I never intended on writing a post about the decision behind how I feed thing 3. My personal belief is that as long as your child is fed then it really does not matter if you breast or bottle feed. Today I was pushed over my limit of tolerance with my decision and I need to write this, to remember this point.
I don't attend baby groups as a general rule because in the past the ones I did attend were full of Mums comparing their children. I have very little interest in this, children walk, talk and do everything else at their own pace and in their own time and I do not feel the need to compete with other Mums. Today I broke my rule and decided to attend a group, I won't be going back.
The group was entitled 'Infant Feeding support group' what it should have been called 'Breastfeeding ONLY group'. My baby is bottle fed.
I am happy and comfortable with this decision, it is the right decision for my family. My girls were breastfed. My eldest until 15 months and youngest until 9 months. I absolutely hated breastfeeding, I felt useless, ashamed and very hormonal. I hated feeding my kids whilst sat on a toilet because I was too embarrassed to feed them in public. I hated the dirty looks if I did brave it. I hated the loneliness of sitting on my own, because I was too scared to feed my kids in front of my family and I really disliked not knowing how much my girls were taking. The first few weeks were painful, no cream helped and my milk never came in. I never leaked and never felt 'full'. I still to this day have the scars from where the girls bit me and caused me to bleed. I felt like I missed out on my eldest growing up because I was the one breastfeeding her sister and could not play or give her the attention she needed.
This time was going to be different. I offered Thing 3 the option when they were born, but they could not latch and rather than stressing and getting upset they were then bottle fed. It actually was the best decision, well so far anyway. It is much easier, much less painful and I still feel connected to the girls. I am not embarrassed to feed Thing 3 and feel just as close to him as I do the girls. The bond between me and baby is just as strong as it is with the girls. He still roots, he still looks to me for comfort and I hold him close mimicking a breastfed baby positioning.
Today I was forced to justify this choice. The day went like this:
Them : 'Hi, I am the infant feeding support worker, is your baby breast fed?'
Them : 'Oh, that is a shame. What happened?'
Me : 'Nothing, we decided to bottle feed'
Them : ' Oh, well how old is baby?'
Me: '5 weeks'
Them : ' Hmmm, well it might be possible. Hmmm, well am not sure but if you wanted to we could try to start lactating again'
Me : 'Errrrr, no its OK thanks'
Them : 'Well your baby looks very small, it really would be much better for them for you to at least try'
Me : 'No am OK thanks. Can I ask if there is a bottle feeding support group?'
Them : ' No, just this one for breast feeding but here is a leaflet for bottle feeding'
Me: 'So who do I ask for advice?'
Them : 'You could try the NHS website'
I was then asked to talk some more about why I was bottle feeding and told it was very important that only I fed baby in order to build a bond and avoid any confusion and dysfunction in later life.
My questions therefore are this, why give someone a title of 'Infant feeding support worker' if the support is only available to those who are breastfeeding? And why have an 'Infant feeding support group' if the support is only available to breastfeeding Mums?
My family and I are comfortable with our decision to bottle feed, but I know there are plenty of Mums out there who need support. Who thanks to all this pressure feel like failures that they cannot breastfeed, when actually they should be proud of themselves for feeding their babies. Why can't we support each other regardless of how we feed our babies? Formula is there for a reason, but we should not judge each other based on our decisions to feed our children.
I do not judge those who choose to breastfeed, or for how long they choose to breastfeed. Good for them if that works for them and their family. I do not judge those who choose to bottle feed, good for them and I do not judge those who do a combination of both. As I said before as long as baby is fed, does it really matter?
What perhaps has shocked me most about today is the 'Infant support worker' did not know my state of mind, never asked about support but instead pressured me and made me question my judgement as a mother. I hate this. She had no idea to my background. I could have spent weeks coming to terms with wanting to breastfeed and instead having to bottle feed. The journey someone takes to feed their child, is their journey and no one else's. Perhaps it is worth thinking before one Mum judges another.