There is a pressure among mums to breastfeed. I have yet to encounter a mums group that doesn’t support it vehemently. I have seen many times when a mother who has chosen to stop has been made to feel guilty, has been insulted or has been made to feel as if she is somehow neglecting her child.
I am going to outline the disadvantages I personally found. And yes I am fully aware that this opinion is probably going to be very unpopular.
Before I begin I am in no way ‘anti’ breastfeeding. I exclusively breast fed my daughter until she was six weeks and mix fed her until she was 16 weeks. However for me, there were a number of problems I found with it.
Since introducing formula Amelia’s weight gain has improved. Yes, she was gaining weight but as she was very ill and lost a lot of weight in her first two weeks of life what little weight she was gaining wasn’t as much as I would have liked. Now she is formula fed her weight gain is more notable and on her curve in her red book she is just above the bottom line, where previously she was below it.
Her relationship with her daddy has improved. Instead of relying on my breasts for comfort she is now happy to be consoled by her dads cuddles too.
She sleeps for longer as formula keeps them full for longer and she doesn’t need to feed as often to maintain my milk supply.
If we get stuck in traffic and there’s another person in the car they can sit in the back and give her a bottle. For obvious reasons breast feeding would never have worked here. You may think this isn’t a problem. Within a couple of minutes of real crying Amelia goes bright red and starts being sick. Having her upset because we had to wait to get home to breast feed did neither of us any favours.
Another advantage is less clean up. Amelia’s reflux means there’s always a lot of sick after a feed. With breastfeeding she would easily cover both of us and necessitate a change of clothes for me and her. Not exactly ideal when you’ve gone shopping or for a meal.
Breastfeeding in public made me extremely anxious. Finding somewhere to sit and feed her was never easy and then there was the vommitting to consider. My nerves over taking her out have greatly reduced now that I know I have a bottle I can give her immediately, regardless of whether we are on a bus, in a car or in the queue waiting to pay for shopping.
The more the pro breastfeeding the adviser was the more of the following advice I seemed to receive:
Don’t give a dummy it will cause nipple confusions – she had one from the beginning and it didn’t and it’s also known to reduce SIDS risk
Don’t express it will cause nipple confusion – when she was hospitalised the doctors told me to so that we could measure exactly how much of her milk she was drinking. Again it did not cause nipple confusion
Don’t use nipples shields it will cause confusion – again this did not happen. In fact had I not used them I would have stopped breast feeding very early due to pain
Yes all research tells us that breast milk is best nutritionally. But just as much research tells us that mothers well being is more detrimental to the baby than feeding method. Unhappy mum means unhappy baby, regardless of the physical benefits of breastfeeding.
Whether or not to breast feed is a very personal choice. The only person that can make the decision is the mum. Do what works best for you. If you can be happy breast feeding that’s wonderful. If you can only be happy formula feeding then that’s wonderful too. If you are happiest mix feeding/ combination feeding then do so. Fed is best. Happy mum is best.