Formula Feeding

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I was out and about the other day with baby boy and he started to get fussy. It was feeding time so as it was a nice day I found myself a sunny spot on a bench where I could watch the world go by. There was another mum sitting on a nearby bench breastfeeding her daughter and I smiled at her nicely as I prepared baby boy’s bottle. She glanced in my direction as I started to feed and then gathered her things and stood up to leave. As she walked past me she turned to me, looked me straight in the eye and said “you are feeding your child poison you know!”

Now I know that there is some controversy about bottle feeding in this day and age when we all know that breast is best but POISON! I was gobsmacked followed by furious followed by confused! Why did she think it was ok to say that to me? I would never criticise a fellow parent for the way they chose to feed their child so why was it ok for her to criticise me?

Before baby boy was born I fully intended to breastfeed. Mr K and I went to a breastfeeding class and I did so much research I was a walking breastfeeding encyclopaedia! When the nurse in the recovery room asked me if I wanted to feed my newborn son, whilst already reaching to pull down my gown before I had even answered, I didn’t even hesitate. Of course I wanted to feed him myself. It was going to be easy, right? I had done the research and I knew exactly what to do. Except that I didn’t and neither did baby boy.

That night baby boy wanted to feed a lot. I was still drowsy from the general anaesthetic and in pain from the c-section so every time he wanted to feed I had to press the buzzer. I needed help latching him on and so every time he came off the breast I had to press the buzzer again. This carried on all night until at about 5am one of the Health Care Assistants asked me, not so nicely, if I wanted her to give him a bottle so that everyone could get some sleep. I was mortified! I sadly agreed and she wheeled him off to fill him up on formula in the hope that he would stop crying and go to sleep for a bit. The next day I had no fewer than four different breastfeeding workers try to help us to get baby boy to latch on properly and that night once again I was asked if I wanted to give him formula.

On the second day, it started again. I just wanted to cry! This wasn’t how it was supposed to be. I was supposed to stare lovingly down at my baby whilst he breastfed not spend 20 minutes practically wrestling him onto the breast and then sit there in agony for 2 minutes before he came off therefore having to start to whole process again. Then a saviour came along. The paediatrician came to do the newborn check. He did all of the routine checks and then asked how baby boy was being fed. Mr K explained that I was trying to breastfeed but it wasn’t going well. The paediatrician’s answer to that was a godsend to my fragile mind. “We are very good at promoting the benefits of breastfeeding but not very good at promoting the difficulties” he explained in a soothing voice “I don’t care how your baby is fed as long as they are fed. There is nothing wrong with feeding him formula”. Oh the relief! I wasn’t going to damage my son, I was just going to feed him.

Once we were home I continued trying to breastfeed but despite help from a number of breastfeeding workers we were never able to latch on properly. The consultants words helped me enormously when I finally decided to stop trying and exclusively formula feed. I did still feel guilty for a while but I look at my son now and he is happy and healthy and I know that I made the right decision for us.

Do you formula feed or breastfeed? How did you come to your decision?

image credit – http://fdsauk.freeforums.org/popular-posters-t1820.html

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15 thoughts on “Formula Feeding

  1. I have always been very passionate about breastfeeding. Even to extent that I believed that women who chose bottle feeding don’t want the best for their babies. I went on and had my son. Adamant to breastfeed I pushed through the pain, discomfort and tears. And I did it. I stopped when he was 19 month. Then earlier this year I had twins. It was very different, they were born early and couldn’t feed. I had to express and feed from the bottle. Three weeks later they were strong enough to suck themselves. But when they were 12 weeks old I didn’t have enough for two babies any more. We went on formula as not feeding my children wasn’t an option. However, this time I didn’t enjoy feeding them myself and was relieved it was over.
    We will not have any more children but if we did I’m not sure I would want to breastfeed.
    Now that I have experience of both sides – great need to breastfeed and not wanting to – I see those things very different. We all are great at being judgemental but rarely we have an empathy and understanding of others. I have learned a lot and I’m now ready and willing to accept and support whatever choice anyone makes. I have also learned not to accept any pushed on judgements of my choices. As a mum I am allowed to make mistakes and I don’t mind it as long as they are my own.

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    • Thank you for your comment Digger13. I’m sorry that you didn’t enjoy breastfeeding the second time around. It is nice that you feel able to admit to making mistakes and that it is ok. I feel that making mistakes and learning from them is how we learn and grow as parents. I’m sure I am making lots of mistakes but my son is happy so that’s all that matters.

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  2. That’s quite shocking! I too wanted to breast feed but had a very hungry girl who just wouldn’t latch on. I think it’s easy for people to judge if they haven’t been through the process of trying to breast feed. Plus looking at my happy healthy girly I would definitely dispute the “poison” comment! X

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    • Happy and healthy is all that matters! Yes I was shocked at the poison comment. Although I wanted to breastfeed it just didn’t work out for us. I respect everyone’s decisions about how they feed their child and I am quite sad to realise that not everyone feels the same way.

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  3. The consultant comment made me smile and wish I’d met him! My little girl is 9 months and I always intended to breastfeed however (as you said) what they don’t tell you is you might have been to all the classes but baby hasn’t they know as much about it as you do. I spent most of my night in hospital after a surgical forceps birth and a screaming hungry baby trying to feed her, having her shoved on by the ‘health care assistants’ who then left and she promptly came off. When the following day after 36 sleep deprived hours I asked for formula I got ‘Well we promote breast feeding here’ and when she didn’t take it (no advice on how to bottle feed of course) there was almost a look of glee. This continued after we got home and depsite the support of a lovely BF support worker – we ended up back in hospital as the bf worker realised by bubba looked jaundice and sent us back in.

    She was dehydrated had gone from 3kg to 2.72kg in 3 days, a lumber puncture, feeding tube and drip fed anitbotics later (her not me) we were admited – I was destraught – this was my fault after all I should have know how to breastfeed my baby and be able to do it right? That’s what the classes said.

    That weekend we had one to one support from the nurses on the childrens ward, who tried to help me bf but a struggle to get her to latch (screaming and wiggling – her and crying – me) then expressing then bottle feeding was taking its toll and they told me somthing needed to give. I settled for expressing and formula.

    I now have a happy, healthy and chunky 9 month old who has clearly not suffered from being fed poison (kudos on not giving her a mouthful by the way).

    Yet I admit I still feel guilty that I didn’t feed her and I think that was the attitude of the maternity staff who are supposed to support you and if I did ever have another baby having gone through this I don’t know if I’d want to try BF.

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    • What a terrible time you had! That must have been horrible. I am really glad that the paediatrician was so nice. Without his comments I do think that I would have felt far worse about my decision than I did. With regards to not giving the nasty woman a mouthful – I really wish I had to be honest! I can think of so many fantastic comebacks now but at the time I was just gobsmacked! Please don’t feel guilty about how you chose to feed your baby. There are enough things in life to feel guilty about and ensuring that your child is full and healthy is not one of them.

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  4. I have EBF my son who is now 26 weeks. I didn’t really have any issues in the beginning except for general discomfort and he took to the breast very well (he is 21lbs at 26 weeks!!).

    I also was determined to breastfeed and done a lot of research. However, what I wasn’t prepared for was my son was not interested in a bottle at all. In 26 weeks, the longest break I have had is 3 hrs. I am now extremely anxious about returning to work, constantly worrying if he will take a bottle by then or how in the hell I will cope, because not going back to work is not an option for us. None of this was brought up at any classes I attended. Don’t get me wrong, the benefits of breastfeeding are immense and I am seeing it with my own eyes but I feel that the negative side of breastfeeding should at least be discussed by healthcare professionals. I would still choose to breastfeed if I have another but I wouldn’t wait till after 6 weeks to try a bottle (which is what I was advised by HV).

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    • That must be hard Rach218. I am looking to go back to work soon and I have to admit that it is reassuring knowing that baby boy takes his bottle well. I agree that a more rounded view should be promoted by healthcare professionals. We use Haberman Suckle Feeders because they helped baby boy’s colic when he was younger. They are supposed to be a good bottle for breastfed babies because they need to actual suckle to get the milk. They might not work for you but might be worth a shot.

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  5. Good grief that’s hideous!! Me and Tia tried and failed at breast feeding, it’s all I wanted to do and nearly two years later I still seen guilty that I couldn’t do it. However, my friend exclusively breastfeed her daughter (one week younger than Tia) and she was ill a hell of a lot more than Tia!

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    • I hate how women feel guilty over something that they really shouldn’t. So we tried but it didn’t work out, that should be acceptable. As long as children are fed and healthy then that’s what matters. Don’t get me wrong I do still feel guilty but I know that I shouldn’t.

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      • I completely understand! It is supposed to be the most natural thing in the world yet it can be so difficult. I think that we need to try really hard to accept that our children are happy and healthy and in the immortal words of Frozen let’s try to “Let it go”! Let that guilt go away and free ourselves from the what ifs!

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  6. Hi!! Thanks for sharing your experience and I’m really sorry you had such a horrible experience. That lady had no right to say what she did.

    I do however want to say that there needs to be much better support for bf. It is not an easy and natural thing to do it’s a skill and so many issues go undetected like tongue tie and silent reflux!

    I ended up breast feeding my son only due to one excellent and dedicated midwife’s help. And it was hard work at the beginning. I have come across some very strongly opinionated ladies both pro formula and pro breastfeeding and I think in the end of the day we are all trying to do what’s best for our babies and that’s all that should matter x

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    • Thank you for commenting Lemoncake. I’m glad that you managed to breastfeed. I am pro any feeding method. If I have another child I know that I will try to breastfeed again. Like you said, no matter how we choose to feed our babies we love them and want them to be happy. I had many people try to help me but I do agree that there should be better support all round, be it breastfeeding or formula feeding. Coincidently baby boy was diagnosed with silent reflux (after many frustrating doctors appointments).

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  7. It’s crazy how others are judging you when you’re formula feeding. I mean they have no clue what happened. Mothers should embrace other mothers no matter what decision they make, whether it’s formula or breast feeding your child. In the end we all just want what is best for our families and that might not be the best for others. There’s already a lot of pressure on a first time mom, because you just want to do everything right, but reality is a little bit different.
    I also intended to exclusively breast feed my little one, but it just didn’t work out. I had to start to give him formula. It was a shock for me, but live goes on and you baby has to eat. I did some research and found this website, where you can order only organic formulas. They’re without GMO-ingredients, hormones, antibiotics and sugars. These formulas come really close to breast milk.
    Kind regards,
    Annmarie

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