Following on from Vicki @ Tippytupps’ story last week we have Jo from Pickle & Poppet who moved her children onto formula by 5 months old after initially breastfeeding.
I’m Jo, I have two beautiful children, Reuben who is three and Jessica who is now 7 months old and I write over at Pickle & Poppet.I managed to breastfeed both babies and we successfully fed up to five months old when they were then both on fully on formula. The plan was to breastfeed them to about six months as I would be returning to work and believed them being on the bottle would be easier to manage.
Had you given much thought to how you’d feed your baby before/while you were pregnant?
As soon as I found out I was pregnant with Reuben I had made my mind up that I was going to breastfeed, or try at least. Sam was in complete agreement with anything that I wanted to do. He said he would support me in whatever decision I made.
When I found out I was pregnant with Jessica we did have a bit more of a discussion about feeding her as I now had to consider that I did have Reuben and so it would be more difficult. Sam was concerned that I would be the only person able to feed Jessica, couple that with a three year old and I could become very tired very quickly. I decided that although there would be the pressure that it was only me that could feed, I wanted to try and breastfeed her but we agreed there was absolutely no pressure and if it was too much then we would move to the bottle.
What was your opinion of bottle feeding?
I have no opinion on breast or bottle feeding. Your baby needs to be fed and so that is the only goal, how that happens doesn’t matter. I get very annoyed with people thinking that they are entitled to an opinion in someone else’s life. It is what works for you and your baby and sod everyone else.
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?)
I went along to a breastfeeding workshop that was organised by the midwives when I was pregnant with Reuben. I didn’t really find it overly beneficial. They spent a good chunk of it talking about breast is best and then the second part trying to show how to get a good latch with a crotchet boob and doll. I remember coming away thinking that I was no better off and wondering why they spend so long talking about breast is best. Everyone there obviously had an interest in breastfeeding otherwise they wouldn’t have been there. It didn’t really seem like the best use of an hour.
What support did you receive to start and continue breastfeeding? What support would you have liked?
I must admit the midwifes at the hospital were great.
When I had Reuben they helped to get him to latch. I had mentioned I was struggling to get comfortable on my left side for feeding and they helped me with different holds and came back every feed to see if I was OK before sending me home. Reuben was a natural and everything went as expected. When I mentioned to the health visitor I was going to start introducing the bottle we talked about why and then she helped me with different suggestions to make the transition as smooth as possible.
With Jessica I was asked if I needed help with anything and I said no I was fine and so we were allowed to go home. No one checked if she was actually latching OK. I wish they had checked as she wasn’t latching properly and I began struggling at home.
When the community midwife came to see me I told her I didn’t think that Jessica was latching properly and asked her to check. The midwife confirmed what I already knew. She tried to help me to get her to latch but she wasn’t very confident and couldn’t get her to latch either, she told me to keep trying. She’d said she would get someone to call me to see how things were going and left. I was left to my own devices and so I resorted to YouTube videos and kept trying.
I waited for someone to call me to see if it had improved (it hadn’t) but there was no phone call. It was followed up when I went to have Jessica’s heel prick done so maybe six days later. Luckily I had watched enough YouTube videos by that point and we were getting there.
That was a tough week and I almost gave up and went to the bottle as my nipples were so sore and I was so worried that Jessica wasn’t going to be putting weight on. I think I only stuck it out because I knew that I could do it as I had with Reuben.
Did you have a personal breastfeeding goal?
I had always said that I would breastfeed up to about six months as I would be returning to work and wanted the transition to have happened prior to going back. I made the decision to move to formula as I really struggled to express. But we really did just take it each day at a time.
What triggered your move to bottle feeding? Would you consider it a choice or a necessity?
With Reuben I moved over to bottle earlier than I really wanted to as I had so many things going on that I was away from the house at times. He wouldn’t take breast milk from a bottle, we did try, and I couldn’t really get on with expressing. When he breastfed he would do it for comfort and so we made the decision to move over to the bottle. He was completely weaned to the bottle by five months. I cried, I knew it wasn’t the right time really for either of us.
With Jessica I didn’t put a timescale as such but knew I needed to be on the bottle before going back to work. This time I moved to the bottle because I was completely exhausted. Being at home all day with a baby and a three year old who both crave attention for different reasons was hard. Cluster feeding was harder as Reuben didn’t understand. I was just completely drained. There was a lot of ‘input’ from others about how much easier it would be for me to bottle feed as people could help me. And in theory yes they could. In reality no they can’t because they are all at work. Nether-the-less I made the decision to move to the bottle and it was the right one for me and so Jessica has been on the bottle fully from five months.
How did moving to bottle feeding make you feel?
When I weaned Reuben to the bottle it was OK until I stopped the bedtime feed. I put it off as long as I could. When I did stop I cried, a lot. I felt really sad and I truly think that is because it was the wrong time. Part of me felt like I had failed him and was being selfish to stop breastfeeding when I did.
With Jessica I did feel a little sad but I also felt relief. Our breastfeeding experience was rockier than with Reuben. There were still times she didn’t latch properly and that led to sore nipples and blocked ducts. There were times I could feel that my breast was hot and knew it could turn into mastitis easily. It felt like the whole time I was feeding was full of worry. Was she latched on? Am I producing too much milk? How do I stop or minimise the risk of mastitis? So as hard as it is to say, I was relieved that we stopped when we did.
Did you experience any backlash for bottle feeding?
No. When I made the transition everyone was really supportive of my decision.
Not many people in my family have breastfed. Bottle feeding was the norm to them, I think they were glad that they could get involved in feeding.
Do you have any advice for other new mums in your situation?
Do what feels right to you, your baby and your family. Forget everyone else they do not matter.
There is enough stress and worry with being parents that feeding shouldn’t be one of them.
If you do want to try breastfeeding then do. It is hard and it does hurt for a little while. The biggest mistake I made with Reuben is that I had bottles and formula in the house ‘just in case’. I really wouldn’t recommend doing that.
If you have #bottlefeedingstories you’d like to share, please get in touch – firstname.lastname@example.org