First off, I would like to say that breast milk is the best milk for your little one, 100%, I do not doubt that, and I fully support all you breast feeding mummas out there. This is not an advertisement for formula. It is not promoting it. It is just support for those who are formula feeding.
This post is about my bottle-feeding journey, and I aim to support those other mums who have chosen this path for whatever reason.
My reasons are personal, as will yours be. Formula feeding, like breast feeding, is a big decision to make, and a lot of private experiences, feelings and thoughts go into making those decisions. It seems though however, that with bottle feeding, on a regular basis, you will be asked to share your reasons. By family, friends, colleagues, people in Morrisons, other mums, the instructor at your baby-mumma exercise class, your grandfather-in-law…
And to be honest, the only person who truly knows why I chose to bottle feed, is my husband. And that’s because it’s his business. It is no one else’s business. At all.
While I was pregnant, I wasn’t battling with the decision, I knew I wanted to formula feed, but I was battling with sharing my feelings with my husband. I thought he would be disappointed in me. I thought he would be shocked. I didn’t think he would understand. But when I plucked up the courage to tell him he was confused as to why I was crying. He had no idea it was a big decision to make; to not breastfeed. To him, I chose formula and that was fine. No big deal. It was a relief.
My next fear was telling the midwife. My husband took the reins on that one. She assumed I was going to breastfeed, so my husband interjected and cleared things up. She raised her eyebrows and gave me a lot of pamphlets on breastfeeding. On our form she also selected that we were, ‘still thinking about it’, rather than selecting formula feeding.
I was expecting that response, but my husband was appalled. He made her change the selection to formula feeding and put on his teacher voice. I’m glad he’s on my team.
And then time and time again after that, I knew I’d have to ‘confess’ that I was going to formula feed.
I am not embarrassed or ashamed of my decision to formula feed my baby, but I am shy, and have always found it tough to stand up for myself. So, I practised what I would say before I was faced with those conversations. “It is just the best decision for my family.” Wonderfully vague, and 100% true.
No health professionals gave me any information or support with formula feeding. I think I was given a leaflet by my health visitor, but of course, that was after I had been feeding my baby for a while, so it was useless at that point.
Despite the lack of support and information out there, I am here to tell you formula-feeding-parents, that you have nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed of. You are feeding your baby. Formula is not a bad word, it is not bad for your baby, and it shouldn’t be hidden away.
Reasons why formula is not the devil
- It is not the best, but it is second best.
- Daddy can feed baby too! Which means, you can share the load. And that is a bonus when it comes to night feeds. It also means, that Dad gets to have a special bond with baby from the very beginning, just like you. 50/50 parenting.
- Formula would not be sold on shelves if it was harmful to your child.
- You know the exact amount your baby is having.
- If your baby suffers with colic, or reflux, there are formulas that help ease that discomfort.
- Babies tend to find bottles easy to drink from.
- Your boobs will become engorged, around day 3, but then they will start their journey on returning to their pre-pregnancy state.
- You can get back to work quicker, if you need/want to, without the need to express, or arrange for your baby to come into work to feed.
- At around 6 months your baby will be able to hold the bottle themselves, which helps develop their independence.
A few things…
The colostrum in breast milk is an excellent defence for when your little one first enters the world, but that does not necessarily mean that a formula-fed baby will be poorly. Maybe I am lucky, but I have such a happy little chap, who has never been unwell.
I also must state that breastmilk is better for your little one’s gut, as it does not fully form until around 6 months. My little one has had no problems though.
My bond with my son is epic. That has not been compromised because I did not breastfeed. And the most wonderful thing is his bond with his Dad is just as strong. I love that.
No matter how you feed your baby, you are feeding your baby. You are making sure that the little being you made is loved, fed, happy, warm, and safe – if you are doing those things, you are a good mum.
Mums should stick together and support each other. Let’s keep each other afloat, even if our parenting choices are different.