6 May 2011

Moving to the dark side?

The dark side?

This must be one of the most debated topics of the mummy world but is a newish one for me. Breastfeeding versus formula bottle feeding.

And I am going to be honest straight from the start, we have now introduced formula, so I am no longer exclusively breast feeding. This has not been an easy decision but one we have arrived at finally this week.

I had exclusively breastfed from day one. From E first latching on in the hospital corridor (read more here) we have had a lot of ups and downs. The first few days and weeks were the worse. E would only feed if he was stripped to his nappy and had screamed at me constantly for a good 30 minutes. Even then he would latch on and off constantly, not releasing his grip on the off either! I was however lucky and got a lot of help. Probably the only positive thing about staying in hospital as long as I did. One lady, a feeding specialist actually stayed with me one morning for an hour and a half helping me try different feeding positions.

It was hard going with us both having to learn fast. We got there though and at his first weigh in he had only lost 4oz so we were obviously doing something right. But we were still struggling. The skin to skin we had introduced in hospital to combat the jaundice sleepiness continued to haunt us as he would only feed when I was half naked. Not too much of a problem when we were house bound but it became a bit of a hurdle when we wanted to start going out. We got past this hurdle too but I have never really embraced the breastfeeding in public thing. All my outings to date have been timed around feeds or logistically planned to ensure John Lewis' feeding room or the car is close by for feeding.

Despite the issues we have had I have always been very determined to keep breastfeeding and have worked around them all. Every midwife and health visitor that came to visit checked the latch and helped with feeds, I went to a Sure Start breastfeeding group. I really wanted E to have the best start possible. It has however gradually dawned on me that part of me not feeling myself and feeling constantly anxious is due in part to the breastfeeding. This has been something that is very hard to admit but the thought and suggestion that I could feed him in another way makes me physically stand taller, I feel lighter, I feel free.

This has been bubbling for a while and the last couple of weeks I have tried expressing in the hope to be able to have a few feeds 'off duty'. This seemed like a good solution until I actually came to try it. E is still feeding every 2 to 3 hours so squeezing in an extra feed to express is near impossible and expressing after a feed is difficult due to E's lack of day time sleeping and there generally not being enough milk.

It was however E's first bottle of expressed milk that finally clinched the deal.

He loved it!

Mr B gave it to him, he has been looking forward to feeding him for so long, and as I was preparing to leave the room (following all the advice I had read) E had already wolfed the first quarter down. There was no confusion, no hesitation. As far as he was concerned it was milk and he didn't care where it was coming from.

This was such a pleasant sight as in recent weeks E had been getting back to his old fussy ways of feeding and getting very aggravated. Latching on and pulling straight off again numerous times during a feed, hitting me, pulling my glasses off, kicking and screaming like crazy. Not a pleasant sight when you know your little boy is just hungry. I took it all very personally, he was acting like I was trying to poison him and I would often end up in tears. Suddenly there were a few alternatives.

I had bought some formula milk before he was born (I really never expected to succeed at all) but stocked up on some more at the weekend but was reluctant to give him any before seeing the health visitor this week for his weigh in. To be honest I was hoping for permission. But, I didn't get that, they are only there for advice apparently. Despite this he weighed in at 10lb 3oz which she was happy with and I left knowing I would introduce the first bottle of formula that night.

We did and it went well, despite the initial faff of sorting it out. He didn't hesitate. He didn't get angry. He didn't get as much wind as normal. He just drank it and fell straight to sleep.


So, here we are a couple of days later after two nights of formula feeding. He seems happy. I am getting there. So hopefully this is the future. I am not expecting the formula and combination feeding to solve everything but I do hope it is a step in the right direction.

I am still justifying the decision to myself and I think I will always feel a little guilty about 'giving up' but it is the right decision for us. I feel I have already given him the best start, we have bonded and he has had a lot of the goodness and antibodies already. I am proud that we got this far and that to date his growth has been down to solely me, but it is now time for a little help. We are gradually dropping a feed a day but I do hope to keep one breastfeed a day, whilst he still seems to want it and we both enjoy it.

Only time will tell.


  1. It's a hard decision to make and I am proud of you for writing this! Here - I wrote about it too, but it took me two years! http://dosnailsneeddoulas.blogspot.com/2010/11/black-and-white.html

    Only you can decide what is best for you and your baby. Good luck, you're doing a brilliant job! :) xx

  2. This is a website with stories from lots of people who have struggled with breastfeeding for various reasons: http://fearlessformulafeeder.blogspot.com/

    It isn't as hardcore as it sounds :) x

  3. This is a really interesting post to read. My daughter is 19 weeks and was exclusively breastfed until Friday night when we decided to try her on a formula feed last thing at night to see if it would make her sleep through. It made no difference whatsoever so I think the reason she is waking once or twice is because of teeth, so I don't think I will bother with it again. She is going to be weaned in a few weeks so I think I will carry on with the breastfeeding until then.
    I really struggled at first, and still have days where I do but I am glad I did it. You should be proud for doing it as long as you did, its a shame that Mum's feel guilty. Hugs to you. xx

  4. One thing I have learned is that this is never an easy choice. Be it someone who has breastfed for two years, a few weeks, or like me chose this time not to breastfeed at all. As long as we have the best interests of our child at heart that is all that matters.

  5. BLOODY WELL DONE! It sounds like all along you have tried to do the right thing by E and this is still the case. Mums and women in general are made to feel guilty about so many things, and I'm sure it's the first of many things parents feel guilty about for their children, but you know what's best for him and that must be down in a large part to what's best for you. And now M gets to share they bonding and loveliness so much more too... You are one wonderful woman, chuckie XXX


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