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Support for those FF

(444 Posts)
galonthefarm Mon 16-Aug-10 22:28:36

Not sure if this is the best description for a thread, but basically just somewhere for anyone who is FF who did not set out to do so - to chat to others about it, as there are so many feelings involved (yes, including guilt and also relief!)

My dd (5.5 months) is now exclusively bottle fed, using up supplies of frozen ebm once a day until its gone. She was 5 weeks early and we were advised to top up from the beginning so she put on weight. Now a very chubby 15 lb plus!

There are so many different stories I've heard from friends and on here, and I think it is so important to realise you are not alone in how you feel. I don't get on here much but thought would start the ball rolling! x

MissBonpoint Mon 16-Aug-10 22:57:21

Excellent idea for a thread gal. I thought I would exclusively breast feed for 6 months...bought all the books, pillows, pump, freezer bags, pads, nipple creams on the market & then after a disastrous 10 days I threw the towel in & went from EBF to FF. Cold turkey.

Wish I hadn't felt so anti-FF from the outset as I'm sure I would have lasted longer on mixed feeding than EBF. I found the raw, cracked nipples, latch probs and supply issues too much to bear.

I felt entirely defeated by the end of it. Well done to all the women getting on the BF bandwagon, but I disagree with the way EBF is presented as the only option for the first 6 months. Nonsense. Many women have real problems with BF and this kind of approach serves only to make us feel like failures.

Isn't it better to encourage women to BF as much as they are reasonably able to? Seems to me some women who have serious difficulty breastfeeding feel they have to overcome any obstacle using whatever means necessary, to the point of absurdity, in order to avoid formula - but often it is just not sustainable. Just makes me angry.

ninaandbean Tue 17-Aug-10 08:59:46

great thread - thanks for starting it. Totally agree that some middle ground is needed - am not an advocate of either EBF or EFF now, but my experience has taught me that everyone has their own reasons for the options they take. For me, complicated pregnancy, birth and BF issues just made EBF impossible. I had also bought the pump/pillow/breast pads/t-shirt etc as I expected to be a proud EBF mum! reality bites. (so did my baby lol). DS is now nearly 1 month and is 90% FF with as much expressed milk as I can give him. He's thriving. Its me who has found the whole thing incredibly upsetting. Being able to talk about it and realise I'm not alone has helped massively, so I'm very grateful to others for sharing their stories on this issue.

mamaloco Tue 17-Aug-10 09:09:13

Good idea! I think the guilt culture has gone too far for women who tried to BF and couldn't. Yes it is possible not to be able to at all or to have problems, in the past the baby was given to a wet nurse or died. No such support these day. We are lucky to have the formula so the baby don't die of hunger, but for those just having troubles there is absolutely no support if you choose mix feeding or FF. And we are pressurised to feel bad and guilty.

pinkypanther Tue 17-Aug-10 09:09:51

Yes, great thread! Perhaps we should invite Denise Van Outen to join wink

I was 100% sure I would breast feed my DS, then he was born unwell, 4 days in SCBU, didn't latch well, had a tongue tie and damaged my nipples so badly even the hospital's feeding specialist advised me to stop.

I was devastated, cried a lot over it, expressed for 4 months to try to assuage some of the guilt, but in the end realised it was better for him not to starve, and for him to have a happy mummy rather than one who dreaded him being hungry as it meant another few hours of pain and bleeding trying to latch him on.

Five months on, he is thriving, I still have the occasional feelings of guilt and inadequacy (especially on MN, to be honest) but I know there are lots of others in the same boat so it's brilliant to talk about it.

pommedeterre Tue 17-Aug-10 09:14:28

Yay! Dd is 21 weeks and has been mixed fed from 4 weeks and fully FF from 8 weeks. I can't even say that I had painful nipples or anything - I didn't but she was on me morning noon and night and I couldn't bf in public, we were moving house and dh was working 14 hour days (and got stuck for 5 days in Spain with the volcano ash on a work trip). We have no nearby family so it was just me (although my mum came down as much as she could).
I know all that makes me sound much more selfish than the stories of pain and infection but I had to make a choice about what we needed as a family and a little more time to move house and support dh was what it was.
I do wish things had been different but they weren't and apart from the fact that feeding times still go on for hours and she's not keen on her bottle she's the happiest baby I know.

cbmum Tue 17-Aug-10 11:57:29

Great idea for a thread. I'm in the midst of mixed feeding and have done so since DD2 was 5 days old as she was feeding from me but not settling at times. When offered a top up of formula she fell asleep satisfied. I'm still mixed feeding now with 2 FF's per day and not really sure how long I will be able to continue to BF with a 23 month old to look after too.

I tried to BF DD1 but after 10 weeks of stress and her failing to put on weight (it took 6 weeks for her to regain her birth weight) I FF her and she never looked back.

What annoys me most is the fact that HV's and midwives are so pro BF that they are too scared to say that whilst it may work for some people if it isn't working for you there is no shame in using formula. I had this rant at my HV when she came for her 1st visit the other week and felt SO much better for telling her what I thought! She admitted to me that HV's have to 'tip toe' around the BF issue far too much.

TheSugarPlumFairy Tue 17-Aug-10 12:43:22

good idea for a thread. DD (18 weeks) is EFF. We started out BF, which i have to admit i did not enjoy. I could never seem to satisfy her, feeds took hours and then she would be right back more. i felt like i couldnt move for feeding her. I also wanted to establish a routine for my own sanity and found that difficult to do while BF on demand.

we got thrush at around 7 weeks i think and it was the excuse i felt i needed to move on from BF. I tried pumping for a while. It was worse than BF in terms of the time it took.

In the end DH and i talked about it and we agreed to move to 100% formula. We havent looked back really. DD is thriving, we have a lovely groove happening routine wise and mummy has retained her sanity.

i do get a bit annoyed when people talk about BF like it offers some extra special bond between mother and child. I am afraid i call BS on that. I have exactly the same feelings of overwhelming love and awe and sheer amazingness for my DD when i am feeding her a bottle as i did when i was BF.

I am all for breastfeeding if a woman wants to but i really dont see the need for the judgement heaped on women who choose not to. THere are advantages and disadvantages to both choices. Parents need to weight up both and choose which is best for their circumstances.

I will happily and vocally defend any parents right to feed their child anywhere and anyway they choose.

SkiHorseWonAWean Tue 17-Aug-10 16:07:54


I had pre-eclampsia, emcs, my son was in SCBU and to top it all off I found out I lost an expensive court case (dodgy judge angry) 36 hours after my c-section.

My tits swelled up for approximately 20 minutes wink - and whilst people keep telling me "it doesn't matter what you can express" or "it's not the size of your tits" - you know when you're empty!

I tortured myself for a few days once home, my boyfriend getting more and more upset watching us both cry. I contacted verywellknownorganisation and the woman I spoke to boasted of not having any milk for 5 weeks and the nurses begging her to give her child a bottle and I thought "are you fucking mad? I wouldn't starve an animal for 5 days!" - and then I got stuck in to the formula.

This is a great site:

Note the WHO guidelines about BF come from 1974, 1980 and 1981 - and are mainly "worrying" about mothers without access to decent sanitation. I wonder how formula has progressed since 1981... hmm

This is also a great link from a feminist writer:

Btw - my son is now nearly 7 weeks old. He's growing brilliantly, is healthy & happy. Today I went out and rode my horse safe in the knowledge that daddy can take over. I feel invigorated and mentally "stronger" than ever.

I still express - christ knows why - over a 24 hour period I'm lucky to get 2oz - still I keep guzzling those fenugreek tablets.

Also, call me an old prude if you want to - but I would NOT be comfortable getting my breasts out in public. You know how you see these images of women with their child discretely feeding and you can't see anything? I'm currently a 40FF - when my son latches on he can't get his hands either side of my boob - it's like those fisherman going "it was this big"! wink I'm quite happy to say "fuck off" to anyone criticising me giving a bottle when I'm out and about though.

SkiHorseWonAWean Tue 17-Aug-10 16:09:07

Oh - and in response to this "bonding" bollocks about bf'ing. The best feed I've had with my son was when I stopped crying, stopped starving him and he took the bottle and gazed in to my eyes. It's a lot easier to "gaze in to each others eyes" when you're not both crying!

SkiHorseWonAWean Tue 17-Aug-10 16:10:21

Dur, I meant she didn't have milk for 5 days, not 5 weeks!

soniaweir Tue 17-Aug-10 16:16:53

great thread! even though i am BF with DC2 i never managed first time round and went through all the guilt etc.

Miss Bonpont - i could not have said it better myself!
I get really annoyed when someone says they are in physical pain and can't go on BF and the response is try skin to skin etc. sometimes you have to be practical and just stop so that mum and baby are happy and satisfied!

i know BF toddlers who have allergies etc. not saying that BF does not have it's benefits but FF is not the end of the world. I have a very healthy 22 month old son who was FF.

will stop now as i could go on forever!

BikeRunSki Tue 17-Aug-10 16:29:47

I think that the grey area of those mothers who fully intended to bf but didn't/couldn't is one that is overlooked, and really needs support.

I fully intended to BF DS, then didn't actually produce any milk. Not unheard of, but very rare. I expressed every 2 hours for a week, and got barely a drop. My boobs didn't change at all during pg either, swell when DS was born or ache/were sore when I stopped expressing, which sugguest that nothing was every going to happen. Gyancologist, bf cousellor, midwife and paediatrician all advised me to FF after my son lost 25% of his birth weight. He is now fit, well, robust and nearly 2.

I wrote an article about it, which I am trying to get published. The Guardian were very interestd for a while, but went cold.

SkiHorse excellent point about bonding. There are so many ways to nurture your baby !

I think th

CornishKK Tue 17-Aug-10 16:31:49

Great thread. I did not plan to FF, my PFB had tongue tie, I had it operated on when he was six days old because I was so fixed on EBFing , it was an awful experience after which he still couldn't latch. I spent six weeks, crying, expressing, seeing BF counsellors and a cranial osteopath before I gave up. The guilt I felt over not BFing was horrendous. I felt like FF was poisoning my child - especially after reading some of the threads here.

When I suggested here that Mums who were formula feeding need as much support as those BF I was told "FFS, read the back of a can, how hard can it be".

We're trying for number 2 now and I will try to BF again but I'm not going to break my heart over it or feel guilty if it doesn't work out.

I didn't want to go out in public and bottle feed!

Flossie69 Tue 17-Aug-10 17:11:43

When I was pregnant with my first, DS, 11 years ago, I too expected to breast feed without a problem. I noticed however that my breasts hadn't changed during pregnancy, and was about to ask the midwife about it, but she put me off by telling me my BP was VERY high, get to hospital now, do not pass Go, do not drive!!! So DS was born at 8 weeks prem, by EMCS, and was v. poorly in SCBU, and I had HELPP syndrome, so very poorly too.
Once well enough, I began to try to express, but only got a tiny amount. Demand soon outstripped supply, and whilst DS was given donor breastmilk for a while, it was clear this was not a long term solution, and they advised me to bottle feed. He was also too diddy (3lb 10oz) to latch on, especially as there was no joy from doing so. Interestingly, they also advised me to continue expressing until my milk came in. This I did for the entire 8 weeks DS was in SCBU, but continued to get practically nothing, and made the decision to stop once we took him home. I did feel disappointed, but the whole pre-eclampsia etc thing made the whole situation a nightmare, so it was difficult to separate how I felt about that bit in particular.
Now this year, whilst pregnant with DC2, I thought this was a chance to do it all right. However, DD was born early too, as the pre-eclampsia struck again. She was tiny too, at 4lb 10oz, but only 3 1/2 weeks early, and didn't need to go to SCBU at all.
But she too wouldn't latch on, and my efforts to express only produced some colostrum, which she had from a syringe. I had to start topping up with formula from a syringe, and she needed feeding every two hours. As I had already had several nights of no sleep before I had her by CS, and was still being treated with nots of drugs for very high blood pressure, I found all of this exhausting. Probably hormones too, but by day 3 I had had enough. The midwives very kindly said they would feed her through the night to allow me to sleep, and this also gave me some thinking time. I was surrounded by Mums with full term bouncing babes all latching on no prob, and thinking back to what happened before, I made the desicion to just go to bottle feeding. As soon as I had made the decision, I felt so much better, and when I saw how well she took it, I began to enjoy feeding my beautiful baby daughter! Most of the midwives were very supportive, but some I feel felt I had given up too soon.
DD is now 12 weeks old and is putting on weight really well. But I did, and still do, feel I need to somehow justify what I am doing, hence this mammoth post!! grin But it has felt very therapeutic writing this, so thank-you if you have managed to stick with it to the end!!
Incidentally, BlueRunSki, my milk did not come in at all after having DD. You are the only other person I have heard of that this has happened to. You always read that EVERY woman can breastfeed, but this is obviously not so.

SkiHorseWonAWean Tue 17-Aug-10 17:54:58

flossie Yep, magnesium drip whilst in hospital and tablets at home for 2 weeks. I managed some colostrum in hospital - literally a raindrop's worth and like you, my boobs didn't change during pregnancy.

What has annoyed me about the whole process is that whilst talking to other mums or reading around, it's all "have you tried x position?" or "does your baby latch?". I'm not an illiterate 12 year old, I've read it all (and had amazing nurses at the hospital and for a further 5 days once home) - nobody was able to impart any new information for me. I was/am not producing milk - no amount of position changing is going to change that! angry

CornishKK Tue 17-Aug-10 20:38:24

Mmm, I had ALL that Ski, I read every book going before birth, went to a day long BF workshop, then had HV's, counsellors, BF support which was great but there are only so many times someone can tell you to try holding your baby like a rugby ball before you nut them.

When I was told to "go to bed for three days with my baby and just get the hang of it" I had to raise the fact that really wasn't very practical advice.

galonthefarm - thank you! I came on here tonight to look for a FF support thread, and maybe start one if I could not find one. There is so much help for BFing, and rightly so, but there is so little support for those of us who have had to make this difficult decision. So your thread is very welcome here.

I BFd for 6 weeks, some mixed feeds, and mainly EBM. My baby was four weeks early, so we had similar issues on that front.
Baby (now almost 8 weeks) has been fully FF for about a week now because I had to go back on medication that would keep me physically able to look after her - I have rheumatoid arthritis and meds to control it would make breast milk toxic.

as ski knows from chats elsewhere, I had a personal battle over the switch. Despite initial weight and latch/fussiness issues, my baby and I were finally able to BF well when I had to start thinking about giving up. I had a plentiful supply, she could do it, I have even mastered the t-shirt layering and feeding in front of a room full of friends, so it felt "wrong" to stop at that point. But my body was in increasing pain, and I had to put my baby's wider needs first. If I had gone on I would not have been able to hold her while she fed!

MY compromise was to mix feed until my baby started to refuse the breast, and my supply started to dry up. This worked really well. I have milk in my breasts, but have not had to express for comfort for three days, without any pain etc. This approach means I have not had to tip any milk - clean or toxic - down the sink.

I agree that it's almost more embarrassing to bottle feed than BF in public these days. I frequently find myself justifying my actions without even being asked blush. And I am horrified at the ignorant "read the back of the tub" attitude.

WE have no guidance. I didn't know it was a good idea to give my FF baby drinks of water. That's just one thing I have had to search all over the internet to find. And don't get me started on the "correct" information on FF baby bowel habits! grin

Just realised we have two skis. I was referring to skihorse.

Minxie1977 Tue 17-Aug-10 21:39:22

I so wish this had been around after my DD - now 10 mths- was born. She had a bad tongue tie and no sucking reflex as a result. She was so hungry and couldn't feed so H went out at 2am for formula. I tried to go back to BF, I hand expressed into a syringe to feed her for days, every hour. I sat and BF'd ,after her tongue tie snip, for 3 hours solid, still she cried thru hunger. i kept trying but was so distraught. DH felt so desperate for us both, he kept giving her FF, which just undermined all my attempts to keep BFing. My milk didn't come in properly and I felt less than a woman. I had terrible PND due to all this and seriously considered driving off a cliff - I even walked out of the house a couple of times saying 'neither of you need me/I'm useless/you'd be better off without me'. It was the worst time of my life during what was meant to be the best time. Thank god it's all behind us and the 3 of us are thriving. Still have to hold back when inconsiderate twats people ask - 'when's the next baby?' grin

passionberry Tue 17-Aug-10 21:42:03

Can I join in as a lazy breast feeder who is now dabbling with formula at 17 weeks?

I have breastfed DD for 4 months so far but to be honest I am struggling: I feel less comfortable doing it in public now than when she was newborn, it's still sore occasionally, I would love DH to have a go at feeding her, I would love to go out on my own for more than an hour (I can't get on with expressing at all - it's so time consuming and fiddly).

Anyway, I have started introducing the odd bottle of formula but I feel guilty about it, especially when reading threads on here about bf-ing for a year and more ...

MissBonpoint Tue 17-Aug-10 22:34:53

SkiHorse, I read most of that article (lengthy piece!) it is really enlightening stuff, thanks.

If I'm reading these figures from the Dept of Health correctly, less than 30% of babies are exclusively breast feed at the time of their 6-8 week health check: tnutrition/Breastfeedinginfantfeeding/DH_085657

That means the majority of 6-8 week old babies are FF to some degree. IMHO their mothers are not being well supported in terms of information and guidance on correct & safe formula preparation.

It is paternalistic, blinkered and wrong to presume that if you only give women information about breast feeding that they won't touch formula. This doesn't just short-change mums, but their babies too.

I would have been far better prepared to care for my baby had I understood how to prepare a bottle feed before the time came to do it & he was screaming at me for milk! Luckily I had someone show me what to do. I'm no dum dum, but when I was pregnant I fully expected to sail through breastfeeding 101 - so I didn't so much as buy a tin of powder 'just in case'.

Pookimum Tue 17-Aug-10 22:42:07

Yay I love this thread! DD is 5.5 months and totally FF. She is thriving, 2nd percentile at birth but now consistently following 25th.

I fully intended to BF but switched to FF very early on - as DD was so small midwives came into my cubicle every 3 hours and told me to wake her & feed her, but mostly she would barely wake up let alone latch on,so they would say "it's ok we'll hand express" and then start tugging away at my boobs (dunno why they didn't just teach me how to hand express). In my traumatised state (very very long labour & assisted delivery) I began to see it as 3 hourly torture for both of us and having not slept at all for a week, when DH arrived I completely broke down whilst trying to feed her and switched to FF in desperation. We never saw the same MW twice & none of them tried to discuss BF/FF with us, they just seemed to want us to get food down her and didn't care how that happened. The "normal" me would have completely challenged to situation and not given up so easily but I have never felt so alone or low as I did then. I beat myself up about it for so long!
I chose to focus on the positives of FF to help me cope. One of the best things about having DD has been watching her and DH together, she adores him! I just love watching him give her her final feed when he finishes work. It is such a special part of the day.
Like CornishKK I hope to BF in future but not going to get too hung up on it!

SkiHorseWonAWean Wed 18-Aug-10 09:28:43

Has anyone here chosen to FF from Day 1? One of my colleagues did that, an intelligent & modern woman - she just decided that BF was not for her. I met her daughter last week who's just turned 8 - an extremely intelligent young lady. Trilingual at the age of 8! shock

This is probably going to ruffle some feathers - but I love the freedom that formula gives me. I'm not tied to my gorgeous son 24/7. He's a bit sickly today so rather than dragging him around with me all day today or cancelling everything, I can hand him over to daddy and still have "my" day.

BikeRunSki Wed 18-Aug-10 09:35:52

CornishKK, SkiHorsaeWonAWean and everyone on here - hello friends! DS is 2 in 3 weeks time, and you have all just made me feel normal!

and SKiHOrse I have a friend, very intelligent woman and medic, who sat in NCT classes and said "I am not going to bf". Then her baby wouldn't take a bottle - ever - she bf every 3 hours for 9 months, when - finally - baby got the hang of a cup. And she hated every minute of it!

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