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Guest blog: 'Breast is Best' - has breastfeeding been oversold?

(327 Posts)
KateMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 14-Feb-13 14:15:47

Prof Joan B Wolf is the author of 'Breast Is Best?', which argues that mothers are being pressured to breastfeed for reasons that aren't, in fact, based on good evidence.

In our guest blog debate, she explains why she thinks that the science behind the 'breast is best' health claims might be fundamentally flawed. On the same page Anna Burbidge, Chair of the La Leche League, responds to some of her arguments.

Do read both, and let us know what you think. Is breastfeeding being promoted as part of "an ideology of total motherhood that stipulates that a mother can and should eliminate any risk to her children, regardless of how small or likely the risk or what the cost is to her own wellbeing in the process"? Or do you feel that, far from breastfeeding being an orthodoxy, society still feels awkward and uncomfortable about it? If you blog, don't forget to post your URLs here.

We know the breastfeeding/formula feeding thing is a hugely emotive subject on MN, as in real life, so please do remember that Mumsnet supports parents' personal choices on this issue - we're all about making lives easier. Please be kind and respectful towards those whose views or experiences differ from your own.

Startail Thu 14-Feb-13 14:20:27

Breast is, after the initial pain, just so much easier.

Sod the science, it's free and you don't have to boil, cool, measure, sterilise or any other nonsense.

Babies cause enough unavoidable work, why add more?

MmeLindor Thu 14-Feb-13 14:27:27

Have you battened down the hatches, MNHQ?

<adjusts tin hat>

Will go and read the blog posts first.

Zavi Thu 14-Feb-13 14:51:50

Bottle is best!

It means you're not tied to the baby 24/7 - you can still retain an identity as an individual - and dad, and others, get to feed baby too!

When I asked at my ante-natal class what the difference between the different types of formula milk was, I was told both "don't know" and "no difference". In the end I ended up going for the type of tin that I liked the look of best!

I think a lot of mums feel that they ought to breast feed for fear others might think they are "a bad mother" (God forbid!) or that they are not doing "the best" for their baby.

I was unencumbered by such nonsense though grin

It was bottle-feeding all the way for me and it worked out just great. Really happy, smiley baby all the way - which left me hmm about the "sleepless nights" and "maternal deprivation" that I'd had been lead to expect from my pre-birth reading!

Plus, there is no way on earth I would ever get my baps out in public blush. I know other people say "but breast-feeding is natural" but then again, so is defecating. I wouldn't want to do that in public either.

Plus the saying "breast is best" just isn't true. Diseases and drugs can be passed from breast milk to baby. Mothers can pick up horrid infections too. I think breast-feeding stresses a lot of mothers out and makes others feel guilty if they can't or don't want to do it.

I don't think bottle or breast makes any difference to be honest.

My DC is proof though that babies can thrive on bottle feeding grin

MyGlassIsJustHalfWet Thu 14-Feb-13 15:05:44

I'm not bothered what others do. For myself, I chose to breastfeed. I still have my identity, we don't spend all night feeding and my dd is the happiest baby I know.
I really don't think it's right to make others feel bad about their choice of feeding. Just get on with it. As long as baby thrives and mum is happy what does it matter?
I don't 'get my baps out in public' either. There's no comparison between breastfeeding and defacating so please don't say there is. I do not shit in my child's mouth.

MmeLindor Thu 14-Feb-13 15:05:46

Ok, have read the posts. I actually think that it is a shame that we are back to this combative pitting of BFing against FFing.

I read the Guardian article about Prof Wolf's book earlier this week, and I do think that she has a point. Women who struggle to BF but persevere are likely to stimulate their child, read to them, encourage them in other ways.

Ms Burbridge from LLL was very measured in her post, and I agree that there should be no 'value' put on BF.

I wrote about this a while back, and would like to see more impartial and guilt free breastfeeding advice.

Having the advisers think carefully about how they present 'evidence' is very important. Why say to women that children who were BF have higher IQs when the difference is very small? A 'slight but measurable difference' as the blogger I linked to in my piece put it.

My daughter's chances of going to university didn't decrease when I made up that first bottle of formula, so why use that as a reason to promote BFing?

Give women the information, and even more important, give them the support they need to continue to BF if they want to. If they decide they don't want to, then don't make them feel bad about it.

badguider Thu 14-Feb-13 15:27:14

What I find odd is that the current narrative is that there is an 'Overwhelming pressure to breast feed' in modern Britain.
BUT the evidence shows that breast feeding rates are still pretty low so the pressure can't be all that overwhelming afterall.

Why is any attempt at encouraging bf seen as guilt-tripping mothers? I'd like to bf because I am quite intimidated by the idea of sterlising bottles and making up formula in the right way and keeping a crying baby waiting... not because I think it's some kind of magic potion.

I think in so many ways we fetishise the first year of a child's life with the bf/ff issue and weaning and maternity leave.... then after the first year parents are left to do their best with very family-unfriendly workplaces and services and huge childcare issues which become even more pronounced when the child is over the age of 10, as if children no longer need every 'slight' advantage that babies do.

Tee2072 Thu 14-Feb-13 15:28:31

::ducks for cover::

I FF. I wanted to BF. I'm a woman with no milk.

No one made me feel bad about it except here on MN. True fact. This includes my aunt who was a founding member of her chapter of LLL. I was actually afraid to tell her I was FFing. She laughed and said 'Is your baby being fed? You're a good mother.'

The only other person who ever asked was my cousin when I handed my son a bottle at 6 months. And all he did was enquire if it was pumped breastmilk. I said it wasn't and he shrugged and we moved on with our lives.

So I really wonder how much this is a true issue in the real world and not the world of the internet.

KateMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 14-Feb-13 15:41:42

Popping back in to let you know that MN Blogger Lonely Scribe wrote an interesting post on this subject yesterday.

From everything I have read, I'm in no doubt that BF is better for babies but I don't think it's always better for mothers, especially if they simply don't want to do it.

I think the trouble is that while there's lots of pressure to breastfeed, there's very little real support for those who want to and not much acceptance of BF in society.

I'd like to see all the money currently spent on BF 'promotion' used instead to offer proper support to BF mothers and those who choose to FF. I think we'd see a rise in BF rates because I believe there are a lot of women who want to BF but who are failed by lack of support. I think it would also do a lot to end the combativeness between the two 'camps'.

While I'm here, I just want to say flowers to LLL for the excellent 'Womanly Art ...' book, without which I would not have succeeded at BF, as I was given completely wrong advice repeatedly by both HV and GP.

Meglet Thu 14-Feb-13 15:47:12

There was a piece in the National Statistics magazine (Significance) a few years ago that attempted to get to the bottom of the bf / ff debate.

I can't access it online or I'd link it but IIRC some of the health benefits were on shaky ground. It went something along the lines of the midwives said what the NHS told then who said what the WHO told them, or something like that and I have a feeling that the end result was that only the risk of upset stomachs came out as a huge benefit. Many of the other benefits were down to the self-selecting nature of bf mothers.

When bf works easily it's a bloody dream, when it doesn't it's hell on earth and IME a waste of tears and energy.

(I had both experiences).

NannyPlumIsMyMum Thu 14-Feb-13 15:52:24

What zavi said - yy .

Breast is not best for all mothers and all babies . Depends on circumstances .

I know mothers who have bf then go on to wean their babies on to unhealthy food damaging their health ...

tilder Thu 14-Feb-13 16:06:13

I can't copy and paste on my phone, but as meglet said re dream or nightmare.

Nothing like an anecdote I know but I have been surprised how many women I know have struggled to bf. I was lucky, being a one woman dairy herd, but it hurt for the first few weeks and mastitis was hell. I know women who had so little milk their child had to be manually evacuated (nice), others who expressed when not bfing to try to increase supply, others who cried as they fed.

I think a bit of honest debate about the effect on the woman (not just cancer) is a good thing. Yes breast feeding is brilliant when it works well and yes there are benefits. But when it doesn't work well, the stress, angst, guilt etc is not pretty.

At my antenatal classes I was told everyone can breastfeed, its easy and painless. This wasn't universally true in my experience an perhaps a bit more honesty before and a bit more support and understanding afterwards would help.

ExBrightonBell Thu 14-Feb-13 16:06:27

What makes me cross is how people involved in this debate just trot out anecdote after anecdote (such as NannyPlum has just done...). Citing personal anecdote or often just hearsay does not help this discussion at all! Everyone can say "I know a bf who ended up with unhealthy children" or "I ff my children and they are really healthy". It doesn't help the overall discussion at all as none of these anecdotes can be countered.

Why does there have to be such antagonism between the two perceived sides of this debate. Are we incapable of having a sensible discussion about what is best for babies?

It would be nice if bf was just normal, and ff was accepted and not judged for those that need it.

MmeLindor Thu 14-Feb-13 16:14:39

When you ask a question like this on a parenting website - everyone has an anecdote.

It is only a problem when every poster bases their opinion on said anecdotes.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Thu 14-Feb-13 16:37:14

Zavi I cannot believe that you have likened breastfeeding to doing a poo hmm

That is a ridiculous and immature attitude.

BFing is easy, free, and is the optimum nutrition for a newborn human. I don't see how anyone can argue that generally it is what we should consider to be the normal thing to do. Obviously there will be certain instances where FF is required.

tilder Thu 14-Feb-13 16:40:21

Ok, I mentioned the word anecdote. Apologies if that causes offense, but how you feed your baby is personal and affected by you own experience and those of others around you.

I don't particularly agree with either blog tbo, but I do think a better undrrstanding of the pros and cons of both would help, and probably reduce the number of anecdotes. I have been told about the benefits but not really how significant the benefits are.

HappyGoLuckyGirl Thu 14-Feb-13 17:01:23

Personally, I don't see why people care. If you think BF is best then great, BF your children. Same for FF. Don't get your knickers in a twist over what other people are doing, it's a waste of energy and IMO pointless.

NulliusInBlurba Thu 14-Feb-13 17:03:49

It is interesting to try to work out WHY the UK is so negative towards BF, compared with many other European countries. I've just looked at a study on PubMed about rates in Germany here which talks about the need to increase rates, but shows an exclusive BF rate at 6 months of 22.4% - isn't that already five times as many as in the UK? And in Berlin, where I live, 50% are still BF to some extent at 6 months.

Why does the UK have so many women with the same attitude as Zavi who literally associate BF with shit, seeing it as something unclean, shameful and disgusting? I've never heard that kind of response here. Surely the best way to increase rates would be to improve how women see themselves.

MrsShortfuse Thu 14-Feb-13 17:04:19

I agree Tilder. Most of us use the evidence of our own eyes, ears, friends and family rather than that of large scale published studies. The benefits of bf are not obvious enough to most of us to persevere with it when problems occur, not when there's an easy and safe alternative and you know plenty of people who've ff with no ill-effects.

My dc are teenagers now. In my circle of friends and family I can probably think of 50 or so babies we've had, a mix of bf and ff and there is no tangible difference in how they've turned out, how intelligent they are, or what illnesses they've had.

ExBrightonBell and others you might write this off as 'anecdotal' but people will not wholeheartedly believe that bf is best for babies if they can't see it for themselves.

NulliusInBlurba Thu 14-Feb-13 17:06:05

"Don't get your knickers in a twist over what other people are doing, it's a waste of energy and IMO pointless."

Well, that's just written off the whole of sociology, psychology and public health, then!

NannyPlumIsMyMum Thu 14-Feb-13 17:11:40

Badguider- I have personal experience of being heavily pressured to bf following a mastectomy ( developed the cancer whilst pg - mastectomy whilst heavily pg ).

To be told "but you still have another breast " really is not the point when actually you are recovering from the trauma of being told that 50% odds you / your baby may not survive .

ExBrightonBell Thu 14-Feb-13 17:16:23

It's not the message that "breastfeeding is best" that should be promoted. It should simply be that breastfeeding is usual (I've avoided using "normal" as this can be misinterpreted). Formula feeding should be seen as perfectly acceptable if breastfeeding does not work for you (at whatever point you decide). If this were the case then all the antagonism and attack could be taken out of the equation, and there would be no need for anecdotes on either "side" of the discussion!

NannyPlumIsMyMum Thu 14-Feb-13 17:18:14

And there are so many variables affecting health outcomes , demographically, family history,social habits , diet , smoking, alcohol use, employment, finances, exercise etc - bf/ff is just one of those variables.

NannyPlumIsMyMum Thu 14-Feb-13 17:19:03

Yy Brighton.

MolotovCocktail Thu 14-Feb-13 17:23:32

I've come to the conclusion that it's best to use whichever feeding method suits the particular family. Its no-one's business how a mother/parents choose to feed their baby and the judgementalness - about bf or ff - needs to be switched off somehow.

I think that in developing counties, where sterility of feeding equipment is difficult to maintain, bf is an obvious goer. But here (UK), it's more about personal choice. The baby will receive nourishment whatever way. The immunity benefits are absent with ff, but from my perspective, that's the only difference (as well as the sterility issue).

My personal feeling is that bf is oversold in the UK. If a woman wants to bf, then she should be given all the help and support available. If she chooses not to bf, then she should not be made to feel guilty. (The 'made to feel' comment is the only way I can adequately express this; it is the only way i can describe such feelings, given the overselling of bf in this country).

KatieMiddleton Thu 14-Feb-13 17:29:00

Personally I don't care how you feed but I care how you feel about it.

If you wanted to feed and didn't get enough support I care about that because that's wrong.

If you didn't want to feed and someone said or implied you are a bad or inadequate mother I care because that's wrong.

If you we're given misinformation I care because that is wrong.

I will read the blogs later, assuming the resulting bunfight hasn't melted the interweb.

MolotovCocktail Thu 14-Feb-13 17:30:15

And , it's interesting how opinions about vb vs cs (ELCS in particular) also can trigger a similar gulf - and extreme points of view. As in, the 'naturalness' of vb and bf are somehow associated/enmeshed and pitted against the 'unnaturalness' of cs and ff. Its as if cs+ff= bad, vb+bf=good. These are not my opinions, btw, just something I've noticed.

stargirl1701 Thu 14-Feb-13 18:08:08

YY to Plenty. I wanted to bf. I cried at every feed for 9 days post birth. On the 10th day, I was admitted to hospital with blood poisoning from infective mastitis. I kept bfing for the next 8 days while in the hospital attached to 2 IV lines.

My right nipple had a giant crack and a milk blister. The milk I was pumping out of it was green and solid like a string of spaghetti. But, I was determined. I fed from the left with a nipple shield and topped up with formula. I got home and it all fell apart. Alone (as DH back at work) bfing 30min, expressed milk top up, formula top up, then 30 min pump on the right. It took 90 min and dd was feeding every 2 hours. After 12 hours of this I gave in and ff.

I was seen by at least 50 HCPs in these 18 days. Everyone told me the latch was good. It wasn't as it fucking hurt and my nipples were shredded. It won't be a surprise to many to know that dd had a posterior tt. I was in a hospital, with a surgeon who cuts tts, and not one HCP suggested we should maybe check for that.

I have since relactated and I am managing to get a latch in the morning when dd is sleepy. I finally have some good bf memories and experiences. The assistance to do this has been from the LLL.

We don't need money in bf promotion. The vast majority of women want to bf. The money needs to be put into supporting women to bf. We need lactation consultants on wards, we need dentists and doctors able to spot and cut tts, we need RL help from community midwives in our homes in the first 2 weeks. If staffing levels were higher then there could be more support. This is where the money needs to go.

By Jove, this was epic!

Whydobabiescry Thu 14-Feb-13 18:10:45

I don't have much to add only that ff feeders are definitely seen as second class mothers by some health care professionals. This was reinforced for me today when I took my son and dd (6 months) to a sports and family event held at the leisure centre. Whilst my son was trying out netball I wandered around the various stalls getting info on toddler groups, sport for kids etc etc when I stopped for a browse at the one providing info to pregnant mothers. The lady in charge started cooing over dd and what a bonny baby she is etc, then asked me outright if I was breast feeding - why? What business is it of hers? When I said no she looked at me as though I was dirt on her shoe and turned away! This from someone who is supposed to be supporting parents - I almost felt the need to explain why I stopped bfeeding but tbh couldn't be arsed.

There are some very rude pro breast feeders who never stop to think that maybe just maybe there may be good reasons for ff, not just that mum couldn't be bothered.

reviewerofbooks Thu 14-Feb-13 18:16:37

What Joan Wolf fails to understand is that breastfeeding is massively enjoyable. We are hormonally wired to love it. It's physically and mentally relaxing, time and money saving, sensually delightful.

And breastmilk = knockout drops. I have had only one truly sleepless night while breastfeeding (when my third child had an ear infection on holiday at 5 weeks). My partner can vouch for this. Once you've got it sorted (and there is nearly always a breastfeeding solution to a breastfeeding problem) it makes life so much easier. I am far too lazy to get up in the night let alone sterilize anything.

As a mum who has breastfed three children and helped many mums to breastfeed over the past 15 years, I feel sad that so many mothers are cheated of this experience that makes a tough job (mothering) a hell of of a lot more pleasant.

MolotovCocktail Thu 14-Feb-13 18:42:35

^^ Just the sort of attitude I can without as a mother go chose to ff.

Please do not pity me and mothers like me because we wanted to ff our babies.

I was not cheated of the bf experience. I simply did not enjoy it. It was far from "sensually delightful" for me.

MolotovCocktail Thu 14-Feb-13 18:44:48

Just realised there's going to be a mahoosive bunfight; I may or may not join in

SolomanDaisy Thu 14-Feb-13 18:59:58

There's no data in Joan Wolf's post, so it's impossible to judge whether her definition of 'marginal' is the same as mine. Anna Burbridge actually cites a respectable study suggesting that Joan Wolf's arguments are bollocks.

I don't like JW saying 'the kinds of sacrifices breastfeeding demands'. What sacrifices? I don't feel like I sacrificed anything to feed my baby, it'ss easy, we enjoy it, we've all had plenty of sleep. For some women breastfeeding is hard or impossible, but to assert that it necessarily demands sacrifice is patronising to the many women who both want to and enjoy doing it. I would be interested to know her personal experiences of feeding and why she thinks they are universal.

HeyHeySaturday Thu 14-Feb-13 19:00:13

physically and mentally relaxing ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!

<leaves thread>

reviewerofbooks Thu 14-Feb-13 19:02:03

So much anger. Mothers should be supporting each other not yelling.

MolotovCocktail Thu 14-Feb-13 19:02:08

Ditto HeyHey

MolotovCocktail Thu 14-Feb-13 19:03:49

FWIW, I am very supportive of bf mothers but I feel saddened reviewer that the feeling is not reciprocated towards ff mothers (as reflected by your post).

MolotovCocktail Thu 14-Feb-13 19:05:58

It's more of a pity thing. Pity and patronising ... which cause the feelings of irritation.

13Iggis Thu 14-Feb-13 19:10:36

It is physically and mentally relaxing (disclaimer: FOR ME )
And gives me plenty of mumsnetting time whilst doing so.
If I'd never got past those first horrendous weeks though I would have a very different impression of bf. Nowhere near enough support was available.

MolotovCocktail Thu 14-Feb-13 19:14:36

I think it might be the actual feeding ofthe baby that is physically and mentally relaxing. I certainly feel this way when dd2 has her milk from her bottle.

reviewerofbooks Thu 14-Feb-13 19:18:06

When research first began to appear to indicate how damaging smoking was it was poo poohed. There are now in excess of 13,000 reliable research studies showing problems with formula-feeding. Take a look at the Unicef Baby Friendly website to see the most up to date. Mothers who believe it doesn't matter are being duped by those who are incapable of supporting them to establish breastfeeding or by those who have an interest in their not doing so.

5madthings Thu 14-Feb-13 19:19:13

It can be relaxing and enjoyable when it works.

Tbh I don't need science to tell me that human milk, tailor made for my baby is better than formula, but if bfeeding doesn't work out formula is fine.

Bfeeding didn't make me lose my individuality or stop dp from bonding with his children.

It isn't disgusting or like taking a dump in public as/has been said on here.

I think there is a problem that breast is best is pushed so much but health professionals are woefully trained when it comes to actually helping women bfeed. There is a lot of misinformation about bfeeding among drs, midwives and HV.

It needs to be personal choice and women should get the appropriate help either way breast or bottle.

reviewerofbooks Thu 14-Feb-13 19:19:37

oxytocin. it's the love hormone.

5madthings Thu 14-Feb-13 19:20:00

Bfeeding does actually produce hormones which aid sleep and are relaxing.

MolotovCocktail Thu 14-Feb-13 19:22:27

reviewer can you honestly not see how patronising your posts are?

MolotovCocktail Thu 14-Feb-13 19:23:56

And just how exactly have mothers been 'duped' with ff?

ILikeToMoveItMoveIt Thu 14-Feb-13 19:24:10

I don't quite know how to respond to this without being anecdotal.

I knew/know of all the benefits of bf'ing (for the baby and mother) but I don't really think that they are purely the reasons why I chose to bf. To me it just made sense to bf. Why would I give my child second choice when I can give it the milk that it is supposed to have? It didn't make sense to give them another mammals milk. I didn't sit there bf'ing and think 'oh, I'm giving you a few extra IQ points', or 'that has lessened my chance of ovarian cancer.'

When you do bf you also realise that it is about so much more than milk - and those things I don't think can be quantified in a scientific study.

I just don't understand how people can argue that anything other than the milk designed for your baby by your body is not best.

At the end of the day, as long as you feed your child I don't really care how. Just don't sit and judge me when I feed my DD.

reviewerofbooks Thu 14-Feb-13 19:40:04

To the poster who wants to know how ff mums are being duped I suggest she read "The Politics of Breastfeeding" by Gabrielle Palmer.

MolotovCocktail Thu 14-Feb-13 19:41:08

I'm off for a brew and I'm going to hide this thread now. It's useless trying to explain.

reviewerofbooks Thu 14-Feb-13 19:42:58

Not patronising, just well informed and very experienced.

Andcake Thu 14-Feb-13 19:45:42

I think the whole debate really does women no favours making many women feel guilty. Nearly everyone I knew bf but after ds loosing 14% of birth weight countless hcp and a tube down his nose ( heartbreakinf) feeding ebm back in hospital for 4 days we gradually moved on to ff after months of exclusively expressing. Latch described as good and I had lots of milk, no apparent tt. Bf was a battle and did not help me bond with baby and expressing ment i couldnt spend time cuddling him as much making me v sad.

Many women start bf because they know 'breast is best' but fail due to this being a shallow message not backed up by support and medical expertise for things like tt. I was one of the last of my friends to have a baby and despite pre natal bf courses etc ( nct idealistic and useless in retrospect) failed and feel like a bad mother. MAny ff have to make peace with their failure. For me the feeding debate just feels like women turning against each other and being bitchy rather than supportive of each other. Ff is not always a choice. In fact I can't see why any woman would.

But I have to agree with another poster to say that more people on mumsnet have made me feel bad about my situation than in rl. I feel horrible if I have to ff in public and never did trying to bf even when ds was screaming nd hitting me as he hated it that much. My first weeks with ds will be marred by my feeling of failing to bf for life.

MolotovCocktail Thu 14-Feb-13 19:47:55

I'm still finding your posts incredibly patronising. By saying you're experienced, you're assuming that me, and mothers like me, are not.


reviewerofbooks Thu 14-Feb-13 19:53:01

Mothers are being failed by a system (and a society) that is often inadequate to support them to breastfeed but that is a reason for women to be angry with the system and not with those who are sharing how important breastfeeding is. There is support available from the breastfeeding charities, mthers who understand breastfeeding, and a wealth of reliable publications available from organisations like La Leche League.

reviewerofbooks Thu 14-Feb-13 19:58:03

@Molotov cocktail
No I am just standing by my convictions. I have breastfed for years and years and have been a counsellor for a long time too, Every mother is the expert on her own baby and I am in no way saying I am a better mother. There is far far more to being a good mother than breastfeeding.

Wowserz129 Thu 14-Feb-13 19:58:15

Oh for heavens sake of course

ScillyCow Thu 14-Feb-13 20:00:36

I am so glad I had excellent breastfeeding support.

My DTs thrived on breastmilk and I loved the closeness of breastfeeding. It is not the same as bottlefeeding.

How can breastfeeding (the natural baby food that babies have thrived on for thousands of years) be compared to bottlefeeding with formula,devised by commercial compaies to make money.

You can choose to feed your baby however you like, but I definitely feel I chose the best for my babies.

Wowserz129 Thu 14-Feb-13 20:01:54

Oh for heaven sake of course breast is best! It's a natural milk so common sense tells you it's better than formula which is a copycat. I don't care whether people FF or BF but don't understand how people can think formula is better for baby than bm although both the bf and ff baby will grow into healthy adults in most cases!

HoleyGhost Thu 14-Feb-13 20:12:22

Formula can be better for the baby if they are failing to thrive on breastmilk or if breastfeeding is making the baby's mother unhappy or ill.

Breastfeeding is not best for eveyone and it is oversold.

bemybebe Thu 14-Feb-13 20:16:03

I don't care what others do. My NCT/MN buddies ff and bf for their own unique reasons. What I do is none of others' business.

The type of comments "you can still retain an identity as an individual" make me think the person has no braincells present.

HoleyGhost Thu 14-Feb-13 20:23:18

If you found breastfeeding easy and enjoyable - bully for you. It is clearly not the case for all mothers.

 breastfeeding and bottle feeding involve risks and benefits and that these must be weighed in individual context

This. Not the nonsense at antenatal classes of risks associated with breastfeeding being dismissed.

StuntNun Thu 14-Feb-13 20:25:47

I am currently bfing and having some problems with oversupply so I have been block feeding (where you only feed from one side at a time, switching every few hours). I described this to my mum and she was astounded. She is a Health Visitor with 30 years experience, breastfed her own children, has attended every breastfeeding course she has been offered through her career and she had never even heard of such a thing. Heath Visitors and Midwives are often the first port of call with breastfeeding issues but they don't always have the knowledge to be able to help.

So breastfeeding is being promoted but not effectively supported.

ScillyCow Thu 14-Feb-13 20:26:14

I didn't find breastfeeding twins easy or enjoyable at all at first. But I persisted because I believe it was best for my babies.

And I am glad I did. I understand why some mothers need to feel bottlefeeding is as good, but I don't believe it is.

MmeLindor Thu 14-Feb-13 20:33:45

You may think you are being helpful, but if that is the kind of things that you say to struggling mums who are having trouble establishing BFing then, I am sorry, but you are part of the problem.

Telling me that FFing is bad for my baby is not going to help if I truly can't BF. I know this is the point where you come back and say, that if I had had the necessary support, I would have managed. Maybe so, but I am not going to have another child, so we will just have to suppose that.

Some women don't manage to BF, even with the lots of support. And now you have planted this 'FFing is bad for your baby' and compared it to smoking. How does that make that new mum feel?

Don't you see how damaging that is?

I agree with Brighton - BFing should be seen as the norm, with FFing totally acceptable alternative.

I also agree that spending money on promotion is false, and that we should spend that money on actual support.

batfuttocks Thu 14-Feb-13 20:33:55

They don't. They simply didn't have as positive an experience as you may have.

I don't understand why it is so hard for mothers who have enjoyed bf and felt the benefits of it to appreciate that for others, it is an awful experience.

Fwiw, I have had both experiences. Hideous bf experience with poor latch, no support and milk never coming in. And a second child that made me go "ooh, so THAT'S what it's supposed to be like".

I am having a third: rather like childbirth, I intend to give the natural way a good try and if it ends up being hellish, will go for whatever allows my baby AND I, and my existing family, the best overall chance at a happy ongoing existence.

Encourage and support bf, yes. Give us access to experts - definitely. But if it still goes tits up, let us bottle feed without being judged by those who have never walked a mile in our shoes.

amillionyears Thu 14-Feb-13 20:35:02

Agree with Tee.
An issue on MN.
Not so much elsewhere.

MmeLindor Thu 14-Feb-13 20:35:57

Also - someone mentioned the different rates of BFing in Germany. I would say it was much more socially acceptable to BF a baby in public there than here in UK. I have never heard of a woman being asked not to BF in a cafe, or being tutted at etc

ScillyCow Thu 14-Feb-13 20:38:05

I don't disagree, batfuttocks. For me, it was 1 1/2 - 2 hourly feeding for four months, mastitis, thrush. A nightmare. But I did keep gong. I have walked a mile in the shoes of those who found it really hard - I did too.

I am still glad I persisted.

Titchyboomboom Thu 14-Feb-13 20:38:56

For me, breast feeding my 2 year old dd, I love breast feeding. There were stressful times but it works for me, and my sister does it too. My other sister however never considered it...

So, which is best? The one where you stay sane!!!

batfuttocks Thu 14-Feb-13 20:39:51

Scilly: when YOU persisted, it turned out ok for you. That's not a universal thing. You didn't try harder than the next person. You didn't walk a mile in my shoes - how can you possibly know all the factors that influence a decision?

ScillyCow Thu 14-Feb-13 20:41:47

I can't.

I only know that I am glad I had good support. I was also very determined.

I didn't walk a mile in your shoes - and you didn't walk a mile in mine.

So you can be happy that you made the right choice for you and your babies - and I can be happy that I made the right choice for mine.

MmeLindor Thu 14-Feb-13 20:44:19

I am glad that you had the support and the strength to carry on. I didn't. Not everyone has that strength.

No one is saying formula is as good as breastmilk - I think we can all agree on that being a given.

reviewerofbooks Thu 14-Feb-13 20:45:43

I certainly didn't find breastfeeding easy. I had a very difficult four months with my first.

I don't judge other mothers. My own mothering is far from perfect.

This is a public forum and I am not offering support here. I am stating what I think .

batfuttocks Thu 14-Feb-13 20:46:15

Listen: i am genuinely glad it worked out for you. I'm quite determined too and would hazard a guess that many "failed" breast feeders are too, and equally feel they made the right choice for their babies.

All I ask is that you don't think your hard experience, and subsequent happy ending, means everyone else would have the same experience. You simply don't know and therefore it is not helpful to suggest that you do.

ScillyCow Thu 14-Feb-13 20:49:04

I didn't have a natural birth or a natural conception (!)

I accept that a natural birth is better for the baby and for the mum. (and a natural conception too). But we couldn't (didn't) do it that way.

I don't feel judged because it would have been better for me to give birth vaginally. I made what was the choice that felt right for me at the time.

Really - motherhood is about more than breastfeeding / conception / birth. Those of you who still feel bad / sad/ whatever for not being able to breastfeed / breastfeed for as long as you wanted - let it go. Nobody minds. It is up to you.

1978andallthat Thu 14-Feb-13 20:56:00

Marking to read later

reviewerofbooks Thu 14-Feb-13 20:58:44

I often wonder if men were the ones who had breasts whether the failure of the health care system to properly support mothers with breastfeeding would be so readily shoved under the carpet.

Women seem too ready to shoulder blame and guilt or to be defensive rather than demanding care.

batfuttocks Thu 14-Feb-13 20:59:24

I was agreeing with all you were saying til that last paragraph about letting it go.

I must learn that it's better to watch these threads from afar - far too frustrating to join in.

Piemother Thu 14-Feb-13 21:12:25

I have done thoughts on this that don't entirely tie together but here goes.

I am v pro bf and fed dd1 to 12 months and am having no problems feeding dd2. However....the expression 'ebf' dies my head in, oooh look at me I'm excloooosively bf. shut up.
Secondly there is an online presence of evangelical bf who discuss bf and bm as if they are religious acts that cannot be questioned under any circs. They preach bf forever and are v unsupportive of cessation regardless of the age of a child. If a friend asked my advice/opinion about stopping bf and the child was over 6 months I'd say well done for doing x months - stop if that's what you want. Pressure to feed well in to toddler years is really unhelpful IMO. This online group always refer to the benefits if extended bf and link to the studies on kellymom. I have read all of them. No study has data with proven benefits of bf past 12 months and most of them stop at 9. Obviously I know 2 years is the who recommendation but based in what who knows. Extended bf if you want but don't feel bad if you don't because you are worried about nutrition.

Meanwhile the formula industry is something else entirely. I call it a hideous abortion if ethics. I am a Palmer fan and an unrelenting Nestlé boycotter. I will not and cannot turn a blind eye to the behaviour of that company. And yes I boycott lots if other companies for other reasons too.

stargirl1701 Thu 14-Feb-13 21:15:41

I agree with that Piemother. I had my eyes opened after reading 'The Politics of Breastfeeding'. I had no idea how odious the formula companies truly are. So, it gets my goat that I am forking out into their coffers.

Milk banks. We need an extensive network of milk banks in the UK.

MmeLindor Thu 14-Feb-13 21:31:51

Is the 2 year recommendation based on women BFing babies in countries without clean water supplies, access to medical treatment etc?

I don't feel sad or defensive about not BFing. I do feel sad and defensive for women who are on the receiving end of nasty comments - whether from someone who tuts at them because they BF in public, or someone who implies that they should have been more tenacious and not given up BFing.

I pretty much shrugged it off. Some don't, which is why the constant pitting of BFing against FFing is so damaging.

Iggly Thu 14-Feb-13 21:38:23

Babies are meant to be breastfed.

Formula is cows milk which has been reconstructed to mimic breast milk. It's probably the most processed food stuff on this planet.

MmeLindor Thu 14-Feb-13 21:39:00

Gee, Iggly. That is helpful. Thanks.

SolomanDaisy Thu 14-Feb-13 21:39:35

I know one of the reasons for the two year recommendation is that studies have shown that the brain development / IQ benefits continue to increase until then. I think the stomach bug / ear infection protection continues too. It's a worldwide recommendation and not just about clean water.

Piemother Thu 14-Feb-13 21:43:04

Mmelindor - I don't know but maybe it's diet in general or access to dairy I dunno really. Western children access comparably amazing diets. As for this iq etc stuff I don't think you can reliably compare outcomes of bf/ff babies past the age where they eat solid food because you cannot manage the variables well enough. Also a lot if studies compare ff v some bf but not exclusive. There cannot be a control group. As I say I am v pro bf but I don't like ropey evidence. To that end there are loads if variables comparing sleep patterns between ff/bf babies. Dd2 is a fat greedy baby who sleeps 10 hours a night. She's 3 months old and has done this from 3 weeks. Apparently this is impossible from a bf baby despite her being fed in demand and having no planned routine whatsoever wink

MmeLindor Thu 14-Feb-13 21:51:00

Pie / Solomon
the Guardian article is actually better on the science stuff than the blog itself.

See, this is the thing - the IQ rise is measurable but slight. We've been told bringing our kids up bilingual raises IQ and helps in brain development, but I haven't signed the kids up to Harvard yet.

As you say, there is no way of measuring these advantages, and there are so many other factors that BFing can only be one piece of the puzzle.

Clean water is so important. I met women last year in Kenya who told me about their drink water project - they said that since the village started buying rain water tanks, they haven't lost a child to D&V, which was previously a common occurance. 'They shout to us in the evening when we put them to bed, and in the morning they aren't there', one woman said.

1978andallthat Thu 14-Feb-13 21:59:17

I mix feed so am far more qualified than most of you to comment on both.

(That is a JOKE)


But I do mix feed. Mix fed dd until 18 months and doing same for 6 week old ds, hopefully for as long. Not through choice but I never produced much milk (yes, even with long baby moons of just being on sofa bf) and have big hungry babies who were rapidly losing weight.

Huge kudos to the consultant who told me with dd that I had no obligation to bf my baby, just an obligation to feed her.

Anyway I have always found bf great for a bit of time out and enforced sitting down cuddling. But only in the evening and this time at night because we are co sleeping. In the daytime it had always got in the way of the rest of life. Nevertheless I have done it. On the tube, in cafes, on the loo, even while marching down embankment on a protest march.

I have also found ff gave my dh and my parents the chance to form intimate bonds with dd by being able to feed her and have that special cuddle time too.

And the way a baby looks at you when having ff is, or with my babies anyway, as intense and loving and bond forming as when they bf. more actually as they make eye contact whereas they always bf with eyes closed.

When struggling to ebf dd a fried said to me I was upset now but she bets I mix feed no 2 through choice. She was almost right. I had decided to do so with no 2 from 6 weeks but had to do from 1 week due to issues outlined above.

Do I feel I've failed? Yes, sometimes. But that is itself a failing. Looking at my children, and at my successful and healthy friends, you'd never know which was bf and which ff, and not has it affected their bonds with their parents.

SolomanDaisy Thu 14-Feb-13 22:08:10

Haha Mme Lindor, DS is both bilingual and breastfed, I assume Harvard will actually come looking for him. The IQ thing is weird, because obviously the difference between an IQ of 130 and136 won't change your life, but a difference between 65 and 71 might change whether you can read or not. But it tends to be higher IQ parents, who are more likely to have higher IQ children anyway, who worry about this stuff.

JumpHerWho Thu 14-Feb-13 22:18:54

I fully planned and expected to breastfeed, it was what we were all fully informed was best for us, babies and the world, by NCT and everywhere you go in maternity and antenatal bits of hospital.

But after a horrendous c-section, I was alone with my baby crying in his plastic cot next to me, I couldn't see straight from pain, I couldn't sit up to see him properly far less lift him out. Whenever I rang for help, that crucial first night, a midwife never came. Not once. Healthcare assistants. And not one of them could support me with breastfeeding, not one, and wouldn't bring a midwife. It was a day and a half later a breastfeeding counsellor came to assist me and I was in so much pain when they put DS on my stomach, so much pain from the open wound, I was crying, and ended up having a panic attack. The bf counsellor said to DH at this point 'does she really want to breastfeed?'


Fwiw DS (now one) is the best sleeper of any baby I have ever met or heard of, he has slept 12 hours from 8 weeks onwards, he is bright, happy and intelligent. He eats everything I put in front of him.

As far as breast v bottle is concerned, I can sum up mine and many women's experiences quite simply - lots of pressure with no support.

The title 'the womanly art of breastfeeding' just solidifies the idea that you should just be able to do it. The healthcare assistants seemed really unwilling and unmotivated to help - it clearly wasn't in their remit. So anyone struggling to breastfeed didn't receive the advice they should have, which I have read on MN - to keep baby at your breast at all times, latching on and off as they wish, kangaroo care, keep them close. No one advised this. In fact one said 'you don't have to ring the buzzer every single time he cries' this was a few hours after my beautiful DS was born, and the NHS are advising leaving him to cry.

And I know that scientifically he is just as healthy as any baby, but I will always feel sad for that hellish first night.

SetFiretotheRain Thu 14-Feb-13 22:26:53

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

JumpHerWho Thu 14-Feb-13 22:37:02

There is plenty of information antenatally. It's on the post-natal ward that things need to change. Support not pressure. Help not information. Hand-holding not finger-wagging. All the 'breast is best' bashing before the birth is no use in the world if no-one actually helps when you need it! It should be automatic to help a woman and her newborn feed, part of the birthing process, and at the moment it's not. My floods of tears and begging for help resulted in an HV referral, so a useless busybody turns up on my doorstep 3 days later telling me to 'make the baby wait three hours between feeds' and really telling me of if I admitted I hadn't hmm

I know this discussion is meant to be about the science of breast v bottle, but the psychology of 'why' will always win in these debates as ff-ers feel so defensive - it's not our fault and we're not stupid.

JumpHerWho Thu 14-Feb-13 22:39:41

'Setfiretotherain' the problem is not educating people hmm you'd have to be blind, deaf and stupid to not know 'breast is best'. It's help and support that is needed.

No mother should leave hospital without having established good breastfeeding if that is her intention. Plenty of countries manage this.

But no, let's plough money into 'education'

HoleyGhost Thu 14-Feb-13 22:40:54

Sometimes it passes and is wonderful, easy, enjoyable...

But I will never get those hellish first months back. The first months of my dd's life. If I could turn back time I would not have persevered.

Every choice we make is about risk vs reward. It depends on individual circumstances and nobody is in a position to judge. Antenatal advice should treat it as a choice, not as a simple 'breast is best'

SetFiretotheRain Thu 14-Feb-13 22:54:28

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MmeLindor Thu 14-Feb-13 23:05:46

That is really awful. I am sorry that you were left so unsupported. I agree with you - all the education and knowledge in the world won't help if there is not support after the actual birth.

Another difference between Germany and UK is that women generally stay in hospital for 3 days after a VB and 5 days after a CS. Sometimes longer. Having that time is crucial for establishing BFing.

We also got a daily midwife visit for the first week when we got home, going down to every two days then as needed.

I will be watching for you on the G&T threads smile

stargirl1701 Thu 14-Feb-13 23:09:11

I was in the midwife unit for 4 days after a lovely waterbirth. Then visited at home by a community midwife every day (5-9). In hospital days 10-18. Visited by a community midwife days 19 + 20.

It didn't help.

Piemother Thu 14-Feb-13 23:46:57

I saw a mw reduce a brand new mum to tears over bf when I was there after dd2. She harped in about bf being too much of an ordeal to go through then told her she might be allowed to top with ff. the mum was sobbing hmm. Later on I heard the lovely HCA patiently undo most of the damage and the mum left the hospital still bf. that was just luck though hmm I wanted to bellow across the ward at the idiot mw.
Poster with the crappy post section experience I can relate to that. I had the same problems being in pain and unable to lift dd1. I asked the mw for painkillers and she told me I had a worrying problem. I felt like an addict.
Things are getting worse post natal because of more staff cuts and that won't change.
I've been v lucky that my dds latched on fine and seemed to know what they were doing. The amount of guff I've heard from mw and HV about bf over the years god help me if I had any problems! Even my gp attitude to bf is slightly suspect and almost tears it as getting in the way of her agenda with dd2.

WinkyWankyWonkyPeppa Fri 15-Feb-13 01:01:54

I'm "pro choice" on this subject, I wouldn't judge you whether you decided to BF or FF your child. Personally I tried to BF, it didn't work out and I eventually gave up and FF.

I personally feel that a lot of pro BF fanatics (not all, I must stress) take the view that women did such successfully before Formula was invented and did just fine. I disagree. While there can be no scientific "proof" for what I about to suggest, I still believe it to be true.

In days gone by BF was the only way to feed your child, if you were wealthy you could afford a wet nurse. If you were not, then you had to "do it yourself". Now considering infant mortality rates, I'm of the mind that BF is not as easy as its made out to be. People seem to think that because you are a women and you have had a child, it is as simple as latching your child and that is that. It isn't always the case.

Infant mortality has decreased and I think formula may play a role in that. Yes, it may not have all the same health benefits as BF, but I don't think the risks are all they are made out to be either! After all my family has 4 generations of FF children and they have all turned out just fine!

Again, this is my opinion, and I am not judging either camp, I just feel people should be more tolerable either way.

It's so pointless to have the type of discussion that goes
"health benefits are mahoosive/ health benefits are negligible"
"researchers were too dim to control for confounding factors/ studies are robust"
"I hated it / I loved it"

If referring to health benefits, why not link to the studies and use the numbers so we can assess the scale of the increased risk.
if disputing the validity of the studies and their findings, be prepared to critique specific studies and explain why their methodology and findings are flawed. Know what confounding means so you can tell whether the study actually took it into account.

Otherwise its all just blah blah blah and no-one learns anything meaningful apart from how to remain entrenched.

I like for my facts to be actual facts, I want as much information as I can grab, and I'll judge for myself whether that is significant for me. For a few years I thought I was at an increased risk of breast cancer due to a genetic condition, and knowing that 5 years of breastfeeding reduced that risk by 21% was important to me. I know where those figures come from, I'm satisfied as to their validity. Despite that, I breastfed for many other reasons and this was not a deciding factor. I'm just glad the information was available to me.

Whilst I respect another woman's right to choose not to be informed the same way as I want to be, I do not respect the right for anyone to perpetuate myths or prejudice unchallenged as if they were fact.

HoleyGhost Fri 15-Feb-13 02:38:24

Can you link to that research verylittlecarrot?

We don't all have access to the full text of medical journals. Even if we had few of us understand how to critique them. We need to be able to trust the medical advice we are given from the NHS.

I believe that the simplistic "breast is best" mesage erodes that trust when the risks of breastfeeding are trivialised and the benefits presented in a misleading way.

detoxlatte Fri 15-Feb-13 03:31:07

Each and every time this issue comes up, I always conclude that this debate is really about the mother's own psychology and emotional make-up.

Plainly, for every one piece of research suggesting this or that, there will be another suggesting something different.

What is offensive is the moral high ground taken by the pro-bf absolutists. It is so insulting to one's intelligence for anyone to state "breast is best" as a bald statement.

Nothing in parenting is that straightforward.

My own view is that for the baby there is very probably a nutritional benefit to bf over ff, and that there are possible long-term phsyiological benefits to the mother. However, those benefits can be and often are counter-balanced by the disbenefits of bf (of which there are plenty to the, say, working mother of two or more living in the West (which I am not, incidentally)).

The benefits to baby and mother are not so great as to make all other considerations irrelevant - if they were, the debate wouldn't be raging as it is.

sleepywombat Fri 15-Feb-13 04:18:11

I feel terribly guilty about switching ds2 from bm to ff at 5 months & probably always will, but I was desperate & felt like there was no alternative. I was much happier to 'whip my baps out' (or whatever previous poster said) in public (although didn't want to be seen with ds2 in public full stop), that get the evils I got ff.

He was refusing breast, shrieking 24/7, arching, going stiff, had reflux & had been since 3 weeks old. It was a nightmare. I called helplines who didn't seem to have a clue. Some health professionals told me to try eliminating yet another thing from my already limited diet, others told me food didn't pass through breastmilk (ha ha) & he would 'grow out of it' & to continue [attempting] breastfeeding, others recommended trying formula. One hv came to my house & shouted at me saying he wouldn't feed because I was a bad mother who hadn't got her baby into a strict routine. When he was ftt I gave in & gave formula.

We still had problems with him on special formula as his gut was so inflamed from multiple allergies & intolerances that he was tolerating nothing.

He is now off all milk, milk substitutes & processed food & on a special all natural diet & thriving. I think he would've thrived a lot sooner if I'd persevered with the bf & really looked into sorting out my body/my breastmilk (preferably pre-pregnancy) but hindsight is a wonderful thing. I am absolutely horrified I gave him all those chemicals listed on the formula tin for so long as well as some of the meds one paed prescribed - it makes me cry to think of it - how sensitive & tiny he was.

I wish they'd make formula out of dehydrated donor breastmilk or something, that'd be good (although my ds2 probably wouldn't have coped with it either). But that's whats needed - support, support, support plus a government review into formula - improving it, making it more natural & less toxic, because some mothers really do feel they have no choice but to ff & shouldn't have to live the rest of their lives feeling guilty about it.

Springdiva Fri 15-Feb-13 07:55:14

I think sometimes those who vehemently promote breastfeeding don't understand that some mothers might like time away from the baby.

That would be my reason to not push breastfeeding. The switch from a fulltime professional in an interesting job was a shock to me. Being tied to the home and baby a pretty extreme change.

The rapturous pleasures of sitting breastfeeding for hours day in day out passed me by. Would they have been opened up to me if I'd had more support at home, or at the hospital to get the hang of it.
I'm not too sure, as a fidgety, always busy person the sitting about with baby was not always enjoyable.

I think the mother's temperament comes into things too. Oh and the baby's.

But the mother's needs are not allowed to come into the bf/ff argument. So I have some agreement with Prof Wolff.

13Iggis Fri 15-Feb-13 09:39:08

Breastpumps have allowed me as much time away from the baby as I needed. Or could've tried mixed feeding. Interested re the 'hours spent bf' - has anyone calculated the time spent bfing (especially after the first few weeks when it's established) as opposed to the time a ff takes from start of sterilising to finish? I suspect it's not much different, which is why I'm always surprised when people say ff is 'easier' than bf. I think bf has a particularly difficult start to it, then gets easier and easier, whereas ff stays the same level. But that's just me pontificating.
I think it is very inaccurate of pp to say the woman does not come into debates on ff/bf, as on mumsnet that is a recurring theme - happy mother, happy baby; bf leading to pnd etc.

I think that the whole debate and issue would be helped greatly if, instead of focusing on ff/bf, we, as a society, focused on the support that mothers get once their child is born. There is no doubt in my mind that, for the vast majority of women, bf makes life a lot easier (especially those who have to return to work full time) if they have the right support. That support doesn't only need to come from family, but from employers and the general public.

I'd like to see promotion of "mothering the mother". I'm lucky enough to have my mum living close enough that I could spend every single day with her once my husband returned to work. A lot of mums are left alone in a house with a new baby and no support once the partner returns to work. In that post hormonal phase when every triumph and set back are magnified to the nth degree, its easy to see why a slight hiccup or worry with bf means women turn to ff. In some Asian countries, women spend the first 40 days after birth with their own mother, so all the new mother has to do is feed the baby and be looked after. I'm western but we borrowed this idea and it made so much difference.

It also shouldn't be seen as "weird" to express milk. It's not a pleasant thing to do, it's just one of the tasks of parenthood. Mums need to be supported in this so that they don't feel like milk machines. And yes, it is important to get some time to feel human again, and again, it's all about having the right support to be able to go to the hairdressers or get your nails done, or whatever it is that a mum wants to do for a couple of hours.

Studies have shown that bf mums get 20 minutes more quality sleep. Cosleeping bf mums get even more, yet cosleeping is seen as weird and hippy, when actually it's the most normal and natural thing in the world. Babies and parents aren't designed to sleep in separate rooms but there is no support for parents who want to do this, and modern houses aren't built for it, and societal pressures are all about getting your "adult" relationship back on track. Is 6 months such a big sacrifice against a lifetime of benefits? Seriously, there is no way I could have returned to work fulltime and stayed sane when my daughter was a couple of months old if I hadn't been bfing and cosleeping. Three of my colleagues took this approach and we had few sleepless nights. Two of my colleagues who ff did nothing but moan about how little sleep they'd had.

So to sum up, if we could get real and better support for new mums, the breastfeeding rates would go up without the need for any promotion of "breast is best". What women need is support, not posters or preaching. Promotion of breastfeeding is doing nothing to improve breastfeeding rates. Providing useful support will increase rates without any other intervention being necessary.

'Is breastfeeding being promoted as part of "an ideology of total motherhood that stipulates that a mother can and should eliminate any risk to her children, regardless of how small or likely the risk or what the cost is to her own wellbeing in the process"? Or do you feel that, far from breastfeeding being an orthodoxy, society still feels awkward and uncomfortable about it?'

Yes. Both.

Whichever one can beat the mother at the time is used imo, by our misogynistic society. Both these serve it well.

I support the right of any woman to chose the method of feeding that best suits their family.

However, I would campaign for a society that makes breastfeeding the better suiting option (or at least equally suiting).

This issue starts with society, not the individual woman, and support needs to come from society, not the indidvidual woman's close aquaintances.

JumpHerWho Fri 15-Feb-13 11:17:13

I agree with lots of what you write world gonecrazy, especially the main thing should be supporting a new mother. IMO it's a disgrace how bad the postnatal care is in the NHS in comparison to the excellent antenatal care I and my NcT friends all got. The attention just vanishes at the time you need it most!

But the idea of a bf mum getting more sleep... do you have a link to a study which shows this? Because my experience is different to you. Of my NCT group, 4 bf and 4 ff. Without exception, the bf mums were still feeding throughout the night at around ten months, whereas all the ff babies were sleeping through from 2-4 months!

I know it's against MN protocol to point out benefits of ff, but I thought that (no doubt for all sorts of negative reasons, and it's not necessarily a good thing, etc) ff babies in general sleep vastly better than bf babies, due to formula being more difficult to digest it 'fills them up' for longer, bf is easily and quickly digested so babies become hungry more often. Is this not a true fact?

Despite my regret not being able to bf my first, I have already decided to ff my second as I have come to the conclusion that any tiny difference in health outcomes is pretty much outweighed by my happiness at being able to spend time away from baby, sleeping well, having my body as my own, DH being able to feed baby too and so on. It's a mild an emotional regret now, not a logical one. I regret it in much the same way I regret not birthing naturally (c-sec) but in hindsight it was best for us. I do suspect that if I'd managed to bf it would have contributed to pnd in my case.

itsMYNutella Fri 15-Feb-13 11:28:30

"breast is best" it makes sense that since it is what we have evolved to nourish our newborns with it should work best. But as can be seen in nature things that are meant to be are not always so straightforward.

I think it's right to point out that everyone has a different experience with BF. My son is 6 weeks old. We are in Germany and the BF support here is pretty amazing. Plenty of midwives, all trained in giving support & advice and they have the time to do it. Of course there are still those militant ones that would have you believe formula is poison hmm

But I would love it if DP could feed DS. I don't express because I can barely find the time to go to the toilet, to shower or feed myself or do other normal things so why would I want to spend more time with something attached to my boobs??

I have learnt that bf is hard, it is stressful, it is boring ( I know shock terrible of me to say such a thing). Nevertheless I hope to carry on. I consider myself lucky because we don't have any real problems, latch is fine, no tt, no infection of any kind, my nipples haven't even been too sore and no other trauma. I just feel rather isolated by it. Sat at home on the sofa with my beautiful DS is great, but I'd love to get out and meet people.

If I'm really honest my biggest motivation for bf is the weight loss. I'd like to be back in normal clothes.

I think that this debate shouldn't be ff vs bf. It should be a question of why aren't all the mothers that want to bf given the support and time to do it? What we are missing with this rose tinted "natural" "it's what has always been done" attitude is a total failure to take into account how much society has changed and that we often lack community support that would have been present previously.
I believe that mothers are now under so much pressure to do everything "right" that we do ourselves no favours when we judge how each individual mother copes with that pressure.

stargirl1701 Fri 15-Feb-13 11:29:32

YY Nutella.

Links here:
blog with link to research

reserach into cosleeping and breastfeeding

It's not about just sleeping through the night, it's also about quality of sleep, etc. Some of the studies used motion sensors to ensure that the research could be objective. My DD didn't stop feeding in the night until 9 months, but I hardly had to stir myself to feed her and it didn't affect sleep quality at all. So with support I slept well, had time away from baby, DH could feed too.

Incidentally I also feel regret at not having an entirely natural birth (forceps!)

It's interesting that you think the risk of PND is increased by breastfeeding when everything I've seen suggests that the hormones released through breastfeeding may help to lessen the risk. I wonder how much of the risk of PND increasing is because of the lack of support of all bfing mums?

Bit more here about PND, breastfeeding and sleep.

Of course, it should always be remembered that a study can only ever show an overall generalisation, not the everyday truth for an individual.

And if you aren't asleep, there's a bit more here

weenwee Fri 15-Feb-13 11:51:42


I am beyond sick of this debate, and I say this as someone who breast and bottle fed. All it does is demonize one side for the others' benefit, and it's ridiculous.

You find out what works best for you and your child, and you do that, and that's it.

Hypnobirthingmum Fri 15-Feb-13 12:39:25

Thanks Mumsnet for heating up the "Mummy Wars" and for helping the good Professor to help sell her book. The Professor, her publishers and publicists have used the tactics that controversy gets headlines and boy has it worked. 78% of new mothers initiate breastfeeding which you could extrapolate that 3/4 of women want to breastfeed. The declining rates of breastfeeding after leaving hospital are due to the lack of support from breastfeeding mothers. The failures in this scenario are the government, health professionals, health visitors, family members, the media, business and society in general to not supporting breastfeeding mothers to reach their own breastfeeding goals.

reviewerofbooks Fri 15-Feb-13 12:48:38

Breastfeeding doesn't come naturally because it's no longer a part of our everyday culture.

Support is lacking because those who don't understand it can't be of much help, with the best will in the world. And training in the health care system is minimal (often only a few hours even for paediatricians, midwives and health visitors).

Myths surrounding breastfeeding abound and our expectations and the reality of new motherhood are mostly very different, regardless of how we feed our babies.

If you want to breastfeed there's no substitute for finding a network of support through one of the breastfeeding charities who can also point you towards specialist lactation consultants where necessary.

loquaciouslactator Fri 15-Feb-13 13:01:47

I blog on the topic of breastfeeding, specifically the political and sociological side of it. I have alluded to Professor Wolf's recent splurge of opinion here

DuelingFanjo Fri 15-Feb-13 13:12:58

Breastfeeding is normal and natural.
Far from society pressuring women into breastfeeding, my experience and that of many of my friends is that women are pressured into giving their babies formula. Hospitals definitely don't seem to have caught up with the breastfeeding message.

I also think there's some kind of stupid assumption that women who work can't breastfeed long-term. I am feeding a 2 year old and have been back in work full time since he was 10 months old. He still gets much of his nutrition from breastfeeding.

I think many women need to adjust their expectations when it comes to having a baby, full stop. So many women seem shocked by the amount of time and effort you need to put in during the first few weeks (For breastfeeding and all other baby stuff) and seem to turn to formula often because it's 'easier' or it will give them more sleep time. Do these women not do any research into what having a baby is like?

I am not anti-formula but I am anti a society which makes breasts into something sexual and dirty, which makes women think that htere is something wrong with public and natural term breastfeeding and which peddles mis-information about the quality of formula when compared to breast-milk. Breast-milk is, without a doubt, the best thing for a baby. There is no convincing argument against that statement. Formula is not even the second best thing to your own breast-milk.

When breast-feeding is an 'awful experience' it is usually because of lack of informed, educated help. Only a small percentage of women 'make no milk' and most women who have problems could overcome them if they were given swift and worthwhile help.

Formula feeding doesn't make you a bad parent.

amothersplaceisinthewrong Fri 15-Feb-13 13:21:09

Can someone tell me how the mother of a newborn and a toddler with all family living 250 miles away (and working full time) and a husband who has a job involving 12 hours work plus two hours commuting is meant to sit around breastfeeding the baby on demand all day, as the breast-feeding lobby would have us do.

bellamysbride Fri 15-Feb-13 13:23:10

Got as far as the post from zavi and thought why bother? Comparing breastfeeding in public with pooing in public. Just ignorant. Breastfeed or bottlefeed, whatever suits you and yours best, just hold off on the dimwitted comparisons.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Fri 15-Feb-13 13:31:17

amother you read to your toddler, stick the TV on for them for a little bit, feed the baby while your toddler is sat having their meals.
DS1 used to come and cuddle up while I was feeding DS2 and we would chat and read stories and sometimes he would drop off to sleep.

You are just showing ignorance with your post, because you don't sit around all day hmm
Also, it is recommended that FF is also done on demand to avoid babies being encouraged to take too much milk at one time - and that surely has got to be more time consuming to make up fresh bottles etc rather than just sit down and latch a baby on?
What do people do - leave the child to yell until it is 'bottle time'?

I think many women need to adjust their expectations when it comes to having a baby, full stop. So many women seem shocked by the amount of time and effort you need to put in during the first few weeks (For breastfeeding and all other baby stuff) and seem to turn to formula often because it's 'easier' or it will give them more sleep time. Do these women not do any research into what having a baby is like?

This. I can never understand why people are so desperate to start running around again. Babies need that time of cuddles, and feeding and fairly constant attention for what - 8-12 weeks? Can people really not put aside other things for that long so that they can respond to their babies needs? Sure it gets more complicated when you have other children, but by no means impossible or anything remotely approaching it.

DuelingFanjo Fri 15-Feb-13 13:34:53

"Can someone tell me how the mother of a newborn and a toddler with all family living 250 miles away (and working full time) and a husband who has a job involving 12 hours work plus two hours commuting is meant to sit around breastfeeding the baby on demand all day, as the breast-feeding lobby would have us do"

you don't have to sit around 'breastfeeding all day'. Is that what you did with your toddler?

Yes - having children is hard but there are lots of other things that are hard about having a toddler and a baby but they still get done.

Why do you call people 'the breast feeding lobby'?

DuelingFanjo Fri 15-Feb-13 13:35:46

and another question - isn't preparing the bottles and doing the sterilising just as difficult when you have a toddler?

Briseis Fri 15-Feb-13 13:45:10

There is actually some sensible stuff being written here. Isn't the top and the bottom of the problem the fact that no one can ever really understand the position another woman is in. One of my friends breastfed her two children. I tried and did a bit with both mine before going to ff. When I see her doing it it is honestly like something completely different to what I was doing to an extent that it is almost comical. In the nicest way she just can't "get" how it was so hard for me and it was just totally, totally different.
I do think this debate extends far beyond how you feed your children though and really goes to how we view women and mothers as a society e.g. the sacrifices we expect women should make, when does it become too much etc, and not just in relation to feeding.

BettyandDon Fri 15-Feb-13 14:03:47

I would just like to add that making bottles and sterilising requires about the same effort as making a cuppa.

I am amazed about the fuss people make about how long it takes or how difficult it is. As with anything it gets quicker with time and you find ways of speeding up the process.

I would also like to add that it is very difficult to manage a newborn if they are cluster feeding as mine did - for up to 7 hours at a time - if you have a toddler and no help. No amount of books or cbeebies will wipe a child's bum, cook them a dinner or put them to bed smile.

HolidayArmadillo Fri 15-Feb-13 14:12:55

We need to eradicate this 'guilt' that surrounds formula feeding. I don't get it, you should only feel guilt for something that you feel you shouldn't be doing. If you are completely at peace with your choice then you shouldn't feel guilty, if you believe that formula feeding is best for your baby and you family then really what does it matter what other people think, you know you are doing the right thing for you/them.

For those saying how hard it is to bf when you have a toddler, statistically, you are unlikely to HAVE a toddler, if said toddler was bf long term.

Having said that, I had a baby and toddler and had to prioritise that's all. I had less frequent showers, DH often had to cook after long working days, we ate microwave meals. I can't say it was easy, but it is possible. Millions of women do it.

DuelingFanjo Fri 15-Feb-13 14:33:21

Why is breastfeeding seen as a 'sacrifice'? is it a sacrifice too far? Surely becoming a parent means you are sacrificing anyway, not that I would use 'sacrifice' to describe parenting. How about people had more realistic expectations when it came to bringing a whole new person into the world? Sorry, but if breastfeeding is seen as a scarifice maybe people should re-think the whole idea of having children because they are going to need to be fed one way or another for many many years. Why is breastfeeding a 'scarifice' but preparing a safe bottle of formula and taking the time to feed it to a baby isn't?

Alibabaandthe40nappies Fri 15-Feb-13 14:38:15

Dueling I agree. I have breastfed for a total of 4 years now, and I don't view it as a sacrifice. It is something I have been very happy to do, I view it as time well spent.

And I've been able to afford a lovely holiday rather than spending lots of money on formula - hardly a sacrifice!

5madthings Fri 15-Feb-13 14:40:48

I have nged a newborn and had a toddler. On two of those occasions the toddler was still feeding! So ifed both sometimes, I used asking that I could feed in. I am very good at doing things with one hand. I used a baby swing if I really needed to put the baby down.

Dpe works crazy hours and does evenings and nights so am often on my own for 24-30hrs. I use the slow cooker or dp would make a meal that I could reheat or I did easy dinners is pasta with ham and peas and a sauce of blue cheese melted with a bit of cream.

I have five children and I guess I just muddled along, my youngest is now two and life is much easier!

5madthings Fri 15-Feb-13 14:42:13

I have fed for over nine yrs, I font see it as sacrifice and I miss it at times, but equally am enjoying that life has moved on!

reviewerofbooks Fri 15-Feb-13 16:43:46

Breastfeeding's often blamed for the hard work of mothering when really it makes the job easier once you've got the hang of it.

Your life changes forever when you have children and the time you spend breastfeeding is a splash in the ocean compared to the years of child care related tasks to come!

BabyRoger Fri 15-Feb-13 16:54:49

I agree with everything detoxlatte said.

I BF my first DC to 4 months and my second to 6 months. After that, they had formula. I was more than happy to move on to bottles at that time (which I did not find a faff at all).

Some of the stances I read on here make me feel like a shit mother - like I am selfish that I stopped at 4/6 months and I should have continued on well into toddler hood. Like I have chosen to feed my babies with something that will harm them. I actually don't believe that but when you read posts that imply you are not as committed to your baby, it is very hurtful (and not true).

I am happy enough with what I did for me and my babies but some attitudes on here are so judgmental and accusing in tone that I can really understand why a lot of posters feel 'got at' and are made to feel like second class mothers. When they complain about it - they are being 'defensive'.

I feel all that as someone who DID breast feed!

stargirl1701 Fri 15-Feb-13 16:56:41

I don't know anyone who gave up because it was 'too much work'. Everyone I know who gave up, including me, did so because they were in agony. Agony. Every single feed. Sobbing at every feed.

Wrong latch, tt, whatever the reason. Fucking agony.

reikizen Fri 15-Feb-13 17:20:53

As a midwife I can only echo those who say the lack of support is the problem. We promote the fuck out of bf, to the extent that women are visibly scared to tell me they are formula feeding for fear of my reaction (which makes me so sad every time) but the post natal support is shocking. How can we support bf mums (or any others!?) with the staffing level on wards as it is, and a post natal visit on day 1,5 and 10 if you are lucky?

DuelingFanjo Fri 15-Feb-13 17:23:16

Which is why we need better and more breastfeeding help in this country.
I say that as someone who had a fairly easy breastfeeding journey despite having to pump for 10 days while my son was in special care.

I don't think it is just the burden of midwives though.

Our culture and society is just not geared up for breastfeeding.

The organisations that try to be by providing a 'private breastfeeding room' really aren't helping the image (though I understand that they may help 'some' individuals to continue).

And the media images of 'the perfect mother' plus the years and years of formula propaganda (did you know formula companies have been involved in designing maternity hospitals and ensure that the 'baby's room is far, far away from the mother?) really doesn't help.

StrawberryGateaux Fri 15-Feb-13 18:17:42

It is oversold, but unfortunetly, still this country does nothing to help women or help them continue.
I ff my babies, but i really tried hard with dc4 as i wanted to give my baby the right start & atleast try my best.
Not only was i not a natural at it, but i just couldn't get the latch right. I got help once, just once the whole 2 days i was in hospital. When i come home i tried for a few more days, but i was in absolute agony and had to send my dm out for nipple shieldsconfused
Kept asking the local mw to get me some help...on a sunday i was sent a male mw, i don't mind a male mw, infact i had one for dc2s birth, but i'm not comfortable with them touching my breasts. So he gave me a phone number and said for me to visit mw on the monday.
By this time my baby was a wk old and i was worried she wasn't getting enough, and with no help i gave up and went onto formula.

I felt like a failure at the time, especially what with all the advertisements about breast being best and the constant rif raf & leaflets & posters in the docs surgery.

The gov wants mothers to bf, but where is the pratical help and what about mothers that can't breast feed, are their feelings considered when harassing new mums?

Liza80 Fri 15-Feb-13 18:34:54

I genuinely struggle to see how anybody could think there is a better alternative than breastfeeding...
Everything that happens in the creation of life, from conception to birth to breastfeeding is perfectly designed by nature!

Unfortunately, it is the arrogance of mankind to assume we can improve on something which is already perfect!

Choosing (and I know that sometimes there isn't a choice) to give your baby formula (made from the breast milk of another species!) just seems totally insane to me.

Apart from the obvious benefits to the baby, breastfeeding works for the mother too in so many ways... naturally encouraging the body back to it's original form, acting as a natural contraceptive to give the body time to recover before conceiving again. Nature has it all covered!

HoleyGhost Fri 15-Feb-13 18:43:25

Ah for the days of natural levels of infant mortality. Nature's got it covered all right, my baby would naturally have died.

Liza80 Fri 15-Feb-13 19:01:48

Ok, I have to tread carefully on that one.... Lets just say in that instance that natures design works better for the species as a whole than it does for the individual and I am truly thankful that we have (and use) the medical knowledge to prevent such a tragedy!

But when it comes to breastfeeding I think as much as we possibly can we should put our trust in nature.

Narked Fri 15-Feb-13 19:13:34

If it's been 'oversold' why do we have such a ridiculously low BF rate in the UK? The majority of babies here don't get any breastmilk.

Liza80 Fri 15-Feb-13 19:22:45

"The majority of babies here don't get any breastmilk"

They all get some breastmilk, but weirdly some people prefer to give their baby breastmilk from an animal rather than their own?! confused

PolkadotCircus Fri 15-Feb-13 19:23:02

Applauds Wolf and MN for organising this -waaaaay overdue.

I bf for 6 weeks but loathed it,no biggie as far as I am concerned.

The data is tiny and I'm utterly sick and tired of the stat twisting,over inflating of figures and scaremongering you see(only on here I'm afraid).

There are sooooo many parenting ideals eg restricting screen time,avoiding nurseries,providing 5 a day,providing a huge diet of books,hearing your kids read daily,providing regular proper exercise,giving boundaries,eating together as a family,organic food,avoiding sugar which is as addictive as cocaine apparently,being a good role model,providing plenty of sleep,avoid sweeteners,transfer fats and other assorted crap - yada, yada.

Some of these I have managed but don't feel the need to push down the throats of other mothers. Just about every other parenting ideal has far more reliable data,more scary figures and a far bigger impact on the health and well being of babies and children yet none are treated with the same hysteria.

Soooo Ms Wolf please do keep it up as I firmly believe that the bfing crusade is counter productive.If attention was switched to the need of support instead of ridiculous scare mongering then just maybe rates would rise however really it ain't the end of the world if they don't.

Bf may be normal but so are many other parenting choices.You pick,you choose.Motherhood is a marathon not a sprint and I hate this view that if you make the wrong choice on this first parenting decision you have screwed up your child's entire life. Worst still if you keep it into perspective and simply couldn't give a stuff you have isoooos or a chip on your shoulder- it's utterly ridiculous and no other parenting choice is treated in the same way even though most have a far,far bigger impact.

<dons a hell of a big hard hat>

Narked Fri 15-Feb-13 19:24:26

It's hard to argue about the health benefits of colostrum. That's a few days feeding. It can even be hand expressed and syringed into the babies mouth. Yet most babies don't even get that. So how is it 'oversold'?

PolkadotCircus Fri 15-Feb-13 19:31:37

Oh and you can add restricting red meat/ going veggie to that list too(risk of heart attacks are cut by third if you're veggie or something along those lines).

Lets make mums feel crap for not raising their kids veggie after all a veggie diet will have a far bigger long term impact on a child's long term health than a few months of formula(which is actually a far healthier food than most designer toddler snacks).

The anti formula crusade is just utterly ridiculous.

PolkadotCircus Fri 15-Feb-13 19:32:44

Narked. I thought it was 80% of mums who attempted to breast feed so the maj must get colostrum.

HoleyGhost Fri 15-Feb-13 19:38:30

^ Lets just say in that instance that natures design works better for the species as a whole than it does for the individual^

But the choice of how to feed our babies is made at the individual level (and thank goodness for that). Each mother knows the details of her family circumstances best. It is extraordinarily arrogant to imagine that you know better with your notions of some natural ideal.

At the individual level breast is not always best.

PolkadotCircus Fri 15-Feb-13 19:47:19

Exactly Holey I do many parenting ideals.I knew my dc would be eating very little red meat or crap but plenty of fruit and veg,would get plenty of exercise,an outdoor life rich in literacy.......So they had a few months of formula(and a happy mummy not sobbing in pain or resentment),breast feeding didn't work out <shrugs>- big deal.

Sooooo not an issue or anybody else's business to judge.We can all judge and believe you me there are far,far bigger things to judge a parent on than not breast feeding.

stargirl1701 Fri 15-Feb-13 19:49:12

I'm sorry but very few women 'prefer' ff. It's expensive and can be dangerous. The vast majority of women want to bf. Stop producing posters to hang in hospitals and invest in staff.

Liza80 Fri 15-Feb-13 19:49:51

If it is for health reasons that's fair enough, but I don't agree with choosing not to breastfeed for reasons of convenience or vanity.

13Iggis Fri 15-Feb-13 19:51:52

"Anti-formula brigade" - yes, that well organised group that have a billion dollar industry dependent on not-too-many women deciding to breastfeed.. Oh, wait.. blush

PolkadotCircus Fri 15-Feb-13 19:53:36

Mothers make decisions based on convenience every day,kids are fed a steady stream of convenience crap.

Many mothers find bfing makes them utterly miserable and they just can't do it.We are soooooo very lucky to have a safe alternative which isn't dangerous at all statwise if you follow guidelines.

Couldn't give two shits what anyone else did or does.
You're still feeding your baby, that's fine.

I chose bf because IMO it's easier - they're to hand and ready at all times and I'm lazy wink
I did do some bottles though when I wanted a rest and Dh could step in - didn't bother to express though or I may as well fed her myself. grin
Moved fully on to formula at 5/6 months not through choice but because dh was hospitalised and the visiting hours etc weren't flexible which was a pita - my milk also dried decreased due to stress.

I fully plan to bf and ff dd2 - best of both worlds for me grin

PolkadotCircus Fri 15-Feb-13 19:54:45

Guidelines of which my 8 year old could follow,comprehend and make a mean bottle of formula up with if she had to.

Liza80 Fri 15-Feb-13 19:59:11

"Mothers make decisions based on convenience every day,kids are fed a steady stream of convenience crap."

There are some shocking 'mothers' in the world, I don't think that should ever be used as justification for anything!

stargirl1701 Fri 15-Feb-13 20:00:25

That's great Polka but not everyone does. Or, they don't understand the importance.

PolkadotCircus Fri 15-Feb-13 20:05:10

I'm not talking about shocking mothers but decisions.Breast feeding is but one decision and to be frank most other ideals are far easier to provide as you don't get shredded boobs,pain,exhaustion and hormonal,leaking hell.

Far lazier to feed kids nuggets,let them sit in front of screens,not hear them read daily,not take them to the woods,not to cook and eat a family meal together etc.There is no pain or trauma involved in any of these yet plenty of mothers choose not to provide something that is far easier to provide.So if you want to hike your judge pants up..........

PolkadotCircus Fri 15-Feb-13 20:06:16

Star which is exactly why I think there should be safe formula advertising on TV,in magazines etc.

stargirl1701 Fri 15-Feb-13 20:10:46

I disagree. Once you let that happen, already low bf rates will go down. It's a pattern that can be tracked across the world.

We need real investment in bf support. It can be done. It just needs political will and, of course, money for staffing.

Liza80 Fri 15-Feb-13 20:11:42

Well, I haven't had any of those issues. On the contrary, breastfeeding has been much easier, no getting up in the night to sort out bottles etc, it's right there, where it's supposed to be!

Of course there are many important decisions to be made, but as one of the first decisions most mothers will make, I don't see why you wouldn't make it with your baby's best interests rather than your own.

PolkadotCircus Fri 15-Feb-13 20:17:39

Sorry Liz Zi found ffing waaaay easier for me.Sterilised bottle by bed,scissors,carton of ready made- bobs your uncle.No pain,no fuss,no crap latching,no resentment,no poorly underweight baby(in our case x3,I'm aware not for all)just a lovely cuddly time.

silversmith Fri 15-Feb-13 20:17:41

Well, good for you Liza80! My baby got some breastmilk until he was 13 months old, despite all of those issues and 2 bouts of mastitis. Couldn't do exclusive bf, as every time I tried (and yes, I tried every trick in the book), he starting falling down the weight centimes and frankly, one hospitalisation for dehydration was enough for me.

Really - we're all doing our best. We all came from different places and we all have different ideas of how we need our lives to be organised in order to retain some kind of physical & mental health.

HoleyGhost Fri 15-Feb-13 20:17:44

Bully for you. The majority of mothers are not so lucky with breastfeeding. Otherwise they would not stop.

HoleyGhost Fri 15-Feb-13 20:18:48

X posts, my last was to Liza80

scottishmummy Fri 15-Feb-13 20:20:08

breast feeding is optimal if it works,if not impacting upon maternal mental/physical health
formula is safe,rigorously tested and in uk it's how majority babies are fed
unfortunately bf attracts some strident sometimes over zealous supporters who do Hector mothers.they are a vociferious minority who do go too far

PolkadotCircus Fri 15-Feb-13 20:22:17

Lisa. I made it for my babies benefit actually,along with many others.A toxic,resentful,tear ridden scenario every single feed just wasn't worth it all.The benefits just weren't enough and my babies were sooooo much happier and healthier once we made the switch.

Perspective is what is needed,you're a mum for life,you don't fail at it if the first choice doesn'tfollow an ideal.Sorry. I know many wish it were so but you just don't.

Maebe Fri 15-Feb-13 20:27:04

Yes, breast is best. Nutritionally and medically, breast milk is better than formula milk. No one is denying that.

However for many women there are a whole variety of factors involved in the decision to bf v ff, whether it is as soon as the baby is born, or after a period of unsuccessful or painful bf.

For most of my time on MN I haven't admitted that I wasn't very happy with the thought of bf before DD was born, though I was prepared to try it and see if it came naturally and easily to me. We were all set up for mixed feeding or ff, though. This was a decision based on lots of factors, but factors which we as prospective parents felt would in the short term - i.e. the first 6-12 months of our baby's life - have more significant effects on our family than the longer term benefits of bf. Due to circumstances (which do clearly fall in to the lack of support for new mums) DD was given formula as she wasn't with me, and no one talked to me about expressing or keeping my supply going until she was ready to feed. I wasn't heartbroken, and so carried on with formula.

This is a decision I have now decided I am comfortable to talk about because I have realised that for a small portion of the online community, if they aren't slyly criticising you for one decision, they will be criticising you for another.

Some women online who have bf for a long time do word themselves as if they are all round better mothers than women who didn't bf, who didn't do it for long. I'm not saying there are people like it on this thread, but there are people like it online, and sometimes on MN. I have never met a single person in RL who has commented on me ff my baby, and that includes all the doctors and HV.

Breast is best and I wholeheartedly agree with everyone else who says that the money would be far better spent supporting women who are having difficult bf. Perhaps a better system of support, one that is well known about and seems to work, would help convince women like me to really give it a go.

But generally, a lot of these debates just makes we want to say - FFS, do we really have nothing better to do as women than to criticise other mother's decisions and to slowly chip away at their belief in themselves as mother's making the right decision for their whole family?

Maebe Fri 15-Feb-13 20:30:25

X-posted, but I just wanted to say hear hear to Polka for you're a mum for life, you don't fail at it if the first choice doesn't follow an ideal.

scottishmummy Fri 15-Feb-13 20:32:19

the most strident bf supporters always seem to habitually disbelive mums struggle to bf
I've read them on mn dispute not enough milk,milk not coming in,or pain
if that's a mums subjective account how dare someone stridently dispute or infer didn't try hard enough

PolkadotCircus Fri 15-Feb-13 20:39:33

Exactly Maebe and really I want to say ff's can we not after campaigning or more support,more info on safe ffing focus on other issues that will have a far bigger impact on child health in this country such as food advertising or sports facility provision,screen time restriction etc.

Have we really only got time to bang on backwards and forwards re this tedious debate when discussing child health?To be honest the overselling of this issue can be counter productive as I think some mothers are actually being brain washed into thinking oh I breast fed so now I can feed him whatever shit and however much I like.I know several.

PolkadotCircus Fri 15-Feb-13 20:46:41

It's almost like some women want breast milk to be he elixir of life.It's a good,natural food,the best choice but it will not ward off ill health or obesity if you don't provide a healthy lifestyle.If you provide a healthy diet and lifestyle and ff you'll still have a healthy child (genes and and luck aside).Many women actually lose sight of this.confused

Liza80 Fri 15-Feb-13 20:56:46

I would like to say, that I totally sympathise with anyone who wanted to breastfeed but was unable to for mentioned reasons, as I said before, it's when people choose not to breastfeed before ever even giving it a go!
I think far too many people just expect to fail as well which inevitably means that they probably will!

If we had more faith in breastfeeding and a healthier attitude towards it, as a society, I don't think so many people would struggle or simply choose not to try!

PolkadotCircus Fri 15-Feb-13 21:00:38

But most people do try,there just isn't enough support.

silversmith Fri 15-Feb-13 21:06:25

Liza - I don't think most people think they'll fail. In my experience, breastfeeding classes as part of antenatal class gave me the impression that it would be easy & we'd all succeed. Therefore we all expected to succeed, and when it turned out to be bloody difficult, painful and inconvenient, we were a bit surprised and thought we must be doing it wrong. Some of us carried on, some relatively easily, some not, and some of us switched to formula - which, as a mix feeder myself (and therefore non-existant in most of the debates), I found a lot easier.

Personally, I think more people would persevere if they were actually told the truth - that it might well be a horrible first few months, but that it would almost certainly get easier.

Liza80 Fri 15-Feb-13 21:07:06

I have known a suprising amount of people who made the choice to ff way before giving birth. I think that's wrong!

JumpHerWho Fri 15-Feb-13 21:09:18

Hi Liza. I've decided to ff my second and he hasn't even been conceived yet. Stick that in your pipe.

Liza80 Fri 15-Feb-13 21:10:27

Good point silver! I did have problems in the beginning too, but I never really considered not breastfeeding, so my only option was to keep going and it did get much easier!

Yes, that is probably a better way to go about it, honest education.

scottishmummy Fri 15-Feb-13 21:11:35

mothers can legitimately chose how to feed baby and if choses not to bf,up to her
liza condescending attitude of disdain that mums don't bf,how v smug
but actually it's not your place to judge how mums feed,even if you feel so compelled

PolkadotCircus Fri 15-Feb-13 21:14:51

Some women make the decision to go back to work when their baby is tiny before it's born,do you think that is wrong too(regardless of circumstances,personality etc)?

Some women make the decision to let their kids sit in front of screens too long so they can MN or do something more interesting than play with them.Some women chose to buy fishfingers instead of asking a home cooked meal from scratch,is that wrong too?

Maebe Fri 15-Feb-13 21:15:03

Why do we have to say things like this are 'wrong' or 'right', Liza?! They're all just making the decision they feel is right. There are plenty of things that people do with their babies that other people don't do, but it doesn't make them wrong, does it?

JumpHerWho Fri 15-Feb-13 21:16:04

Yay I buy fish fingers too

<stamps bad mum bingo card excitedly>

sunshine401 Fri 15-Feb-13 21:16:10

I have known a surprising amount of people who made the choice to ff way before giving birth. I think that's wrong!
Because.............. ?

Liza80 Fri 15-Feb-13 21:19:28

There's nothing smug or condescending about it! It's something I feel very strongly about, and if I inadvertently seem to be judging anyone by stating my opinion then I apologise, but I'm not going to change my views or keep them to myself! Of course, I try to be sensitive and I may not air those views in a one to one with someone who has chosen not to breastfeed, but in an open forum like this, we are all entitled to express our opinions and its nigh on impossible to do that without someone disagreeing or objecting!

PolkadotCircus Fri 15-Feb-13 21:20:29

Lisa why your obsession with this choice in particular,others choices have a far bigger impact?

Liza80 Fri 15-Feb-13 21:26:43

Because, sunshine if you are making that decision at that time, then I don't believe you are making it for the right reasons.

Liza80 Fri 15-Feb-13 21:28:17

Polka it's not so much an obsession with this particularly, but this happens to be what we are discussing! There are lot's of other thing's I feel strongly about that are not relevant to this topic.

scottishmummy Fri 15-Feb-13 21:28:54

Liza can't you see the zealous tell it like it is,not button it about bf is what upsets folk
by all means express your opinion,but do expect to be called on it called condescending
bf isn't be all end all of parenting,mode feeding doesn't define one as good mother

JumpHerWho Fri 15-Feb-13 21:29:22

What would qualify as a right reason Liza? Genuinely interested in your response.

Liza80 Fri 15-Feb-13 21:32:44

just so you don't all think I'm doing a runner... Just dished up some food. Sorry if I haven't responded to anyone.

JumpHerWho Fri 15-Feb-13 21:33:58

No worries Liza. What did you cook?


PolkadotCircus Fri 15-Feb-13 21:36:34

I don't get why you feel so judgy about this particular choice Lisa when the benefits really are quite small and a lot of the stats that show these benefits aren't exactly reliable.Sometimes a few months down the lie they get refuted.

thunksheadontable Fri 15-Feb-13 21:46:16

I think the more interesting point in Professor Wolf's article is sort of being lost in the usual bunfight.

She makes the points that a lot of research relies on correlation in estimating risk and that it is a fallacy that if you do everything "right" you can eliminate risk.

I think it's crazy the way "parenting" has been turned into some sort of pseudo profession based on "evidence" and "research" and how "the plural of anecdote is not data". It's a relationship, not an academic qualification. We are mammals, we always learned from others around us, we have evolved both to learn from interpreting our observations and applying them to our own unique circumstances and to survive, quite frankly, on totally toxic rubbish. We are like rats or foxes, we will frequently survive and thrive on really inadequate nutrition (and I mean really inadequate nutrition) and yet formula is sometimes spoken of as though it were poisonous when it is clearly adequate.

Some of the debate around this is really much more to do with gender identity and the importance of women making the "right" decisions for their children, based on "informed choice" and reason. Sod that for a game of soldiers.

We see but through a glass darkly folks.. there will never be research that applies specifically or categorically to the specifics of individual situations and research on human beings is not like research on the elements in test tubes. I have both loved and hated breastfeeding and have done it for most of the last three years (had a six month pregnancy reprieve). Sometimes it has been loving. Sometimes it has been painful. Sometimes it has been bonding. Sometimes it has been frustrating. Sometimes it has been boring and tedious, other times joyful and amusing. It's just like everything in life. It has the capacity to be all sorts of things depending on my mood, my baby's mood etc etc. There is far too much polarisation and mud-slinging nonsense on these topics.

Liza80, if women are to have autonomy over their own bodies it's very important that FF is a genuine choice, acceptable for no other reason than the mother simply doesn't want to do that with her body. Making a woman feel bad about not wanting to BF is akin to making her feel bad about not wanting to have sex or to continue a pregnancy.

I say this as someone who loved BF my DC for 2 years each.

PolkadotCircus Fri 15-Feb-13 21:51:54

Thunks do you think the Internet has caused this?My mum does.She says mums just got on with it in her day(70s),used your own instinct instead of reading every god damn bit of "research" to base decisions on.

JumpHerWho Fri 15-Feb-13 21:53:09

Plenty - 'making a woman feel bad... ' really speaks to me, thank you thanks I struggle to articulate just how much I adore being a mother, how much it means to me, how much I love DS, I plan every day around his needs and keeping him stimulated, happy, nourished and healthy - but I don't want to breastfeed.

Sorry cant quote it properly, on iPhone app and can't see the post when typing a reply <glares at Tech>

Going back to the blog posts - if men breastfed, it would be part of everyday culture, accepted everywhere. The working world would accommodate it - there would be lovely BF and expressing rooms in every workplace, working hours would be different, it would be a sign of virility, men would proudly BF in public ... there'd be rap songs about how great it was...

scottishmummy Fri 15-Feb-13 22:00:28

that's utter rot,if only men did it, it would be Olympic sport.
I'm not even sure what point of such quips are
other than us wimmin have it hard type sentiments

LynetteScavo Fri 15-Feb-13 22:09:25

Of course breast is best for baby.

If breast milk isn't available give formula.

I didn't really like breast feeding, even though I had no problems. But I did it because it's common sense that giving a food biologically designed for my baby would be best for him/her. I didn't need research to tell me that.

And I also hoped it would help burn excess calories

For me, convenience wise, breast feeding was easiest. I have friends who found bottle feeding easiest. Each to their own. I think we should just consider ourselves lucky we have a decent alternative to breast milk. There are still many, many women on this planet who don't have the luxury of clean water and formula if they can't breast feed.

Choosing not to breastfeed is not wrong. Choosing to breastfeeding and having to give up earlier than intended because of insurmountable problems caused by lack of support, knowledge and cultural expectations on the other hand IS wrong.

scottishmummy Fri 15-Feb-13 22:19:41

no.we need to stop categorizing ang grading decisions about bf as wrong
thats the whole problem,labelling circumstances leading to not bf as wrong.
this ends up potentially guilting and stressing mums inference being they contributed to wrong.didn't try hard enough

Phineyj Fri 15-Feb-13 22:24:07

I don't get the 'formula is so expensive' argument. Having a baby is the expensive part...feeding them is a tiny proportion of that, and surely one expects to budget to feed them later on once they're weaned? (also to be accurate one should include the cost of the extra calories the bf mum needs). And don't the vast majority of mums need bottles & the sterilising equipment anyway whichever feeding method they've chosen?

detoxlatte Fri 15-Feb-13 22:26:27

Because, sunshine if you are making that decision at that time, then I don't believe you are making it for the right reasons.

This is breathtakingly judgmental, rude and ignorant. What can you possibly know about the family set-up of someone on the internet to be able to come out with this sort of statement?! If I were sunshine I would certainly be muttering 'how very dare you' under my breath...

I'm afraid to say that it is this sort of statement that gives the pro-bf campaign a bad name.

Do you really think that the incremental benefits of bf over ff outweigh every single other factor that a woman makes in deciding how to feed her child for the first few weeks/months of its life?

JumpHerWho Fri 15-Feb-13 22:27:14

Yy Scottishmummy (as am I btw smile )

In DS's favour, my attributes: I'm middle class, did NCT, intended to bf, did so successfully in recovery post c-sec, doing BLW, being a SAHM, am baby-led in most stuff, don't use reins, plan to privately educate (or is that a con? <frets> )

Against: formula fed from day 1, never co-slept, in own room from 3 months, never used a sling, provide fish fingers and evilly marketed toddler snacks

That was an interesting exercise actually. wine

another benefit of not bfing

SM you're missing the point. A woman who wants to bf and doesn't manage it because she's been given shit advice and left on her own to cope with problems isn't making a decision, she's just been failed by lack of support. That IS wrong.

scottishmummy Fri 15-Feb-13 22:39:00

I'm missing no point.I'm disputing the erroneous interpretation of wrong

thunksheadontable Fri 15-Feb-13 22:41:36

Polkadot, not just the internet. I think there is a lot of emphasis on "evidence" and "reason" across many areas of life now, it is a bit like a religion to some. I work in health and sometimes people are so focused on the "evidence" that they forget to actually listen to/talk to the patient in front of them, because they are essentially reading a care pathway instead of observing what is actually happening with the person in front of them. I've seen the same in Education - everything is about "levels" and "progress" on targets that are often infuriatingly woolly and quite questionable in terms of their relevance to anyone's real life but god forbid a child isn't showing "evidence" of this learning (some of which is actually just describing typical development). A lot of it is just nonsense dressed up as science.

thunksheadontable Fri 15-Feb-13 22:42:23

hey Jumpher, I thought co-sleeping was an "against" on my list wink

Breast isn't always best.

Dd3 was tube fed prescription milk from the day of her birth until the day of her death. She couldn't coordinate swallowing and breathing, never mind latching on. I couldn't express milk, despite trying.

I loved her as much as any breast feeding mother loves their baby.

In the grand scheme of things, what you feed your baby is pretty unimportant.

Just saying, like.

thunksheadontable Fri 15-Feb-13 23:01:36

Cup I lurked a bit on one of your original threads about Beatrice while I was pregnant. She was such a little fighter despite such awful odds stacked against her from the start. I am so sorry that she isn't with you in body tonight and all nights. Unimportant doesn't even begin to cover all the rest of it.

easterbaby Fri 15-Feb-13 23:28:00

Big hugs go out to Cup. There's a beautiful children's book called "I love you forever" (I think? - can't lay my hands on it right now.) It focuses on the wonderful intimacy of holding our babies, and how love is passed down by generations of parents. The mummy in the book says "As long as I'm living, my baby you'll be."

Breast or bottle feeding doesn't even come into it. Both are valid, healthy choices. I've done both and the intense love I feel for my baby comes from nuturing him, inside me during pregnancy and throughout our precious time together since he was born.

1978andallthat Fri 15-Feb-13 23:46:40

JumpHerWho - we use reins. Is that bad? hmm

1978andallthat Fri 15-Feb-13 23:54:14

Can't link as using phone but this is a brilliant article (Hanna Rosin, The Atlantic) on the snobbery about her bottle feeding dc3 and looking at the science behind the myths.

PolkadotCircus Sat 16-Feb-13 08:39:42

I had a touch of PND with dd(trying to stretch myself across 3 babies).Anyhow I got sent on this course for several months with loads of other mums which was fantastic.It was quite interesting as apparently PND rates are rocketing and a huge part of the course was debunking this ideology thing of motherhood which kind of links in with the op.

The leaders spent a large amount of time training us to except that good enough is good enough and to not get dragged down by the huuuuuge amount of pressure that is everywhere re motherhood.Guilt was a big factor and trying to be the perfect mum,not looking after ourselves as mothers etc. Anyhow they basically spent a large amount of time training us not to put ourselves on the sacrificial alter of motherhood which goes against everything the breast feeding lobby believe.

I think the breast is best message has gone too far(scaremongering and stat twisting is used far too much,interestingly not so much by doctors)and I do wonder if it is responsible for this widespread pressure put on mothers these days. Mums know it is the preferable choice(you'd have to be on Mars not to)which is why most mums attempt it.Even with more support I suspect many would still stop and that is absolutely fine particularly when you compare it's impact on health compared to other far weightier issues.

Really if one is going to,place so much stock in bfing then surely we should all be raising our kids as veggie,making them eat 10 a day,organic food and ensuring they get an hour of vigorous exercises a day along with playing a musical instrument and reading several books a week too.When you look at it like that you can see how ridiculous the weight put on the breast feeding message by some is.You can't big up one ideal and not other far weightier ideals.

Mothers need to look after themselves,not beat themselves up over issues which in the long term scheme of things are relatively is a marathon and you can only do your best to try and raise a healthy child.It is a complex issue and doesn't rest entirely on one factor,some things you'll manage and others you won't.At the end of the day if you give your child a long term healthy diet,adequate exercise and stimulation you'll be doing a good job. In all that we need to use our own mothering instinct,yes you sometimes need support and guidance but ultimately we know know what is best for our babies and our family as a whole. The breast is best lobby need to remember that.

PolkadotCircus Sat 16-Feb-13 08:41:43

Hugs to cup from here too.

haven't read the whole thread (and daredn't frankly having seen so many threads on this topic on mn) but one thing that concerns me is that we talk about breastmilk as if it was some generic thing that is of the same quality, healthiness etc in every woman.

i know of other countries where they test your breast milk particularly if your baby isn't feeding well or gaining weight. breast milk is made from the mothers system and not all systems are equal.

i personally would like to see the whole morality, right/wrong, pressure and lashback to that pressure emotive stuff taken out of baby feeding. whether a baby has bm or f is such a small part of that child's life, health, prospects etc. the emotive stuff taps into the intense emotions and concern and protectiveness and sometimes neurosis of new mothers. we're so keen to get everything 'right' and not to be 'wrong'. i think our capacity for realistic risk assessment etc during that period is greatly reduced - it's an intense time - i'm pretty chill and i remember writing down every time i breastfed my son, how long he fed for, which breast or later when i was having to combine feed all the details of that too. and when bf clearly wasn't working for us it was agonising to work out what to do and i was vulnerable to whichever vastly different theory/value projection/dogma i heard from a midwife or hv at baby clinic that week.

i personally believe a happy, coping, healthy mother is the single most important thing for a baby. it is entirely reliant on her being able to provide it's basic needs. she doesn't have to meet them perfectly but she has to meet them. better to be able to meet them by doing what works for you, your family, your situation than to end up unable to meet them through exhaustion, depression, anxiety and crippling self doubt.

there is not enough difference between bf and ff to merit making a woman anxious, insecure or doing things someone else's way when she is a vulnerable new mother with the vulnerability of a new life's care in her hands.

i don't care whether you bf or ff - it's up to you and fair play to you. i care if you are managing to get enough sleep, managing to feel calm and happy enough to really interact with and enjoy your baby, if you're getting enough nutrition to keep your body healthy, if you're recovering well physically and mentally from the pregnancy and birth. i care if you sing to your baby and spend time gazing into it's eyes and giving it a secure connection to you and life and itself.

whether you feed it with a bottle or your breast is secondary by a long shot.

sorry long post as i think i'll post and run for fear of being attacked. this topic is so ridiculously sensitive.

scottishmummy Sat 16-Feb-13 10:17:21

aim to be good enough mother and mode of feeding doesn't make you better mother
its highly pressured as new mum,how one feeds,striving to be perceived as really good,striving for unattainable perfection
bombarded about weight loss post-birth,coping with mental and physical changes

EATmum Sat 16-Feb-13 10:31:22

I think in all these posts, only about 3 people have referenced mixed feeding. I think that reflects how polarised this debate is. I bf all my children, but after massive problems getting DD1 and DD2 to take a bottle when I went back to work, I mixed fed DD3 from the start. Just one bottle a day, early evening, when my husband came home - so he could share, so my boobs could make a little more milk for the night, and so if we ever wanted to go out, we could.

It made such a difference. I still went through the hell of sore, cracked nipples but no mastitis this time round (had that with both of the others), and because I had experience I knew that 6-8 weeks in, the pain would reduce. And my husband loved being involved, able to share in that time.

With DD1 I was so determined to bf, with a hormonally driven self-imposed conviction that makes me slightly embarrassed now. It was only later that I reflected on how badly I'd been advised and supported.

Let's end the "it doesn't hurt if you do it right" crap. It does. Not everyone, but for some of us it really, really hurts. Don't make us feel that that is our fault too ...

<Off to start mixed feeding lobby group of 1>

But my respect to cup, for showing how truly irrelevant all this is to doing the best for your child.

Floweryhat Sat 16-Feb-13 10:43:57

For me the main issue is about individuals. When it goes well and both parties want to do it, breastfeeding is good for babies and mothers (and dads, families and wider society too). When it doesn't go well it can be a living nightmare for everyone involved.

I would like to see every mother who wants to breastfeed (whether partially or wholly) supported to breastfeed for as long as she and her baby both want to. In my utopia no-one would ever say 'is that baby feeding again?', or 'isn't he a bit big for that now?'. Appropriate, well-trained support would be available to families when and where they need it. So, that would mean on-call health professionals in hospitals postnatally plus trained peer supporters on the wards daily (some areas do have the latter already). Peer support is very important, because it is different to health professional support. Peer supporters are really great at sitting with you, hearing your story, mopping your tears, inspiring you that it can really be done -oh and also supporting you without judgement when you're just done and want to stop. Once home, midwives should be able to visit as often (or not) as the mum needs in the first few weeks. Sod postnatal clinics in supermarkets! Breastfeeding groups with peer supporters should be accessible in all areas, and even better if they can do home visits too. The helplines already exist smile.

In my ideal world, all breastfeeding mothers would be entitled to regular breasteding/expressing breaks at work with suitable facilities to express and store milk if they want or need to.

In my ideal world, no-one would wonder whether it's ok to feed a baby in XXX place. Why wouldn't they? It would just be a given. (Note I haven't said what the baby is fed).

In my ideal world, mothers who don't want to breastfeed wouldn't. If they wanted to discuss it before their baby was born, then the opportunity for a sensitive conversation with an appropriately-trained individual with good listening skills and actual knowledge about breastfeeding would be there. BUT if that opportunity was not wanted then that would be respected absolutely and without question. Postnatally and once at home, mothers and their families would also be respected, and they would be helped to feed their babies responsively, given info about bottle feeding by appropriately trained health professionals and peer supporters (not by formula manufacurers), offered skin-to-skin, helped to manage any engorgement etc etc. Mothers' views as individual human beings would be respected.

I know people who didn't intend to breastfeed, but after their baby fed once after birth, they ended up doing it anyway. I also know people who decided to give it a go because of what they learned about it in their antenatal classes. They had never considered it because their mothers and friends and families all bottle fed. Some breastfeed for a short time, others longer. There is a role for sharing information antenatally. The key is then that everyone must get the support they want and need to feed for as long as they wish (hours or years, whatever) and to feel positive about that experience.

Saying the positives of breastfeeding shouldn't be promoted antenatally in case people feel guilty is a cop-out on the part of the Govt and NHS. If they actually upped their game postnatally then guilt wouldn't come into it. At the moment far too many mothers have horrible awful experiences of breastfeeding as this thread shows. Those people have not failed, or 'not tried hard enough' or 'not been determined enough'. They have just had a terrible time and made the best decisions for their families in the circumstances they were in. That's all any of us can do, and no-one should be berated for it. What's really sad, is that in some cases, with better support from the very start, those experiences might not have panned out that way.

Can't we all stick together and demand the services and support ALL mothers need postnatally without judging each other?

that is indeed a eutopia. would i want millions spent on supporting women to bf 'on call' or would i want those millions to be used to support parents with disabled children? the latter for me.

if we had those millions to spend on family support i can think of ten more important ways to spend it off the top of my head sorry.

Floweryhat Sat 16-Feb-13 10:53:42

Swallowed - even if the evidence exists that facilitating even a proportion of the mothers who want to breastfeed, to breastfeed for as long as they want to money over the course of that child's life?

I am not talking about forcing anyone who doesn't want to to breastfeed. Just enabling those who do...

Better provision for disability is something I would also support. It doesn't have to be one or the other smile

Floweryhat Sat 16-Feb-13 10:54:07

Saves money

hotbot Sat 16-Feb-13 11:55:02

Hear hear, more practical support for those who chose to bf, and actual acceptance that no matter what you choose to do , you will not be JUDGED

scottishmummy Sat 16-Feb-13 11:59:42

flowery your post typifies to me that over zealous bf approach
bf good for societzzazawy?how so?does it reduce anti-social behaviours,reduce substance misuse
you still have that eulogizing about bf approach.that's what js part of the problem

Floweryhat Sat 16-Feb-13 12:09:45

Really? Saving the nhs millions is not good for society? Enabling mothers to feed their babies the way they want to could not be considered good for society? You've lost me...

HandbagCrab Sat 16-Feb-13 13:28:45

I believe that bottle feeding was introduced hundreds of years ago (not by formula manufacturers as they didn't exist then) and that many children died from being fed milk from other animals and things like bread and beer from birth. This could suggest that mothers have always been feckless bitches that have put their 'me' time ahead of their children's wellbeing. Or perhaps, could suggest that mothers have always had issues with breast feeding and that as we have progressed as a society we have managed to manufacture synthetic products that babies can thrive on when mothers don't breast feed. I think that's marvellous, it's hardly an abomination of nature!

We are probably the only society that can have these type of debates to be honest. Most humans that have ever existed have been brought up with whatever has been available to them and have just had to get on with it. Now we are bombarded with research and reasons why we should/shouldn't do anything with our dc from what they eat, when they sleep, what they wear, where they go, who they spend their time with, what they do etc, etc. Every single day I do something for ds that is not optimal for his development as I am an imperfect human being. I don't have endless resources and capacity to ensure he has a perfect upbringing. And even if I did, who knows what a researcher will say in 5 years time that puts everything we are currently doing in the 'oh my god, your child will end up as a 59 stone shut it with no friends and the iq of a sausage' category?

easterbaby Sat 16-Feb-13 14:18:41

I'm really encouraged by the sensible views of most posters on this thread, and agree with points made on both sides of the 'divide'. Flowery is spot on when she talked about the importance of postnatal support - in my experience, this is sadly lacking in London, to the extent that I am seriously considering private postnatal support from an independent midwife if we have a second baby. It costs about a grand and we can barely afford it, but I just couldn't go through the same angst again - patchy support (it took the breastfeeding support worker FIVE DAYS to return my call), never the same midwife twice, and a shocking start in the postnatal ward at hospital, where we were ignored, patronised and (in the case of the lady in the next cubicle to me) actually bullied by a midwife on the ward.

As far as Prof Wolf's argument goes, yes - I do believe that breastfeeding is oversold. I had some beautiful, bonding experiences in the early days, but I've come to realise that the sensory experiences many breastfeeding mums report (magical, unique, etc) can also apply when you bottle feed. Oxytocin is also released when you hold or cuddle someone - this is especially true when it's your own tiny babe. I like the distinction made by an early poster, that breastfeeding should be regarded as 'usual' rather than 'normal'. But it is also my strong belief that, by encouraging women to express milk in preference to formula feeding, we are robbing them of their right to simply relax, hold and feed their baby using an inexpensive, nutritionally balanced food that is universally acknowledged as 'good enough'. I have huge admiration for women who feed their babies with expressed milk if breastfeeding hasn't worked, but I do worry that they feel pressurised to do this and are missing out on valuable time getting to know their baby's smell and touch.

Our collective angst about breastfeeding feels like a peculiar indulgence that only a society with relative food security could afford. Prof Wolf makes some interesting, provoking points about the likely impact if men could also breastfeed. I'm sure I've read somewhere that adult men can indeed lactate, in situations of extreme famine. Has anyone else come across this? I guess it would help to ensure the survival of a species if they had a natural back-up plan like this.

Breast milk is the gold standard for tiny infants and I'd like to see more information about milk donation for premature babies born in the UK. I am less convinced by the putative health benefits for older babies (there are studies showing that breastfeeding at 9 months and beyond may cause allergies) and I just wish that we could be more balanced in our scientific judgement of this issue. That said, breastfeeding older babies is a healthy and wonderful choice for mums to make, and we shouldn't disregard the emotional benefits for mum and baby.

An early poster compared breastfeeding to defecating, which was a ridiculous and offensive thing to do. But I do think we're guilty of gilding the lily when it comes to breastfeeding and this undermines our attempts to promote and support it. It's simply a natural way to feed our young, with no moral purpose attached.

KristinaM Sat 16-Feb-13 14:33:36

I am gobsmacked by all these posters who talk about the pressure to BF. I can only assume you live either very far Away from me or even in a diffent country. BF was never mentioned during my pregnancies by any health care professional I met. None of my friends or relatives asked me how i planned to feed the baby.

The hospital midwife told there was a class on at the maternity hospital , but the was no crèche and you weren't allowed to take your other children.that was it.

When I had trouble getting baby no2to latch on in hospital, several nurses tried to help but just grabbed my boob and stuck the nipple into the baby's mouth. They obviously didn't have a clue and they all walked away , embarassed.

When I had a cs with baby no3, they complained when I rung the bell to ask for the baby to be passed to me, as " bf babies don't need fed for the first 24 hours". The " normal " mums who FF had their babies taken away by the nurses so they could sleep and the hospital provided little bottles of ready made formula for their convenience . I had to try to stay awake in case I fell asleep and dropped my baby.

The HV told me at the babies 3 month check up that I'd " want to be stopping that soon ".

The hospital consultant told me there wasn't benefit to babies being bf more than 6months.

My GP would prescribe me hay fever meds as I was bf, even though the baby was able to take the meds himself !

I felt under constant pressure to be normal and FF, I was treated as some sort of eccentric weirdo for wanting to bf. if I " admitted" to another woman that I was bf I was treated to a litany of reasons why the questioner didn't bf her baby.

Even on mumsnet I was lectured about " exhibitionist "mothers like me who stripped to the waist in Starbucks and flaunted their naked breasts in others faces. It was even suggested that weirdos like me should spend hours at home expressing so I could bottle feed in public to spare the feelings of others who might feel guilty.

Please please tell me, where is this terrible pressure to BF? Because I've had 6 kids and I've never ever experienced any pressure to do anything except FF.

are you suggesting that all the people who said they experienced that pressure are wrong or lying because you, singular, didn't experience it?

KristinaM Sat 16-Feb-13 19:00:11

If you re read my post you will see that my second sentence refers to my thought that this " overwhelming pressure " is either a regional or local phenomenon. I have never experinced it and neither has anyone I know in RL. On the contrary, most of the women i know who tried to Bf found little or no support.

Are you trying to discount my experince or imply that I am wrong or lying because it wasn't the same as others here? The fact that I am one person doesn't negate my experince or views. Posters to this thread are not a representative sample of women giving birth in the uk. In the absence of reliable data on the issue of " feeling pressured to bf against our will " , All most of us can offer is our own experince.

curryeater Sat 16-Feb-13 19:44:04

Formula is great. Babies used to die a lot. A lot can go wrong when you try to put a tiny baby on the breast and if it does, it is brilliant that there is an alternative. I think people who go on as if no baby should ever have formula are (perhaps subconsciously) mistaken in thinking that the natural way is that all babies thrive beautifully on the breast. Wrong. The natural way is you win some, you lose some - you might lose your baby.

I think also that people who go on as if no baby should ever have formula should only be all evangelical about that if they also believe that nearly all women should be lactating all the time, and we are all relaxed about babysitters bf-ing our babies. Because the quasi-holy way we go about this - 6 months of four-hourly nutrition dependent on the body of ONE EXHAUSTED WOMAN - is a historical anomaly and, frankly, bonkers.

Disclaimer - I did it, the ebf to 6 months thing, and I bfed my two to 16 months each. but the first 6 months... god would I do that again? I don't know. I think we have something a bit wrong.

Maebe Sat 16-Feb-13 20:15:13

Curry makes one of the points I wanted to make more succinctly: "6 months of four-hourly nutrition dependent on the body of ONE EXHAUSTED WOMAN". Knowing this is one of the reasons why some women decide to ff, or mix feed, in advance, because they feel very strongly that their personal circumstances won't provide the support for them to be the sole provider of their babies food for 6 months. Which ties in with parents needing to be encouraged to just do the best they can do, and the idea someone mentioned earlier about a happy, relaxed and confident mum being pretty essential for a baby too.

If you feel that bf will or is making you not happy, making you too tired, knocking your confidence, which will all have a knock-on effect on your baby in a different way, then women should be supported in making a decision that will help them get a little more sleep, or feel a little less stressed.

JumpHerWho Sat 16-Feb-13 20:20:14

Kristina - you are confusing Pressure and Support.

I had loads and loads of Pressure to breastfeed. And no Support to do so.

The NHS don't seem to get it either...

DuelingFanjo Sun 17-Feb-13 00:10:24

It's really so strange how different people experience different kinds of NHS support or lack of. I've said it before... Almost every person I know who breastfed, or wanted to, had formula suggested to them within the first day. Yet so many women who FF say they felt like they were pressured to breastfeed.

I didn't breastfeed because I thought it would be a magical bonding experience but rather because it was the most natural thing. I think it helped enormously that I know people who have breastfed and that I did lots of reading up on how to do it. It also massively helped tha I was determined to do it.

1978andallthat Sun 17-Feb-13 07:45:17

Curryeater - absolutely! I am in no doubt dd would have died without ff or a wet nurse. She would, like so many babies did, have got weaker and weaker then faded away or succumbed to an illness. Or possibly I'd have given her cows milk. Or porridge. Or brandy.

duellingfanjo - they weren't allowed to suggest formula or even expressing on the maternity ward i was on. i was there 5 days with endless heel pricks because ds's blood sugar was not picking up. breastfeeding was really not working at that time and it got to the stage where they were threatening he'd end up on a drip in IC if i didn't do something about it. i was at my wits end by this point going well what do we do then?

eventually I said couldn't i give him a bottle? to which they were like yep and zoomed off got the formula which he happily took and then i said well couldn't i express some milk and hey presto they procured a breast pumping machine at the drop of a hat.

i was like - why didn't you tell me this was an option before or advise me what to do and they said they couldnt' suggest formula or influence me away from breastfeeding.

they'd have literally rather he went on a drip in intensive care than offered me a bottle of formula or breast pump. it was stunning. i could have expressed days before and fed him with a cup or syringe i now know (they never suggested this). i was losing my mind stuck in an overheated horrible ward without information. now yes maybe i was daft for not thinking of this sooner but i naively thought they knew what they were doing and that therefore carrying on trying to feed a starving but happy seeming baby was the right thing to do.

so here at least the breast is best dogma has totally fucked the heads of hcp workers too.

when i expressed by the way i had lots of good milk - ds just couldn't breastfeed no matter how many ways and times i got him latched on. we persevered with breastfeeding but it never really took off and i supplemented with ebm and formula in the end and gave up entirely at about 4 months and went to exclusive formula feeding for both our sakes.

if i had another baby i'd try again for sure and i'd hope a different baby would take to it differently but if they didn't and 48hrs in they'd still had next to no real feeding i would be expressing.

SuffolkNWhat Sun 17-Feb-13 08:15:26

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

then call it the baby feeding network instead of the breastfeeding network. i'm not being sarcastic actually. maybe if people were feeding support or general support for getting mum's in the swing of things post birth rather than breastfeeding supporters it would benefit everyone.

13Iggis Sun 17-Feb-13 08:54:48

It is alarming how different the "line" is taken by hcps in different areas - from the ridiculous and dangerous behaviour of the ones refusing to even mention ff to SAF, to those suggesting bottle top-ups from day 1. Why is there so little consistency?

crazy isn't it 13Iggis?

the lady in the bed next to me was crying as she breast fed - she was clearly in agony though the baby was managing to get food. she seemed so depressed and miserable and other than the feeding wasn't touching her baby at all but had headphones in and was watching the pay as you go tv screens. she kept telling them how much pain she was in but they only cared that baby was feeding well.

breastfeeding never hurt me once - probably because ds was so utterly ineffective at it grin so i didn't mind at all carrying on except that he was starving!

neutral advise would help. permission given to make a choice with the facts (rather than ideology) given.

incidentally it was only years later that i realised that ds played a role in how bf went. there is SO much insistence that women just need to do it right, use the right position, get them to latch on properly etc that you assume it's all you.

i had people check how i was doing, see that he was latched on etc and that was that - end of intervention. no thought whatsoever as to what was going on with him. you can lead a horse to water and all that!

but we have to pretend that it is good it is natural it is best there are no problems that aren't just about teaching some silly woman to do it better etc.

my ds is a very healthy, strong, clever and happy child. if he had been born in a time without breast pumps and formula though he would probably be dead.

stargirl1701 Sun 17-Feb-13 10:07:09

I would imagine the variability of HCPs is based on whether the hospital/unit has WHO 'Baby Friendly' status.

mumnosbest Sun 17-Feb-13 10:10:38

I bf because for me it's easier and I enjoy the closeness. I think the emphasis should be on mothers choice and supporting those who choose to bf. I've seen too many people stop bf or not even getting started despite wanting to through lack of early support and the pressure that baby needs to feed. ds didn't bf till day 5 and was fine.
Now a days bf and ff babies thrive so surely it's about supporting the mother!

thunksheadontable Sun 17-Feb-13 10:19:01

DuelingFanjo, I think sometimes for people who haven't had huge massive struggles with bf (e.g. babies failing to thrive, serious tongue tie etc) it can seem really strange when people share how it has been.

I knew people who breastfed (my grandmother bf'd 8, at one point she was feeding 3 under 2! - twins and a new baby!), I had read everything, I was determined.. and so I did bf all the way to 2 with ds but God it was a nightmare for a good proportion of that time, sadly. Then I had ds2 and had at this stage developed antenatal depression and OCD related to my unresolved/untreated PND after ds1 (I had started this with ds1, weighing him obsessively e.g. I could weigh him repetitively for up to an hour and I was obsessed with finding the "reason" for his inability to gain ANY weight). With ds2 I had decided (in conjunction with the perinatal mental health team) that daily weighings and feed counts from the community midwife team were to be avoided and that I would have only the regular checks e.g. 6 weeks, 12 weeks etc. Grand. I was totally sure that especially with a second and especially having fed ds1 until 2 that if left alone, I would be able to breastfeed successfully and supply issues etc would resolve themselves. I had good evidence for this - I had actually been for a consulation with a world renowned bf expert who said problems were unlikely with the second with regular feeding etc etc.

Sadly, it didn't quite work out that way and at 20 weeks, ds2 had gone from 91st centile at birth to 0.4 centile... and the GP said he was "wasted". I felt totally and utterly distraught at a second "failure". He was supplemented with formula at every feed and I assumed from everything I read that this would end breastfeeding. That was four months ago and he is successfully mixed feeding still. He is now at the 37th centile.

Like 1978 above, I think in a different time my children would have probably just wasted away and succumbed to illness. I think people forget just how common this was when they talk about how people "survived" before formula... yes, the species did, but a lot of individuals succumbed along the way. I'm grateful that I live in a western country where formula could supplement my children and enable them to thrive. THAT - thriving children with enough padding to get through the winter without having a medical emergency if they get norovirus or rotavirus or whatever - is what's best.

Zavi Sun 17-Feb-13 10:38:43

I did not liken bf to shitting!

I said bf and defecation were natural processes (neither of which should be done in public in my view).

Thankfully I don't need need any help or support from anyone to perform one of those natural processes grin

When I did ask for some advice re ff at my ante natal class none was available.

I really do think there should be sufficient info available to mums at the ante natal stage such that they have enough info to make an informed decision about whether to bf or ff.

Ff and bf should be equally promoted, at the ante natal stage, in my view. It's just WRONG to do otherwise.

cantreachmytoes Sun 17-Feb-13 10:56:22

I mixed fed SIMULTANEOUSLY. Due to a breast reduction I didn't have a lot of milk, so I used a Lactaid (tiny feeding tube attached to a 100ml sack of formula that you tape on your breast so baby sucks on nipple and tube simultaneously, thereby stimulating milk production, even if you have no milk, and simulating breastfeeding for baby). I did this for six months, but started to use the bottle at about 3ish (can't remember).

I was LOATHE to use formula and sobbed my heart out when it was agreed he needed to eat something as heading towards organ shutdown from severe dehydration. I didn't feel that I'd "failed" exactly, I felt that a type of poison was being put in him and the threshold had been crossed and now he'd be more likely to get cancer, allergies etc.

That was the middle if the night and the next morning I spoke to a (private) lactation consultant who makes the LLL seem lax. I described what had been going on and she said, "Get formula in him, give him it until he doesn't want any more, no pauses, no nothing." I felt then that what I was doing wasn't "so bad" and she came to see me when I was home to set up the lactaid side.

Before my surgery, the potential impact on breastfeeding was discussed in detail and I understood the risks. Once DS was born though, my casual attitude of "I'll try, can't do better than that." Changed to a radical position that in hindsight shocks me now. It turned out that I had a thyroid problem too, which undoubtedly played a role in the milk production too.

I was - and am - very happy with how it turned out and think I had the best of both worlds: I got to have nuzzley bf sessions AND the freedom that ff brings.

I live in France and can quite assuredly say that "in Europe" does not apply to France. Things are improving, but breastfeeding is still HUGELY misunderstood (one friend was asked why she bothered breastfeeding after the first two weeks because there's no benefit anymore..).

Also, despite WHO guidelines, in France they strongly advocate using mineral water for ff, no need to boil it and bottles only need to be sterilised in the beginning (certainly not at 3 months). I specifically asked a few paediatricians about the WHO way (without specifying it was from WHO) and they ALL told me the same. I'm not advocating doing it, but this does make ff exceptionally easy.

HoleyGhost Sun 17-Feb-13 11:57:58

I wonder if fetishising the naturalness of breastfeeding is part of the reason we now have such an absence of postnatal care.

and such high pnd

though i personally think the high rates of depression in women having children now is because of the conditions of motherhood and how much more those conditions contrast with pre-motherhood than previous periods.

lurcherlover Sun 17-Feb-13 13:02:06

But Zavi, breastfeeding is a particular kind of bodily function. It's a baby eating. Presumably you are happy to eat in public. You are also presumably happy to see a baby being bottle fed in public, which let's face it, means you are happy to watch a baby with a fake breast and a fake nipple in its mouth (what else is a bottle teat emulating?). Why you therefore can't cope with the real thing is a mystery to me. Unless you think breasts are only sexual objects, and therefore breastfeeding is some weirdly inappropriate activity because on some level it's sexual? No? Care to unpick your reasons then?

5madthings Sun 17-Feb-13 13:08:09

Bfeeding in public is nothing like taking a shit in public. The law sees it as dfifferent as well and women have legal protection to bfeed in public.

JumpHerWho Sun 17-Feb-13 13:10:36

Lurcher - I'm being devil's advocate here, but it's not just eating, is it - if all the wonderful oxytocin, bonding, cuddling and closeness are counted, it's a public display of affection. Seeing a mother breastfeed her baby is witnessing an intensely personal and intimate act. Some people switch between describing it as 'just food FFS' and the most wondrous thing imaginable depending on the point they wish to make.

Not that I personally mind in the slightest, it's lovely, but I always think this when people say 'it's just eating'.

Zavi Sun 17-Feb-13 13:24:41

holeyghost be careful or you'll be flamed soon for likening breast feeding to a fetish in the same way I was flamed for likening bf to shitting grin - which, I reiterate, I did not do!

That is a very interesting viewpoint that you raise about fetishes however...

Although I intended to ff from the outset I put baby to the breast to see what it felt like and was shocked to find that my clitoris starting ticking away and it really freaked me out!

Perhaps that's why some women like bf ing so much grin

For me the thought of bf ing stirring up any kind of sexual feeling was absolutely abhorrent and if I had been planning on bf ing - which I wasn't - I'm quite certain that I would have stopped there and then.

The whole thing was just way too animal/primitive for me anyway. I was more than happy to take advantage of modern advances in technology grin

As I keep saying tho I was thoroughly miffed that there was NO info available to me on ff at my AN classes. I needed that info then!

ExBrightonBell Sun 17-Feb-13 13:28:09

Zavi, WTAF? Are you serious?

Alibabaandthe40nappies Sun 17-Feb-13 13:28:37

Zavi you are disgusting. FF is not an advance on BF. hmm It is a substitute for where BF is not possible.

no alibaba it's not a substitute for where bf is not possible - it's just a substitute and women can choose it. it's ok to ff even if you're capable of bf.

not that i'm agreeing with the other nonsense but i don't think that is even worth rising to and am surprised people are paying it any attention.

Zavi Sun 17-Feb-13 13:52:12

ali lets not get personal. I am not disgusting, though you may not agree with my views smile

Ff is a HUGE advance on bf ing in my opinion. Really!

Ff ng is not ^ a substitute for where BF is not possible^.

Given its availability it was my first choice grin

5madthings Sun 17-Feb-13 13:56:02

Well bfeeding is not possible if a mother doesn't want to do it (which is fine we have bodily autonomy as we should do) therefore formula the substitute.

And it may be your opinion zavi but saying that women shouldnt bfeed in public as its a bodily function like having a poo is a bodily function is offensive and legally women have the right to breed in public.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Sun 17-Feb-13 15:24:57

Zavi you were the one that got personal, suggesting that women who choose to BF do so because they find it sexually pleasurable.

HoleyGhost Sun 17-Feb-13 15:59:58

Obviously I meant the naturalness is fetishised - as it is elsewhere in weaning, nappys, household cleaning etc. It makes caring for babies harder work than it needs to be.

I did not mean it in a sexual sense.

Agree with SAF about PND being due to both pressure on new mothers and the contrast with pre-motherhood.

Zavi Sun 17-Feb-13 16:05:46

No, ali I was careful not to direct personal remarks at anyone smile

I avoid doing that because I feel it lowers the quality of the debate and is really only for the preserve of those who are unable to further their debate in any meaningful way and, in their frustration, stoop to posting personal attacks instead.

Note also that I didn't say that women who choose to bf do so because they find it pleasurable. I said that I had found it sexually arousing [physically] and that I had found that to be abhorrent [mentally]

Have I hit on something here then?

Are bfeeders, who do so because they consider it to be "natural", more likely to be receptive to other "natural" feelings, such as sexual ones, whilst breeding?

Anyone ever had an orgasm whilst bfeeding?

13Iggis Sun 17-Feb-13 16:45:44

Sexual feelings whilst breeding ? I should hope so!
Whilse breastfeeding? Have to say Zavi you are the first I've ever heard. Can it be a sensual (ie pleasurable, physically) experience - well yes of course, just like sniffing my baby's skin after a bath! Nothing remotely sexual about it though. It is also pleasurable when you have a 'full' feeling and the baby takes that away. I think it's a real shame if anything nice to do with our bodies comes under the label of "sex" sad angry

Phineyj Sun 17-Feb-13 18:56:52

It may be natural, normal, lovely etc etc but it is a bit odd (especially in a cold wet country) to be seeing women's breasts in public and (frankly) in a domestic setting -- I can't think of any other everyday context where you'd be surrounded by several other women you hardly know with their breasts partly out (as I was the other day having invited some NCT women round). Well maybe on a beach I suppose, but not in the house/down the shops. In a world where a singer having a 'wardrobe malfunction' is international news I do find it odd that when it comes to breastfeeding you're not supposed to notice or find it in any way unusual...


stargirl1701 Sun 17-Feb-13 19:03:58

But, after the initial few weeks, you don't really see anything. Just the baby's head.

Zavi Sun 17-Feb-13 19:21:30

Well, as I say I only tried it the once!

That's why I'm so interested to see if anyone else has felt the same.

I'm a perfectly normal physical specimen, and the bfeeding obviously triggered a naturally occurring response in my body...

It was just so unexpected though and it really shocked me.

Is there an elephant in the room?

LOL at the sexual feelings whilst breeding, my type obviously, though Frued might have something to say about that slip grin

13Iggis Sun 17-Feb-13 19:37:49

You might find such a response would diminish/vanish once your body was used to fact it was a baby feeding.
It is sad that women from an NCT group (presumably with small babies, many bfing) couldn't be a bit more relaxed together than they might be if out alone, PhineyJ.

ExBrightonBell Sun 17-Feb-13 19:50:53

Perhaps I shouldn't get drawn into this...

but, zavi, I can honestly say that my breastfeeding experience has been absolutely nothing like yours. There is no elephant in the room, unless you are imagining it.

There is nothing in the process of bf that in any way relates to sex at all. I hate to break it to you but the primary function of breasts is to feed a baby. The sexual significance of them is secondary, but unfortunately our society focuses on this at the expense of their primary function.

When I feed in public you will not see anything of my breasts at all, as clothing covers most of me and my baby's head covers the rests. You'll see more boob from scantily clad young women going out on the town than you will when I'm breastfeeding!

When I see a mother feeding her baby I barely register it. I really struggle to understand how it could disgust or offend anyone. It's as disgusting/offensive as seeing a mother cuddling her baby.

Zavi Sun 17-Feb-13 20:09:43

I agree that there is nothing at all about bfeeding that relates to sex, as far as I am aware.

I'm talking about how when I put my baby to my breast my clitoris started ticking, in much the same way as it does when I am aroused sexually.

The only difference for me was that instead of finding it pleasurable, it horrified me and I immediately stopped.

I understood instantly what men mean by "morning glory" - a state of tumescence for them that had all of the physical hallmarks of a sexual experience without the necessary mental "mindset" to give it integrity if that makes any sense.

Anyway, I should probably start a separate thread about this rather than hijack this thread...

ExBrightonBell Sun 17-Feb-13 20:27:18

Yep, I was right, I shouldn't have got drawn in.

thunksheadontable Sun 17-Feb-13 21:15:01

Weird. This thread was going so well.. can't be helped I suppose. Zavi, did you consider it might just be a conditioned response based on the fact that you view breasts as sexual? I've felt a LOT of things while breastfeeding (many of them very painful in the early days) but clitorally stimulated never!

As for the cold climate hmm. I make a personal habit of never breastfeeding my baby outside in the wind, rain or snow. Indoors, it is perpetually 20+ degrees wherever you go these days. I might as well be in Mallorca.

5madthings Sun 17-Feb-13 21:24:06

I have fed outside when its been cold/wet/snowy as i have a few children and baby just comes along. Baby wrapped up warm and i just unzip coat and stick baby in. I always wore a vest top undrr my main top. So one top up, the other down no flesh exposed.

Seeing a baby feeding is normal, we see women in swimsuits and underwear in adverts all the time and many women wear skimpy clothing. Seeing breasts being used as they are intended is normal.

And re it being too animalistic.... We are mammals...

I ve never found it sexual but maybe some do, some women orgasm during childbirth as well. bfeeding is allowed to be pleasurable, at times it drove me mad, other times i loved it and enjoyed it.

cantreachmytoes Sun 17-Feb-13 23:13:19

You're not alone Zavi. There's a book called "The Functions of the Orgasms: the highways to transcendence" by Michel Odent (the French dr who promotes water birth - where possible) which has a chapter about it. In that chapter there are further books quoted which deal with the subject. Despite the book's title, it's not about orgasm in this case, more about arousal.

In short, it's related to the release of oxytocin and there's nothing abnormal or "wrong" about it in the slightest.

dragonflymama Mon 18-Feb-13 08:54:04

I think the best comparison would be to see how 2 children turn out when born to the same parents....1 bf 1 ff with all other surrounding factors the same (birth health, place of residence, working situation, etc). I bf my first child with ease and am therefore pro-bf, however I know plenty of well educated, excellent parents who ff through choice or necessity. I salute anyone who pumps breast milk as hard work! I am currently pregnant with my 2nd child and wlt bf again for 3 reasons (1-it's natural and 2-I find it easier than preparing bottles, which also daunts me and 3-we co-sleep for 6m and therefore get more sleep), but i try to be open minded in case it doesn't work. After all every parent-child bf-eeding relationship is different. I agree bf support should be increased, but ultimately the feeding (amongst other things e.g. co-sleeping) is a personal choice, cut the social pressure and leave women to decide themselves and be the best they can be under their individual circumstances.

13Iggis Mon 18-Feb-13 09:45:49

Dragonfly my dm bf her two eldest, then ff me and my db. Same family etc. One noticeable difference is the weight of me and db, compared to the two skinny oldest! But that is one family, can't draw anything from that. Anecdote, etc.

Springdiva Wed 20-Feb-13 15:46:38

My DM bfed me and bottle fed my DSis, who is slimmer (and better looking than) me. Doesn't prove anything.

I'm glad Yavi has come back to clarify her views.

I wan't to say that when someone you know is pregnant you don't lecture her on when her labour should start, how often the contractions should be and when she should push or not. Everyone's delivery is different and driven by hormones mainly.

So surely breast milk is the same and largely hormone driven. When, how quickly it comes in, how much there is of it etc. So why do the bf proponents browbeat others on what they must do?

Other factors do come into play, as they do with labour and delivery of baby, but hormones must be the main controller.

Breast feeders do seem unable to accept any comment against it. (though I am not saying BF isn't best just making this other point)

easterbaby Wed 20-Feb-13 22:15:49

Well said, Springdiva. Although I have a foot in both feeding camps, I find myself identifying more as a bottle feeding mum, for the simple reason that a vocal minority of breastfeeding mums are just AWFUL. Smug, condescending, self-centred and completely unwilling to see things from someone else's perspective. (You can normally spot them when they describe themselves as 'exclusive' breastfeeders.)

However, those who donate milk or volunteer their time to sit with new mums who are struggling are wonderful women. Their actions speak louder than any words.

If I was spending public money on improving health and nutrition, I wouldn't choose to promote breastfeeding awareness. Instead, I would make sure every schoolchild has a proper breakfast in the morning, with outdoor playtime each day to soak up vitamin D for strong, healthy bones. In an age when Victorian diseases such as rickets are making a comeback, we need a more encompassing public response than 'breast is best'.

issynoko Thu 21-Feb-13 14:27:42

I wanted to bf all my children but have only really achieved it with number 4 who is still breastfed at 15 months and has never had any other kind of milk. He still feeds frequently, including during the night. Mostly I am delighted it has finally been a success and it is hugely convenient, cheap, massively comforting and lovely for him. Most of the time I also enjoy the times we feed. However it is also true that there are times - at least once a day when I feel frustrated, trapped and restricted by the fact that he is still bf. Not enough to feel ready to stop, and largely this is due to how much I love him, how much it comforts him and that I am one of those mums willing to sacrifice a lot of my own well being for the children - not sure this is always wise though. I am completely knackered and often feel drained by still breastfeeding too.

All my children are healthy, slim and well above average achievers at school with fewer than average illnesses but the bf baby has had far more colds and snotty noses than the others. He has also been the slowest to walk and is hardly speaking although his ff sister was speaking in sentences by his age. I'm sure it will all level out but in my little world, bf had not achieved significant health or development benefits over ff. My bf baby is very firmly bonded and clearly derives great pleasure and security from breastfeeding - sometimes at my expense. I consider the fact that they have a healthy diet and lots of exercise the main reason for their well being and I am no less attached to the ff babies than to the bf one. In short I agree with breastfeeding being 'oversold', although think ff is only safe in cultures where we have the facilities and environment to prepare it cleanly and accurately. Re the fact that formula was only intended to feed foundlings and orphans - this is completely irrelevant. If it was found to work and sustain the healthy development of babies the initial reason for manufacturing it doesn't matter. After all, babies without mothers were fed on cows' or sheep's milk or given to wet nurses before formula existed - some of them thrived and some didn't so all in all formula is an improvement for such circumstances. It is not poison. In fact my bf baby has consumed plenty of diluted wine in his feeds - not something the others have ever been exposed to.

Also I have found the only smug, judgemental women to be breastfeeders who felt permitted to comment, uninvited on my ff. It happened over and over again. But then I was in a very smug middle class area of London. Now I live in rural England, surrounded by a much more mixed demographic. I bf everywhere - including on holiday in Italy, Czech Republic and have never had a single negative comment - not even an unpleasant glance. For me, bf has been very positive, if sometime restrictive. FF was fraught with guilt - because I believed that breast is best and felt I failed my children - and nastiness on the part of other mothers - a minority but a vocal, confident and damaging minority. Support is needed, whatever we choose.

Hizzle Thu 21-Feb-13 18:50:20

Having watched my partner desperately try and fail to breast feed following an emergency c section and 9 hours of surgery (including a hysterectomy to save her life), I have felt angered by the constant pressure to breast feed. She feels a failure and blames herself for not 'doing the best for our son' because she has heard so many times that breast is best. She even ended up with wasted muscles from sitting for hours trying to breast feed as her milk had mostly dried up following her time in intensive care. An extreme example maybe, but even the most intelligent woman can feel undermined by constant messages of how breast feeding, no matter what, is better for baby. I always have and always will believe happy mum = happy baby and I will not be beating myself up if for whatever reason I can't breast feed when I have our second child. This is the first article that I have read that in any way reflects the real reasons some babies are healthier, happier, more intelligent than others - a number if factors and not just because they were breast fed!

jojo72 Thu 21-Feb-13 20:20:26

I was a breastfed baby yet I suffered from hayfever, allergies etc.I breastfed my 3 children then bottle fed them as I found it exhausting.I think breasfeeding for the first few days is good for mums as your womb cotracts back to a healthy level.its personal choice.I believe mums are bullied into breast feeding. As long as baby is healthy I do not think it should matter. I would never judge anyone if they decided breast or bottle.mums should do what is right for them & their family

jojo72 Thu 21-Feb-13 20:26:27

I had my eldest by emer c section on the same ward A younger mum & her baby were so distressed as the midwives insisted she should express milk on a spoon & pipette feed baby.why put mum through all that stress, creating any anxious was horrendous listening.better if the baby was given formula

ExBrightonBell Thu 21-Feb-13 21:21:26

No one should be bullied, pressurised or harangued into breastfeeding. Clearly that is wrong and counterproductive as mums will hardly feel positive towards breastfeeding as a result.

No one should be spoken to rudely, patronisingly or harshly by midwives or other health care professionals when in the vulnerable position of having just given birth. In fact it's blindingly obvious that no patient in a hospital should be spoken to like this at all.

Anyone to whom this has happened should complain formally to the hospital, starting by contacting the hospital's Patient Liaison Service (PALS) who will be able to explain what to do. Hospitals will have details of PALS on their website.

If women don't complain about poor treatment it will never improve for the next person. As far as I understand it you can contact the hospital many months after giving birth if you want to. It may well be a positive and empowering experience to go through this process. I am aware of women who have had health care professionals personally apologise to them about the way they were spoken to when in hospital.

BUT - poor midwife care as described above doesn't mean that it isn't right to encourage women to breastfeed. It needs to be done properly and sensitively of course, and using formula should not be judged if that is what is necessary.

There are many studies that show the various benefits of breastfeeding for mums and babies, I think they have been linked to previously in this thread. However, there will always be examples of babies who don't appear to have experienced these benefits, but that doesn't invalidate the research! To think so is to misunderstand what scientific research is all about. If you disagree with the evidence about the benefits of breastfeeding, find some research that backs this up. With the widespread availability of the Internet and search engines this is surely possible. Anyway, this is almost beside the point....

....I feel very sad that so many women as it seems from this thread have been treated so badly by midwives and hospital staff when they should have been supported. The first few weeks of breastfeeding can be really tough, and women need all the sympathy they can get to help them through it. Or if it doesn't fit their personal circumstances, to find a way of feeding their baby that works for them without abusing them as a result.

[apologies btw for the lengthy post - I have realised I feel quite strongly about this!]

Bukkie Thu 21-Feb-13 21:44:58

Exclusive breastfeeding, in my own view is the best. However, there are some mothers who for genuine reasons are unable to breastfeed. So, does that mean that such children will not be healthy or that their brain will not develop properly?

ExBrightonBell Thu 21-Feb-13 22:24:34

No. They will be healthy and their brains will develop normally (assuming no other medical or lifestyle problems). However, within the normal spectrum, they will not have had the absolutely optimum food source, and so may miss out on the most optimal development possible for them. How that manifests in individual babies may differ widely. The research into breastfeeding shows that on average there are discernible benefits for babies that are breastfed.

The vast majority of mums want to do their best for their baby (I sincerely hope). Breastfeeding is the logical choice to try and give your baby as much chance of optimal development as possible. Formula milk is a perfectly adequate substitute if for whatever reason you discover you cannot breastfeed, or decide that it doesn't fit your personal circumstances.

JumpHerWho Thu 21-Feb-13 22:33:25

ExBrighton - I would complain if I thought it would help me lay my awful feelings to rest, but I don't think it would. There's simply no money in NHS trusts and no political will to put money towards postnatal care, despite it coming up again and again on MN.

It was SO awful, so traumatic, that I don't wish to revisit it tbh and have to defend myself, to revisit 'was it my fault?' again. I want it to be better for other first time mums, for other c section mums, but I'm not willing to address my own experience.

ExBrightonBell Thu 21-Feb-13 22:51:16

JumpHerWho - I agree with you about the lack of funding and matching lack of political will, sadly.

But I do think that if complaints are received by a hospital and are fed back to staff then their attitudes might change. It doesn't cost much to do that. If one midwife is told that patients have complained about her manner then this must surely be taken on board as part of their professional development? Midwives must surely have performance reviews at some point? If the complaint is very serious then the Nursing and Midwifery Council can take action to suspend or strike off a midwife.

I completely understand that for you personally to go over your birth experience in order to complain would be too traumatic. But there most be lots of women who are able to, and should do so in order to try and improve patient care.

ExBrightonBell Thu 21-Feb-13 22:55:22

And for what it's worth, JumpHerWhi - it was not your fault. We are all left to deal with the turn of events that are dealt to us during childbirth, which we have zero control over.

ExBrightonBell Thu 21-Feb-13 22:56:14

Oops, I meant JumpHerWho not Whi, sorry.

inthewildernessbuild Fri 22-Feb-13 00:18:54

I feel really puzzled by this argument. Breastfeeding is what nature intended for babies. There is no reason why it shouldn't work 90 per cent of the time. If it doesn't work, well, formula is a wonderful alternative, which we are lucky to have IF WE NEED IT. But in the majority of cases, it is NOT NEEDED. Why does anyone need to choose formula over breastmilk? It is not a choice, it is a solution to a problem. An excellent solution, but surely not a choice.
I have formula fed and breastfed babies. And I know which method I preferred. The formula was a solution to a problem, and it worked brilliantly, but I would never in a million years not have wanted to breastfeed. Which I did, when problems resolved, for 2 years. I loved it, it was part of my relationship with my babies. It nearly killed me at the beginning, but relationships can be hard sometimes, and looking after babies is hard too, at first whether you are breastfeeding or not. Because some women have terrible experiences is not a reason to say that breastfeeding is outdated or bad for us. We don't live in a breastfeeding culture which makes those terrible experiences a lot more likely. Misinformation, doubt and isolation,and lack of postnatal support, peculiar to this inimical culture which tells us babies should sleep through, or eat at long intervals or not tie mums down, is what makes breastfeeding difficult, NOT breastfeeding itself. Other mammals do it, why should we be SOOO bad at it then?

inthewildernessbuild Fri 22-Feb-13 00:28:17

What I find odd is all those who ebf for first four months and then move onto bottles completely? It is as you have to choose your armed camp. Why not continue to breast feed for some feeds. It is all part of this rubbish idea that breastmilk is this powerful elixir that does its magic for first four months,but really this elixir is far too expensive (timewise) and taxing for anyone sensible to continue with. It treats bfng like a scientific process, a course of action that only needs to be continued for x months to have the desired effect on child's brain etc. I feel like screaming, no, there is more to it than that. It is a bit like saying procreation was only designed for making babies.

inthewildernessbuild Fri 22-Feb-13 00:34:17

Hizzle I am horrified at your poor wife's experiences. Sorry, didn't read thatfar back up thread. I know what it is like to try and feed after traumatic birth experience when milk won't come in. I just want to send her best wishes, and say she is the baby's best gift, a living mum. Hope you can give her lots of love and support over next few weeks and that she gets so much happiness from your new baby - she will...

dekari Fri 22-Feb-13 07:33:58

I think more research/info needs to be available on combination feeding as a, dare i say it, compromise.

I had to introduce a formula top up at 6 weeks when my LO dropped to the .4 centile. That was despite a good supply, ebm top ups and spending over half the day feeding (still feel the need to justify - argh!) That 60ml made all the difference (and surely improved DD's life chances as it helped her thrive).

The all or nothing approach just reinforces the dichotomy of bf v ff. Although, saying that, it's good practice... TW v BLW, back to work v stay at home, childminder v nursery... It's neverending! wink

Maebe Fri 22-Feb-13 09:53:40

I definitely agree there should be more discussion on combination feeding. I didn't hear anything about it, I wasn't really aware that combination feeding was an option. As I said earlier in the thread, I was one of those who circumstances made me feel ff was for us - but I know that was because I believed that if I was bf, it would be me doing all the feeds and then expressing so that anyone else could help out, which just seemed an awful thought. If someone had talked me to about combination feeding from the start, about your milk regulating itself to your needs, I probably would have given bf a chance.

inthewildernessbuild Fri 22-Feb-13 10:43:22

but Maebe why did it seem such an awful thought that you would be doing all the feeds? After all, most mothers who formula feed end up doing most of the feeds anyway (that is why formula feeding is as good a way to bond with your baby) AND doing all the extra work of sterilizing and making up bottles.
There is so much that needs doing with a baby, feeding is a large part, but there is always other ways people can help if they want to support a mother who IS finding breastfeeding time consuming. Why is the answer just to say change to formula, when it creates more work for that mother in the long run?

Maebe Fri 22-Feb-13 15:51:58

For a lot of reasons, wilderness, most of which I'm not going to go in to here, but one reason was down to the support around me and a feeling that I wouldn't cope if I wasn't in a position to allow my DP to do as much care of the baby as I was. But I can honestly say that with ff the feeding of our baby and the making of bottles etc was done pretty much 50/50.

(This is a side issue, but I do wonder how men feel about bf - unless expressing comes easily to a mum, or combination feeding is introduced, men are missing out on such a large part of their new babies life. I find it very interesting that women who have loved bf talk about the wonderful experience feeding was, occasionally in a way that suggests they feel sorry for women who missed that experience, yet there never seems to be any comments about men missing this experience.)

Personal feelings and beliefs aren't entirely the way forward in a debate such as this. I am sure that most people won't agree with my decisions to continue ff, just as people have taken issue earlier in the thread with zavi's reasons for not bf - just as women who struggle with bf or who make the decision to ff from the start can struggle to hear comments about bf being a greater bond with a baby or something similar. Personal feelings as simply that: personal.

What is needed all around is the ability to discuss feeding a baby without anyone feeling criticised or guilty or blackmailed or a failure, and to discuss the best way of achieving the way you want to feed.

drizzlecake Fri 22-Feb-13 16:32:47

but Maebe why did it seem such an awful thought that you would be doing all the feeds

Because you can't do anything else energetically whilst feeding, ie you can watch day time tv or peruse mumsnet, but you can't run down to the shops or dig the garden.

Surely it's restricting?

If breastfeeding is a wonderful fulfilling happy time then you want to do it. If you are sitting thinking 'hurry up, i have this, this and this to do'. It's frustrating.

The temperament of the mother doesn't seem to be consdidered.

No doubt I'll get the 'why have children if you can't be bothered to blah blah blah...' but I now realise (many years on) that I was and am a great mother. But felt quite a failure for not maintaining bfing. V sad that I should feel that imv and it is the insistance that only this is best that caused that.

inthewildernessbuild Fri 22-Feb-13 20:58:27

I'm sorry, I'm back again.

You do have to sit on the sofa when you are feeding a baby formula, truly you do, you can't run down to the shops or do digging then either. Quite frankly you are so tired with a new baby that I can't see many people wanting to do either activity much. You sit and you cuddle the baby, and the feed takes a while, then you burp the baby, change it. That is time consuming, whatever the milk source. Unless you have a maternity nurse a live-in MIL or a nanny. If you have other children, why would formula feeding husband help reduce workload. He can look after the other kids for goodness sake if he wants to help or bond with someone. I think this incredible tiredness that people associate with breastfeeding is an optical illusion to do with first few weeks after childbirth, which is incredibly tiring, and happens, surprise surprise to co-oincide wth first few weeks of breastfeeding.

My husband was incredibly helpful with small babies. He bonded with them. He did not need to bfd them to do that.

inthewildernessbuild Fri 22-Feb-13 21:13:41

I agree that first few weeks can be frustratingly inefficient. I do agree. Everything seems to be about getting supply going, and there is a bewildering sense of everything being out of kilter. Is baby getting enough, why are they crying, are they hungry again. I understand why it feels like a relief to see what they are getting, to know the feed is finished.

But it is such a short stage that things are all over the place. The supply settles down. Feeds take no tme at all by 4 months. The baby is satisfied in 10 mins. I think there are plenty of mothers with crying babies who don't settle or sleep through, or have colic who are fed on formula. It is not the perfect milk for some babies. My neighbour had a child with reflux who screamed on formula until he was diagnosed as being severely allergic to lactose. He has asthma. She didn't feed because she had a very traumatic birth and I completely understand why she moved to formula after a week. But I bet she regretted her decision in light of what happened next; okay another anecdote, but the point is that not all babies will do better on formula than on breastmilk. Most will be fine, but what is there any harm, if you have not had a traumatic birth or terrible problems with weight gain, or all the reasons why people are justified in feeling very reluctant to continue bfng, on just giving it a whirl, and looking beyond immediate "busy" concerns. They can wait in 90 percent of cases. There is the rest of your life to dig the flowerbed. And I love digging.

Maebe Fri 22-Feb-13 21:54:46

Inthewildeness, what some mums are trying to say is that there feels like there is more to life than feeding the baby. Of course feeding is so important, but so is a healthy, happy mum. I had a DP who was working irregular shift work, very long hours, and I knew if I wasn't able to let him look after the baby for a few hours on his own my sanity would be the thing to answer. Now every mum is different and there will be plenty of single mums or mums whose partners work away who bf but for me, knowing I didn't have a DP coming home every night at 6 to cook me dinner and help bathe and baby and get them to bed, the thought of doing every single feed for 6 months and having to express to get any help for a few hours was just too much to cope with. I knew I wouldn't cope, I knew it would be too much for me. I wanted to be able to let my partner feed and care for the baby equally when he was at home without me having to express for hours to achieve that.

But as I said before, it combination feeding had been discussed, I may very well have gone for that.

13Iggis Sat 23-Feb-13 13:47:25

Babies getting closer to 6 months than zero can easily go a few hours without a bf, or feed of any kind. With expressing too you can do it on days that suit you, freeze it, and then just use it as and when.
I don't totally get the men losing out if they don't get to feed the baby. They also lose out from not carrying the baby, yet we don't suggest surrogacy to avoid this.

drizzlecake Sat 23-Feb-13 16:51:52

I'm glad you can state I agree that first few weeks can be frustratingly inefficient inthewilderness .

Imo more honesty would def help. My first weeks with no family around, a husband working dire shifts and a colicky baby were just miserable. And when baby cries and cries no one, absolutely no one can tell you exactly why or how long it will last - the HV can say it is probably til the 11th week or 'lots of babies do this' or whatever but you are the v sad, v exhausted mother and none of that really helps.

But advice at the start telling me that the first 6 weeks are often exhausting or 'it takes a few months to settle to what suits you both best' would have been helpful. Instead we hear how wonderful bfing is from the proponents. And not the downsides. The fact that so many give up demonstrates that there is something amiss with the 'support' or maybe it just doesn't fit in with the modern lifestyle. But the lack of acceptance/sympathy from those who do bf means we don't find out why people FF. Probably the shame which many might feel causes them to keep their heads down which imv can't be right but in some proponents would be what they deserve.

it's actually not that most babies will be 'fine' on formula. sadly, like it or not, most babies who are struggling with bf, not putting on weight, constantly hungry, unable to take a proper feed, never stopping feeding, never sleeping more than a couple of hours etc etc etc are a damn sight more than 'fine' on formula.

many, many, many women have seen their babies overnight thrive by supplementing with or switching over entirely to formula. you can't just discount all of that reality because it doesn't fit with the pro bf lobby and it is insulting to do so.

many,many,many women put themselves through months of hell trying to live up to how wonderful, easy and perfect bf is and only switched at the point of utter desperation to find that instantly they had a happier, healthier baby and a hell of a lot happier healthier self.

if breastfeeding works for you and your baby then fantastic! good for you and them and enjoy. it's none of your business how any one else does it though. to say it's just a short period of time till it gets settled belies the experience of women who spent months flogging a dead horse trying to get breastfeeding to work for them and their baby. i don't think women who it all worked out fine for are really in a position to advise women who it isn't working out fine for.

there is also the practical weighing up of what needs doing and what the important things are and whilst feeding is obviously very important there's a lot more that needs doing too for a happy healthy mother and baby. if it comes to mother actually having time to prepare something vaguely food like to eat herself or breastfeeding (which is not going to go well if she is malnourished anyway) then you weigh it up pragmatically not ideologically.

as a single mother determined to breastfeed and getting mighty defensive with anyone who loved me and didn't like to see me struggling suggesting i should give formula/give more formula i really could have pushed myself beyond coping. i probably would have if it hadn't been for some bossy midwife/hv three months in telling me i was doing it all wrong by giving formula for a pre-bed feed and bf the rest of the time and how i needed to stop giving that ff in order to bf properly. thanks to her - and her catching me on an exhausted, paranoid about my babies weight and generally weak day - i cut out the nightime formula feed and set off a whole new 7 shades of hell saga for weeks which finally ended up in me giving up bf entirely and doing a combo of ff and ebm till i finally accepted formula would be fine and it wasn't worth putting ds and me through hell for an ideology.

the sooner people accept breastfeeding just does not work for some people -not because they haven't learnt to latch on properly or because they haven't given time for the supply to set in or ra ra ra orthodoxy but because they've genuinely done everything right for months and it just has not worked the better. it would save a hell of a lot of women from months and months of misery and stress and a hell of a lot of babies from crucial early months with a miserable and stressed mother and whatever risks there are from not getting enough nutrition.

i honestly would not be surprised if we see a lashback in a decades time of kids with brain issues that they finally discover are caused by near starvation in early months of life whilst hvs and the like stood by saying don't worry, baby won't starve to death, it's all natural and good. forgetting of course how many babies used to die before 12 months of age in the good old natural days.

i also think it's a bloody luxury to have 6 months to give to sitting on the sofa breastfeeding constantly. most people just don't have that opportunity even if they wanted it.

Maebe Sat 23-Feb-13 19:53:47

I agree, swallowed. I think knowing how much support you will get from your husband and your family with everything else that needs doing - cooking food, do the washing, hoovering, the essentials to keep the house and your life ticking over - factors in to that to. And some women just won't feel happy spending so much of their day sitting and feeding. There's nothing wrong with that, because a f'fed baby with a mum who is coping is better in the long-term than a b'fed baby with a mum who isn't coping.

I always feel one of the genuine difficulties in discussing bf v ff is that women who make the decision to ff for any reason other than their supply not being enough or having problems with the baby latching on can be made to feel they have made their decision for selfish reasons.

Maebe Sat 23-Feb-13 20:28:19

What I'm trying to say is that of course breast milk is the best food for a baby, but sometimes breastfeeding isn't best for mum or for a family.

ExBrightonBell Sat 23-Feb-13 20:31:18

The period of time where it feels like you are feeding all the time is not very long in the overall scheme of things. I can barely remember now what it was like and my baby is only 7 months old.

And anyway, does formula feeding really make that much difference to how long you are "tied up" with feeding? Surely the preparing of a feed takes up an amount of time, the feed itself (which I guess is quicker than a bf), followed by winding etc and then the washing up/sterilising of equipment ready for next time?

I would also say that breastfeeding shouldn't be viewed as a waste of time where you are stuck on a sofa, unable to get on with household tasks (or whatever else you might want to be doing). It should be seen as time that you are putting into your baby's development!

As it happens, I could get a lot of "stuff" done one handed as long as I thought about it in advance. Things like doing the online grocery shop, emailing, online banking etc. All whilst catching up on tv series that I had not had time to watch whilst at work!

ExBrightonBell Sat 23-Feb-13 20:33:43

Maebe, having older children I agree would make breastfeeding more complicated, but surely would have the same effect on formula feeding?

Maebe Sat 23-Feb-13 21:06:34

This is purely my personal experience but no, the routine of getting bottles ready didn't take up much time and could be shared between me and DP, but more importantly DP could do as many feeds as I could. We could take turns on who stayed up and did a later feed, who got up in the middle of the night, who got up in the morning etc. It also meant when we did have family around they were able to feed DD.

Every situation is different, every family is different, and every woman is different. Personally, I knew that I wouldn't manage doing all the feeds (so all the night wakings, all the early mornings, all the late nights) and continue to function in any rational way when I didn't have someone around in any routine to help me, even something as simply as getting dinner ready. Of course plenty of women will have managed in that situation or 'worse', but I knew I wouldn't.

It's interesting as there is another thread going on tonight about ff not being as big a faff as some people think it is. But that's the same as bf, really - if you are finding something easy then it is difficult to imagine another way smile

it isn't instead of doing stuff 'you want to be doing' - it may instead of doing stuff that HAS to be done. washing needs doing, food needs to be prepared if you're not going to starve or live on chocolate and biscuits, clothes need to be dried as does bedding etc all of which seems to be constant with a new baby i found and sleep needs to be had. sleep is kind of important.

and for you it didn't take long before baby was feeding fine and not all the time etc. it's not like that for everyone. for me i could feed for hours - i mean hours - and ds would be falling asleep but still not having taken enough milk so that he'd wake screaming hungry minutes later. i can remember having food cut up for me and put beside me on the sofa at my mum's house when i visited because i couldn't stop feeding which would have been fine if he was actually managing to get enough milk to satisfy him but he wasn't because he wasn't feeding effectively and never managed to. this was for months! when i started supplementing it was incredible - you'd give him a small bottle of formula and he would just gulp it down and be like another child and so visibly finally satisfied.

so again - great if it has worked out for you - seriously - that's what most of us wanted and would have loved. don't make out it's because you did it right and everyone else must just have been lazy or not bothered to try hard enough. you were lucky that you and your baby took well to it and it worked out. that doesn't mean that that is the case for everyone.

and no formula feeding doesn't take long - sterilising and all that is a simple once a day routine that can be fitted around making a cup of coffee and doing the washing up in the morning and needs no more equipment than a few bottles, a big tub with miltons and water in it and a brush.

HoleyGhost Sun 24-Feb-13 12:33:27

Well said Swallowedafly

so much pressure comes from those who sincerely want others to experience breastfeeding as the wonderful bonding experience they enjoyed. But lack the imagination to realise that for others, it can never be a good experience. It just doesn't always work.

I wonder about the statistics because it would be very difficult to properly control for all the health issues affecting mother and/or baby. The baby might not feed because of undiagnosed sn. Either might be in poor shape after a complicated pregnancy or a traumatic birth. The mother might not be in the best of health.

ExBrightonBell Sun 24-Feb-13 12:52:19

swallowedAfly - I don't recall where I said that others must have not tried hard enough,not done it right or been too lazy to breastfeed?!

And as a matter of fact, I was not "lucky" and my baby did not "just take to" breastfeeding at all. He was in SCBU for a week when he was born, and was not fed orally for the first day as he was very poorly and on a drip. He then had a NG tube through which he was fed for a couple of days. I had to express what I could and that was given via the NG tube, plus being supplemented with formula as instructed by the hospital. He had no ability to latch and did not equate being at the breast with getting food and so would become hysterical at the breast. I had to persevere to get him to latch on and feed. The whole time he was having formula top ups. When we were discharged home we continued to have issues with latching on, and excessively long feeding times. But after a lot of hard work and lack of sleep he got the hang of it. We eventually dropped the formula top ups as my supply caught up with him.

So not an easy or lucky process for me. BUT after the first couple of months it became easier and quicker and now at 7 months I can barely remember the bad times it seems so long ago.

I was fortunate in that although I received a lot of conflicting advice, I was always encouraged to continue breastfeeding. I also was fortunate that many of my family and friends bf their babies so I had some awareness of the process.

Which is why I wish there was better quality support for mums post natally with breastfeeding. It is unacceptable how varied and disorganised this seems to be across the country. At the same time women should not be judged for using formula if this is what works for them.

no not easy but for you it became easier and quicker after a couple of months. that is lucky actually especially given his start! for you it became easier and worked out. for others it won't have done.

and lucky you had the support network to be able to do that.

and if you hadn't and had just formula fed? not the end of the world.

aamia Sun 24-Feb-13 18:30:46

We had to mix feed for a while (until DS's tongue tie was cut) and I HATED all the effort involved - always having to have bottles sterilized and ready, taking the right number of feeds out with you, worrying if you'll be late back, the expense of buying milk etc etc. It didn't make DS feed any less often, and whilst it was a godsend while he literally couldn't get much out of me, I was so so glad to be able to go to just breastfeeding. I love the convenience of bf; how the hormones it generates in you while feeding enable you to actually feel rested after a night spent waking regularly to feed a baby; how it means that if I get a cold he won't catch it from me; just rolling over in a semi-asleep state, grabbing a baby, feeding and dropping back off to sleep at night; the fact that it might mean he gets less allergies than me. I do think if you end up ff it's hardly the end of the world (I was ff and I'm fine lol), but bf rocks!!

DuelingFanjo Sun 24-Feb-13 20:54:56

Isn't all this babies crying and being demanding just, em, normal for a baby?People ARE using formula mainly because they find it more convenient and not really because they 'couldn't breastfeed', nor because they were part of the 1% who genuinely didn't have any milk. Thing is, you rarely hear mothers just out and out say that they used formula because they couldn't be bothered with the inconvenience of breastfeeding their baby, most people say 'I wasn't able to' or 'my milk wasn't enough'. It's a shame that formula has become an alternative instead instead of being there for the babies who really do need it, IMO anyway.

yes we're all just liars and lazy arses who couldn't be bothered.

helpful and massively compassionate.

DuelingFanjo Sun 24-Feb-13 22:57:09

I wasn't trying to offend. What I meant was it's kind of refreshing to have people admit that they use formula for convenience rather than for genuine medical reasons.

Though still a shame that it has come to this through such aggressive marketing of formula over the years. That women have been hoodwinked or coerced into giving up what should be a natural thing. It doesn't help that women just don't get consistently good and educated help when breastfeeding is problematic.

At least some women are honest about why they formula feed, somehow it's better than hearing from women who clearly have been booby trapped by those people who could have helped them to breastfeed.

booby trapped?

DuelingFanjo Mon 25-Feb-13 14:38:41

My understanding of being booby trapped is when a woman who wants to breastfeed is given bad advice which disrupts her cycle and stops the whole supply on demand thing happening.

Midwives/health visitors recommending formula top-ups at night to make the baby sleep better or to cure colic or to space out feeds = the natural 1-2/3 hour feeds are not taking place so your body gets confused and milk isn't produced and supply gets disrupted.

It could also be family suggesting that they get a chance to feed the baby, or husbands who feel like they need to bond through a bottle etc.

When my son was in neo natal he was offered formula within hours of his birth, I had to ask for help to express, no one asked me if I would like to feed him, no one was there to help. When I visited him I was looked at disaprovingly because I tried to breastfeed on demand but the staff wanted to stick to 4 hourly feeds (of my expressed milk).

Even after he came home a midwife suggested I give him a top-up. I worked extremely hard to get him off bottles and back to being exclusively breast-fed.

I refused to be booby trapped.

RespectableBreastSpectacle Tue 26-Feb-13 14:52:05

I went to this lecture and blogged about it after

bokulx Mon 04-Mar-13 18:58:59

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

243743 Tue 05-Mar-13 18:42:57

My baby is nearly 8 weeks old and have managed to BF so far but he is such a hungry baby that I can not keep up mentally with his demands which are every 2 hours morning, noon and night sad.

To get a bit of my life back I have decided to give him both bottle and breast which he will gladly take but feel guilty about this as he is doing really well with his weight. The midwives and Health Visitors always bang on about Breast is best but is it if I am unhappy!!

I have ponderd for several weeks now and I am getting more miserable with sleep depravation so have decided that it is more important for baby to have a happy mummy who can function!!

bless you. the pro bf folks will tell you it gets easier and in your case i'm sure it will as your baby becomes able to go longer between feeds. however i think it's also true that given how reliable your milk has been and how well your baby is feeding you will also likely find combined feeding goes well and presents no problems.

i don't think the whole either/or thing helps people. lots of people do successfully combine feed, some people have no choice, some find it's the balance that works for them. if your baby is still getting plenty of your milk then they're still getting the benefits.

the thing is it is your choice entirely and you need to own it and feel ok with it to avoid regret/guilt/whatever later on.

i wish we could remove the whole 'morality' edge to this debate and let women make choices without all the guilt and self torture.

boobellies Tue 25-Jun-13 10:22:06

Well breastfeeding supposed to help kids climb up the social ladder. smile

psychologymum Wed 26-Jun-13 21:35:54

Breastfeeding has important health benefits but sometimes mothers who don't breastfeed for all sorts of reasons e.g. because their baby was premature or their baby has tongue-tie or they are in too much pain are made to feel that it will weaken the bond with their baby. Research shows that breastfeeding does not affect the mother-baby bond.

Layl77 Wed 26-Jun-13 21:52:45

It does need to be about support BUT also re-educating absolutely everyone who comes into contact with a mother and baby. You can have a lactation consultant or bf support but it's a midwife who delivers a baby and weighs them tells them things like "it's a hungry baby" or "top up" and a health visitor who then takes over, most of which do not have any certified breastfeeding training so very often do not notice things which affect breastfeeding. Babies shouldn't lose weight, fail to thrive etc as has been mentioned- there is a problem there and obviously nobody picked up on it. The alternative was to give formula so that would mask the breastfeeding issue and give the impression that then the baby is thriving so breastfeeding didn't work out.
Some countries have 90% breastfeeding rates - it can be done. The attention needs to move away from the mothers and guilt and focussed on education. Giving proper information as well. To the poster who's midwife couldn't point out the difference between breast and formula blush how embarrassing.

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