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Lack of Support & Info for Bottle Feeders (not bottom feeders!)

(92 Posts)
Davros Fri 27-Jun-03 22:07:58

I breastfed my son (nearly 8 yrs now) for 6 months, no problem and enjoyed it. My 3.5 month old baby girl has been bottle fed from day one and I am shocked at how little info and support there is for parents (not just mothers) who bottle feed. There is nothing that I can find. It seemed that many of my early observations were met with "oh, its because she's bottle fed", e.g. she didn't lose much from birth weight, she got hiccups a lot at first, was she constipated etc. If that is so, why isn't there more info and support available? We also had a BIG debate about what forumula to use (inc soya), what bottles, how to sterilise, what positions, how to prevent wetting her clothes etc etc but NO info or suport and only any help if we specifically asked for it.......... I'd love to know about others' experiences and what they think.

nobby Fri 27-Jun-03 22:52:40

Hi Davro.
I agree and had a similar experience. Maybe people could drop in hints here on the PRACTICALITIES of bottle/formula feeding. And it may help the next person...

I shall go off and try and remember what we did (it was only 3 years ago but it seems like forever).

StripyMouse Fri 27-Jun-03 23:10:41

Totally agree Davros - and while I understand why midwives are pro breast feeding, if the decision has been made, regardless of circumstances, it is a shame when women are given little/no support to cope with bottle feeding. I felt that I had let everyone down and was too ashamed to even ask my health visitor or doctor about it (not out of paranoia but from having their feeling made very clear to me!)- equally, few books go into real detail/up to date relevant info about different brand’s pros and cons etc. We had to work it all out for ourselves and the bottle/sterilisation/formula debates were lengthy in our house as well! Maybe there is some useful support and advice on the web but I didn’t find any at the time. At least i know for next time and won’t allow anyone to bully me again into feeling so ashamed! (Intend to breastfeed but if it doesn’t work out, then it is not the end of the world!)

maryz Fri 27-Jun-03 23:25:08

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SueW Fri 27-Jun-03 23:48:41

Stripymouse it would be very difficult for any book to go into detail about brands not least because books have long lead times and a long shelf life and the formula would be probably be changed in the meantime! Ditto nappies - when I had DD, boy and girl nappies had just taken off. I think we're back to unisex again now, aren't we, with disposables or have we gone full circle? And books don't compare brands of sunscreen, for instance, although magazines and newspapers do regularly.

It may surprise people to hear that the NCT Book of Baby Care has step-by-step instructions on mking up a bottle, some information on sterilising and how to hold your baby and give the bottle as well as winding. It also has a piece on 'What's in a nappy?' describing poo of babies, breastfed or bottle-fed (I'm assuming here the bottle has formula milk as opposed to expressed milk). And an article on 'Choosing to feed your baby' and another about mixed feeding.

As a mother who used both expressed milk and (later) formula milk, I faced the same decisions wrt to bottles, sterilising, etc. I preferred to use the sterilising tablets as this was the cheapest option - didn't have to buy a special steriliser, etc. I can't even remember where I got my info from - probably from magazines or asking in shops e.g. Which was the most popular...? And my mum.

jasper Sat 28-Jun-03 00:57:45

HI Davros, congrats on your baby daughter.
Not what you were asking but I am intrigued as to why you are bottle feeding your second having bf your first?

Just curious. I was the other way round - bf first two babies for a few weeks with problems and switched to bottles. With no. 3 I have cracked breastfeedng and at 14m am still going strong!

SoupDragon Sat 28-Jun-03 08:01:10

Another problem is that health visitors etc would no be able to go into the pros and cons of different brands of formula as it would be construed as advertising and "promoting breastmilk substitutes". This contravenes the WHO code I think, unless I've misunderstood it (which is entirely possible!) It may even apply to the bottles & teats to.

Sam29 Sat 28-Jun-03 09:50:34

I totally agree. In our parentcraft sessions we had to ask to see a video on bottle feeding and even that was totally inadequate.
I was totally pro breast feeding and struggled with it for 2 anda half weeks before swapping to bottles when I was starting to hate the baby every time a feed was due! And when I made the change I had to get the midwife round to explain to me how to do things as I simply had no idea.
I think info should be clearly given on both and all that jargon like LCP's etc. clearly explained so you can actually understand all that stuff written on the packets.
and whilst I understand that breastfeeding is very good for mum and baby my little boy has had no rashes, no skin problems, no infections and is positively thriving which is in contrast to several of the breastfeeding babies I know!

Batters Sat 28-Jun-03 10:39:37

Davros - I too bottlefed my dd after a few weeks, and would agree that there is very little practical advice available.

PS I have been called a "dangerous woman" actually on Mumsnet for doing this !

aloha Sat 28-Jun-03 10:44:31

I mixed fed (mostly breast fed though as it was so much easier) and have to say I had no problems getting the information I needed. It just never occurred to me to ask for it. I just read the box and the leaflet in the box. I don't think you need information about the differences between brands as IMO there isn't any (not worth knowing, anyway).

Dahlia Sat 28-Jun-03 12:11:09

A tip for any bottle feeders to be - we are using Mothercare wide neck steriliser bottles - no need for a separate steriliser as you just put a bit of water in the bottle and bung it in the microwave - one bottle is sterilised in 2 mins - brilliant in the middle of the night! Or you can put in six at a time, its up to you.

ScummyMummy Sat 28-Jun-03 14:47:46

Hi Davros- don't understand this problem at all. I thought you were going to say you felt sneered at by over-zealous promotors of the breast is best message, (which I think is quite a common experience- so angry on your behalf, maryz and others who have posted) not that you needed support choosing formula. Am I being thick? Don't you just buy the one with the nicest packaging or the cheapest or the one your baby likes the taste of or whichever appeals for whatever reason- I bet they more or less the same inside. And aren't there instructions for making up bottles on the packet? And then you put the bottle in the baby's mouth when it seems hungry and take it out when it's no longer interested? I wouldn't have thought support was needed unless it was specifically asked for... sorry to be so blunt. I really wouldn't worry too much as long as your daughter is gulping it down alright and seems happy.

Davros Sat 28-Jun-03 18:29:24

I have not been sneered at at all (everyone here is too PC and liberal) and would like to be so I can use my friend's line "we've got the outside caterers in"! I mean that, having done both, there are some practical differences and some different outcomes especially with young babies. Positions are important, should you always hold them or is it OK to feed them in a chair/pram/cot, should you worry/care about how much they have, what about constipation/hiccups, why less drop from birth weight etc. I kept getting the answer "its because she's bottle fed" so I don't see why HVs, midwives etc don't at least have a leaflet saying (e.g.) "what to expect from bottle feeding your baby" or "differences between bottle feeding or breast feeding your baby", even if it says that basically all formula milks are the same, that would be interesting. Yes, I can read the tin but our big question was whether to use soya milk and what the pros and cons would be. There's so much support for breastfeeding which I found easy, you just point the breast into the baby's mouth and stop when they've finished don't you?

I deliberately didn't mention the reasons for choosing to bottle feed this time as it shouldn't make any difference to other people but, if it will help anyone be more understanding, its because I have a long term illness (Scleroderma) and I was advised by a renowned professor (NHS)to avoid passing the effects of my drugs to my baby by NOT breastfeeding. Since accepting that advice without any difficulty I must say that I am eternally grateful for that advice as I hadn't realised (apart from the drugs issue) just how much better it is for us as I also have a severely autistic son (hence the question on soya milk). The arrival of a little sister has been greatly helped by the fact the he doesn't associate her mostly with me but equally with my husband and I can spend time with my son (hours), not just quality time, school pick up and activities, but serious appointments such as his recent dental surgery and all the other things that go with having a child with special needs. It also doesn't help that I'm 43 and I am very thankful that I can rest much more than the first time round

Davros Sat 28-Jun-03 18:31:23

Having sent that message now feel a failure for revealing reason (jusification?) for bottle feeding which I decided not to do.

mears Sat 28-Jun-03 18:50:21

Davros - there are lots of books that give advice for bottle feeders, just the same as breastfeeders. My sister had to stop breastfeeding on medical advice and got lots of practical advice about bottle feeding in a baby care book by Penelope Leach. In fact, most baby care books have whole chapters devoted to bottle feeding. As a midwife I cannot recommend a particular brand because there is no one formula superior to another. Some have LCP's - some have nucleotides which the manufaturer will claim has the same benefit as LCP's. Soya milk is well known not to be advocated unless there is a good medical reason to use it. None of them unfortunately are very close to breastmilk in it's true sense. Holding babies to feed them shouldn't be any different for breast or bottle feeding IMO. Just because you can do it with them sitting in a chair, doesn't mean you should.
I do not think there is less advice for bottle feeders at all. The information is there. The only thing that should not be done in hospitals is group bottle feeding talks for antenatal women because it has been shown that it is of no value. Women should receive one-to-one teaching about the making up of feeds etc. by their midwife when they are bottle feeding. One of the biggest problems when bottle feeding is the supply of ready made feeds in hospital. In some maternity units women now make their own feeds as needed. That is the best way to learn how to do it properly but is an unpopular suggestion.

Davros Sun 29-Jun-03 23:00:48

I'm not looking for solutions to these quetions or issues here now, even with just a 3.5 month old its a bit too late, although I think this would be a good place for tips and info to be passed on. I'm just making the observation that information AND support (not necessarily just practical) is not availaible easily and freely via the NHS and I don't see why it shouldn't be. I'm not saying it should be handed out generally to all prospective mothers on the same basis as info on breast feeding but, once someone has made the choice to bottle feed, whatever their reasons, and has been able to talk it through with their HV or whoever, there should be something available. As far as I know there just isn't, you just have to read some of these other messages to see that.

zebra Mon 30-Jun-03 07:36:24

My (NHS) antenatal class had a lot about bottlefeeding in it. The midwife (who had both breastfed & bottlefed her own children) very carefully measured the formula out, poured water in and mixed, talked at length about getting measurements right, heating, sterilising, storage. How to burp. This is right after 2 babies in the UK had died due to improper feeding, so I guess there was extra motivation to make sure we did it right.

A friend says she scoffed during that part of the class, she was so convinced *she* would breastfeed. But it didn't work out, and when she was exhausted, recovering from C-section, she was so grateful that she had paid some attention to bottlefeeding, and every instruction came back to her even in her groggy, post-C-section state.

It seems like my bottle-feeding friends have had far fewer questions and anxieties than the breastfeeders. Many of the bottlefeeders I know gush about how easy bottlefeeding is. So to answer your question, Davros, I tend to believe that there must usually be "enough" support for bottlefeeders.

StripyMouse Mon 30-Jun-03 09:02:54

ScummyMummy - maybe I am just thick like you seem to suggest. However, for me it was much more than just choosing a label and shoving it in my daughters mouth. Sure, it could well have been hormonal, more over anxious desire to be a good mum and feeling like I had already failed the "good mum" test (bf) but bottle feeding was massive issue for me and yes I guess I really need more support than I got. I worried that the teats I used were going to give my baby colic, that my sterilizing equipment wasn’t as expensive as others - so was it still 100% effective? How much teat scrubbing should you do? Was it really enough? Should I be giving her extra vitamin drops or could I relax and really believe the formula packaging? How cold is too cold? On and on... I realise now that my concerns were OTT and in a calm more knowledgable state now i can see how obvious a lot of my concerns were. However, it really didn’t feel like it at the time and I could have benefitted from more support. I went to Tescos and bought a tin of every kind of Formula on the shelf because I was verging on tears that I couldn’t even decide on formula effectively! Ok, I suffered from postnatal depression and severe anxiety - but I bet I wasn’t the only one and it doesn’t make my anxieties any less real at the time.
I take the points about books and health visitors having to be careful not to be seen as just product endorcement and that they run the risk of out of date info - hadn’t thought of that one (obvious really).

I just wanted some basic reassurement that what I was doing was ok and that I wasn’t a failure rather than constant leaflets repeatedly pointing out the health risks that I was now exposing my daughter to "unnecessarily".

SamboM Mon 30-Jun-03 09:57:36

Well I bottlefed for the same reasons as you Davros, I was on drugs for Crohn's disease that didn't cross the placenta but were passed through the milk. I was horrified at the lack of information. I had no idea about which milk to choose and worried about it a lot, it is difficult to understand the sterilising process, eg how long is a bottle sterile, how long can you leave it out, why does everything say don't microwave when everyone you know does it etc etc.

I asked about it in the Chelsea and Westminster hospital's antenatal class and was told that the hospital was "baby-friendly" and therefore would not discuss bottlefeeding. As you can imagine I went ballistic and told them that it wasn't very bloody baby friendly to pass immunosurpressants to your baby and compromise their immune system from birth just to satisfy their statistics. Everyone else backed me up and said that they may not choose to or may not be able to breast feed and that they wanted to know too, so we ended up spending about half an hour talking about it, which was very helpful.

It is ridiculous that you have to fight to get information on caring for your baby.

SueW Mon 30-Jun-03 10:13:23

I've been thinking a bit more about this.

I had DD in C&W and we were told that if you wanted to use formaul you would have to bring in your own bottles, milk, etc which I thought was perfectly fair, just as you have to bring in your own nappies etc.

I planned to breastfeed but I bought a tin of formula just in case. I bought the brand I did because it was familiar to me (here's long term ad - my mum used to have a biscuit tin that was an old formula milk tin and so I grew up with that name brnaded into me!).

When I did eventually choose a formula milk, I bought the individual cartons because it was used so infrequently it wouldn't have been worth opening a whole tin. I think there was only manufacturer doing them back then so that narrowed down the choice.

I had no idea how to bottle-feed a baby until my SIL had hers. I must have been doing something right with breastfeeding because when I fed SIL's baby, my mum had to point out you don't feed a baby a bottle holding them like that.

nobby Mon 30-Jun-03 11:32:52

Stripeymouse. I totally agree with everything you wrote - could have written it myself! I had planned to breastfeed all along and had heard nothing about bottlefeeding in NCT classes etc. So when I couldn't we had all the anxiety about that and then had to hurriedly discover all there was to know about bottlefeeding in one afternoon! Of course, I still had difficulty walking so had to rely on dh to do all the preparation too. Plus I had postnatal depression and anxiety attacks. Not in the right frame of mind to calmly ferret out info.

I think that's why so many of us feel there's no info. - if we'd prepared in advance then we would have slipped into bottle feeding with ease as it is very straight forward (and satisfying). Making up the next day's bottles took about a minute and a half! It is just tricky to begin with when it is the great unknown.

ScummyMummy Mon 30-Jun-03 19:16:52

Oh right. Sorry Davros, Stripey et al. Wasn't trying to be as snotty as I can now see that I sounded, or accuse anyone of being thick, just saying that I couldn't really see the problem. I see where you're coming from a bit better now. I think there's probably little "official" advice because professionals can't be seen to promote particular products (and they're much of a muchness anyway) but I can see how it could provoke anxiety- sorry for being facetious.

SoupDragon Mon 30-Jun-03 19:28:26

I had to laugh at Davros' quote "There's so much support for breastfeeding which I found easy, you just point the breast into the baby's mouth and stop when they've finished don't you?" It *should* be easy but if you look at the number of threads on the subject here, breasfeeding is clearly not just a case of "point and shoot" so to speak

Claireandrich Mon 30-Jun-03 19:51:09

Have to agree with what some others have said here - there isn't enough support for peoplee who bottle feed (for whatever reason). When I had to switch to the bottle all I found was negative comments, often verging on criticism. The idea of mixed feeding was just as bad. I had to make it up as I went along, using an on-line discussion board (hadn't found mumsnet then) for a bit of extra advice. We all know the 'breat is best'line but for some it just doesn't work out that way. I just wish the health advisers (whether they are midwives, doctors or HV) would realise that we need positive support and advise just as much as breast feeders. Our parentcraft class didn't even touch on it. Infact one dad suggested it as a way of being involved and the midwife treated him so negatively that noone else dare mention it again! Instead we got a long video on breastfeeding and that was it. I am glad to hear that one or two people did get some mor positive support - just wish it was nationwide.

BTW as a first time mum I didn't know that much about feedinf either way, just a bit of support, advice or even just handouts/booklets would be nice.

Davros Mon 30-Jun-03 21:39:09

Sorry Soupdragon, that was me being sarcastic (TLFOW) just to illustrate that of course neither is necessarily easy. What made me laugh was the one time I tried to contact the midwives via their aircall (waste of time) I got through to all sorts of lovely helpful people who all told me to put breast milk on my baby's weepy eye!

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