Did you watch the channel four documentary the other night on breast feeding? I was debating whether to share my experiences as it's such an emotive issue, but as I have had three babies and fed them in three different ways I though my experiences might be of some help.
The first baby was born twenty years ago. As a twenty year old myself I had no experience with babies, I lived in London with no family near by and no friends with kids. There was no internet available and I had one book on babycare! The beauty of this arrangement was that there was no pressure on me to do things a certain way. There was no standards to live up to, other than my own.
The doctor told me that he would advise me not to breastfeed due to the medication that I was taking at the time. There it was, decision made. No one pressured me to breastfeed and no one had an issue with me bottle feeding. We bought our bottles and formula and the baby was born in the hospital. The nurses showed me how to feed and wind the baby and that was that. That night in the hospital was fairly peaceful, the baby seemed contented and as a result so was I. I was very happy with my decision to bottle feed, it also meant that his Dad was able to feed and I think this really helped them to bond in those early weeks. Now a healthy, happy twenty year old, neither of us suffered any ill effects from bottle feeding.
When baby two came along fourteen years later, society had changed. People aired their thoughts on feeding loudly over the internet. My partners family lived near by and were strong supporters of breast feeding. So I decided to give it a go (knowing that if it didn’t work I wouldn’t feel bad moving on to bottles).
After the baby was born, the midwifes showed us how to latch on and the baby did so without any problem. I didn't really suffer any ill effects from breast feeding, no mastitis and no cracked nipples. I was lucky! After the first six weeks I decided to introduce bottles so that Dad could help with the feeding and so I expressed milk. After a couple of failed attempts we found the right teat and the baby was happy to take milk from both breast and bottle. There was none of the confusion I had read about and the occasional colicky nights were no better or worse than before. Breast feeding was going well, but I didn't love it. I wanted to share the feeding with my partner, but didn't want to sit up at night expressing bloody milk with a noisy pump. So after three months we switched over to formula. Again I was pleased with my decision, I was happy that I had breast fed and I was happy that when it felt like the right time I had switched to formula. Again, I wouldn't say that this has had any negative effects on our daughter who is a happy healthy six year old.
With baby three I decided that I would just do the first breast feed, the one with the super milk (I forget what it's called) and then we would switch to bottles. The baby was born and again latched on with no problems and she fed and she fed and she fed. She fed so much that we called in the midwife who assured us that it was fine and that I would have a great supply of milk! That was that, this baby loved to breast feed. She wouldn't entertain the idea of bottle or a dummy, she wasn't greedy she just fed and slept and was happy. So taking our cues from her, we continued with the breast feeding... for eight months! And this time I didn't mind it. It was interesting to see how the milk regulated according to her feeding patterns and how it changed according to the weather.... but after eight months I wanted my body back and I wanted a cocktail and fortunately she was now happy to take a bottle.
So there you are, three different babies, fed in three different ways. Each now a healthy happy kid and me a healthy happy Mum. My advice, follow your heart and do what feels right for you both. Don't be afraid to bottle feed if you don't want to breast feed. Don't be afraid to try breast feeding if you want to give it a go and if it doesn't work out, don't be afraid to switch to the bottle. What ever you do you are not a failure, you are a Mum doing the best thing for you and your baby. Healthy happy Mum = Healthy happy baby and surely that's all any of us can ask for.