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What do you do if you don't want to breastfeed

(24 Posts)
Carriel Wed 09-Jul-03 15:58:06

Ok final few requests for stuff for the next mumsnet book on pregnancy - I promise! Although it's essentially a pregnancy book we've decided to include a few threads on feeding - breast and bottle - and although I'm sure the advice I need is buried in the site somewhere, there's just so much I thought it might be easier to start again!
So if you can cast your minds back to those first fearful days (and remember most folks reading the book will still be pregnant) - what tips/advice/hints would you give someone who has decided not to breastfeed? Both practical advice - getting into a routine for sterilising/dealing with night feeds, dealing with milk coming in etc and emotional - peer or professional censure/guilt/lack of guilt - whatever!
I'm also putting requests for advice on the first week of b/feeding and tips from those who had particular breastfeeding problems, so please look out for those.
Thanks in advance

SamboM Wed 09-Jul-03 16:25:35

Hi Carrie, I think you've missed out a category here, what about those of us who can't breastfeed for medical reasons? I take immunosupressants for Crohn's disease, if I breast feed they will compromise my dd's immunity at the most vital time. I believe there are many other drugs that you can't breastfeed on.

There are plenty of problems associated with this, the main one that I found was the medical profession and their attitude to it. Midwives would come up to me in hospital, see me with a bottle and tut at me without bothering to look at my notes or ask me if there was a reason I was not b/f. It makes me feel very sorry for those who choose not to b/f as I can see the problems they face!

Also, the never-ending posters, leaflets, lectures about how breast is best make you feel a total failure. I almost came off the drugs against my doctor's advice because I felt so awful about it. He finally persuaded me by pointing out that millions of children are successfully bottle fed and would my daughter not miss out more if she had a bed-ridden, sick mother.

Even in ante-natal classes I was told that the hospital was "baby-friendly" and that they would not discuss bottle feeding as a result. After I totally lost my rag and everyone else backed me up they agreed to talk about it.

I was even approached by strangers and asked why I was bottle feeding such a small baby. I resent having to justify myself to complete strangers and have to admit that more than once my response was f**k off and mind your own business!

So, to your questions!

Things that I found tricky:

Getting information about formula is a nightmare, you can't get advice about which milk is best for your baby (although I was finally told in a hush hush way that Aptamil was best if you were an allergic person). Why is there no information on this?

Routines for sterilising - I always do it in the morning and make up the bottles for the day. Cool them in a sink of cold water and refrigerate. All the literature says use within an hour of getting out of the fridge, this is not always possible if your baby is a slow feeder, I think 2 hours is fine personally, my dd never had a problem. I once fed her a bottle that had been out for 7 hours by mistake and nearly had a heart attack! I called the manufacturer's helpline and they said it should be fine (and it was).

I have discovered by trial and error that the best way to feed in the night if you don't want to go downstairs to the fridge, heat up the milk etc all with a screaming baby is to sterilise a bottle and put it together with no milk in it. Take it up with you and take one of those mini cartons of milk. Then just pour the milk in and feed away! It will be room temp so no need to heat.

Another good tip is to always keep a "Steri-Bottle" which is a disposable, pre-sterilised, re-cyclable bottle in your changing bag, along with a carton of milk. Invaluable when your made-up bottle leaks or if you are out longer than expected and it gets warm. Also good if you take out water in the bottle and mix up the powder with it, the water sometimes leaks and you are stuck then.

Can't help on the milk coming in question as I was on so much morphine I didn't feel a thing!

Good luck to all those bottle feeding mums!

SamboM Wed 09-Jul-03 16:33:31

Whoops, sorry that was so long!

mears Wed 09-Jul-03 16:43:57

I agree with SamboM. One caution though is to check out with breastfeeding experts which drugs are compatable - most doctors don't have a clue. I have spoken to many women who have been told they can't breastfeed taking certain drugs, and they can.

SamboM Wed 09-Jul-03 16:51:34

Yes, I agree mears. My Obs Consultant wrote to the Imperial College drugs bit (sorry can't remember what it's called) for an opinion as there appeared to be differing advice.

I may have sounded a bit anti b/f in that post, obviously I do agree that breast is best but I think that it isn't always possible and it's hard enough being a new mum without that added pressure.

nobby Wed 09-Jul-03 17:01:17

SamboM covered lots of good stuff - especially keeping spare supplies of cartons and disposable bottles in the pushchair/car just in case you're out longer than you think. Great for peace of mind. Cartons are great anyway if you are out - or at night - as there's no need to keep milk cool. Just open and pour into the sterilised bottle.

The benefits of feeding? fathers can take over a night time feed - I used to get to sleep between 10 and 5 (bliss). Plus grandparents and friends absolutely love giving feeds.

It seems that bottlefed babies tend to sleep longer at night at an earlier stage - a nice full tummy.

You can mix up all the day's bottles in one go and once you're practiced it takes about as long as it does to clean your teeth - easy peasy. Can either be kept in the fridge and pulled out when necessary or just filled with boiled water and powder added just before needed - can measure powder and keep in a special container. Most sterilisers can hold up to 6 bottles which is ample.

Once bottle is sterilised, keep a cap over the teat until used. If not used then resterilise after 24 hours anyway.

There was a recent discussion about whether to warm up the milk. I think the concensus was that it was not really necessary - which is great to know when your baby wants a feed and wants it now. although, I wuoldn't feel comfortable giving chilled milk straight from the fridge to a young baby. Cartons keep milk at room temperature so don't need heating at all.

Position for feeding - try to get as much body and facial contact as possible to encourage bonding, especially in the early days.

Can't really help on the milk coming in question as I expressed for the first 3 weeks and fed breastmilk in bottles - although the milk slowed down very quickly and I did get mastitis.

Watch out for the baby becoming dehydrated as formula can be more cloying then breastmilk (is the fontanelle depressed?). You will probably need to give some cooled boiled water to even young babies in the summer.

Be VERY careful when measuring out the formula. Too much or too little affects their diet considerably.

Most brands do a version for older, hungrier babies. Mine switched at 3 months and was better for it.

Remember that formula has been used for thousands of years - tribes in the Amazon make up a version using almonds - so don't feel bad. If, like me, your baby couldn't breastfeed then by giving it formula you are doing the best for it that you possibly can.

Don't want to go into all the guilt again. SamboM summed it up brilliantly. Just remember not to judge other mothers as you have absolutely no idea what their circumstances are.

Enjoy it! There's something so wonderful about watching your baby guzzling down milk with obvious enjoyment. Very special.

Carriel Wed 09-Jul-03 17:17:16

Will definitely amend the heading to don't want to/can't breastfeed.
Was trying to avoid people coming on sat=ying everyone can b/f they just need the right help and had of course completely forgotten recent thread on those taking medication. Big apologies, thanks for all advice so far

eefs Wed 09-Jul-03 17:17:49

ahha I can be on both threads I had to mix feed for a while for various reasons.

things I found handy -
I second SamboM's comments - establish a routine for making the bottles - I found that making the bottles last thing at night meant I could start each day fresh without a paniced rush in the morning. I also found that if I made the last bottle at night with boiling water and brought that up to bed with me by the time the first feed of the night was required I had a bottle to hand that was the prefect temperature.

Try to start feeding with cold / room temperature bottles - it will save so much hassle in later months. A bottle warmer/hot water is not always available.

get to know the different types of formula available - they all have different qualtities. It'd be easier to have an idea what brand of formula you are going to use - the first time I bought formula I stood in the aisle for ages reading all the labels totally confused.

Some babies take a dislike to certain formula - don't be afraid to try another brand.

Big advantage of bottle feeding - other people can do it too - make sure you take turns at night (if possible) so that you can have the occasional night of uninturrupted sleep - it will help you recover so much faster.

Ignore people who say you will not bond as well if you bottle feed - ever notice how a baby will stare at the feeder while being fed, it's a wonderful feeling.

It is possible to mix feed.

SamboM Wed 09-Jul-03 17:20:12

Well said!

Another great thing about bottle feeding is that you know how much your baby is drinking. A lot of breast feeders worry about that I know.

And you can eat and drink what you like and go out and leave the baby with someone else without worrying about the feed.

codswallop Wed 09-Jul-03 18:19:37

Make your husband in charge of bottles its good for them with their"advanced spatial awareness"!

eidsvold Wed 09-Jul-03 18:47:32

I always made up dd's bottles the night before ready for the next day. Helpful as she needed early morning feeds with medication.

Do not use a lot of premixed cartons as it can lead to constipation as they are a richer mix than the ones you mix yourself. Only put in exactly what it says ie. one scoop per fluid ounce and no more.

Dd was recommened aptamil so as not to cause any problems - medical reasons.

Guilt is a hard one although I had no choice dd was tube fed for the first two months of her life and I just could not express for her after a few weeks - stressful times and hereditary. I just reminded myself that I was doing the best I could in the circumstances. There was no pressure from medical staff either way - some mothers breastfeed and others bottlefed - that was in SCBU so I can't comment about a 'normal' ward.

I had a cold water/microwave steriliser so I could chose what I wanted to do. Never bothered with the rinsing in cooled boiling water - was told just to shake out remaining sterilising solution and go ahead.

We warmed the milk for a while but then in preparation to a trip to Aus we let her have it cold/cool from the fridge and we do not warm any milk at all now.


vivie Thu 10-Jul-03 21:59:34

I desperately wanted to bf, especially as ds has eczema, but finally had to admit defeat at 3 months when he had failed to gain weight (1 oz in the previous 3 weeks and not much before that). The advice from HV, bf counsellor, my mother, etc, to continue with bf because 'breast is best' was well meaning and totally supportive, but wrong for us. Within hours of having his first bottle of formula (soya) he was a different child, happy, sleeping well, smiling ... It was like flipping a switch. I felt double guilt then because I had failed at bf and caused my poor child to suffer all his life through hunger. However, once my hormones had calmed down, and I'd had some sleep, I could see that bottle feeding my baby was the best thing for both of us and my advice to new mums would be that yes, breastfeeding can be wonderful, but it doesn't always work however hard you try (and I tried b****y hard)and sometimes it's not the best for every baby.

mears Fri 11-Jul-03 23:47:34

Just a point of debate - bottle feeders always say they can see how much their babies are drinking.....does that mean though that they know their babies are having enough. A breast fed baby may get 12oz at a feed. Would a bottle fed baby be given that amount without the mother being concerned?

Dinny Sat 12-Jul-03 01:43:36

I always offered dd more if she drained her feed. My tip is to use the Avent measuring-thingy - add formula to pre-boiled bottles of water, very easy. Also, chin up to all bottle-feeders - don't feel guilty, you ARE a good mummy(ies) xx

Eeek Sat 12-Jul-03 09:10:00

Some thoughts: mixed feeding should be more widely discussed - the either/or attitude to breast/bottle feeding helps noone. If you do stop for some reason you can restart if your milk's still there. Real helpful advice on the early signes of blocked ducts etc and what to do about them would help. Massage OK, but how long, hard etc. Keep a carton of formula milk in the freezer just in case you run out and can't make the shops. A diswasher basket for teats etc makes the boring bit of washing up before steralising more bearable. Also, make it the husband's job to do the bottles at a time of his choosing -it's the last thing you need on top of everything else.

StripyMouse Sat 12-Jul-03 09:44:04

Worth remembering that what goes down (breast milk or formula) so often comes straight back up at you! When buying all those bottles and formula, worth grabbing a big handful of muslin squares. I thought i would only need 2 but soon learnt my lesson and went back for more within a week of DD being born. These are usually white and I found early on that when you meet up with a group of mums and babies, it can get very confusing whose cloth is whose. I dyed all of mine (accidently as it happens) a lovely shade of turquoise and that stopped all the confusion, making life just a little bit easier.
One last point on this loverly topic - worth investing in a good quality carpet and upholstery cleaner as getting milk stains and smells out of furniture can be a nightmare...

daisylawn Sat 12-Jul-03 09:55:58

My tip would be - don't assume that babies will drink the same amount of milk, equally spaced throughout the day. Some times of day are hungrier than others!

wobblymum Fri 01-Aug-03 09:42:18

stripymouse - thought I was the only one who had milk deposited everywhere! Just this morning got a nice big white patch on the carpet thanks to dd!

Just decided to switch from mixed feeding to bottles (feeling so relieved about it) and so I started looking through the threads and found this one. I wish I'd found it before - would have made me feel less guilty about considering switching. Before, I felt like everyone was either bf'ing or had a much better reason than me for stopping!!

Good advice - not sure what I can add from my limited experience. One strange tip I have is that if you have a baby that always takes a long time to feed and you need to keep the bottle warm, having a hot water bottle is really handy. Ok, it takes longer to do than a bowl of hot water but it's guaranteed to stay hot for a couple of hours, wheread the hot water goes cold within 15 mins. If you don't fill the hot water bottle too full, you can sort of wrap it around the bottle and it keeps warm really easily.

That's my main experience so far, as dd really hates the milk being anywhere near cold and especially at night the hot water bottle means I can take it up to bed, have a nice snuggle in bed with it, then still have it hot when dd's bottle needs keeping warm. Then it'll keep the bottle warm until she finishes her feed and when I finally get dd off to sleep and get back to bed, the bed's gorgeously warm!!! Brilliant!!!

BigBird Fri 01-Aug-03 09:54:08

My tips:

Definitely get them used to room temp from early on, a lot less hassle

I second Dinny about the Avent travel measuring container. You can have 3 bottles of boiled water out with you and this avent tub with 3 seperate sections to put your pre-measured formula, then you just tip it in, shake and Go!

Keep a diary of feeds and sleep from the early days (I have one from about 3-12 weeks). It's great to look back on to se the changes.....I can see that my dd went from 13 feeds in a day to 6 in about 2 weeks!!!

Demented Fri 01-Aug-03 12:43:01

I have a friend who has a great tip for bottlefeeding (in fact she may be lurking as I have recommended Mumsnet to her). She takes out her bottles with only half the required amount of water in them and also takes a small flask (littlest flask I have ever seen, v cute) with freshly boiled water in it and when she is out she tops up the bottle with the cool water with hot water in the flask to the amount she needs for the bottle and then adds the formula from one of the Avent tubs, voila one bottle at the right temperature. I was very impressed, that way she doesn't always need to be in a cafe or mothers' room at feeding time.

boyandgirl Fri 01-Aug-03 13:09:40

If the Avent container is too big for your bag, or you need to carry more than 3 feed's-worth of powder, the smallest jars of baby food (Organix) are perfect for carrying powder portions, and are the perfect size for tipping the powder into a wide-necked bottle.

Room-temperature feeding - absolutely! We used to sterilise, boil and make up all the bottles plus 1 spare after supper, and leave them out overnight. Boiled water doesn't need to be refrigerated and it takes seconds to make up the feed as, when and where you need it.

Do not screw the rings down tight on a bottle that has boiling water in it as it will tighten too much as the water cools. Leave the rings slightly loose and tighten them once the water has cooled to a comfortable temperature. If making up a bottle with powder and hot water don't shake - the bottle will leak no matter how tightly you screw down the ring - stir with a sterilised spoon or swirl the bottle around to mix.

Some formulae cake in the teat when you shake the bottle, especially if the bottle is very full. So just before you shake it turn the bottle carefully over and shake upside down so that you don't shake the powder straight into the teat.

A very nice way to feed a baby who has more-or-less straightened out but is not ready to sit yet is to cross your leg with ankle resting on opposite knee and 'hammock' the baby so that its head rests in crook of knee and legs drape over thigh. Particularly good for men (my dh loved it). It's less tiring for arms and you get lots and lots of visual interaction.

Just before feedign the baby, tighten the ring on the bottle and then loosen it about 1/4 turn (you'll soon work out just how much). This ensures that the teat is tight enough for the milk not to leak, but loose enough for air to replace the milk in the bottle as the baby sucks. If the teat is too tight then air doesn't come in, the baby has to suck too hard and the teat collapses.

Our ds was very windy and we found that feeding him from the Avent disposable bottles helped a lot, because they collapse as the milk goes down, thus not needing air to come in to replace the milk. The incoming air can make the milk frothy like a milkshake, and that can make some babies windy.

fisil Fri 01-Aug-03 14:44:49

I have some advice about coping with the guilt that seems to be a part of bottle feeding a newborn, which of course shouldn't be there at all.

I desperately wanted to breastfeed but stopped after 2 weeks when I realised that I'd been through childbirth with considerably less pain! My biggest fear about bottle feeding was the "Breast Is Best" lobby. If you want to breastfeed but can't or aren't suited to it, have a standard put down ready for when you get interrogated about it. I was most insulted by the frequent question "Are you feeding your baby?" as it implied that I wasn't providing him with any nourishment at all - I always replied "I find he gets very hungry if I don't." I know it sounds childish, but I couldn't be doing with people imposing extra guilt on me alongside everything else you experience with a newborn!

I had helped my Mum to bottlefeed my brother when I was in my teens and loved the intimacy. I was really looking forward to breastfeeding my own child as I thought it would be like that, but even better. I was gutted to find you don't get the gorgeous cuddles and adoring eye contact with breastfeeding that you do with bottle feeding. I only felt that I started bonding with my son once I'd made the switch to formula - and of course my partner felt the same.

wobblymum Fri 01-Aug-03 15:10:15

fisil - well said!! I've found that I've bonded much better with my dd since using bottles - probably because I'm so much more relaxed and can concentrate on her. Also, I know what you mean about it not being easy. We're already considering whether we'd like another kid (to keep the age gaps as little as poss) and the thought of delivering again doesn't worry me at all but the thought of trying to bf again really makes me reconsider, at least for the time being!

boyandgirl Fri 08-Aug-03 15:13:23

Don't bother to buy the 4oz bottles, go straight for the 8oz ones. 4oz bottles are useful if you are using the wide-necked ones and they are too big or heavy for the baby to handle when he or she starts feeding themselves.

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