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Breastfeeding Rant...

(60 Posts)
artisanroast Mon 09-Nov-15 13:51:50


I am generally in a bad mood today which isn't a great start, hence the rant...

I am a breastfeeding mother. I have had a little difficulty with breastfeeding, starting with having a prem baby who had expressed breast milk. We then achieved success with breastfeeding (hurrah!) and my daughter now happily feeds directly from me. I am feeling quite pleased with us and our progress.

However, this is my complaint... Any time it has become a little challenging e.g. the 6 week growth spurt or she has woken more often during the night or I haven't expressed enough to get a glass of wine (bad mummy for wanting one to start with!) I have lost count of the number of relatives, friends and health professionals who have told me there is no shame I giving her a formula bottle. I shouldn't feel bad if I have to bottle feed with formula. Formula will give you a break to get some sleep they say... And the examples continue...

Why is it that formula bottle feeding mothers feel they can pressurise to formula feed however God forbid if a breastfeeding mother pressurised a formula feeding mother to breastfeed?

Have the tables turned?

Even my husband got in on the act - but I think he was just after a less tired wife and possibly his old drinking buddy back!

The other thing that really pisses me off is if I gleefully accepted the advice to give an odd bottle because my milk supply 'may be a bit low' that would be a self fulfilling prophesy as the less my boobs are stimulated, the less they produce.

I chose to breastfeed to give my baby good nutrition and pass my immunity to them via my breast milk. I am quite determined that I will breastfeed or give my baby expressed breast milk even if it near kills me doing it!

So, rant over but...

Please if you bottle feed don't tell me to do the same.

youlemming Mon 09-Nov-15 14:18:48

Great work getting over the issues at the start and sorry to hear you are feeling presuresied I expect people think they are helping.

A glass of wine evey now and then will be fine, the guidelines say 1-2 units a week even when feeding, don't worry about the expressing.

I generally don't get that much when expressing and with an older one at school I rarely find time to do it in between normal feeds but due to going back to work after xmas I need to get my little one used to bottles which so far she has refused, think I might have to use formula which I didn't want to do just yet.

Keep going with what you feel comfortable with.

tiktok Mon 09-Nov-15 14:40:48

artisan - please PLEASE don't bother expressing just to have a glass of wine. WHAT A WASTE OF TIME!

check but there are plenty of other sources of information. Your baby will be fine, and 1-2 units a week is WAY too low a limit. Just have a glass of wine, or two, or three, for goodness sakesmile Be a drinking buddy - you'd have to be extremely drunk for it to affect your baby.

You have done brilliantly well to overcome those early problems.

Your experience of people making 'helpful' suggestions is common.

You can say 'we are happy with our choice, thank you' and repeat as necessary. They'll soon give up.

Micah Mon 09-Nov-15 14:49:29

I had the same, 10 years ago. Right from day 1.

M/w offering to get me a bottle to "give you a break". People saying the constant feeding/night feeding was due to not enough milk, or milk "not rich enough".

The GP not believing I'd never given a top up. People telling me is need to give formula in public as I wouldn't want to breastfeed.

I can see why people give up quickly when they've got so many people telling them they're doing it wrong.

Skiptonlass Mon 09-Nov-15 16:32:10

I bf exclusively - I've found it quite hard with lots of pain. If like to keep exclusively FB just now purely for supply reasons - so that supply and demand match.

I think people are just giving you their experience. Being brutally honest, bottle feeding is probably easier sometimes. not everyone takes to breastfeeding easily and there are advantages to being able to have others feed.

I'm uneasy when one side claims superiority over the other. Breastfeeding is great, but formula isn't poison. There really isn't that much benefit past the first couple of weeks (and I say that as a scientist who has read round the primary literature on this.)

I guess what I'm trying to say is that feeding is such a guilt inducing thing. I dont think people are being down on you for breastfeeding, I think if they see you're tired and struggling they may give well meaning (but perhaps not very accurate or good for you) advice. They don't want to see it 'damn near kill' you.

Sorry you're not having a good day and best of luck with the feeding. It can be tough !

OffMyAyersRocker Mon 09-Nov-15 17:20:25

I had the opposite with dd1. I really struggled in the early days and wanted someone to say go on give her a bottle but everyone was like keep going, you're doing great (l wasn't, dd1 lost a lot of weight and took ages to gain).

Due to tt issues l have been expressing since dd2 was 2 weeks old and have had the same again from people, breast milk is so good for her, keep going. Even though it is damn near killing me!

But I've decided a date soon and l will finish expressing and move dd2 to formula for my sanity

Skipton l can't find any research that says not much benefit past the first few weeks so it's interesting to hear you say that.

tiktok Mon 09-Nov-15 17:28:55

I think the point should always be to listen to the mother, listen to what she wants to do, and support her in that....that goes for midwives, HVs, friends, family, whoever smile

Dissing the research around infant feeding (and my background's science too, and my clear understanding and reading of the research is quite different from Skiptonlass's smile ) doesn't help anyone - it's not about whether one method is 'better' than the other (because actually, the health impact of feeding is only one aspect - maternal mental health, well-being and simply choice and comfort are part of the mix, too). It's about support for what the mother is doing. and wants to do.

OffMyAyersRocker Mon 09-Nov-15 17:33:28

But tiktok all you hear is that you should ebf until 6 months. I bf dd1 until she was 8 months but l am genuinely interested in hearing what Skipton has to say.

It's not going to stop someone from bf if that's what they want, but I'm sometimes a little sceptical, especially if bf babies need vitamin drops why it's pushed so hard.

tiktok Mon 09-Nov-15 18:01:30

Ayres, anyone saying what a mother 'should' do can safely be ignored. The guidance (originally from WHO) was to inform government and other agencies what the best outcomes are from a public health perspective, and they are not instructions to individual mothers smile In the UK, the recommendations are based on that research, but even they don't say what you, or any other individual 'should' do.

"Exclusive breastfeeding (giving your baby breast milk only) is recommended for around the first six months (26 weeks) of your baby's life." (that's from the NHS stuff).

I sound as if I am being disingenuous - I know there's a tendency for all of us to interpret recommendations as instructions on what we 'should' be doing. But we don't have to interpret it like that. Instead, we can look at the recommendations, and bear them in mind as we decide what is best for us...who have real lives and real needs and real pressures. If we want to breastfeed exclusively to six months, then of course we should be enabled and supported to do it. And that does not include cheer leading in the face of someone having a miserable experience sad

Re: vitamin drops - they're recommended for babies from the age of six months, not because of a gap in breastmilk's nutrients (formula feeding babies need them too - but they're added as part of the manufacture when formula is processed) but because our lifestyles in the 21st century mean we don't get outside sufficiently often with our babies, and
because some babies are slow to get solids which might have vitamin D, and because ethnic groups who need more vitamin D find themselves in northern climates where it's cold and dark.

None of that means breastmilk is 'lacking'.

OffMyAyersRocker Mon 09-Nov-15 18:36:45

Thanks tiktok. And l agree 100% with your comment 'what is best for us'.

I had all the time in the world with dd1 to get bf on track. I'd also have the time (and energy!) to continue to express but getting to 2 months for dd2 has been hard work and a little detrimental to the whole family which is why l have to stop at that point.

Skiptonlass Mon 09-Nov-15 19:34:03

The reason I say that about the research ...

There's little doubt that colostrum is pretty magic stuff. But the long term impacts are really hard to quantify. It's inctedibly difficult to tease out the effects of breast v bottle in well nourished western children. Don't get me wrong, formula has been pushed in poorer countries where it absolutely should not have been (expensive, unnecessary, non sterile) and that's reprehensible.
But there's very little quality research showing better outcomes in the west. What you have to realise is that it's really hard to separate out other factors, confounding factors, from the study. So maybe your mums who exclusively bf are wealthier, because poorer mums have to go back to work sooner - wealthier tends to correlate with better health outcomes anyway... It's a very difficult field to do quality research in.

There's been a lot of research on it - one study I can think of recently is the one that says there's a small iq rise. Looking at that I honestly can't see how they can be confident they've removed all the potential confounding errors.

Bottom line, it's one of those things that seems obvious ( the milk we produce has to be better right? We've evolved that way ) bit is incredibly difficult to actually prove.

Anyway, I'm playing devils advocate a bit here and I don't want to derail ops thread. I bf and I hope to continue. I also think there's not enough support given to women who want to feed and struggle. I also think no one should feed bad about using formula. There's a lot of pressure and guilt around eh whole issue.

Aliceinwonderlust Mon 09-Nov-15 19:38:04

I completely agree with you. I had supportive friends and family but so many people thought it was strange to not default to bottles.

I've lost count of the number of woman who described perfectly normal breastfeeding to me (painful nipples, not being able to express from day 1, baby needing milk constantly trough the night) and the finished with "and that's why I had to give up! I wasn't able to breastfeed! Not enough milk"

I drank loads whilst breastfeeding, I wouldn't worry.

rudolphistheboss Mon 09-Nov-15 19:51:17

My ds is 12mo and is dairy intolerant. I asked for help and advice from the gp and dietician and i got prescribed formula. When I said I'd prefer to continue bf for now they all looked at me like I had two heads! I got no advice on how to up his calorific intake, other than give him this formula. No advice on calcium etc, just the formula.

I completely agree. If I even mention bf (in passing, as in 'i was feeding ds in the night when...') then everyone jumps in defending why they formula fed and how it was much better for them. Why doesn't anyone ever just say 'ok' ?

howabout Mon 09-Nov-15 20:01:22

I EBF DD1 because it was just easier. We were moving around and I had no help, so as long as I was doing it all myself anyway it seemed a lot simpler not to bother with bottles and formula etc.

With DD2 it was one way of ensuring I got time with just me and the baby. DD1 actually got very adept at snuggling up for a story while I was feeding or enjoying me sitting still watching her play though.

DD3 was early and had quite a lot of expressed bottles to get her established. I did intend to keep it up to give me a bit more freedom, but it was just too much bother.

No axe to grind on which is better but I still think EBF is easier especially now that formula has to be made to order and fed on demand. Also just as you can tend towards a routine after the first few weeks with FF I did this successfully with EBF.

My personal bugbear is that apparently EBF babies are always crying because they are hungry whereas FF babies are windy, grisly, overtired, fed up, uncomfy in their nappy, teething etc.

WheresMyBurrito Mon 09-Nov-15 20:15:33

I agree with you OP. When DD was only a couple of weeks old I had a relative asking "oh, so are you going to give her a bottle [of formula] as well?" I think certainly in my family there's only me and my auntie who have breastfed. My mum ff me and my sister. My dad remembers my grandma ffing my aunties. My aunties then went on to ff themselves. My cousin is ffing. And so on...

I'm so glad my auntie breastfed actually, because it was so good to be able to have someone there in those super early days who knew what I was going through.

Are you part of any local support groups? They've been an absolute godsend for me. Just being able to go somewhere for a couple of hours and sit with other bfing women each week is lovely.

I'd have some wine if I were you though. I'm feeding DD right now and I have a (small!) glass of wine on the table grin

WheresMyBurrito Mon 09-Nov-15 20:19:03

Also (I'm on a roll now) - I don't know if this has been your experience OP, but the number of medical professionals I've encountered who just assume you're not bfing!

I've been prescribed antibiotics twice since having DD and neither time did the GP ask if I was bfing. I've had to take in my own research on what antibiotics are suitable for bfing mothers. Doesn't exactly fill you with confidence...

SweetAdeline Mon 09-Nov-15 20:27:31

How is it hard to control for wealth Skiptonlass? Surely you can control for wealth in the model like we do regularly in social sciences. Ditto education. are they not just added as explanatory variables? I see the "confounding factors argument" a lot on the internet but the few studies I've read have controlled for both income and mother's education level.
As a caveat I don't know this particular literature well at all but in my discipline an article wouldn't even be published without at least a discussion of why the confounding factors are unlikely to be a problem, or, in most cases they would be included in the statistical or econometric model.

OP I had the same issue with dc1 but by dc2 they just assumed I knew what I was doing and was mostly left alone.

cwhite Mon 09-Nov-15 20:27:48

Just one suggestion - lots of women I know have had a horrible time breastfeeding. i found the whole experience more traumatic than the birth, we had so many problems and it was horrendous. I suspect if people are making suggestions about formula it may be because they have had a really hard time with it too and know how difficult it can be to change. It was talking to my GP about how depressed I was about it that finally got us to move on from a horrible situation. Congrats though if it's working for you! I'm always so impressed by people EBF as I had such a hard time of it.

Diddlydokey Mon 09-Nov-15 20:36:41

It's interesting, I'd bet that part of it is you feeling defensive and projecting and part that your friends are feeling judged by you and feeling the need to defend themselves. Also, if you are complaining of being tired or it being relentless, they might see it as a solution.

I bf for 6 weeks with a bottle in the evening from 3 weeks, then ff. I'm happy with that. I have a friend who is bfing who asks questions and disregards everything because it won't work with bf. I have regularly thought 'just give the occasional bottle then' but I don't say it. I can see why current ffers would want to defend themselves. I don't really see why she asks me anything though!!

I'd try to call people out on it if they are ramming it down your throat. 'I'm happy to carry on bfing, just needed a moan' etc

Focusfocus Mon 09-Nov-15 21:00:33

I'm exclusively Breastfeeding into my fourth week now with my new (first) baby. It's for some reason gone really well from Day 1 without any problems at all.

But I have realised that the topic of infant feeding is enormously emotive (in the west). In my home country the majority EBF as you can't afford formula if you are starving and the city dwellers FF because private medical culture pushes formula and Caesarean sections and they have both now become the norm.

But let's set that aside - we are discussing the UK here where both support for BF, money and clean water for FF and a variety of state supported and private support groups are available for women. And here it is that I have encountered the emotive BF FF debate. As I have encountered the equally emotive natural vs intervened childbirth debate. None of this exists back home and I have really struggled with understanding how and why these debates are so very very emotive here. They don't even exist as conversation topics in my country.

But I live and will live in the UK. So I've adjusted to stuff here. This means I don't discuss my biring feeding and parenting choices and experiences unless pushed to. Yesterday my SIL visited. She had a traumatic birth 3 yrs ago (I hadn't met my husband them so didn't know her) and struggled with bf, had to give up. Unfortunately this meant that our evening yesterday was spent with her comparing and contrasting every aspect of our experiences and establishing her experiences as more worthy, her struggles as far worse than anything I could possibly have and her parenting practices as superior.

While it upsets me, I understand where this comes from. So, when people make suggestions it could be coming out of genuine concern, unresolved personal issues, both, or neither. The best I think is to get on with our lives and our decisions and from time to time let things go.

Micah Mon 09-Nov-15 21:15:54

Diddly- I never moaned about breastfeeding. Honestly I was sat in hospital breastfeeding for 3 days post birth and every time a midwife passed they commented that I was feeding again, and did I want some formula.

That carried on once I left hospital. "Oh they can't want feeding again, you only fed two hours ago. Maybe your milk isn't good enough or you don't have enough, why don't you try formula and see if they go longer".

I got very good at politely nodding and saying, no I'm fine, thank you, it's completely normal to feed so frequently.

As pp said, many people would describe perfectly normal breastfeeding behaviour, say they didn't have enough milk so had to give up. Also comments like hearing bf newborns cry in hospital, must be hungry and they should have just given formula.

I have had dr's disbelieve me when I said I was ebf at 6 week checks. What no top ups? No formula at all? Never? Your husband hasn't given any? Are you sure?

Diddlydokey Mon 09-Nov-15 21:22:48

I had a different experience from hcp. It was assumed that I was ebf and no advice from hv on ff at all. They didn't seem authorised to discuss it. No bottles or dummies allowed!

originalusernamefail Mon 09-Nov-15 21:37:27

I had the exact opposite with my DS1 as well. I could breastfeed till the cows came home, didn't hurt, expressed buckets, but DS was very sleepy and could not latch. If I let him he would go 6-8 hours without a feed from the day he was born (I used to have to strip him off and tickle him every 3 hours to stimulate him to feed). I expressed milk for 12 weeks but was loosing my mind feeding expressing and sterilising used to take 2-2.5 hours in 3 hour cycles 24/7. After 41weeks of HG and SPD and a 3 day labour I couldn't take it anymore and switched to FF, it was that time I began to enjoy my DS and motherhood, however two friends who gave birth around the same time no ebf did take pains to tell me how 'it must have just been more important to them" hmm. Now pg with DC2 and I won't put myself through that again, bf will either work or it won't. Your body, your baby, your choice.

tiktok Mon 09-Nov-15 23:30:02

Interesting experiences - there's a lot of nosy-poking out there, and if any HCPs think they are not 'authorised' to discuss formula, then they are simply not doing their job.

As for research - it is always going to be a challenge to control perfectly for everything that might be alongside infant feeding in a child's life, but of course good research provides for this. Any study of human behaviour - and feeding is a behaviour - that's evaluated for its effects is subject to confounding by the unavoidable real life going on around it, but these difficulties can be overcome. It's incorrect to talk about it as if researchers are unaware of the social, cultural and other influences on whether someone is breastfed or not. The best studies also look at length of time breastfeeding and whether the breastfeeding was alongside formula or not.

Anyone interested can check out the Millennium cohort studies, for a start (which control for socio-ecnomic background as well as other aspects), and for a collection of recent reviews and papers, see

Whatever - health impact is only part of the story. It's far from always true that people who want to breastfeed only want to do it for health reasons anyway - there is far more to it.

53rdAndBird Tue 10-Nov-15 07:45:11

I got a lot of "it's fine to switch to formula, you've done really well but it's okay to give up now, it's okay to give formula, formula isn't poison, maybe just try a bottle" etc etc. Which would have been fine advice if I had been asking about switching to formula, but got a bit annoying when I just wanted to carry on breastfeeding.

I had several doctors/nurses suggest switching to formula because of antibiotics/general anaesthetic/sickness. "You've done really well to get this far, it's all right to stop!" But I wasn't asking to stop, and in all cases it turned out I didn't actually need to stop. One GP kept describing me as "still trying to breastfeed" at 4 months which I found a bit bizarre - I'm not trying, it's fine! But she was also really shocked that I wasn't using any formula ("she doesn't have bottles at all?"), so.

But then I have also heard from people who wanted HCPs/family/etc to suggest switching to formula and reassure them it was okay when they felt uncomfortable raising the subject themselves. And people who felt like they were being bullied/pressured into bf when they kept saying "I want to keep breastfeeding" and their HCPs kept trying to help them breastfeed rather than suggesting formula. So it's hard - how do you reach those women without ignoring the women who quite clearly are telling you what they want? But at any rate I'd have appreciated more people asking me and believing the answers, rather than assuming I was always secretly looking for permission to stop.

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