Would you like to be a member of our research panel? Join here - there's (nearly) always a great incentive offered for your views.

decision about breastfeeding

(58 Posts)
juju283 Tue 14-Jan-14 14:47:27

Okay so I have decided I do not want to breastfeed. I am obviously well aware of the benefits to thebaby and myself but my reason for choosing not to is because I had an eating disorder when I was younger. It was resolve but being pregnant has brought some of it back and I am constantly worrying about whether or not I am eating enough for my baby. I try really hard but I struggle to get the 300 calories extra in a day. I know when you breast feed you should have 500 calories extra and for me I would constantly worry that I wasn't doing this and would fear that my baby was not getting enough milk. I feel that although breast feeding is best ,in my case it is better that I know that my baby is eating and I haven't got to worry about what I eat reducing my chances of pnd too. Does this make me selfish or a terrible person for making this decision?

Loopylouu Tue 14-Jan-14 15:04:14

No. Of course not. Above all your baby needs a mother who is happy. You don't need to add anymore stress into your life when the baby is born.

Loopylouu Tue 14-Jan-14 15:05:46

I say that as someone who has had PND. If you feel Formula feeding will protect you against that then go for it.

Confitdecanard Tue 14-Jan-14 15:10:07

I think breastfeeding is only best if it works for both mother and baby. You are not being selfish at all.

Hermione123 Tue 14-Jan-14 15:13:40

Not at all, it is a mature and responsible decision based on your unique history and shows you'll be a great parent. You may get ill informed judgment from people who don't understand about eating disorders but such judgment is worthless. Take care and good luck. Btw in your situation, I'd tell people you couldn't bf for medical reasons, since in your case that is completely correct. I recommend seeking support for your eating issues post birth though, maybe you should discuss with your GP?

juju283 Tue 14-Jan-14 15:14:58

Thank you so much for your replies. I know midwives really like to push breastfeeding for obvious reasons but I just wanted to see what others felt before i mention it to midwife!

JeanSeberg Tue 14-Jan-14 15:16:09

You sound like you've considered what is best for you and your baby in your personal circumstances and have come to a sensible decision, you should be proud of yourself.

I hope all goes well for you both.

JeanSeberg Tue 14-Jan-14 15:16:43

The words that come to mind here are Never explain, never apologise. wink

muppetthecow Tue 14-Jan-14 15:17:44

Not selfish at all. Breast feeding is only best when it allows for mum and baby to both be better off for it. If you feel that it wouldn't work for you, then that's your decision based on your understanding of your personal circumstances. It sounds like you'll be a great mum smile

lilyaldrin Tue 14-Jan-14 15:18:26

You can still do the first few important colostrum feeds, that give your baby lots of immune benefits, and then switch to formula when you're home. You don't even need to tell the midwives what your plan is, just do what works for you.

Wuxiapian Tue 14-Jan-14 15:23:04

No, it doesn't make you a selfish or terrible person.

I'm 33 weeks pregnant and have decided not to breastfeed as I have an 11 month old and don't want to be tied to the sofa being a milk machine.

Some may call that selfish, I really don't care. I'll do whatever suits me and my family.

Best wishes.

icingmyback Tue 14-Jan-14 15:32:59

you are not selfish at all but if you feel like you would like to breastfeed but it is the worry that is stopping you then you could talk to someone about that. you do not need to be concerned with the extra 500 calories per day - plenty of women breastfeed successfully without those extra calories. your body knows what to do and as long as you don't get badly dehydrated, you will be able to produce enough milk for your baby.
whatever you decide to do, your baby will be fine.
i'm not trying to convince you either way, the most important thing for you and your baby will be your mental health so do what is best for that.

LadySnapcase Tue 14-Jan-14 15:38:07

Not at all. Part of my reason for stopping breastfeeding was it's impact on my mental state. I spent the first few weeks of motherhood horribly anxious, and I can't eat when I'm anxious, so was losing a lot of weight and also feeling guilty because I knew I had to eat properly to breastfeed. And then DS had reflux and I got stressed that it was something in my diet that was making it worse, but couldn't really change my diet cause I could literally only manage to force down a few foods. Anyway, I then felt guilty when I changed to formula, but also hugely relieved that the pressure was off, and DS is happy and healthy. You do what you have to do to look after yourself and your baby!

bonzo77 Tue 14-Jan-14 15:41:25

Far from being selfish, you are considering the whole picture of your life with a newborn and trying to anticipate and avoid a problem. If you do FF, and you do end up with PND or anxiety, or whatever, you will be able to go straight into whatever medication is appropriate for you without having to check what is compatible with BF. I FF both my boys out of choice. No one questioned me about it.

PenguinsDontEatKale Tue 14-Jan-14 15:53:43

You absolutely must do what is best for you. The most important factor in your baby's early days is your mental health. If FF is best for that, then ff. Quite frankly, if you simply didn't fancy bfing, you ff and there is nothing at all wrong with that.

I just wanted to point out a couple of things. First, as someone else has said, if you wished you could do the first few colostrum feeds and then switch. That is a great immune boost if you fancied doing it, and doesn't mean you have to carry on with bf after that.

Secondly, just in case other people are reading this thread and panicking, you don't need to eat an extra 500 calories a day in a regimented way to bf. For most women, eating to appetite (and fat reserves built up in pregnancy!) will be fine (and 500 calories is at the top end of likely extra calorie needs anyway. Kellymom estimates it at 300-500). It also tends to be the mother, rather than the baby, who suffers if calorie intake is too low (e.g. women bfing in famine zones). I can understand that, with your history, you would feel you needed to monitor to check that you were eating enough, but just to reassure women without eating disorders that they don't need to do that.

IssyBe Tue 14-Jan-14 16:36:49

Breastfeeding or not BF is a personal decision ultimately.

To be honest, in this instance I think the best thing you can do is seek expert advice from your local breastfeeding support service because you may get mixed views on here.

It can be just a phone call or an email to them. The NHS Choices website should have a database on all breastfeeding support services, and you can search using your post code to find one close to you. In the mean time do what you feel is best... smile

NickyEds Tue 14-Jan-14 16:40:30

You are not a selfish or terrible person- far from it . It sounds like you're being really sensible about this. When I was pregnant I set my heart on BF with absolutely no information about the realities of it. I don't think I've noticed an increase in calories I have- if anything I'm eating less as I have neither the appetite of the time but if you think that it's not for you then don't do it- or just give it a try then decide.
I've had an aweful time BF- mainly due to DS Tongue tie and am now mix feeding whilst trying to increase my supply.I feel embarassed buying formula and guilty when I feed him it. It's ridiculous the pressure to BF- now I've given him formula loads or women I thought exclusively BF have said -in hushed tones-that they gave their babies a bottle occasionally!! Don't let the mammary mafia bully you into a decision you're not happy with- it is up to you how you feed your baby. Of course you could just wait until the baby's born and see how you feel!!

Mim78 Tue 14-Jan-14 16:45:21

No of course not, it's up to you.

You don't have to decide finally now, although I can understand why you want to go in with a clear decision in mind in case people put pressure on you.

I don't think you HAVE TO eat an extra 500 calories per day though - if you don't you'll probably just lose weight I'd have thought (just saying that as logical deduction not actual knowledge!).

bakingtins Tue 14-Jan-14 17:20:45

Unless you are starving yourself then your body will make enough milk, using your stored resources to 'fund' it in terms of calories if necessary. Women in third world countries on extremely nutritionally poor diets can still breastfeed their babies. If you are already slim or underweight then you might struggle to also maintain a healthy body weight if you don't eat more. I found I had a huge appetite, and if you have issues around food that might be difficult for you to handle.
Please don't claim that you "can't Bf" though, just as your body is designed to nourish your baby throughout pregnancy it will do so through infancy.
If you choose not to breastfeed it is nobody's business but yours.

GimmeDaBoobehz Tue 14-Jan-14 17:23:33

Not selfish at all - I wanted to EBF but had to top up with formula from a young age and it's helped my daughter amazingly, considering she is now 9 months and on 75th centile whereas she was on the 2nd.

However if you were really keen on breastfeeding and this was your only worry is there a possibility of perhaps a calorie shake you could take that would give you 500ish calories a day?

Whatever you choose to do it's what is best for your baby as what is good for you, is also good for your baby as an anxious Mum is going to not enjoy all the lovely things a newborn / young baby brings.

JRmumma Tue 14-Jan-14 17:28:43

I think that if the upshot of breastfeeding is potentially to trigger any sort of relapse in your eating disorder then formula feeding is absolutely the right choice for you and your baby. Breast milk may have many benefits, but none will outweigh the benefit of a healthy and happy mother IMO.

Good luck to you, whatever you decide.

its absolutely your choice and contrary to advice given earlier id say no, dont explain to health visitors/midwives/anyone why, its none of their business how you choose to feed your baby and you should NEVER feel the need to justify your choices/make excuses for yourself; be confident in your choices and ignore everyones well meaning advice

fwiw i was open minded about feeding and bf wasnt happening easily. i had a dreadful birth and after sitting on a rubber ring at one of those bloody clinics i just thought fuck this, its not a priority, and however much other people tried to undermine my choice i knew it was the right one for us.

i did express for about 6 weeks tho so he had a mix of formula and breast milk. obviously completely your choice what you do but expressing a bit might suit you; you would know babys getting plenty to eat and see how it goes.

StarsInTheNightSky Tue 14-Jan-14 18:10:48

Nope not selfish at all, as others have said it is better for baby to have a mum who is happy and in a good place rather than worried and anxious. You should never feel bad about that.

I will not be breastfeeding either, I suffered severe abuse when I was in my late teens and as a result it is physically impossible for me to bf. Both my consultant and midwife have been brilliant, they have written in my notes (and signed underneath their respective comments) that I will be ff and that this is not to be questioned. It's not a subject I relish coming up, even though my issues are long since resolved, so could you get a sympathetic midwife/GP/consultant to write something in your notes?

TransatlanticCityGirl Tue 14-Jan-14 23:03:20

I don't think you are being selfish, it's your decision.

The only points I would add for your consideration are:
- You could always start breastfeeding and switch at the moment that feels right for you
- I don't think you need extra 500 calories to breastfeed. I certainly didn't eat any more than usual post birth and I probably at less due to lack of organisation and time (and I BF exclusively for 12 months)! You want to be well hydrated (water!) and eating a balanced diet but you don't need extra calories. You may find if you don't have much fat reserves that you get more tired quickly, in which case you could increase your caloric intake OR stop breastfeeding at that point. But if you feel fine, you'll probably shed the baby weight very quickly, if you even have much left to begin with.

Lydiejo Wed 15-Jan-14 03:04:08

I don't think it makes you a terrible person. And it is absolutely your choice. I do think it is a little selfish though. Why not at least try breast feeding, knowing that you could stop at any time if necessary? You and your baby will benefit from bf even if for a short time. Or you could do mixed feeding, with just a few bf each day.

GiraffesAndButterflies Wed 15-Jan-14 03:26:17

You are not bu at all, but I think you are possibly worrying over-much about those extra calories while pregnant / bf.

being pregnant has brought some of it back and I am constantly worrying about whether or not I am eating enough for my baby. I try really hard but I struggle to get the 300 calories extra in a day.

Bear in mind that lots of women really struggle to eat while pregnant, and go on to have perfectly healthy babies. There are lots and lots of 'all I could bear to eat was x' type stories out there from mums who suffered from sickness or even hyperemesis.

It might be worth considering what support you can get now, irrespective of whether you want to bf or ff? If you can get a helpful midwife to check your weight along with your baby's size, she would probably be able to reassure you that you're doing ok calorie wise.

GiraffesAndButterflies Wed 15-Jan-14 03:27:55

Just realised that the question was aib selfish not AIBU. You're not being selfish either!

Gobbolinothewitchscat Wed 15-Jan-14 03:36:53

I think you've thought about things really careful and I can absolutely see your point of view

I wondered if you might try breast feeding for the first 72 hours or so though, just to let the baby have colostrum?

sleepywombat Wed 15-Jan-14 05:00:40

I think you should at least give it a go before you write it off completely. You never know, you might find you want to eat more or that it comes really naturally.

ipswichwitch Wed 15-Jan-14 05:25:45

I don't think you're being selfish at all. You've made a considered and sensible decision as to what's best for you as well as baby. That's what being a parent is about - you do what's. best for the family and as long as your baby is feeding well and gaining weight and is healthy and happy that's all that really matters. If ff means you will also be healthy and happy then go for it and balls to feeling you have to justify your decision to anyone because you don't,

sleepywombat Wed 15-Jan-14 05:34:52

Well, I'm anti formula, despite ff my ds2 from 4 mo - it mucked up his gut completely. Obviously most aren't that unlucky!

However, I don't see why you wouldn't give bf a go. If it doesn't work out for you or baby, fair enough, but seems strange to make up your mind before baby even here.

RalphRecklessCardew Wed 15-Jan-14 05:37:21

Absolutely your choice. Am
(probably stupidly) puzzled by your reasons though. You don't have to eat the extra 500 cals or eat right. Babies are pretty scarily good at getting the nutrients out of you

Plateofcrumbs Wed 15-Jan-14 08:40:10

Entirely your choice, in no way selfish. I think women are put under an unreasonable amount of pressure about breastfeeding.

However I agree with others who have said this doesn't need to be an either/or decision and it sounds like you are over-focusing on the need for additional calories.

SoftSheen Wed 15-Jan-14 08:49:26

The amount of calories you eat won't affect the quality of your milk- if you don't eat well, you may lose weight but the baby will still get everything she/he needs. Women have successfully breastfed even under famine conditions, and in concentration camps.

That said, if formula feeding is the right decision for you, then there is absolutely nothing wrong with doing that and you definitely shouldn't feel guilty. After all, the majority of adults walking around today were fed on formula.

You might like to think about feeding/expressing colostrum for the first couple of days, so that your baby gets a good dose of antibodies to get him/her off to a good start.

Hermione123 Wed 15-Jan-14 11:04:05

I think a lot of the later comments are from people who haven't suffered an eating disorder op. I completely understand you wanting it settled and to go into the birth having peace of mind. I've a dear friend who had her baby and just stopped eating completely, take care of yourself, no one else knows how you are thinking.

Hermione123 Wed 15-Jan-14 11:05:23

Ps guys are we really suggesting op should bf and not look after herself/not eat extra calories? Doesn't seem like a good plan to me. Colostrum maybe if op can handle that.

mynameisnotmichaelcaine Wed 15-Jan-14 11:14:59

I've bf three babies in total and have never eaten 500 extra cals a day. All have been enormo-babies, and there was no impact on my health.

Obv you have to do what works for you, but women bf in famine situations and the babies thrive. I think that breast milk from a mother not eating extra cals is still far preferable to formula.

Hermione123 Wed 15-Jan-14 11:32:45

That's lucky, Michaelcaine. If we're talking anecdotal evidence, my mum and 2 friends lost many teeth while bf. various of their kids no idea of their diets at that point. There must be a good reason dieting isn't recommended while breast feeding.

weebigmamma Wed 15-Jan-14 11:40:03

You're not terrible or selfish at all. I am contemplating formula feeding myself and I have no medical issues at all. Your body is your body and formula is fine for babies. It's good to have an idea of your decision now so you can practice being firm with people who try to bully you about it. x

mrscog Wed 15-Jan-14 11:46:50

Not terrible or selfish at all. If you'd like your baby to have the initial 'shot' of protective colostrum you can offer some bf for the first 72 hours or even hand express (the amount is tiny) and then you'll see the goodness going in too.

littleducks Wed 15-Jan-14 11:47:21

I think that tiktok posted recently that the extra calories are only in the early breastfeeding days then your metabolism shifts. I was never advised to eat more just to keep hydrated and to take a vitamin supplement.

you should make a decision based on your circumstances, but with all decision made in pregnancy about birth and beyond I would strongly suggest you remain flexible. it's impossible to know how you will fell and things will progress.

LadyGoneGaga Wed 15-Jan-14 12:17:16

I suffered from disordered eating in my teens/early 20's and would say that pregnancy AND breastfeeding helped me to shake off some of my demons around food and body. For the first time I saw my body as something positive, amazing even that could nurture another human being. I don't feel I ate particularly differently, just ate to appetite. But if you are worried you could always mix-feed. Breastmilk has so many useful qualities, whatever you can do will help. If you really feel you don't want to though that is obviously your own business. Just don't necessarily rule anything out based on your current concerns, because you could feel differently once your baby is here.

juju283 Wed 15-Jan-14 12:31:34

My main concern is that all throughout my pregnancy my anxiety has been really high. At my last hospital appointment they found some ketones in my urine which they said was through dehydration but I understand its the byproduct of body burning.fat.ie I had not eaten enough. So typically I googled this and scared myself. I wasn't focusing on food until this point and thought I was doing really well however this has made me beat myself up and panic that I'm not eating enough and that I have convinced myself I have hurt the baby. So much so that I have actually been signed off work now with depression. I feel so.awful at the moment and don't want this to continue after the baby here. I feel if I can eliminate the worry about whether I'm eating enough, whether baby's getting enough etc by not breastfeeding. Then I will be in the best mental state possible to care for my baby. I understand peoplep wholive in famine still have healthy babies and manage to breastfeed but because of the fact I'm panicking so much about harming my baby and feel so low at the moment I feel like I don't want to be caught up worrying about my diet when baby is

Hermione123 Wed 15-Jan-14 12:34:00

Whereas pregnancy and looking after a small dc/tiredness made my eating issues oh so much worse. Worse than since I was a teenager after years of being well. Op's already saying that she's not finding the pregnancy an easy experience or feeling great about her body.

juju283 Wed 15-Jan-14 12:36:48

Sorry just posted without finishing message. I don't want to focus on diet when baby is here but get myself feeling normal so I can enjoy being a mum. I plan to do the first couple of feeds yes, and I also wanted to make a decision to avoid midwives etc trying to bully me into it as someone has previously.mentioned. thank you for all the comments, a lot of them make me feel like I am making the right decison.

Hermione123 Wed 15-Jan-14 12:39:16

Hi juju, g

Hermione123 Wed 15-Jan-14 12:44:25

Doh! Sorry - phone. Good luck and hope your family is also aware you'll need support with your own eating and recovery to normal post birth - good that your gp is involved if you are signed off. I had all sorts of crazy anxieties pre and post birth but it was fine in the end. Mh mn boards have lots of nice mums with anxiety issues on them if you need help with that.

Gileswithachainsaw Wed 15-Jan-14 12:47:01

Yanbu. Bf can be sooooo hard and bless you, if you don't mentally feel you can deal with it on top of what you are feeling already then you use that formula and do so without a second thought!!

I'm sorry to hear your feeling so anxious and worried I really hope you get the help you need to help you feel better.

You DO NOT need to explain your reasons to anyone. In fact doing so will most likely result in people posting a billion different reasons how to get around it, and they aren't the ones dealing with it. Do what feels right for you op

thanks xx

livingzuid Wed 15-Jan-14 12:55:21

I'm not going to breast feed. I would have liked to but am on medication that is for my mh and would be far worse to come off that then let my newborn suffer the throes of me in an attack. You have to do what is best for you psychologically as we need to be there for our babies. It's hard to function when having an anxiety attack.

Perhaps talk it through with your gp or health professional who knows your history though before making a final decision? I wouldn't solely rely on Google or mn for this smile

It is entirely your decision and your own business at the end of the day. Don't be made to feel a bad person, or even needing to justify yourself because you chose the bottle.

soundevenfruity Wed 15-Jan-14 13:06:17

If your pregnancy has brought back those feelings then I would ask for a referral to a counsellor as the first 3 years is mostly about feeding your child and educating them about food.

GiraffesAndButterflies Wed 15-Jan-14 19:37:03

this has made me beat myself up and panic that I'm not eating enough and that I have convinced myself I have hurt the baby. So much so that I have actually been signed off work now with depression.

sad much sympathy, sorry you are struggling. Please please do consider getting yourself some support & a medical opinion on this now though- obviously we can't see you and can't say this for certain, but it sounds extremely unlikely that you have harmed your baby, as has been said, they are pretty good at looking after themselves at your expense! I'm sure a midwife would be able to reassure you on this point.

And fwiw I can offer my own anecdotal evidence that I had ketones in my urine despite having a perfectly normal pregnancy diet. For someone with a history of EDs I totally understand that that would have very different associations, but do consider the fact that the dr may be right and you were simply dehydrated.

SweetPea86 Wed 15-Jan-14 20:08:52

I don't think you selfish at all. I'm pregnant with my first and I'm going to give breast feeding a go BUT I'm not putting my self under pressure if I can't I can't.

Most people I know decieded not to breast feed. Each to their own smile

MrsRV Wed 15-Jan-14 20:13:03

I'm not breastfeeding this time. not even going to try. happy mum = happy baby in my opinion!

Kelly1814 Wed 15-Jan-14 20:14:46

The thought of breast feeding repulsed me.

I was forced into it by nurses when in hospital and spent the first few weeks of DDs life sobbing and feeling so guilty as I loathed it.

Then I switched to FF and my whole life changed for the better.

Don't do anything you don't want to.

I think there may be evidence that bfing reduces the chances of suffering from PND? I know your situation is pretty specific but I just wanted to mention that, good luck with whatever you decide to do smile

Hubbythecatandme Wed 15-Jan-14 20:57:55

Juju, my friends with children have had a lot of trouble with the "breastapo". By all means do what is best for you. Your baby will be happy with a mum who is following her intuitions, feelings and listening to her own needs in terms of well being xx

Chunderella Wed 15-Jan-14 22:19:33

The number of posters who are saying they can't understand why someone with MH and body issues wouldn't want to bf or that it's a selfish decision is both baffling and disappointing.

Op no, it doesn't make you a bad person not to bf if you feel it's the best decision for you and baby to go with formula. The only thing I would say is that the calorie stuff is complex, and it doesn't mean you can't bf if you don't manage to eat x amount down you every day. It doesn't quite work like that, though I totally see why you think in terms of calories needed. So if you'd ideally prefer to bf but are just worried about being able to eat enough, why not get some expert advice? There are organisations who could help. You might even be able to get some high calorie supplements or something of that nature, if it was felt you really needed them. Or you could look at increasing your intake of high calorie but not particularly filling food. But if it's not that, you've every right to just leave it. You don't even have to do any colostrum if you don't feel it's right for you. And honestly, foetuses are resilient little things. Sure, it's good to eat 2000 calories a day when you're pregnant (and you don't need any more than that til the 3rd trimester anyway). But there are women who don't keep anything down for the whole 9 months, yet still have perfectly healthy babies. If it helps, I didn't manage to eat that much during my pregnancy either. No eating disorders but just really low appetite. And DD has always enjoyed very good health. She was just under 7lbs at birth, but then so were me and DH.

Congratulations on your pregnancy, and good luck.

GiraffesAndButterflies Thu 16-Jan-14 04:57:07

Well said Chunderella, couldn't agree more.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now