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to ask about the REALITY of BF'ing Vs FF'ing

(178 Posts)
PatButchersEarring Wed 13-Feb-13 16:05:29

OK. Not looking to start a bun fight, nor am I looking for any moralising/judging etc.

Situation as follows: 1 DD (3.5) was ebf until she was around 6 months.

I'm now pregnant again. Yes, I'm aware that BF'ing is healthier all round yada, yada.

However, DD did not sleep through the night until she was 2.5. I was frequently up anything between 3 and 10 times per night. I was at breaking point, as was DP. I just cannot allow that to happen again for the sake of everyone's mental and physical health.

A lot of my friend's who also ebf have experienced the same. However, most people I know who FF have had good sleepers. Coincidence?

Also, it was me who took on the vast majority of night wakings with DD as it seemed to be just me who could settle her. Probably because of initial breastfeeding..whereas DP could obviously take over a couple of nights a week if bottle feeding.

There seems to be a complete lack of unbiased advice on this, for obvious reasons..

Can anyone give me the benefit of their experience?

HopAndSkip Thu 14-Feb-13 03:00:56

Only managed to read the first page, but just wanted to mention the benefit of wacking a boob in and having an instantly calm baby!

Also I've only ever FF while looking after my niece, but I found getting up twice and sorting out bottles each time much more tiring than waving a boob in the general direction of baby while half asleep 5/6 times with (terrible sleeper but due to long stay in hospital not bf imo) BF co-sleeping DD.

Though obviously do what you feel happiest with. Maybe try breast feeding for a few weeks, then change over if you are finding it too tiring, or try expressing if you do decide to BF so DH can help with some feeds not a personal favourite, I'd rather be sleepy than be a dairy cow tbh!
Or just FF from day 1, but is there anyone FF family/close friend's DC wise who you could look after between now and then to have an experience of what FF involves? (Sure you could find it great, but maybe an idea to try it first, as I found it way too much fuss for my slightly lazy ways!!)

stopgap Thu 14-Feb-13 03:16:56

I breastfeed my 18-month-old just once a day now, but he's been EBF since birth. As soon as his horrendous silent reflux eased up at seven months, he slept through the night. We co-slept for the first three months, but he's been in his own space since then.

He still clocks in 11.5-12 hours at night, and 60-90 minutes of napping during the day.

organiccarrotcake Thu 14-Feb-13 10:09:01

There is research, and I'll say what it shows in a moment, but firstly I want to point out that research is across a community, and may or may not be applicable to you anyway! So with this in mind you can use the research to give you something to think about, then work out what is right for you. My additional thoughts in square brackets.

1) Formula fed babies seem to more often go longer between feeds than breastfed babies, which may mean they sleep longer [unless they react to formula in which case they may be kept awake].

2) FF babies are about twice as likely as BF babies to die from SIDS, possibly because if they sleep longer and more deeply their immature brains do not wake them from sleep if they stop breathing. [However, while "twice as likely" sounds very scary, bear in mind that the risk of SIDS is extremely small, and twice a very small number is still a very small number. You may consider that driving in a car is more likely to lead to your baby being killed but this isn't something that people worry about as they do SIDS].

3) Because FF babies may sleep longer, parents may get more hours of sleep. However, the sleepy hormones released while night time breastfeeding mean that across a community, breastfeeding mums get more QUALITY sleep than FF mums. [This one is very much a person to person issue and dependent on the baby in question]

4) In the early weeks, BFing at night can be seriously intense, exhausting, painful and tiring in a way that no one who has not had children can really understand, and it's all down to you. FF may be easier because it can be shared. However, if you can get through the first few weeks and especially if you consider safe bad sharing, BFing can be the easiest way to get through the night as there comes a point where a baby can attach himself, hardly waking the mum, or at least a boob can be waved in the general direction and the baby just latches and drops back to sleep. Mums can then just wake for a few moments then go back off again while her baby gets on with it. So longer term, that's soooo much easier than getting up with the baby, getting the formula, feeding the baby until he's asleep, putting him down etc.

References for above from isisonline.org.uk

Separate to that are how an individual baby is, and how they react to their food. Some babies will react dreadfully to cow's milk formula, and then if breastmilk isn't available the only option is a prescription milk-free formula which will feed a baby but is to be avoided unless it's the only option. Other babies will (very rarely) be so intolerant of some food or another that their breastfeeding mum has to completely remove it from her diet and this may be more than she's able to do.

In the end, it depends on how important breastfeeding is to you and if it is important, to work through those first weeks and then reap the benefits. If it's not important and you'd rather formula feed, working our a strategy with a partner so that you can enjoy the fact that you are able to share night feeds would make sense, so that you're not ending up with the worst of all worlds and you can get some lovely, long sleeps!

I hope you find a solution that is right for you smile

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