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To think there should be a surestart bottlefeeding support group

(50 Posts)
Reallytired Sat 19-Sep-09 18:11:14

I love my surestart breastfeeding support group. It has been a good source of advice and emotional support. I think its why partly I am enjoying my second baby so much.

I think its a pity that there isn't a similar group for bottlefeeding mothers. I am sure it could prevent postnatal depression in mothers who need support with bottlefeeding. Mothers who do not know how to make up formula could be shown and they could be given professional advice on which formula to use.

loopybear Sat 19-Sep-09 18:15:53

Hi I work at a centre and we have one, my understanding is that there needs to be support for one. Ours is a BF Cafe with the NCT and is peer to peer support. Centres always need feedback about the services their community wants, so if anyone wants a Breast feeding support group starting contact them and say!

QueenOfFuckingEverything Sun 20-Sep-09 10:12:47

But who would give the 'professional advice' on what formula to use? HCP's have no way of knowing what will suit an individual baby, and aren't allowed to make recommendations (though this does happen anyway, and the ones they tend to recommend are the ones most heavily promoted to them in professional publications and by company reps).

Parents need good information about bottlefeeding but I don't think that equates with the support needed to form a successful BF relationship in what is essentially a bottlefeeding society.

elkiedee Sun 20-Sep-09 10:52:45

I hated bottlefeeding DS1 as he ended up in hospital having lost too much weight. I found general postnatal groups quite useful, and I also found the bf support group where I sought help, but sadly it was too late for us, very kind to me - I've gone back there regularly with ds2 and this time managed to establish breastfeeding.

I don't think a bottlefeeding support group would have helped me, I needed better bf and general support at the beginning. I've noticed that where they can, people with 2+ plus babies start coming to groups, whether bf support or others, much earlier than those with first babies.

I think more groups and/or encouragement for very new mums and babies, however they're feeding, are a good thing. I needed general confidence building. With ds2, I was struggling with feeding but had more confidence in my basic ability to look after him.

fufflebum Sun 20-Sep-09 10:57:44

I think a support group for people with young babies would be very helpful whether breast or bottle fed. Having done both I think that any support after the birth of a baby is helpful. In my area it was only available to people bf. When it came to weaning and so forth support would be useful whether the child was breast or bottle fed.

I agree with the op that it would help prevent PND for women and be a source of support.

you Sun 20-Sep-09 11:13:02

I agree with Elk and Fuffle. I think more support groups in general would be a good thing.

Although having said that I'd go to a bottle feeding support group simply because I imagine it would be full of people like me who were desperate to breastfeed but couldn't. I went to my local LLL bfing group when DD was just over a weeks old (just out of hoSpital as she'd lost 21% BW) and got LOTS of dissaproving comments when I had to bottle feed her there, even though I'd gone for advice to increasr milk supply etc. I felt incredibly singled out.

you Sun 20-Sep-09 11:13:43

Sorry for the shocking typing blush

tiktok Sun 20-Sep-09 11:13:58

Of course women who bottle feed need support in their mothering, and good information about how to make up formula. Social support for their mothering can be had at any mother support group (apart from the bf groups) and good information should come from their HVs.

They do not need to be ghettoised in a separate group, solely for bottle feeding mothers.

The reason for separate breastfeeding support groups is because in this society, women need to be enabled to breastfeed - there is very little easily-accessed, knowledgable support for those that need help and a lot of commercial and family pressure and sometimes professional pressure, to use formula.

On the whole, women do not need to be enabled to bottle feed.

tiktok Sun 20-Sep-09 11:15:25

you - if you were criticised at the LLL group you went to, then complain. This is absolutely not in keeping with LLL's ethos.

CornishKK Sun 20-Sep-09 11:18:46

I completely agree, I needed support when my son (now 9 weeks) was unable to breastfeed after an unsuccessful tongue tie operation.

All that was available to me was breastfeeding support who were encouraging me to express breast milk to feed him - when it got to the stage it was taking four hours to express enough for one feed and I was so tired I droppped the breast pump down the side of the sofa and burst into tears as the milk seeped into the floorboards - noone to turn to. I actually felt pressurised by the breast feeding support to continue trying despite the fact it was making me and my PFB very unhappy. Sitting in waiting rooms full of posters saying "breast is best" made me feel like the worst mother in the world.

After four weeks of no sleep and a very unhappy baby I turned to the bottle

You don't trust the information you can find from the companies that produce formula and no-one in an offical capacity will give you any advice. I even read one Mumsnetter saying"just read the instructions FFS" , it's really not that easy. I feel guilty bottle feeding my son in public.

The only people I know with babies are my NCT crowd, all of them meet up every week at the breast feeding cafe - what do I do?!

you Sun 20-Sep-09 11:22:08

I know TT, but if wasn't comments from the counsellors themselves, but other mothers that upset me.

I agree with you that mums don't need to be enabled to bottlefeed, but I do think that there needs to be more of an acknowledgment of the mental distress that comes with not being able to brestfeed if you desperately wanted to.

My DD is 6 months now and pathetic as is is, I'm still devestated I can't feed her. I was always planning to be one of those self weaning mums grin. It literally makes me cry still to think about it. And while lots of mums may think that's way OTT, I know I'm not the only one here that feels this way, you often get similar posts. It's heartbreaking and ruined the first few months of my daughters life for me.

So purely for that reason, I think MW and HV need to realise that a mum who's had to switch from bfing may be struggling, and a support group type thing probably isn't the worst idea actually.

you Sun 20-Sep-09 11:24:35

Exactly Cornish.

I hate ffing my DD in public. I even stopped going to one sing and sign group because all the other mums were bfing- not because they were judging me I might add, but because I judged myself.

tiktok Sun 20-Sep-09 11:27:04

you - comments from other mothers should still come under the 'jurisdiction' of the LLL leader running the group. She needs to know how crap you felt.

I do think mothers who wanted to breastfeed and then didn't need specialist support - I think a bottle feeding support group is prob not the best place. This will also be attended by people who bottle fed from the start by choice and have no issues at all with their choice - in fact these mothers might well 'bond' by denigrating breastfeeding to each other, and where does that leave the heartbroken mother for whom bf was very important indeed?

I don't know the best way to offer group support to mothers who have feeding issues like this, to be honest. I know all NCT breastfeeding counsellors will offer support to women in this position, and will accept and listen to their feelings. But of course this isn't group support.

Reallytired Sun 20-Sep-09 18:02:47

I think there is very little that La Leche League can do about comments from individual mothers who aren't leaders. With the best will in the world it can be hard for a LLL to control what happens at a meeting.

How a baby/child is fed is a very emotive subject. Sometimes breastfeeding does not work out for whatever reason. I think a bottlefeeding support group would help mothers like you come to terms and be confident to go out where there are breastfeeding mothers.

If a bottlefeeding support group was run by a health visitor then she could steer the conversation to help bottlefeeding mothers move on in their lives rather than "denigrating breastfeeding" to each other. I would see a bottlefeeding support group as a way of preventing postnatal depression.

AphroditesGrannyNightie Sun 20-Sep-09 18:06:04

I don't think bottlefeeding needs the same support though?!

You just make up a bottle and go, theres not problems latching, nipple problems, over tiredness because no one else can do it, nipple thrush etc...

and Im talking as a mum who bottle fed all 3 (but tried breastfeeding and would have def needed a support group for it if I had sucseeded!)

AphroditesGrannyNightie Sun 20-Sep-09 18:06:54

I think that it would just be a specific reason to get mums together which is always a good thing though

plimple Sun 20-Sep-09 18:14:49

I'm certain bottle feeding is allowed at breast feeding support groups. There was definitely 1 Mum in my last group.
Most sure start bf groups are in areas where bottle feeding is the norm, so the breast feeders need more encouragement and support.
I don't think the bottle feeders need their own group, they just need to feel welcome at the breast feeding groups if they have questions relating to feeding. Sure Start can't be seen to be promoting bottle feeding so it's never going to happen. There are loads of Sure Start baby groups in my area that aren't focussed on feeding.

tiktok Sun 20-Sep-09 18:44:38

plimple, some bf support groups really don't have bottle feeding mothers, though. They may be asked to leave, or at least not to use a bottle. This is obv controversial - I can see both sides.

Reallytired - I don't agree the leader cannot do anything about critical remarks. She can speak to the people who made them and ask them not to do this any more, and she can model supportive and understanding behaviour and comments herself.

I used to run a bf support group. If anyone had made anyone else feel uncomfortable by criticising their use of a bottle, I would have had a quiet, private word, I promise you. In fact, we had a little handbook for our group, and while I can't remember the words now, there was something in it which covered this, so I would have shown the 'criticiser' the handbook

upsydaisysexstylist Sun 20-Sep-09 19:05:17

Loopy bear can I do a quick hijack. My NCT group is looking into setting up a bf cafe that is inclusive of bottle feeding, could I pick your brains a little. We are doing it because the rates are so low in our area and surestart seem to be all action plans and no action

cory Sun 20-Sep-09 20:46:38

We had a lovely support group at our local clinic: HVs on hand to support you with any aspect of baby care, including any kind of feeding. Lots of breastfeeding support which is all that was relevant to me, but I don't remember anyone ever making any negative comments about another mother's feeding; I think they'd have been firmly sat on by the rest of us.

brettgirl2 Sun 20-Sep-09 21:23:22

It's interesting that we talk about 'ghettoing' ff-ers but not bf-ers. Pretty well everyone I know bfeeds. I would never dream of going to the cafe - the ghetto is the other way.

As someone who did have PND at least 'connected' with failure to bf I think it would have really helped me to meet some other people who really understood.

Cornish you mustn't feel guilty. TBH if your NCT 'friends' can't see that you are upset then I think you should find some new ones.

Reallytired Sun 20-Sep-09 22:02:18

I think the problem with general groups is that mere the sight of a breastfeeding mother can upset those who are struggling with breastfeeding failure.

I'm lucky in that breastfeeding is the one part of parenting that I have been good at. However I have experienced post natal depression and I would not wish it on my worst enemy.

I haven't a clue what to say to someone who has failed at breastfeeding. I wish I could help them, but ulimately I don't have a skills. If my taxes could pay for someone could help people like Cornish, You or bretgirl2 move on in their lives and avoid post natal depression I would be glad.

brettgirl2 Sun 20-Sep-09 22:12:06

FWIW I don't find the site of a bfing mother upsetting, most of my friends are bfing and it would hardly have made me feel better if they were also miserable.

TBH reallytired the way to help is to be nice, be a friend. And don't harp on about how well you've done all the time with the pain of mastitis. FFing a tiny baby is also painful and they may see you as lucky IFYSWIM.

Reallytired Sun 20-Sep-09 22:18:27

I have to admit I don't mix much with first time mums brettgirl2. Its not a diliberate decision, its just I don't have the time.

I avoid people with babies who are similar age to mine because I hate all the comparing of children's development. My son's development was quite slow and I have horrid memories of people with 9 month old babies boasting that their child could walk when my two year old was waiting for physio.

The mums of my son's seven year old friends have long forgotten about babies. grin

CornishKK Sun 20-Sep-09 22:37:47

Physically & practically of course bottle feeding is simpler than breast feeding - but emotionally, for someone who desperately wanted to breast feed, it's very hard. I really needed someone to tell me it was OK to formula feed my PFB and that I was still a good Mum. There was no-one there to do that for me - although I was contacted by three different breast feeding counsellors, one who suggested that I have the tongue tie operation done again as they may need to cut a bit deeper, erm, no thanks! My son is still seeing a cranial osteopath to try and sort him out after the first tongue tie.

A source of impartial advice for formula feeders would really help - just a list of the different formulas available, ingredients, benefits & drawbacks would have been very helpful. To even get on the Aptamil website you have to click to say that you accept breast feeding is best for your child. Yes, I BLOODY know that!angry

In fairness the guilt and feeling of isolation I get from bottle feeding is largely self induced - I doubt people are really judging me the way I judge myself. Serves me right for pre-baby looking at Mum's bottle feeding young babies and thinking, "God, I'll never bottle feed my children"

Thanks Reallytired, your taxes would be appreciated! I think if we could just have "feeding support" rather than breast feeding support that would help - we can all be a big pile of milky loving support together.

Oh, I should say, the girls from my NCT class have actually been lovely when I have spoken about the bottle feeding thing - although I tend to avoid the subject as I feel so envious of those that can breast feed. They get good support from the breast feeding cafe, I just wouldn't feel comfortable joining them.

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