I’ve been considering writing this post for a few weeks now, but felt unsure how to go about it.
I’m not pro-breast feeding per say, I’d say I’m pro-feeding, but the problem is as soon as you start writing about breastfeeding people think you’re anti-formula, which isn’t the case at all. I’m currently breastfeeding Nicole, but I’ve formula fed, I’ve bottle fed expressed milk and I’ve breastfed, they were all great and all difficult for different reasons, so I thought I’d write my take on each of them.
I’ll start with saying breastfeeding is much harder than I thought it would be, the four things that tipped the scale for me in the favour of breast feeding were:
- No going downstairs in the night to make bottles up
- No washing and sterilising bottles
- No-one else can do it
- You don’t have to prepare and take bottles out with you
But I never realised the battle that can be involved with breastfeeding, my first son was 10 weeks premature and never latched, I tried and tried but the sucking reflex just wasn’t there, it was heartbreaking and frustrating.
My second son was premature but eventually latched, but it took a few weeks to get him exclusively breastfeeding, I gave him bottles occasionally, but the teat and nipple confusion made it more difficult.
Then I had Nicole, I was fully aware she might be my last so I really wanted to exclusively breastfeed, just as a personal goal for myself.
She is now nearly 10 weeks old and hasn’t had one bottle, but oh my the first three weeks were so hard. My nipples were blistered and bleeding, from where she hadn’t been latching properly, I got Mastitis (ouch!) and she was feeding every two hours, plus no-one else can do it, which is a bonus for bonding but not when you’re exhausted. I’m now two and a half months in and it’s a doddle, I’m so glad I pushed through that hard time, I’ve reached my goal and I feel like I can keep going for as long as I feel happy.
Formula feeding was more complicated than I thought, you don’t realise how many different formulas there are to choose from! First there’s the different brands and everyone has their opinions of of course! Then there’s the different types of milk, some rave about hungry babies yet others warn you to stay away. I did find that formula always made them more constipated. The washing and sterilising of bottles was frustrating at times, but then being able to ask someone to watch the baby whilst you have a shower or go do some shopping is attainable because they aren’t surgically attached to your breast! The benefits I found of formula feeding were:
- There isn’t the frustration of baby latching
- Other people can feed baby
- You can eat and drink whatever you like without worrying about it affecting baby
- You know how much milk they’ve consumed
I say that formula feeding was more complicated than I thought but in some ways it’s really simple, you make the bottle, you feed the baby and that’s it, there’s not need to work on latching or worrying about how much milk baby is getting because you can see it for yourself.
Expressing milk, I take my hat off to any momma who express their milk and feed it their baby through bottles. Above I’ve discussed the pros and cons of breast and bottle feeding, well this is both! So you’re getting all your amazing ‘liquid gold’ milk (as it is referred to in NICU) out through a breast pump, washing and sterilising bottles then feeding baby. It takes double the time and double the effort. I expressed while Jack was in NICU for 6 weeks, then for 6 weeks at home, he ended up needing premature baby formula to put weight on, but during the time I expressed it was very rewarding but it was hard work. The benefits to expressing are:
- Baby is still getting your milk
- Other people can feed baby
- You know how much milk baby has had
- You can freeze the milk and stockpile to use at a later date
Even though expressing is hard work, it is definitely worth it, it has so many great benefits for both mum and baby. Having battled trying to get Jack to latch and being unable to, I found this worked so well for us and I was so happy he could still get my milk.
So there it is, my take on the different types of feeding I’ve experienced first hand. There is a lot of judgement out there about each of these types of feeding, but there is one statement I stand by…
“All a baby cares about is that their belly is full and that you love them”
Really, as long as your baby is fed and happy…that’s all that matters. People will judge you no matter what you do, so you have to do what is best for you and baby not anyone else.