Monday, 4 November 2013

Bottlefeeding - Guilt, Shame and Propaganda


I thought I had nothing better to do than to run a quick Google search.

"How to introduce a bottle"

"How to combination feed"

"Dairy intolerance - moving onto bottle from breast"

The short answer is NO, it wasn't that simple.

The Long Story

I breastfed JC until he was 8 months. I loved breastfeeding and I am an advocate of at least trying it. I have written previously about why I think breast is best (for me) and I still stand by all of that but this time has not been a walk in the park for me. I didn't keep well after the birth, I was on anti biotics which caused thrush in my nipples (ouchy ouchy, nippy nippy) and then I had two bouts of mastitis (major ouch). On top of the pain, which I soldiered on through (pass me the Blue Peter badge for perseverance), Laid Back Boy has had really bad reactions every time I eat dairy, forcing me to cut it from my diet. This has been really hard and I don't think I am always able to eliminate it completely leaving me blaming myself for every windy evening that he's doubled over in pain.

After much deliberation, I decided that instead of selfishly holding onto breastfeeding, I would do what I think is best for Laid Back Boy and start the transition to bottle using dairy free milk prescribed by my doctor.

Not only was I feeling like a total wreck  a little down about stopping but I was also feeling like I'd failed to give Jamie something that I so easily provided for JC. Nevertheless, I'm sure that good old Google will point me in the direction of solace and comfort provided by other mothers who are going through the same thing.

Did it hell.

The first site I went to was NHS. Bad decision. Full of 'bad mother, inadequate, failure' messages. Then I went on to Baby Centre which had a forum with someone posing a question relating to switching to bottle. The poor woman asking for advice was jumped upon by the judgemental breast brigade. Asking her patronising questions like 'do you really feel the need to give up the breastfeeding, shouldn't you think about what's best for your baby?' Advice to her was basically don't poison your baby with formula when you have two perfectly good and working breasts. Who gives a shit about how you are feeling, stop being so selfish.

My last resort? Formula Manufacturers website. Surely they will have some pearls of wisdom for me?

This is what I was faced with when I clicked the link to their site . . .

Breastfeeding is best for babies

Please read this important notice first

By clicking the continue button, you will be able to view information about Aptamil infant milks and other products. If you choose to proceed, you are accepting that Aptaclub is supplying this information at your individual request for information purposes.
Breastfeeding is best for babies and provides many benefits. It is important that, in preparation for and during breastfeeding, you eat a healthy, balanced diet. Combined breast and bottle feeding in the first weeks of life may reduce the supply of your own breastmilk, and reversing the decision not to breastfeed is difficult. The social and financial implications of using an infant milk should be considered. Improper use of an infant milk or inappropriate foods or feeding methods may present a health hazard. If you use an infant milk, you should follow manufacturer’s instructions for use carefully – failure to follow the instructions may make your baby ill. Always consult your doctor, midwife or health visitor for advice about feeding your baby.

Every manufacturing site had this information so I'm guessing there must be some sort of legislation attached to it. The thing is, we all know this. We're not stupid.
Formula milk is not tailored to your individual baby, it's expensive, it's harmful if you don't prepare or store it properly. It doesn't help to protect you or your baby against illness and introducing bottles will obviously lower the amount of milk you produce. We all know this. The decision not to breastfeed whether it be at the start of your baby's life or several weeks in, is a personal one and is not taken lightly. I know in my situation I really believe that combination feeding will be best for both my Laid Back Boy and me. I understand that by not exclusively breastfeeding I am viewed by the medical profession as a failure but I don't really care. They are not the ones who are having to comfort my boy in pain from colic and they are not the ones whose boobs are in agony. 
There is an endless amount of pressure on new mums and this is yet another example of the unfair expectations placed upon them. I am still breastfeeding but hoping to start introducing formula soon. I am feeling my way in the dark with it as finding any unbiased information that doesn't make me feel like shit is an impossibility! 

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