it for one more day. Then one more week and then before you knew it, it was easy. Something I would never have believed in the beginning! In the end the goals were just to continue breastfeeding for as long as it suited us.
What triggered your move to bottle feeding? Would you consider it a choice or a necessity?
This is a hard question as physically it was a choice but with my son, I feel like it was a necessity. He was latched for 17 hours in every 24 and the fact of the matter is that I have more than one child I had to consider and she was struggling with the situation too; rebelling against the lack of attention.
How did moving to bottle feeding make you feel?
First time around it made me feel like a failure. There is so much emphasis on the whole ‘breast is best’ campaign, it made me feel like any other feeding choice was second rate and that my decision to move over was somehow giving up and therefore made me feel somehow ‘less than’. Second time around I’m a little older, a little more confident and a lot more assured that the decision I made was the right one for my family. Therefore luckily this time I feel like it was simply an informed feeding choice. However, it doesn’t stop me from justifying my decision each time I’m asked so there’s obviously still some mummy guilt in there somewhere!
Did you experience any backlash for bottle feeding?
Yes, unfortunately so I even wrote a post on it here. Sadly, I felt more judged as a bottle-feeding mummy than I ever did when I was breastfeeding.
Do you have any advice for other new mums in your situation?
Just to be open to whatever works for you as a family. Don’t feel obliged to feed a certain way just because of what is expected of you. There’s a lot of pressure out there from friends, family and healthcare professionals so have a good think about what you want to do and understand your reasons why. Just know that if breastfeeding does not work out for you for whatever reason, that is NO reflection on you as a mummy. It does not define you or make you a failure. You’re a great mummy and you are enough.
It is so lovely to have a different perspective on #bottlefeedingstories. I’ve featured so many posts now about women who are heartbroken over their “failed” breastfeeding experience, so it was great to read a really positive conscious decision story.
If you have #bottlefeedingstories you’d like to share – get in touch – firstname.lastname@example.org