Fed is Best

I am pro-breastfeeding. I’m also pro-bottle feeding. In actual fact, I’m just pro-feeding full stop. I truly do believe that fed is best – regardless of the method used.

What I am not pro of is of people judging other people for their choices. I have seen so many threads on parenting forums, comments on social media status’ and photos where people have decided that it’s acceptable for them to judge and berate other parents for the way in which they feed their baby.

Frankly, I’m tired of there being so much judgement. And it’s not just about feeding – it really is about EVERYTHING. We mums really should be supporting each other – not bringing each other down.

I wanted to share my experience of both breastfeeding and bottle feeding in the past with my oldest, Lily. The experience I went through with both has made a big impact on how I’ve decided to feed Theo when he arrives.

Lauren from Sophie’s Nursery

Why not breastfeed?

There are many reasons as to why a woman does not breastfeed; from personal choice through to medical conditions that limit milk production or mean that she would need to stop taking vital medication in order to breastfeed.

One of the medical conditions that can affect the body’s ability to produce breastmilk is PCOS – a condition that I myself am affected by.

PCOS (poly-cystic ovarian syndrome) is a hormonal imbalance that is thought to affect as many as 15% of women. It has various symptoms and can affect women in a multitude of different ways.

For me, some of these effects are fertility problems, irregular and painful menstrual cycles and weight problems. I also have a condition called endometriosis.

For many women, including myself, PCOS can cause fertility issues that make it very difficult to conceive naturally. We tried to conceive Theo for 7 long and heartbreaking years filled with loss and pain.

Whilst it was known when I was pregnant with Lily, that I had PCOS, nobody ever mentioned to me that it could cause issues with my ability to breastfeed.

I had simply assumed that breastfeeding was something that everyone could do – and I’d never read anything that told me there could be a link between my syndrome and breastfeeding issues.

Joanne from Winging Motherhood with her first public feed

My breastfeeding experience

When Lily was born the midwives placed her on my chest and helped her to latch on.

They explained that in the first few days she would only be getting colostrum and that it could take a couple of weeks to my milk supply to come in completely. Unfortunately, my milk supply never did actually come in.

Lily lost weight. We were constantly attached to each other as I tried feeding her. I was overwhelmed and broken, sleepless and struggling. I spent hours just in tears, wondering why my baby ‘hated’ me so much as she wouldn’t stop crying.

Eventually, my midwife came back to visit and we tried pumping – the manual pump didn’t produce anything and so we tried again with an electric one. Again there was nothing coming out.

I cried my eyes out – I couldn’t understand what was wrong with my body – why it was failing at being a mum.

They handed me a bottle of formula and Lily immediately guzzled it down, finishing the entire thing in what seemed like seconds. I’ll never forget that look of instant relief on her face as she was finally satisfied.

I felt awful – I’d been starving my little girl without even realising. What kind of mother was I?

My Formula Feeding Experience

A couple of weeks later and she was a completely different baby – she fed well, slept well, was putting on weight and would fall into a ‘milk sleep’ that always had me laughing at her little pot belly and sleepy smiles. I was so relieved to see the change in her.

Even with that being the case I struggled with the fact that I had failed at breastfeeding.Β I didn’t feel like a proper mum as my body couldn’t do the main thing it was designed to do.

And I was so jealous of women who could just whip out their boob and have baby latch on and feed.

I really am pro-breastfeeding – I think of it as such a magical experience. I’ve watched my beautiful sister breastfeed my two handsome, strong nephews. Seen them thrive thanks to her dedication and love.

I’ve sat with friends and held their hands as they cried because their boobs were so bloody sore and they were struggling to keep up with the cluster feeds. And then those same friends heartbroken when their breastfeeding journeys finally came to an end. And yet were also relieved when they could get some prosecco in them and not worry about having to pump and dump πŸ˜‰

Just look at these beautiful photos of some other blogging mums feeding their gorgeous babies!

Natalie from Crummy MummyΒ 
Shel from The Willow Tree

How can anyone not smile when they see the pure love and bond in these pictures?

And there’s no denying that it’s nutritionally better for baby, I think it’s amazing how a woman’s breastmilk will even change composition when her baby is ill to help them get better!

Honestly, bottle feeding is so much more labour intensive – and there’s so much more ‘stuff’ involved. It’s not exactly budget-friendly either! At the same time it has it’s own pros for many people.

Other People…

A moment that I’ll never forget was when Lily was a couple of months old and I took out a bottle and prepared a formula feed in a local baby group.

I was the youngest mum there by far and a couple of the other mother’s exchanged looks when they saw me prepping her bottle.

“You do realise that formula fed children are more likely to get life-threatening illnesses don’t you?” one of them asked.

“It’s true – they are much more likely to have asthma as well.” said another.

A third chimed in to let me know about an article she’d read that said breastfed children out-performed formula children academically and were naturally smarter.

I’m sure those women hadn’t been purposefully cruel – those are the messages sent out after all and it’s not like I’ve not read articles saying the same things.

In fact, those were just some of the things I was already worrying about myself.

However, they still felt the need to judge me for my method of feeding my baby – without even knowing me or our situation.Β I made polite excuses and headed home – and when I got there I cried my eyes out again.

Feeling like a failure…

I already felt like a failure and then there I was being judged by other mums who clearly agreed.

My lovely husband made jokes and as he sat there feeding our baby that night he told me how happy he was that he was able to feed her. How proud he was of me – what a wonderful job I was doing as her mum. How he knew that she was going to be clever and smart because she would be just like me.

And you know what?

That tiny baby is now a sassy and wise 8-year-old. Lily’s a high achiever at school, is always surrounded by friends, has ‘leadership’ skills that will never require her to be reminded to ‘lean in’. She’s funny and clever and rarely ever ill. My girl is living, breathing proof that I am a good mum – regardless of how she was fed as a baby.

Clare from Mumsy Midwife looking so beautiful and happy!

I sometimes wish I could go back and change those first few weeks – the benefit of hindsight meaning I would know she wasn’t feeding and could go straight to having that content bottle fed baby who snoozed in my arms after her feeds.

I wish I could go back and let that young and scared first-time mum know that her daughter would be fine – that she would thrive and be strong and healthy. Tell her that she was not a failure at all.Β  And save myself months of heartache and grieving and depression as I struggled with coming to terms with motherhood and my inability to breastfeed.

Unfortunately, nobody has yet to work out how to get a Delorean back to 2010 so instead, I am going to have to use that hindsight to make myself stronger and happier now.

Rebecca from My Girls and Me – making the most of how convenient breastfeeding is when out and about!

Fed is best

When I found out that we were expecting Theo I was, of course, thrilled but in all honesty, I was also pretty terrified.

I was worried that even after all this time of wishing for a baby I would fall back into that dark place I experienced after having Lily. I worried that I would ‘fail’ him before he was even born. That I would struggle mentally again.

I spoke to my midwife about my fears when it comes to feeding and she reminded me that, whilst breastmilk may be of a better nutritional value, a happy and healthy mum is so much more important.

Which is why I have made the decision to formula feed Theo from birth. I am not going to put myself through the emotional and psychological strain I did when I had Lily.

People have already commented that I ought to ‘at least try’ but I really am making a decision based on what is best for me. I’m not blindly deciding against breastfeeding. I’m making an informed decision.

I have purchased thisΒ electric steriliser and the perfect prep machine from Tommee Tippee. I’ve stocked up on bottles and bibs and bottle brushes so that we have everything we need.

My son will be bottle fed. Because fed is best.

And at the end of the day – having a happy mum and a happy baby is what we really need.

Suzy from Our Bucket List Lives says she misses those sleepy bottle feeds – I’m looking forward to them for sure!

That’s what matters.

Alex

xxx

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19 Comments

  • Reply Jenny May 18, 2018 at 10:37 am

    I completely understand this post. As long as my baby (or anyone’s) is fed that is what matters. I was unable to breastfeed my twins despite wanting too. In the end they went on full formula at 6 weeks (I had managed to pump a bit in between). I was in constant need to be around other adults but I had a similar experience at a mothers’ group and have never gone back. Only recently in a FB group I had a woman tell me I had “poisoned” my children because I bottle fed and I should have done whatever was necessary to get milk from a milkbank (an uncommon concept where I live and well out of my budget at the time as a single mum). We’re all mums and we all want to do right by our kids. Taking care of their needs is no1.

    • Reply bettertogetherhome May 18, 2018 at 10:39 am

      I had that same comment about how I should have got someone else to breastfeed rather than ‘poison’ my child. At the end of the day we all want what is best for our children – and no I don’t expect people to always agree with how I raise mine, but it would be nice if they didn’t feel the need to be rude! I was the same – I wanted to be around other adults but it put me off completely. Thanks for your comment xx

  • Reply Suzy McCullough May 18, 2018 at 10:44 am

    What a lovely post. I sadly couldn’t breastfeed Jamie as I had him via a GA with complications so no milk ever came in. I am proud of the tall, strong and very healthy boy that he is today. While I was sad I couldn’t BF him he’s done perfectly well and fine on formula. And as per post above….bottle banks don’t even exist as a thing in France where my boy was born. Well done you on your decision. A happy Mummy is essential and no one should ever make you feel bad about that. I’m not 100% sure that I agree that breastmilk is more nutritional! There’s nothing lacking in my boy and his nutrition!

    • Reply bettertogetherhome May 18, 2018 at 10:46 am

      Thanks for your comment Suzy πŸ™‚ And just like my daughter your son is living proof that its love and care that matter much more than the method of feeding! xx

  • Reply Pinkoddy May 18, 2018 at 4:57 pm

    You know I totally agree that everyone should be able to chose their feeding method. And I’m sorry in your case you just didn’t have the milk but there’s so much bad advice due to babies not putting on weight that make mothers stop bfing and feel like a failure.

  • Reply Rhian Westbury May 18, 2018 at 5:06 pm

    There are too many people who are judgemental depending on which way you choose to feed a baby but at the end of the day you have to do whats best for you and the baby x

  • Reply Melanie May 18, 2018 at 5:19 pm

    What a positive and inspirational post. I am sure many mothers to be will find this encouraging x

  • Reply Ger ( It’s Me & Ethan) May 18, 2018 at 7:46 pm

    Aw so so true. Fed is best. I tried to breast feed my last two boys but due to complications I couldn’t . I chose not to breast feed my first. My three boys were fed and like you say that is what’s important x

  • Reply Annette, 3 Little Buttons May 18, 2018 at 8:06 pm

    I’m 100% with fed is best. The are so many reasons why someone might not breastfeed. By choice or not, no one has the right to mummy judge. xx

  • Reply Kara May 19, 2018 at 9:24 am

    I was lucky enough to have been able to feed all mine with only a couple of minor issues. Eliza was born with her arm out by her head which resulted in issues feeding her but luckily my chiropractor friend realised what was up and fixed her stiff neck and jaw

  • Reply fashionandstylepolice May 19, 2018 at 8:14 pm

    Great to read about your experience. I am pro what works. I did a combination of both from the beginning.

  • Reply Kaz | Ickle Pickles Life and Travels May 19, 2018 at 8:20 pm

    I bottle fed all four of my babies. I was made to feel a failure and I think it is down to each mother how they feed their baby. Kaz

  • Reply Rachel May 19, 2018 at 9:32 pm

    This is a really interesting post. BReastfeeding seems to divide a lot of mums – I think as long as the baby IS being fed and getting what it needs then it should be personal decision.

  • Reply Wendy May 20, 2018 at 8:28 am

    Yes, fed is definitely best. I breastfed both my babies but I’m not anti bottle feeding. I did combination feed my first from 5 months old and I did feel really bad for giving him one bottle a day which is stupid, formula milk isn’t poison! I think everyone feels judged though, I definitely felt judged for breastfeeding and I know mums who felt judged for bottle feeding. Your last point is so true though, happy Mum and happy baby is all that matters xx

  • Reply Lucy Dorrington May 20, 2018 at 8:58 pm

    Totally agree, making mums feel even more inadequate than they might already isn’t going to help at all!

  • Reply Kira May 21, 2018 at 6:51 am

    Brilliant post!!! I chose not to breast feed because I just didn’t want to and it is ok to not want to πŸ™‚

  • Reply Nazrin May 21, 2018 at 11:20 am

    I am not a mother yet but would like express my gratitude to mothers who get stick from the public about feeding their children when they need to. Not only that but to feel as though youre not doing a well enough job by other mothers is even worst!

  • Reply Jon May 21, 2018 at 2:56 pm

    Great post this! It’s reslly interesting to read what women go through during this time.

  • Reply Rachael May 21, 2018 at 6:05 pm

    I didn’t know pcos effected breastfeeding! I’m so sorry that you felt like you had failed your child, but those women in the baby group had no right to say those things. That’s what puts me off the groups so much – the judgement, without ever knowing the reason why. I think practically every mum tries to breastfeed and many give it up, for a huge variety or reasons, and that’s their business and no one else’s. I gave up breastfeeding around a month and a half in, I couldn’t deal with the pain, the PND and everything else. It was the best choice I made for me and my baby and although I was sad I had to give it up, my little boy was much happier.

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