Monday, 16 July 2012

Breast vs bottle - the dilemma of a 2nd time Mum!

When I was pregnant with Leo, although nervous about the pain of labour, I was quite relaxed about how it all might turn out,  I had a vague birth plan -  avoid an epidural or c-section if possible, would quite like a water birth, but failing that gas and air or pethidine.  The main aim was to have a baby and I wasn't planning to beat myself up about how that might happen.  

The same applied when it came to feeding him, I planned to breast feed as 'that's what you do' but I had brought a steriliser and bottles before birth just in case (No formula though - really didn't think that one through as I realised at midnight on the first day home!)  I also had a breast pump as I was going to express so Aaron could feed him too.  I said many times while pregnant when asked if I was going to breast feed (Why do people insist on keep asking that anyway, what's it got to do with anything?!)  that I would if I could, I never said a definite yes as who knew if I could? 

It turns out that I didn't breast feed at all, I tried immediately after birth but nothing happened, I guess now because of the pethedine making him too sleepy, but he pretty much slept for the first two days.  I remember wondering in the afternoon /early evening (he was born at 11am) if I should be feeding him but he was asleep   and I assumed he would cry when he was hungry.

I can't remember what time I tried again, or how many times I did whilst still in hospital, I know it wasn't really working, a couple of midwives came and went and sort of helped me and in the end I thought he had latched on but looking back I realise he was just sort of sucking and not getting anything.   I didn't enjoy being in the hospital at all and was desperate to get out so when they said the next morning I could go as soon as he had fed and I was happy I told them that he seemed to be feeding ok.   I wasn't 100% happy but I thought he was getting something at least.

He didn't 'ask' to be fed until midnight and I couldn't get him to latched on at all, he was crying and crying and I got very stressed which ended up in Aaron making a dash to the local 24hour petrol station for some formula,  I'll never forget the moment when I put the bottle in his mouth it was like the solution to all the worlds problems in one go!

Next day I tried to breast feed again, but same problem, he would just get so upset as I tried to manoeuvre him into a better position. The health visitor came and tried a couple of positions with me, grabbing me and trying to help but still nothing happened.  She suggested I gave him a little formula and try again later when he was less hungry.  After a couple of days I came to the conclusion that it was not worth it, he was so contentedly taking a bottle and it just seemed stupid to go through this upset each time.    I did try to express but after 40 mins only managed to produce the tiniest amount - I gave him that and then carried on with the formula.

Aaron enjoyed feeding him and to be honest I loved the freedom it gave me. I had only planned to breast feed for a reasonably short while anyway probably until he got teeth! (its just my personal thoughts but I find it a bit odd when kids are old enough to ask for it and get the boob out themselves)   and apart from feeling a bit like I might have given up too easily on about day 5 and being a bit emotional, I was more than happy with my decision. 

This time round I'm really not sure what to do,   I probably shouldn't admit it but a part of me actually hopes I won't be able to breast feed again, not sure why - maybe because it means the decision is taken away from me.  I know all the reasons why 'breast is best'  but I also know that formula is fine, if I'm really honest the main reason I want to / feel I should breast feed is the ridiculous price of formula out here which I really can't afford which just makes me sound a bit tight.

I can't imagine breast feeding and I'm really not enthused about doing it in public (why I don't know when I used to happily sunbathe topless)  I have no nursing bras or suitable breast feeding tops,and can't afford to buy any. (although I realise I'll have to buy formula anyway!) and it may sound very selfish but I can't bear the idea of feeding for the large amounts of time and as often as I've heard about, plus the pain and discomfort that it seems that everyone has to battle through.  Even without Leo to look after I can't bear the thought of having to feed so frequently.  I'm sure Leo will find it all hard enough without Mummy having a small person attached to her all the time, and at least with bottle feeding he could feel like he was helping.

I'll give it a go though, even if I just do it for a few weeks, you never know I could take to it like a duck to water this time and be a complete convert.   I've heard many people say that you should avoid pethidine as pain relief in labour as it can hinder breast feeding - however I believe that's the only pain relief available here so pethidine it might just have to be!


  1. I had pethidine with my first labour but I put my son on my breast as soon as he was born. The first day or so he just sucked for 'fun' as such... he was sleepy and my milk hadn't come in yet, but all that sucking is what makes the milk to come in on day 3. Both of my boys were born tongue-tied as well but I was taught well by the midwives (in Australia). Have a look at these instructions - they show how you're supposed to put the baby's lower lip way below your nipple while holding your nipple up with your finger, once the baby's lower lip is in place, let go of your nipple and it sort of flips into their mouth in the correct position. For me, this technique was the key - if babies latch on just straight, then they take just the tip of the nipple and it's painful for you and not much milk comes out so they get fussy.

    Whew. Long one :)

  2. Well you know my views on this one; I breastfed all of mine as I the cost to bottle feed would have been prohibitive and frankly arsing around with sterilising and making up feeds was more faff than I could be doing with. Obviously as Joseph & Hannah were in special care I had to express for a few days for when I wasn't there but to be honest MrsB (below) is right, it's all about technique and if you get a good midwife that shows you how then breast feeding is a breeze.
    Obviously it is a personal decision but I think you might be pleasantly surprised by just how easy breast feeding is once you're in the swing of it.
    The twins were 3 when Adam came along and we bought them plastic baby dolls each (a boy for Joseph and a girl for Hannah) and they used to sit on the sofa with me with their babies stuck up their jumpers 'feeding' them :-)

  3. I'm certainly going to give it a go - apart from all the obvious benefits to them the cost of formula is even worse here. Many people have said how bottles are such a faff but it quickly becomes 2nd nature - although it would be nice to go out without trying to work out how many bottles you need to take!

  4. Thanks hun, and well done for expressing for so long with Isla - that must have been even harder with your recovery and the boys to look after.

  5. Thank you for your comment, I'm off to have a look at your link now :)

  6. Emma you know my feelings on breastfeeding. I'm sure some people see me as the "breastfeeding nazi" and yes I think it would be lovely if EVERYONE breastfed but some people cant and just don't want to. Whatever.
    I think that, if in your heart, you don't want to do it or don't feel comfortable or confident to do it then you shouldn't. It's all about patience, and the realisation that it might not come naturally straight away.
    I had a really hard time with Harry for the first 3 weeks but we got there in the end. It's not going to be perfect straight away as the baby needs to learn and you need to learn your baby too. It's all about team work, working together to get into a rhythm and so on.
    At one point I was getting worked up due to the pain mostly because Harry had a lazy latch. My shoulders were by ears, I was tense, I wasn't relaxing and it didn't help. A BFC came to see me and told me to relax, knowing she could sense my stress made me relax and soon after that we found our rhythm.
    My husband was also really supportive. He's pro-breastfeeding and has helped if I need him too. If you have the support from your husband it certainly makes things better.
    I've never had a problem with Charles whilst I'm feeding Harry. Let them
    watch, explain what you are doing. Charles thinks its magic. He also thinks I can fix anything though and I have lost count of the many toys, stickers etc I have had to breastfeed because they are upset.

    You need to do what is right for YOU.
    Don't worry about what other people think.

    Ok I'm pro-breastfeeding but I wouldn't judge you for not breastfeeding. I'd rather you be a happy mummy confident in the choice you made xx

  7. Donna@MummyCentral16 July 2012 at 18:56

    Amazes me how people fight for choice - but they still expect you to make the one they consider is "right".
    You should do what's right for you honey. I breastfed for 6 weeks first time and just 4 days the second. It was so hard and my boys wouldn't latch directly onto the breast (only through nipple shields).
    It was a relief second time around to make the decision to go to a bottle. We moved when the baby was 6 weeks old and there was just so much going on that breastfeeding too would have been unbearable.
    But I have a friend who hated the idea and didn't breastfeed at all. She has two happy, healthy kids.
    Having had PND I know how important it is for children to have a happy Mum.
    Yes, breastfeeding has its benefits. But it's not the end of the world if you decide not to.
    Either way, you shouldn't need anyone's approval to make the decision that works for you.

  8. Crystal Jigsaw16 July 2012 at 19:00

    I was never asked about breastfeeding, and it's a good job because I had absolutely NO intention of doing it. My daughter was born in January 2000 and back then formula was still readily available in hospitals. Amy was given a bottle shortly after birth and I never once considered trying her on the breast. I don't knock those who wish to breast feed and insist it's the best for baby, but I won't listen to them I'm afraid. My daughter is a healthy, fit and very beautiful 12 year old. My choice to bottle feed was just that - my choice. I blogged about this last year after a spate of breast is best posts that were starting to annoy me - and I made my point in the post that I don't think it is best, my daughter is living proof. I was slammed down by a few breast feeding nazis, one in particular accused me very rudely of being "extremely selfish". The choice is yours, not theirs. It's no one else's business whether we bottle or breast feed our babies, and therefore this subject shouldn't even be discussed with outsiders.

    CJ x

  9. I'm with you, not sure if I will breastfeed if I have another one, not sure I *want* to! Do what's right for you as a family, but as I've said before, "If formula was harmful, why do they sell it?"

  10. I'm completely with you about the posts, every breastfeeding week I sigh and press delete on numerous posts that I would normally read.

  11. Yes, yes, yes!!! With all the health and safety rigmarole we have these days, why indeed would they sell it!! xx

  12. I am a Breastfeeding Week blogger and the reason I write those posts is to offer support to people who may need it. If one of my posts helped just one person, then it's totally worth it.
    Breastfeeding Week posts for me are an opportunity to share my experiences, good and bad, to help others and so on.

    I'm not having a go but it's upsetting to read that you would sigh at my posts.

  13. I'm sorry that you're upset but you know my story; you have read and commented on my post, and I've written for your blog on this subject.

    While it might be upsetting for you to know that I sigh about another breastfeeding post, how upsetting do you think it is to be reminded of my breastfeeding experience which saw my son unconscious and in an ambulance at 1am in the morning at 3 weeks old? To be in such pain that I couldn't hold him in the ambulance as he was unconscious? To sit awake for 48 hours watching him to make sure that he was going to wake up again and not vomit in his sleep? So yes, when I see a breastfeeding post, I sigh. Not everyone has positive breastfeeding experiences and for some mothers the promotion of bf-ing week is a painful time.

  14. I can understand both of your views, I have read your breast feeding posts (mainly whilst being pregnant this time rather than when you wrote them) Lauren, and they are encouraging and it's nice to know your experiences. However, I have often skipped over breast feeding posts (and there are hundreds out there, I don't just mean yours) in the past feeling a bit like I missed out so I can see TheBoyandMe's point especially as she had such a bad time compared to me.

  15. ok so as you know i did breast feed both of mine. personally i think if you are able to breast feed you should.
    i also understand that some women do not get on with it, cannot achieve a perfect latch and get stressed which in turn makes baby stressed which results in a panic and then formula is offered. If it wasn't for Jon's mum i too may have stopped breast feeding before i got going because i lied at the hospital and said i was doing it well!!!
    I think that unlike formula, with breast feeding you cannot tell how much milk your baby is getting. you have to trust your body to do its job and that when your baby sucks a lot one day he/she is doing it to make your boobs produce the goodness it requires. its all about believing in yourself and your baby and body.
    However, as much as I am also a pro-breast feeder I am also of the belief that it is YOUR baby, YOUR body, YOUR decision and no one else's. only YOU know how you feel and if you re already dreading it then maybe you shouldn't start and go straight to formula ? there again you may take to it better this time and not look back.
    at the end of the day the single most important thing is this: your babies health and development and your mind set as a mummy. only you will know what to do for the best, no one else, we can only offer advice and guidance and support as your friends.
    its a lovely post Emma - really interesting xx

  16. Glad you enjoyed the post :) I wouldn't say I'm dreading it, if so I would go straight to formula, it's more I'm a bit nervous (for some strange reason) but I would like to give it a try, not going to beat myself up about it though, will just see what happens.


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