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No wish to breastfeed - partner putting me under pressure to give breastmilk

(169 Posts)
AuntyFlo Mon 07-Sep-09 09:47:25

Hi everyone. I'm a first time Mum and am 38 weeks pregnant. Apart from the hormones and normal first time Mum jitters I've hit a stumbling block with my partner who wants me to express.
I have no wish or desire to and will be happy to give formula milk.
He made me feel like a terrible person when he knew I didn't want to express and was questioning my decision.
I got very emotional, felt like he was trying to over shadow me and ended up having to justify my reasons amongst the tears.
I reminded him that it's my body that's going through pregnancy and the after bits and that the pressure I felt to 'be the best' and 'give the best' whether it be washing powder, travel system etc was getting too much as it was.
I said that I needed to feel supported in my decision not made to feel like an awful person because of my choices of how to feed.
I've noticed in books it's shoved down your necks that breastfeeeding can be successful if you have a supportive partner, family etc but surely that goes for any method of feeding????????? My family and friend by the way have been great
Please give me your feedback - any would be really helpful when feeling like this

Jennylee Mon 07-Sep-09 10:07:03

its up to you, if you feel like that do not let him pressure you, bf can be so hard even when someone really wants to do it, it is quite a commitment and the babies feed very often for for long periods. Is nice that he is so caring but he needs to remember you need to have support whatever you do, and not be made to feel bad, if you feel like this. I'm a bf but if you don't want to do it, it is your decision there is more to being a mother than just the first 6 months bf bottle feeding debate.

charleymouse Mon 07-Sep-09 10:07:22

I can understand you not wanting to express it is a bit of a faff, perhaps you could compromise and say you will give breastfeeding a go for a few days because every little BF helps, especially the colostrum in the early days. Then you can move to formula if that is what you want and he can feel you have tried to do what he wants for his baby.

Are there are any underlying issues which you think make you not want to give baby your milk.

tiktok Mon 07-Sep-09 10:10:13

AuntyFlo, it's a real shame that so many women feel their pregnancy and their babycare is somehow up for judgement and comment by other people and it's understandable when this results in distress and resistance

But the choice of feeding is far more important than the travel system and the washing powder - yet just as you are not an 'awful person' for choosing Brand X instead of Brand Y, you are not an 'awful person' for wanting to formula feed

This is something you need to discuss with someone who won't judge and who won't put you under pressure and who won't reduce you to tears. It's reasonable for your partner to want his child to avoid the risks of formula milk, but not reasonable for him to upset you in trying to 'make' you breastfeed. There may be deep and personal reasons why you don't want to breastfeed - it's a whole lot more complicated than a travel system!

Have you met a midwife you can talk to about this, perhaps share in confidence your reasons for feeling so sure you don't want to breastfeed? That way, you can tell your partner you have explored this option, and you may find you get some questions answered, too.

If you decide not to breastfeed, then there are ways you can reduce some of the negative effects of formula feeding, and the midwife should share these with you, too, not to judge you but to inform you.

Hope this helps.

llareggub Mon 07-Sep-09 10:10:28

Why don't you want to breastfeed? It really is so much easier than faffing around with bottles, sterilising and expressing.

What is it about breastfeeding that doesn't appeal? Perhaps we can give you some reassurance?

laneyjay Mon 07-Sep-09 10:10:30

So sorry to hear that you feel so under pressure. I think by this point in your pregnancy everything can feel like too much. My MIL was a nightmare, not about breastfeeding but over everything else! I thought she would show up for the birth at one pointshock

As you said, everyone is keen that you breastfeed, the books, the midwives and usually well meaning friends so its good to hear you family and friends are supportive.

Its really important that you do what feels best for you. A new baby is great but you'll be tired and full of emotion and you need to feel comfortable with your choices.

While I was pregnant I was not keen on BF the thought of it just didn't appeal and I couldn't imagine myself feeding my baby, all be it discretely, in front of family or friends or in public. For me, I decided that I would give it a try but told my MW and husband that if it wasn't right for me then the baby would be formula fed. (I probably thought that I would give it a go, be repulsed and that would be that.)

Apart from the first couple of days of getting latching correct and sore nipples I found it incredibly easy and still BF my 10 month old. In a way, I will be sad to stop and not making up formula and sterilising bottles has made life so much easier.

No pressure is meant by any of this, just thought my experience and how I felt may be of some help.

Stick to your guns if Formula is really the route you want to take. Good luck.xxx

warthog Mon 07-Sep-09 10:11:56

i bf both dd's for a year each and didn't express. why does he want you to do it? so he can feed too?

i'd suggest that you don't need to make any decisions just yet. give bf a try and see how it goes.

everything is so new and so overwhelming. take things a step at a time.

mamadiva Mon 07-Sep-09 10:35:28

A friend of mine had this problem, I think men get caught up in the flow of 'what's best for baby' and forget about the womans needs sometimes because they are left to stand helpless for 9 months and feel they have to do something to hinder help

Your eeding choice is completely up to you, I would say though that don't jump in and choose a method before you know all the facts, I had my son 3 years ago and was adamant I did not want to breastfeed becuase of all the hassle, pain and basically because Iknew niothing about it and did'nt ahve anyone to ask. So I forula fed happily for the first 3 months and then my friend had a child whom she breastfed, when I saw how easy it was and learnt more about it I was gutted. Gutted that I had never asked or been given information about breastfeeding and that I had'nt even tried.

I realise now I don't regret not breastfeeding, I regret not being well informed enough to make an informed decision, so find out more about it before you make your final choice but don't let anyone else tell you what to do!

Sorry for rambling but hope that helps

AuntyFlo Mon 07-Sep-09 10:50:22

thanks for all your feedback
When I say about pressure getting the best travel system, washing powder etc, I mean everything is hyped about getting 'the best' of everything - even the trivial things like washing powder..... LOL
There are many reasons as to why I do not wish to breastfeed.
My partner knows this and was under the impression I would express. Then, when I said I didn't want to do that either he pushed the issue and said it wasn't about but I or he wanted but about what was best for our child.
I am very overwhelmed by the whole thing and my confidence level is shaky as it is without pressure to produce the goods with my boobs!
Why should I say I'll give BF a go just for other peoples wishes? Surely the distress of doing something I don't want to do is worse for me and baby than the magic breast stuff?
It would feel so much better not to be questioned or scrutinised and just to be supported.
I know many breastfeed babies and formula fed ones, and the difference - absolutely nothing!Some of the breastfed ones always have colds and various allergies and some of the formula fed ones (gasp) have excellent immune sytems and the bond with Mum is there as is with the breastfed!

mamadiva Mon 07-Sep-09 10:56:16

I'd say that a travel system is worse for baby than formula TBH, so tell him that!

tiktok Mon 07-Sep-09 11:05:00

AuntyFlo - what do you feel about talking all this over with a midwife?

If you are certain to be very distressed at breastfeeding, then of course this needs to taken into account when making your decision.

Your understanding of the health impact of breastfeeding and formula feeding is not right, though, sorry I am not criticising you, but truly, there is no controversy about the health risks of not breastfeeding to you, and to the baby. They are real and measurable. Saying there is 'absolutely no difference' in health is not a good argument against breastfeeding!

There is no need to 'give breastfeeding a go' because of other people's wishes - this is your decision. But you might want to at least find out a bit more, to think about what it might mean to your baby (and your partner) to try it....just as you might do anything else you are initially not keen on, because it's important to other people (in this case, your baby and your partner).

(That's why I finally learnt to drive a car, BTW! Because my partner wanted me to, for the convenience of the family, and because my kids would benefit from me learning! I really, really didn't want to for myself and I had quite deep reasons for not doing so...I'm glad I did, of course, now. Is bf a bit like that, do you think?)

girlafraid Mon 07-Sep-09 11:08:11

AuntyFlo - I desperately wanted to BF and was devastated when it didn't work out (inverted nipples, anaemia, crash c section which got infected) I still wish I could have BF and support BFing 100%

HOWEVER you could not pick my DS out of a line up as the sickly FF baby - he is very healthy and happy. You are entitled to your reasons for not BFing, if you don't want to do it - don't do it. Make sure you get the facts on FF now (it's not as straighforward as it seems) and your baby will be fine

When I was weeping over my "failure" to BF a midwife said a very clever thing to me:
"The only thing we insist on is that you feed your baby"

Do what makes you feel OK and congratulations on your impending arrival x

stillstanding Mon 07-Sep-09 11:08:30

AuntyFlo, I'm sorry that you have such a negative view of breastfeeding and I'm also sorry that you don't feel supported. I know that pregnancy and having your first child can feel totally overwhelming.

A lot of posters on here have given very sound and good advice which I agree with and they are sensitive in ways that I can only aspire to because I have to say that there are a few statements in your post that jar with me ...

There are a lot of reasons why BF is best for the mother and baby and I think it is important that before you make this choice that you make sure that you are very well-informed about the consequences and implications of that choice. Your statement "I know many breastfeed babies and formula fed ones, and the difference - absolutely nothing!Some of the breastfed ones always have colds and various allergies and some of the formula fed ones (gasp) have excellent immune sytems and the bond with Mum is there as is with the breastfed!" makes me think that you have not looked into this as thoroughly as you should before making this decision.

If I was your partner I have to say I would be very concerned by your decision and would be doing everything I could to change your mind. It must be very frustrating when something so important to your baby gets to be decided by someone else.

sabire Mon 07-Sep-09 11:21:12

AuntyFlo - seriously, you shouldn't be making a decision on this based on what you 'see' in front of you. You wouldn't be able to tell which kids at my dd's school are fed on appalling diets at home from looking at them or their health records, or which ones have been exposed to tobacco in the womb. Surely you must know that it's unsound to make irrevocable decisions for your baby that may have life-long health consequences, in the same way you would choose a pushchair or cot? You need to do some proper reading and research before coming down on one side or the other.

I do feel for you, but I also feel for your partner. My brother is a molecular biologist who did loads of research into breastfeeding before his first child was born. He was desperate for his dc to be fed on human milk, while his partner wanted to bottlefeed. In the end she did breastfeed, for a year, and has breastfed her second child too. For a while though there was a fair amount of conflict between them over this issue; I'd hope you wouldn't have to go through the same.

Bubbaluv Mon 07-Sep-09 11:46:02

Welcome to the wonderful world of doing things you don't want to do because it's in the interest of your child. wink
You will soon enough find yourself telling your DH that you don't care what he wants because it's not about him it's about the baby - and you will feel totally justified in applying such pressure.
We all, including your dh, know that breast is best, so I'm afraid that if you chose not to bf because you just don't want to you will simply have to deal with the fact that people will judge you. Think of this as layer one of the rhino hide you will grow over the years of people dissaproving of your choices.
Give your DH a break though - he is totally entitled to an opinion about how your baby should be raised and in this intance he sounds like he is hardly being unreasonable.

MilaMae Mon 07-Sep-09 15:12:40

You need to explain to your dp that there are lots of preferable elements to parenting that you won't be inclined or always able to do. It's not the end of the world if you don't do everything perfectly and you won't be awful parents if you don't pull it all/any of it off.

In an ideal world we'd all be

bfeeding until 6 months
weaning onto a 100% organic diet
allowing no screen time
hearing our child read every day
banning sweets
etc etc etc

However we don't all live in an ideal world.None of us do it all perfectly.We manage to do some of the things we're told are preferable some we don't,we may manage just a bit of some. So you may not breast feed -big deal your dc may end up being weaned onto a diet 100% healthier than many breast fed kids enjoys who knows.

Your dp needs to look at the bigger picture and have as his aim a happy,healthy 18 year old ready to go out into the world with happy parents. When you focus on this and realise the long journey you've got ahead of you everything is put into perspective.

Good luck smile

warthog Mon 07-Sep-09 16:15:09

forget about travel systems, pushchairs, monitors and all that crap. let your partner make the decisions on those.

but i do think what you feed your baby is very important. there are plenty of really good health benefits for BOTH of you:

- you can eat more as you're feeding the baby
- food is with you wherever you go. no worrying about making up a bottle
- no sterilizing
- no mixing up bottles for the day
- it's FREE
- baby gets your immunity
- you enjoy lower risk of breast cancer later on
- if you want to, you can express so your partner can get involved and you can have a break.

pros of ff:

- it doesn't have to be you feeding the baby
- erm, can't think of any others.

please don't dismiss it offhand. i think it's the single most important decision you can make wrt to your baby's first few months.

MrsTittleMouse Mon 07-Sep-09 16:28:52

I don't know if you have some very specific reason to not breastfeed (previous traumatic experience or something) so this might not be relevant. But...

I agree with everyone else it might be worth trying. I found that breastfeeding was something that actually came easily when I had DD2. The midwife gave me the baby, we put her near my nipple, and hey presto, successful breastfeeding. It really was that easy. And then I had all the benefits of breastfeeding - which for me in the early days had less to do with the health benefits for her and me, and a lot more to do with the convenience. I don't have to sterilise, I don't have to make up bottles (which is actually a bit of a faff since the new guidelines) and there is no waiting for bottles to warm in the middle of the night with a screaming child. Plus, when we go out, I always have enough food and drink for her, with no packing, and even if we're out all day with no notice.

I had worried about "discretion" as I'm quite a private person, but I breastfed in front of a mirror at first (top Mumsnet tip) and realised that you really couldn't see anything. And I breastfed in other Mums' houses and other BFing friendly places at first until I felt comfortable.

It's your choice at the end of the day, of course (not your partner's), but if you breastfeed for a day, or a week or a month and hate it, you can always stop, and your baby would have had a lot of benefit.

thisisyesterday Mon 07-Sep-09 16:33:02

i agree with y9our partner. breastmilk isn't "the best" and formula an adequate substitute.

breastmilk is the optimum food for ytour baby and formula feeding carries risks. your baby is far more liekyl to suffer from gastro-enteritis, diabetes, obesity and excema/asthma if fed formula rather than breastmilk

this IS your decision to make. but please make sure you are informed properly before you make it.

interesting article here

OrmIrian Mon 07-Sep-09 16:37:04

" the pressure I felt to 'be the best' and 'give the best' whether it be washing powder, travel system etc was getting too much "

Sod the washing powder and the travel system. They don't matter. BFing does.

BunnyLebowski Mon 07-Sep-09 16:37:14

Totally agree with warthog.

Maybe, although not expressing it in the right way, your DP just wants what's best for his baby.

TAFKAtheUrbanDryad Mon 07-Sep-09 16:39:28

I have found breastfeeding to be a very healing experience (had previous trauma). I'm not saying that it will be for you, but maybe it's worth not writing it off altogether? I know that I felt very overwhelmed during the last few weeks of pregnancy, you don't have to make a decision now, see how you feel when your baby's born. smile

Peabody Mon 07-Sep-09 16:40:14

Don't be pressurised into breastfeeding if you don't want to do it. The most important thing is that you bond with your baby and enjoy your time with him/her. Nothing else is more important than this.

AnnieLobeseder Mon 07-Sep-09 16:46:47

I'm afraid I agree with your DP. After all, even though it's you who wil have to do the feeding, the baby is 50% his too and his opinion should count. And what he wants is for his baby to have the best possible start in life.

Why is it that you would be expressing rather than bf-ing?

I know that bf-ing is sometimes a struggle, and I would never judge a women who had tried to bf but not been successful. But I will never understand women who won't even try. Surely if you decide to have a baby, you agree to the pregnancy, the labour, and the feeding afterwards. Your baby relies on you to do your very best in all three stages.

Please at least try. As others have said, formula really isn't an 'acceptable second choice', because the health risks to ff children are higher, like it or not. You might find bf-ing easier than you thought, and it's definitely cheaper, quicker, less effort etc etc. Plus an amazing bonding experience with your new baby. And keep in mind that every single feed your baby gets has enormous benefits, so it really is worth giving it a go for as long as you can.

If you came on here looking for people to tell you that it's OK to not even try to bf, I don't think you'll find many. Sorry if that's not what you wanted.

Good luck with the new baby!

winnybella Mon 07-Sep-09 16:47:49

I agree with MrsTittleMouse: I would give it a try.
The truth is that you have a choice between giving your baby breast milk, which is what nature intended and giving him formula, which is an adequate, but inferior alternative.
Unless there are health issues, post-traumatic stress disorder etc.,I feel that you should at least try do breastfeed.
Of course, your baby will be fine on formula. But he will be even better with breast milk.
I really hope you won't take it a wrong way- it is your decision to make and giving formula won't damage him. I can understand your partner wanting to have some say in what your baby will be fed, though. But, in the end the decision belongs to you, since it's you who would be doing bf.

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