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To wonder why how you feed your baby is such an emotive subject?

(473 Posts)
Absofrigginlootly Fri 21-Nov-14 05:35:36

Currently 3&1/2 weeks into BF my pfb/DD

Have had no end of feeding issues due to tongue tie, poor latch, constant cluster feeding, fractious baby and no sleep (alongside fertility issues, anxious pregnancy and very traumatic delivery)....

At my best moments I am feeling proud of the fact I've kept going so far. DD is putting on weight beautifully and following her centile line exactly. Lots of the daytime she seems happy and content.

At my worst (desperate!) moments (usually 3am when DD has been cluster feeding for hours and is being very fractious and i feel completely EXHAUSTED!) I think about all the advantages of FF (namely being able to share the feeds and have some physical/mental space from her for a while)......

But what stops me?! .....Guilt? Obligation? Self pressure? Desire to do what's deemed "right" or "best" for her?! Reading some of the feeding pages where people talk about expressing off pure blood etc (!) shock but still keeping going BF part of me reads it and thinks "gosh, why put yourself through it?!" ....but then I'm doing the same! Why.....? I don't know really if I'm honest.

What are your thoughts? Why do women persist despite the difficulties? Societal pressure? Guilt/obligation? And if you decided to FF, how did that make you feel? We're you fine with your decision?

Ps....please don't let this turn into a "breast is best"/ BF vs FF bunfight.....I am just genuinely interested to hear your thoughts, mainly as it may help me understand my own feelings that aim currently struggling with

Thanks smile

LuckyLopez Fri 21-Nov-14 05:44:59

I bf my first for two weeks, it was agony and I cried and dreaded every feed. I'd also had an injury from the birth so was in hospital for a week. I ff and it was marvellous! I could start to enjoy him and heal.

Ds2 was tongue tied. Couldn't leave hospital until he'd had a feed and since he didn't suckle at all for 24 hours (tried everything with many midwives) I asked for a bottle which he wolfed down so we could go home.

Dc3 I ff from the start.

No guilt at all. Genuinely. I tried, it was for us and they are all at school now doing well.

I had no desire to be a martyr at the expense of my physical and mental well being.

jeee Fri 21-Nov-14 05:48:35

Not exactly what you're asking - but I ended up mix feeding my DC. I think there's a myth that mix-feeding will inevitably lead to giving up breast feeding, but for me it did the opposite, and allowed me to keep bf when I felt worried about my DC's weight gain (or lack thereof - my two eldest children both had the lovely label 'failure to thrive' and actually dropped off the bottom of the centiles - they were enormously vomitty babies).

I breast fed during the day, and gave a bottle in the evening, which took some pressure off me (I then bf at night because it saved getting up!).

blacktreaclecat Fri 21-Nov-14 05:51:06

I didn't persevere. DS needed milk and he wasn't able to latch so would have wasted away.
It did make me feel a bit guilty and rubbish but that was because of all the breast is best pressure and propaganda that bombards new mums.
He's now 2.5, very tall and very healthy. Bright and just fabulous smile So I now know I did well for him after all smile

BikeRunSki Fri 21-Nov-14 06:03:58

I think it is particularly emotive because new mothers are usually very tired, hormonal and emotionally vulnerable.

FoxgloveFairy Fri 21-Nov-14 06:04:14

Wonder if you could formula feed at night? I totally agree that breast feeding, as an ideal, is the way to go. However, would women in the past have used formula if modern formula feeds were available? Yep, I reckon so! Modern formulas are really pretty good. It is of course your call. But it might help overnight anyway. Just a thought- from a childless woman, I should point out, so maybe not an experienced opinion. Don't be hard on yourself. Your child needs a mum who is as relaxed and happy as possible, however she is fed. flowers

StarlingMurmuration Fri 21-Nov-14 06:11:52

My son is 6 days old and I'm mix feeding him with expressed breast milk and top up formula. He has severe to be tie and won't latch at all. Like a PP, I had a birth injury and had to stay in hospital until he was 5 days old, and some very experienced midwives tried everything to get him to latch. We're going to a private practitioner to try to get the tongue tie sorted next week.

Anyone who wants to judge my methods (in general. Not here!) can go fuck themselves. My main Inverness is getting him fed and happy.

VashtaNerada Fri 21-Nov-14 06:15:14

I know what you mean. I had to abandon BF with both DC for different but very good reasons. At the time I felt I'd failed, probably because there's so much positive publicity about BF but none about bottle-feeding. Ppl say "well done" if you BF but not for bottles (which can be a challenge in itself with all that sterilising bollocks).
Looking at my DC now though I couldn't give less of a shit! Hasn't affected their health or our bond one tiny bit.

bronya Fri 21-Nov-14 06:22:52

I think because research shows that bf is better for babies (in general). So if you ff you're going against people saying that.

It's not necessarily better for every baby though. Some just can't bf whatever you try - they'd have died before ff was invented. Some don't have any genetic predisposition to allergies etc - it probably doesn't matter at all which way you feed them.

I fought to bf my DS because I have asthma, eczema and food allergies so wanted to try to avoid/lessen the likelihood of allergies for my child. I was ff and although I have one parent who is coeliac, there are no other allergies in my immediate family. No one can ever say for sure, but for me, if I hadn't done everything I could, and my child had developed allergies, I'd have always blamed myself.

Innocuoususername Fri 21-Nov-14 06:25:46

2 EBF babies here, 1st with difficulty, 2nd much easier. I think guilt plays a huge part. The public health messages about breastfeeding have been quite successful (though they are often not backed up by good support, a bug bear of mine but off topic....)

Also cultural expectations - I'm a middle class hippy type, all my friends and family breastfed. I think there would have been some judgement had I bottle fed.

I also knew that while the first few weeks of breastfeeding can be tough, if you can get through them then it's easier and more convenient in the long run. So both times I've staggered through the first 6 weeks, with many moments of doubt, because I had confidence it would get better, and it did. I read on here some really good advice which was just commit to one feed at a time. You don't need to decide now that you're going to keep going for 3 months or 3 years, just the next feed.

I think personality plays a big part, I was very stubborn and determined about it whereas others (with less guilt and baggage) might be more relaxed.

I did have good support though, and I think that if you are struggling with these questions then it would be good to find your local BF group.

JustMarriedBecca Fri 21-Nov-14 06:26:17

I would say there is less pressure now than I was expecting here in leafy North London's nappy valley. I think it's publicised that some people struggle and the midwives advocate mixed feeding or did to me because DD is so big (10lb 6oz at birth). In the end we are BF exclusively since birth with her on the curve (as much as teetering on the edge of 99% can be) and I actually had to resist them giving her formula (which is nothing like I was expecting to happen!).

Either that or mums just don't say anything about formula in front of me as I'm so passionate and vocal about mothers having a choice and not being made to feel guilty. A happier mother has a happier child. Plus I was FF and it did me no harm. I would have FF with no guilt.

My sole motivation for BF is because I cannot be arsed sterilising bottles and carrying around food and because my milk is free. And I have a very expensive cake habit to fund....

Innocuoususername Fri 21-Nov-14 06:27:30

X posted with BikeRunSki who makes a good point about being tired, hormonal and vulnerable.

Altinkum Fri 21-Nov-14 06:31:09

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

VashtaNerada Fri 21-Nov-14 06:32:51

I'm not convinced research does conclusively prove that BF is better for babies; it shows a correlation between BF and a number of positive factors which may well come down to social and economic reasons (ie wealthy people with stable lives tend to BF so it's the wealth and stability that helps not the source of milk).
Do what you want OP, a happy mum matters most of all smile

Failedspinster Fri 21-Nov-14 06:33:00

I think it's emotive because of the external pressure on mums, which actually makes it sound like you're failing your child if you don't bf.

I exclusively bf my first for five months, until i went back to work and had to transition him to formula (very traumatic as he woukdnt take the bottle). We struggled to establish that bf; he was fractious, restless and fed every hour. I was constantly exhausted, and, as I couldn't get the hang of expressing, could never go out or get any time away. My second is now 3 months old and I mix feed him, mainly bf but with a formula feed in the evening and another late at night. It really helps - I can get some sleep and some space if I need it. I've never been as exhausted, frustrated etc with this baby as I was with the last.

I decided to mix feed because I was very conscious of the need to look after myself this time, since I had two kids to look after. Crucially, I'd already accepted before the baby was born that I couldn't look after my toddler properly if I was exhausted and feeding on the hour. This just works better for me.

bf1000 Fri 21-Nov-14 06:33:42

I was thinking about this the other day...

I think the initial feeding 3-4 weeks is hard but then it becomes much easier. A bit like a diet or going to the gym - you want to give up but then you have a break through and cant wait for next workout etc.

After that initial difficulty getting feeding established and nipples adjusted to feeding. Life becomes much easier and sitting there feeding the baby and seeing the baby slowing relaxing into a feed and contented is beautiful.

I am still feeding my toddler and looking back there have been feeds that have been average, feeds that made me smile and were wonderful and every now and again a feed where I think I cant do this anymore (biting or fidgeting around).

I tend to take one feed at a time but i was given advice before that really helped me and the advice was the first few weeks are hard but it does get easier.

EEVEElution Fri 21-Nov-14 06:35:07

I'm going to try and answer the question you posed in your thread title - and hopefully not offend in the process!

In my view this is what happens. We know breast milk is best for baby in an ideal situation where babies can feed with no difficulty. Mothers are informed of this and encouraged to breastfeed. They're not so much informed of just how bloody hard it is to get established and only discover this after giving birth. Many give up because it's too painful, not enough sleep or baby isn't getting enough milk.

What can then happen is they feel guilty and say things like formula is just as good, it never did anyone harm etc etc. Then when speaking to other women that are breastfeeding questions like 'so when are you going to stop?' And 'oh just give her a bottle of formula' start creeping in (this is what happened in my nct group anyway).

Some breastfeeding women can also be very militant about it and end up making formula feeders very guilty for doing what they feel is right for their child. However this is a small minority in my opinion, most are simply proud of what they've achieved but feel like they can't comment on this or mention the benefits of breastfeeding without being accused of criticizing formula feeders.

I think it's great that breastfeeding is being pushed forward as the best way to feed your baby, but it's setting people up to fail by not being honest about the challenges of it.

SoMuchForSubtlety Fri 21-Nov-14 06:37:02

I agree with Bike, it's emotive partly because new mums are going through a major upheaval - birth is never a doddle, newborns are a lot of work, and crazy hormones add to the emotional roller coaster.

I think it's also emotive because society thinks it owns new babies, and therefore by extension that it's ok to offer all sorts of unwanted advice to pregnant women and new mothers. I've never felt my privacy so invaded as when I was pregnant/when DD was tiny. It was like I ceased to exist for some people except as a vessel for this baby that other people decided they knew more about that I did.

Innocuoususername Fri 21-Nov-14 06:37:26

Although thinking about it, my point about lack of support may be relevant to the question. Mums are told "breast is best, it's the biologically normal way of feeding your baby" etc etc, and then in a lot of cases just left to get on with it. So when problems occur, women can feel as though they're failing at something which they should naturally know how to do. When actually, while instinct plays a part, breastfeeding is a learned skill for both mum and baby, and one that they often need help and support with.

CrohnicallyAnxious Fri 21-Nov-14 06:39:18

I have Crohn's, I had to have a c section (which increases DD's risk of getting it) and ff is associated with another increase of risk. I also waited till DD was 6 months to introduce solids. If I hadn't done everything I could and she got Crohn's I'd never forgive myself. So it was important to me to EBF.

ByTheWishingWell Fri 21-Nov-14 06:39:46

Breast feeding is best for babies. We have that drilled into us, and it is true if everything else is 'ideal', but if the mother is stressed, exhausted, and in pain, or the baby struggling to take enough milk from the breast, it stops being best for the baby or the family. The Breast is Best campaign tends to ignore that though, and makes breastfeeding appear easy, so new mums can feel like a failure if they end up switching to formula. It must also feel a bit shitty for mums who just don't want to breastfeed, as though they don't care enough or aren't prepared to do the best for their child. In those cases again, it arguably wouldn't be the best thing anyway, because if the mother was an unwilling participant in breastfeeding the whole thing would probably be very stressful for both mum and baby.

I think in general new parents are anxious to 'get it right', so can get a bit evangelical about their chosen way of doing things. I've seen very heated debates on sleep-training, bed sharing, weaning approach, home cooked meals vs pouch/jars, how many Christmas presents to buy, choices of clothes (e.g. the boy in a dress threads)... I think in the end most people are convinced that their way is 'the right way' which is why they're doing it. Sometimes that translates to thinking other peoples way is 'the wrong way'.

ByTheWishingWell Fri 21-Nov-14 06:42:07

Loads of x-posts with people saying what I was trying to say much better than me!

ithoughtofitfirst Fri 21-Nov-14 06:52:09

I think BF is supposed to be quite enjoyable for both of you. I am finding it more so with dc2. For example in some cultures the BF mother stays in bed for about a month while the women in the family wait on her hand and foot and do all the housework. Meanwhile, back in the real world, women don't generally have that level of support. You can't do EVERYTHING. Especially if things haven't been straightforward e.g. c-section, tongue tie, infection etc. No one should feel bad for FF. It's genuinely the best option for a lot of women and their babies. I won't feel bad when i hit about 8 weeks and make the switch. Not one bit.

Krytes42 Fri 21-Nov-14 07:06:30

I certainly had a lot of feels about my son's birth. The decisions about my labour were made by me, and although they were reasonable decisions, supported by all involved medical personnel, and should have been safe, my son did not handle birth at all well and ended up sick for a long time. I don't know if I exactly feel guilty, because based on the information available before the birth, my choices should have been good ones. That said, if he had died, it would most likely have been as a result of my choices. So there were lots of complicated feelings after the birth. His problems at birth also meant that he was about three weeks old before he was even able to try eating by mouth, and it took him another two weeks or so to really even get the idea that he needed to eat when hungry (he'd been tube-fed large amounts at regular intervals since birth, so he'd never really had to experience dealing with his own hunger). So more negative feelings about that. It didn't have any bearing on my desire to breastfeed him though.

I responded well to the breastpumps and had plenty of milk. At one point, when my son was really having trouble learning to breastfeed, I thought that I might have to feed him pumped milk until he weaned. Fortunately he learned eventually and it turned out not to be necessary. Given that I did have milk, formula was never something that I even considered.
I think that there were a lot of reasons, really:
-It was very important to me that my son get breastmilk.
-I dislike the manipulative tactics and shady marketing of the formula companies.
-My son had had a very difficult introduction to life and breastfeeding felt like one thing that I could control and give him.
-The nurses and doctors were big believers in breastmilk and formula was never even mentioned in my presence - when there was a concern about his weight gain they just increased the amount of breastmilk in his ng tube and fiddled with the timing on his pump.
-My midwife knew that it mattered to me and was a source of support and encouragement.
-My husband saw how hard it was for us and told me that I was a good mum (not for breastfeeding per se, but it's something that was good to hear when my baby was screaming hysterically and I didn't know how to help him eat.)

Probably some combination of all of those is why things worked out as they did for us. Fwiw, my son was able to consistently eat enough by about 5 weeks, and his latch improved greatly at 10-11 weeks. It gradually got better and easier for both of us and he's a pro now at 4 months.

Tl;dr lots of reasons, it's complicated.

Hamiltoes Fri 21-Nov-14 07:18:10

I tried to bf my first dd. Had to stay in hospital for 5 days as we just couldnt establish feeding. I left and expressed into a bottle for her for about 2 weeks. I then caught mastitis which i can only describe as hell and by the time i was ready to switch to express again my milk was all but gone, so we switched to formula.

With dd2, she is now 2 weeks and breast feeding is pretty much established. The thing that is keeping me going is when i'm lying in bed at night all cosy, and she starts rooting for a feed. The thought of then having to get up, boil a kettle, wait for it to cool a bit, make the bottle, wait for it to cool a lot, all the while the baby is now desperately screaming for a feed. And then the constant winding every 3/4 minutes while they take the bottle. And then all the washing and sterilising.

The thought of all that hassle is what keeps me breastfeeding, its so easy just picking her up and tucking her in beside me. Its not about social pressure or breast is best or being anti-formula... For me its pure convenience!

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