Is breast best?

For a while I have sat and thought about writing this, it's one of those topics which I don't want to get into arguments about yet would also like my story heard. I breast fed both of my children, yet I really wish I had formula fed my eldest. I wish I had trusted my gut instincts and given her a bottle, I really wish I had been given the option.

My eldest daughter slept from the moment she was born until around 4 the next morning when a midwife came and asked (yes woke me up) me how feeding was going. When I said she hadn't woken up we tried to wake her and fed her. She could latch fine, but just didn't seem interested in milk or what I think there wasn't any milk. She would soon fall asleep and then I would have to repeat the waking up process.


It soon became clear I needed to express and syringe feed. The moments my newborn daughter was sleeping I would be sat on a machine expressing milk ready to feed her, then washing and sterilising all the equipment, waking her up and trying to get her to take this syringe. I was never very good at expressing and I think the most I ever managed in one sitting was 2oz. This meant multiple sittings, constant expressing and generally a stressful existence.

By day 4 she had lost 12% of her body weight and we were re admitted into hospital. They saw she could latch fine to me and they saw she was doing all the 'appropriate' actions, she even would drink the expressed milk from me. They told me to wake her every 1 1/2 to 2 hours to feed her both night and day. This is part of the reason I think she now has a sleep problem. I asked about formula and was told every time not to give her any formula for the following reasons

1. It would interrupt your milk supply and you just won't produce enough to meet her needs

2. 'You will damage her stomach by stretching it with formula and then you won't ever be able to feed her yourself as you won't be able to match the demand. Her stomach will be damaged beyond repair'

3. Formula is too heavy for her little stomach to manage, breast milk is much better for her.

In my emotional and hormonal state I listened to these health professionals and continued to Brest feed her. With hindsight I should have ignored them and given her formula.

I disliked the whole breastfeeding experience with my eldest. I hated the constant guilt that she was loosing weight because my milk wasn't good enough, I hated the inadequacy feeling that I wasn't a good enough mother because I couldn't produce milk to support my daughter. I disliked the stress and the fact I was tied to a pump to express milk to give her a 'top up' in between feeds when I should have been playing with her, cuddling her or simply admiring her new born babyness. I really hated that I was guilt tripped into it, I felt I had no choice and that if I had formula fed that I was letting her down. Most of all I hated the loneliness of it all. I was never confident at Brest feeding, I am very self conscious, and so no matter where I was even at home I would go and sit in a room by myself to feed her or cover up.

I guess the point I am trying to make is I wish I had support, and I'm not taking support from friends and family I had that in plentiful supply. I am talking a balanced view point, a reference point to argue both cases or even a midwife or health visitor who could discuss things with me. I saw a different midwife or health visitor every time. Just something which said to me 'you know what it's OK, formula was made for a reason, it isn't bad, it is an option'. I wish a book like Guilt-free Bottle Feeding: Why your formula-fed baby can be happy, healthy and smart had been available then, just to give me the assurance that it is OK to formula feed.

I wish that in today's society we would be allowed to make the right choice for our children. breast feeding was not the right choice for my eldest daughter and she should have been formula fed, I firmly believe that. I feel I was guilt pressured into breast feeding and wish I had taken the time to look at the bigger picture to realise it is OK to formula feed.






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