As a very pro-breastfeeder, I often wonder why a mum would choose to bottle feed. So, I decided to ask a few mums about why they chose to bottle feed. Whether it was formula or breastmilk. Many mums who do breastfeed and who breastfeed for a long time find it hard to understand what the problem is.
This really opened my eyes to a whole new world of reasons.
- Pre and Post-Natal depression.
We have all heard about PPD, and many people fail to understand that many new mums get some sort of depression and anxiety while pregnant with their first born. With the way, the society portrays being pregnant. We get told that the world that we know is finished, we get thrown into a new world whether we chose it or not. Suddenly we have to think about looking after a baby. Most of us have had no experience with looking after anyone, let alone a baby. What do you do? You can’t even pick up a manual to help because there are thousands of different ‘manuals’ to help raise a child. All these different questions and wonders do not help with being depressed and anxious. It makes it worse.
I chose to bottle feed my two youngest babies. They were both in NICU, tube fed only, and after a bad experience with breastfeeding my eldest two, I made the choice not to put myself through that again. I had severe PND with my eldest son and daughter, and I think my experience with breastfeeding contributed to that. I have no regrets about my choices, it was the right thing for me and my children at that time. www.fivelittledoves.com
There is a fine line of where you start to consider your own mental health. Many mums who choose to bottle feed had to make that decision on what was in the best interest of the baby.
As someone who has a history of anxiety and knowing that a lack of sleep can trigger my panic attacks, I had to choose my mental health to come first so began bottle feeding after a month with my first son. As a family we all benefitted from this choice. The only downside was financial! www.thriftymum.com
- Sexual abuse and sexual assault
Breastfeeding is all about sharing your body with a baby and giving your all to the baby. This can be a hard thing to do when someone has taken that control from you before. Having to deal with having a baby and then having to feed the baby can trigger PTSD and anxieties. The breast and vagina are very sexualised things in this society, and having a baby and feeding him/her can be a very traumatic time for a mother.
We bottle fed from day one as I am in recovery from PTSD from a sexual assault and breastfeeding would not have been good for my mental health. I also didn’t want the pressure of being the lone food source or all of the worrying that comes with that.
- Support from friends and family
Even in this day and age, many mums are still struggling with the support from their friends and family. Having the strength to deal with another person’s complexes about breastfeeding can be overwhelming. Having a baby can make you feel like you’ve just run a marathon, and then had no time to recover. Trying to deal with people who make you feel uncomfortable can be very hard for a new mum to deal with.
I FF my first (BF my second). I always wanted to BF but the thought of having to feed infront of my Dad (I lived with my parents at the time) filled me with fear, I was terrified. I therefore opted to FF but having people who could help with the feeds was bliss.
- The right support in hospital from midwives and health workers.
Breastfeeding support can be hard to come by, especially when you didn’t think you needed it. It seems that if you want the support, you have to make the effort to find local groups and find Lactation consultants to help you. These options should really be available from the beginning. Many mums seem to have similar stories about not having the support they need at such a crucial time.
I felt like I was left with no choice but to bottle feed after Dex would not latch when he was born. I was in hospital for three days with VERY little support, but they would not discharge me until I could show he was feeding. He latched once or twice in hospital and once when we got home. I started pumping as soon as I got home so I could offer him in a bottle. It was so very stressful and upsetting. After a week we switched to formula after my midwife told me pumping wasn’t a long term solution. Although I had no help with him latching apart from people saying, ‘Oh yeah, that’s odd isn’t it’ and blaming me for introducing a bottle.
As a breastfeeding supporter, I understand the support that is needed, but many GPs and nurses are not trained or given the right information to help the mums.
My son was born 10 weeks early. I tried expressing for 6 weeks but I was unable to get much out. The nurses advised me to stop. With my daughter I just wanted everything to be stress free as my sons birth was so traumatic that I chose to bottle feed. Although 2 years on I now regret that decision as I wish I had tried to breastfeed. We can’t have any more children so it is something I regret alot! www.naturemumblog.co.uk
I combi fed with bottles of Formula for a few months with my first, because I was told I had to top up on directly breastfeeding, for my child to gain weight. Then, I worked my sanity off to top up with my pumped and expressed milk in bottles, after I learnt about the Formula top up trap and tried to get out it. Giving my milk in bottles, on top of breastfeeding directly, was my way of securing my child’s ‘expected’ weight gain, whilst maintaining our breastfeeding relationship and securing my breastmilk supply. And I continued until a week or so before we weaned to solids, after 6 months, for my mental assurance about our our breastfeeding journey.
- Lack of knowledge in breastfeeding
Ask yourself if you have ever seen breastfeeding as a child. I hadn’t. The baby dolls I got were bottle fed. Adverts were always about formula, never breastfeeding. We are a generation who has moved away from breastfeeding and need to make sure our next generation doesn’t do the same thing. Education about breastfeeding is so important. If you don’t know about it, why do it?
I bottlefed both my girls (1st and 2nd)
I decided to bottle feed (formula) my first because I had just turned 17, knew absolutely nothing about BF but also I felt too young and didn’t feel comfortable to do so.
I decided again to bottle formula feed my second child because I had fallen into depression from 30 weeks pregnant and post natal depression. It was just what I knew. Again, I wasn’t informed about Bf really but it was my own choice as I just didn’t feel up to it. Formula did good for my first so I decided to again.
I BF my third though.
Asking why is more important than just judging. It will always open your mind to the real reason mums struggle.
I just want to thank all the lovely mums who happily told their story, we are all in this together. When we follow our own paths so intently, we do forget that we’re all on the same road. I couldn’t use all their comments.So a great way to find out that we are not alone is to check out some other mums writing about their journey.