Breastfeeding. Since the introduction of formula milk, women have been provided with choice in how to feed their child. I am, as I’m sure 99% of midwives are, very much in favour of breastfeeding. Benefits include: providing an infant with gallons of nutrients, improved brain development and a reduction in the risks of obesity and diabetes (just to name a few). It also saves the total hassle of sterilisation, which requires organisation in terms of actually having a bottle sterilised for every feed. Organisation is certainly one thing brand new Mothers do not have time for. Alongside these factors, breastfeeding creates space in the day for a woman to sit, (hopefully quietly!), with the stranger that they have created, and spend some time together. You must allow yourself time away from the hustle and bustle to get to know your new tot, and, them get to know you – from the outside!
The crucial benefit of bottle-feeding is, of course, that you get to share the feeding. Those men have to get their hands on at some point, and night feeding is certainly something that almost demands sharing. It’s also useful for those moments when you’re caught out in a shop with a screaming, hungry baby, but, you cant quite find yourself a comfortable enough seat in which to whip your boob out. Totally understandable! Bottles, in this case, are lifesavers! However, ways around this include expressing into bottles and taking them in a cooler bag (there are lots of special, small ones for bottles). It does mean though, that if your baby wont take milk when its cooled, and many don’t, that you’ll have to find a nearby café who will provide you with hot water in order to warm up the bottle.
Despite breastfeeding undoubtedly being the best feed for infants, at least for the first 6 months, I’ve experienced women on the brink of a break down because they’re struggling to do all the feeding on the breast. This can be due to a variety of factors such as tiredness, a demanding feeder, a comfort feeder, and growth spurts – the list goes on! You are not alone. I forever tell women that if you’re feeling this way, substitute some feeds with the bottle! Firstly, stress actually causes your hormone oxytocin (which stimulates milk production), to lessen and therefore milk production is decreased. Secondly and fundamentally, a baby would prefer a happy mum who is giving a couple of feeds from a bottle than a frustrated (probably sobbing and scoffing ice cream) mum who’s feeding exclusively from the breast. Give yourself a break and create a feeding structure that suits you. Even if your baby is receiving one feed a day from the breast, that’s still better than none and you should be proud of every breast-feed that you provide.
You should never feel guilty or disappointed for not exclusively breastfeeding, even if you had your heart set on it during pregnancy. The struggles of breastfeeding are not discussed anywhere near as much as they should be. Breastfeeding takes patience and a lot of perseverance (through cracked nipples, swollen breasts and that initial pain when the baby latches on). Breast is best, but a bottle thrown in is even better if you’re on the brink of a breastfeeding breakdown.
Feeling Bumpy xx