Breast feeding second thoughts!(41 Posts)
I'm 35+4 today and have been determined that I was going to breastfeed since I found out I was pregnant, BUT in the past couple of weeks I have been having second thoughts. I'd still like to try it but am now thinking of expressing after a week or two so that I can bottle feed but still give my baby breastmilk.
I've had lots of people telling me how awkward and difficult it can be to breast feed and that it would be easier to share the responsibility for feeding if my baby had bottles. I've also been told it would be easier for when I am out with the baby if I used bottles, etc. Many women have also said that they used formula from the beginning with their babies and it is the best way.
Can anyone advise me? Very confused now!
For me the benefits of BF completely outweighed any benefits of formula feeding. Here are some of my own personal reasons (in a random order!);
Waaaay easier in public to breastfeed. No chance of forgetting the bottles. No chance of running out of milk. No faffing with sterilising etc etc. No extra stuff to carry.
Breastfeeding is free. Formula is expensive.
Might well not be difficult and awkward. Many people actually find it pretty straightforward - I think you just don't hear these stories because they aren't as interesting /memorable as the nightmare stories. Or because the person doesn't want to sound like they are bragging. However, I have found BF two children to be really quite straightforward - no pain, no difficulties.
There are a gazillion things which other people can help with a newborn other than feeding - eg changing nappies, winding, cuddling and soothing, rocking, helping to sleep, doing the hoovering, cooking you meals, cutting up your food while you are feeding, doing a supermarket shop, other household chores etc etc etc. And you can just get on with feeding the baby. You don't need to share it.
I haven't even mentioned any of the health benefits but there is a huge list here of all sorts of benefits.
If you search here there are many other threads about why people choose to BF.
Anyone who says 'formula is the best way' means 'formula was the best way for them'.
If you want to breastfeed but express, then you will probably be advised to wait a few weeks until your supply has settled down. I did express in order to take milk out when I was out and about, but very quickly realised that bfing in public wasn't that big a deal and less of a faff, and actually a lot more discreet than people realise. I had quite a few conversations where people didn't even notice I was feeding. You may find it a lot easier than you think.
Sharing responsibilities isn't just about feeding - it can be about bathing, taking baby so you can sleep, bringing you food and drink whilst you're breastfeeding, making the dinner when you're knackered.
I'm not going to lie - learning to breastfeed can be difficult, especially as most women in this country don't have other women around them to support them as most women don't breastfeed after a couple of weeks. It might help if you find your local support group and go along now for a chat so that it can put your mind at rest.
One thing I will say, knowing women who have ff and bf, is that long term, bf is a lot easier once you get the hang of it. Independent studies have shown that bf mums get 20 minutes more sleep than ff mums, and as a new mum, those 20 minues are precious!
Waaaay easier in public to breastfeed. I've been told the opposite so many times.
How is it easier apart from the things you mentioned? Surely it is more of a "fine art" to feed without showing everything?
Thank you for your other points btw!
One piece of advice that I was given from an 'old school' midwife was: "What is best for baby is a happy and contented Mum". I ping-ponged backwards and forwards throughout my pregnancy but when push came to shove I breast fed. However it was shortlived (6 days) and yes it was guilt-ridden (not helped by my community midwife). I now bottle feed my LO and it "works" for us. If I have another, yep, I would give breast feeding a go but will always remember the advice of the old school midwife and if it doesn't "work" for me I'll go back to bottle. In terms of it being "easier" I'd imagine BF is easier than FF because all you need is a boob! A friend of mine expressed and said she found it a nightmare to get her LO to latch back on because it takes a different kind of sucking than it does on a boob. They say "breast is best" but so is a happy Mum who enjoys being around her baby! My experiences of motherhood is that plenty of people will make you feel bad about many things so don't beat yourself up aswell! Good luck with whatever you decide - I'm sure whatever it is it will be "best" for you and your LO! X
To add, I was lucky enough to have no hassles BF, and it came as quite a shock to my system to actually have to remember to take things with me when I started weaning him.
FF (or expressing) is an absolute pain logistically (I never did manage to express any meaningful amounts, even now we've been going over a year) - you have to muck about cleaning bottles, taking stuff with you etc. vs just picking him up and going (nappies and burp cloths aside).
Yes, that first time you feed out and about is nerve-wracking, but people really don't notice (they're just gratefull the baby isn't crying any more) and were always very helpful to me.
Once you have sorted the latch and figured out what kind of clothes suit you, it is easy peasy. You are NOT bearing a lot of skin.. baby just looks like he's snuggled into you most of the time.
I think you need to sort out who you are listening to, OP. Skim around these boards and you will find some fabulous support. Go to kellymom.com, which is an invaluable site for BF. Look up BF support groups etc. Look it all up NOW. Don't leave it until later.
And yes, there are problems that will come up.. but a LOT of things can be solved with the right help and with a mother who is willing to dedicate a few weeks in her long life to sorting them and enjoying a wonderful, peaceful, relaxing relationship with her baby.
Are you sure you want to be convinced? I'm not that sure.
As for showing everything - you really don't - remember you're 1 foot away, and at the right angle - everyone else is probably 6 feet away and at a completely different angle - you may think you're showing the world your boob but you're not.
It's tricky at first with a floppy baby (and tricky now, with one who's interested in everything), but on the whole it was miles easier going out and just BFing him than it is now that I have to remember to take a juice cup/sandwiches/whatever (and so I assume a bottle is even more of a pain since it needs more careful keeping)
Oh I really do want to be convinced that breastfeeding is better. Just don't know that many people who have done it, so I need support and advice. Not really in need on questioning over my motives. If I really didn't want convincing I would just formula feed!
I also encountered this when I was pregnant, many mothers encouraged me to formula feed and some of the things I was told was that I wouldn't be able to eat what I want. I'd not be able to get the baby into a routine and also that it is easier and the baby will more likely sleep through the night. All of this advice came from people who have not breast fed or breastfeeding didn't work after a short amount of trying.
I have found all of this to be untrue and I'm so glad I didn't listen.
My experience is that breast feeding is much, much easier. You have milk on tap whenever the baby needs it. These women may have found that formula is best for them but that doesn't mean it would be for you. When I first started breastfeeding I set out with a plan to express one feed a day so DH could help out but I actually found that I prefer to feed her myself if I'm in. I do express, which means I can go out when I want and if I don't feel like feeding in public I don't have to. TBH though, I find breast feeding easier when I'm out and about as I don't have the hassle of warming a bottle (I am aware that some women don't find this a problem - I'm not making any judgements here).
It's absolutely your choice but I would say please at least try breastfeeding before you make your mind up because you can always start breast feeding then change to formula but you will lose your milk if you FF from the start.
If you have the time, do a bit of research into breastfeeding and get some opinions from pro breastfeeders to balance what you've already been told.
Yep bottle can be a pain! But as with anything baby related it is all in the routine! I never make bottles up ready but take a thermos of hot water and sterilised bottles with a powder dispenser that I make ready in the morning. Add water, mix and hey presto! I am an obsessive organiser so this works best for me. A faff it is but at least I know everything is 'safe' (in terms of bottle feeding) for me LO
I agree with Stinax - if you're not sure give it a go. It's there to begin with but if you don't it goes and then FF is your only option
Renaissance. I'm sorry if I offended you. It really wasn't my intention.
BFing is something that you can't quite describe to somebody who hasn't done it. It can be difficult at first and those early days are where it often goes wrong. Because the baby does want to feed all the time, honestly some days it's constant, and at first there's no milk and you can't quite believe that you're not starving your baby. But bfing is very, very clever and works completely on supply and demand. You put the baby to the breast, the breast provides the perfect food for the baby in the right quantities, consistency, temperature etc. It's marvellous when it's working.
But there's a side to it I can't express to you and it's probably different for each woman. But bfing is a very emotional experience. You're nurturing your baby. Just as you grew them inside you, you're feeding them the absolute best food you can. It produces a happy hormone in you as you do it, the baby becomes blissed out, floppy and snuggly, they grin up at you with utter contentment. It calms fractious babies, it forces you to sit down, relax and gaze down at your baby. I can't even begin to express why I love bfing so much.
And it was tough with dd but I have a teeny ds now and it's just been so easy because I know what to expect this time round.
I ebf'ed (is that even a bit grammatical? probably not) and mix fed when I returned to work when he was 10mo. I couldn't believe the faff of getting the milk stuff ready for the childminder - made me realise how easy I had had it bf-ing!
For me, bf was a bit harder than ff for the first fortnight (poor latch, tongue tie, nipple shields, hormones, etc!), but then million times easier from 2 weeks on. I reckon the balance point at which it become easier one way or the other is different for everyone, but honestly, in a few months time when you are able to feed your baby in the night by just picking him/her up, feeding and then popping them back down again you won't regret bf!
BTW, I found I was even able to get nipple shields on and off in public pretty discreetly. It really isn't hard to feed without causing a fuss, unless you leave the other boob out.
You didn't mamsnet. Sorry if I was snappy. Just coping with really bad, sharp pain at the bottom of the left side of my bump at the min and at work too for another two hours, so a little sensitive!! Sorry.
Not everyone finds BF the easy experience that it can be billed as - see the other threads in this topic. But as someone who struggled to BF with both DCs, unsuccessfully with the first and successfully with the second, I'd say don't let worries about feeding out and about or having someone else do the feeding be the main concerns. As others have already said, there's plenty for helpers to do.
I coped with getting a long feeding and quite fidgety DS fed when out by buying a couple of nice BF tops and a wrap cardigan. That way I could feed fairly discretely. No one ever seemed to care anyway. No hassle with bottles, for which I was grateful particularly in the early days when you have enough else going on. If I needed to go somewhere quiet to feed - during a party, say - someone usually came with me to chat and make sure I had what I needed. We never got to the being able to feed absolutely anywhere including hanging upside down from trees, but then humanity came out of the trees a few years ago so it didn't seem necessary.
I bottle fed expressed milk to DD and would not recommend it as a deliberate choice. It takes as long as BF, you still have to get up in the night to express (because you need to keep your supply up) and you have all the bottle faff as well.
So I would say leave yourself the option and don't write off BF just yet. Although it might be tricky at first it can get better and if not then you can stop. Or mix feed. Or whatever's right for you. Once BF is established then the occasional expressed bottle becomes possible anyway. And whilst it might feel like forever, I looked back when I stopped feeding DS (8 months) and it was all gone so quickly.
I realise I sound a bit evangelical, but I thought my experience might help!
I can honestly say with my 12 wo DD that BFing has been hassle free and such a bonding experience. When I was pg, I had decided that I was definitely going to try to BF, but like you had a lot of negative comments from people saying how hard it is, how you need to express to feed in public and other such nonsense. For me it's been relatively straightforward, despite a slight latch problem early on which was sorted by a wonderful BF counsellor at my local sure start.
If you want to BF then do it. There is support out there: this forum is full ok knowledgeable and helpful women and try and get along to a group if you can. And bfing in public is a doddle once you get the hang of it. Expressing is a faff, it takes ages and if you're anything like me, you may not even be able to express enough for a feed.
Bf was not that easy for me to start with - emergency c-section so found it hard to position baby so no weight was on my stomach. But good midwife help in hospital meant I found a position that worked. For the first 6 or so weeks I was mainly at home so feeding was well established before I did it in public. I have found that the concerns about being discrete/people staring etc is all in my head - sometimes people look until they register you are breast feeding and then look away.
I have tried to express a few times (at 4.5 months) but to be honest it is a load of hassle with sterilising etc. You might also find that actually you don't want anyone else to feed him - especially when he is small. 'Oh he's hungry' is a good excuse to remove baby from a well meaning but useless relative or just disappear off for a break for a while.
BF is sometimes painful/sore, especially at first or when baby is going through a growth sprurt. But it is much much cheaper, you don't have to take any equipment with you, and it is instant - I was at lunch recently with friend with bottlefed baby and baby was screaming while she waited for her milk to be made and warmed up. Also can't imagine having to go downstairs and make up formula every time he woke in the night as a newborn. DH used to pick DS up, change him if he needed it, then hand him to me in bed, then I would feed him and put him back in his moses basket.
Sorry, a bit rambling...
I have met people who breast feed, mixed feed, formula feed and someone who has entirely expressed. I think you have an idea of what you want to do in your head but until baby is here you won't always know what will be best for you and your family.
Breast feeding can be hell to start with, but stick with it. Seriously make no decision for 3 to 4 weeks and take all well meaning advice, including that of HV with a pinch of salt.
In the end the decision to BF is between you and your baby. DD1 and I never made a go of it, DD2 never wanted to stop and we continued for many happy years.
The logistics of BF are a 1000 times easier than making up formula and sterilising things and you never have to worry about unexpected delays because you always have food for the baby with you. Learn to feed lying down and sleep isn't that much of a problem either.
BF was easy for me - no trouble at all, and I got the hang of BFing in public in no time too, you feed in front of a mirror at home once, see that no one can see a thing, and then just get on!
I would say, give it a go. If it doesn't work out for you, then you can always change.
Also, when your supply is in place (after a few of weeks or so) you can start expressing and offer the odd feed in a bottle if you want to (I didn't bother, but know other people who did, and appreciated being able to have a lie in and have dad do the first feed of the morning or whatever).
Enjoy your new arrival
I felt a bit like you when I was pregnant - my mum bottlefed and so do most of the women where I live. I decide though that I wanted to give it a go, and 4 months later I am still breastfeeding and it is wonderful. I never expected it to be easy and decided that if I had to bottle feed I wouldn't beat myself up about it. Luckily we have had no problems and I was confident enough to breastfeed in public after only about 3 weeks (I just tucked a muslin into my bra strap and covered baby and boob up that way).
I say give it a go! You might be like me and have no problems. If you do have some challenges Mumsnet (and kellymom) are fantastic.
I also reckon that breastfed babies cry less. Once the baby wakes up it is a matter of second before you get boob in his/her mouth whereas baby cries for as long as it takes to make up a bottle. Less crying = happier mum!
TBH I now really like that there is one thing that no-one else can do for my baby.
Glad to be of help. .
BF in public: sticking to my own experience here rather than speaking for all BF mothers: I honestly haven't found it a "fine art" to latch on a baby in public. In the early days you are basically just at home, practising latching the baby on the whole time (several times a day and night for several days and nights!). So when you go out for the first time you have already practised. And both my babies just seemed to latch well when I basically shoved the baby firmly on the nipple (holding them at the right angle). I'm sure no one has seen any flesh - the baby covers it up. If you are very self-conscious you can drape a muslin or cardigan over your shoulder.
I personally would have found it very faffy / stressful having to take enough bottles out and worrying whether I had enough formula with me - what if you are out of the house and decide to meet a friend for lunch? Or whatever you are doing is taking longer than planned? Or your baby decides he's on a growth spurt and drinks more than you'd expected and is still hungry. Suddenly you have run out of milk (because you've only taken enough bottles for a shorter period or a less hungry baby), your baby is screaming and you have to cut short what you were doing to rush back home. If you are BF then none of this matters.
Oh, and on the routine point, there are many posts on here showing that BF babies aren't all non-routine, dreadful sleepers and FF babies aren't all clockwork routine babies who immediately sleep through. My first DD was exclusively BF and not a great sleeper (not dreadful, just not great), but my second DD (currently 4 months), also exclusively BF, goes to sleep at 7pm on the dot (at her own instigation!) and sleeps really well - has even slept through on several occasions!
Do keep asking on here for advice / personal experiences.
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