Why I chose to formula feed my babies

Today I wanted to post about something that tends to be a bit controversial in the world of mummies and new babies. Before my first baby Noah arrived I had quite a highly strung view on the age-old debate of breast feeding versus bottle feeding. Of course I was going to breast feed Noah because that's what you're supposed to do as mother, right? The point was drilled in further at just about every antenatal appointment I had and I remember feeling excited to begin feeding and nourishing my baby once he was born.
I had read the books, 'learnt' the positions (as far as I could pre-birth) and when Noah was born I felt confident that he would be breastfed right from the word go.

What I hadn't considered through my own naivity was the possibility (small though it may be) that I just wouldn't be able to provide the necessary milk supply to maintain his tiny body. Noah's first week of life was possibly the most stressful of mine as I breastfed him continually around the clock. I'm in no way exaggerating by saying he fed pretty much every hour for very long periods of time. I didn't really understand why his feeds seemed to go on for so long and why they had to be quite so frequent but, as a first time mum, I just went along with it.
It wasn't until day three or four that a problem was noticed. The figures for his weight just didn't seem to add up. I was doing my hardest to feed him on next to no sleep for myself and yet he was consistently losing weight to a point where he was almost admitted into hospital.
My confidence in breastfeeding all of a sudden was shattered. Why wouldn't it just work? What was wrong with me? Just a few of the questions I was asking myself amidst the near constant pressure from well-meaning health care visitors to just keep going... "try this, try that".

The reality was that my poor baby was hungry, losing weight, not receiving nearly enough nutrition from me and all of a sudden the idea of introducing a bottle feed was our only option. 

I remember giving him that first bottle feed and crying because it felt like I was poisoning him- a result of the pressure I felt put under to souly breast feed and how I was repeatedly told formula was a poor substitute for the high value of breast milk. In the end it was still drilled into me that breast really was the best option- even at the apparent risk of making Noah very poorly. However, after a few days of combination feeding he was weighed and, for the first time since birth, he had a gain! I couldn't believe how well he did and how much I have that first formula feed to thank for making him finally turn the corner and begin putting weight on.

After that initial hurdle, I never looked back. I managed to combine breast feeding with plenty of bottle feeds in-between for six months before I gave up breast feeding as he was keen for solid foods by that point.

In the weeks leading up to Jonah's birth many of these old memories re-surfaced and I wondered whether we would be in for the same experience this time around. I remained optimistic about having a go at breastfeeding and seeing how he got on. Yet within Jonah's first couple of days the same pattern began to form with his need for constant feeding and a very minimal weight gain which, again, was not consistent with the amount of time spentbreast feeding him. My husband and I took the approach not to hang about waiting to be advised that I was doing the right thing- even if baby was going a bit hungry! We got our formula and bottles together and slowly introduced them to Jonah, much to his apparent delight. We now have a calm and contented little baby that didn't have to go through half the stress Noah did in his first weeks. Thankfully, I'm still breastfeeding and I plan to continue for as long as I can. 

 I now recognise that in my case, as with many other mothers out there, breastfeeding really wasn't enough for my hungry boys. I couldn't keep up with their demand to be fed and, as emotionally difficult as it is to accept that reality as a mother, I am so thankful that formula is so easily accessible to us. It has saved my boys from a really difficult start to life and has completely transformed my previously judgmental views about formula feeding.

In the end I have come to believe that breast isn't necessarily best. A happy, healthy baby is best and whatever approach you take to reach that end goal is the right way for you and your family, regardless of your preference of feeding. 

There is a lot of pressure, particularly on young mums to breastfeed and sometimes at the expense of both baby and mother. It's a shame my own experience was a bit tainted by poor advice but I'm glad I have the confidence to know a bit more this time around and to know myself a bit more.

So, to all the breastfeeding and bottle feeding mums out there- you're doing a fantastic job and at the end of the day, if your child is well, content and gaining weight, that is really all that matters!

Happy Wednesday all!
Love Bunty


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