Now that we’re a little passed that all important half way mark with our bump, it really is time to start preparing for her arrival and thinking about how we are going to make the adjustment as a family as easy and as stress free as possible. One of the things I have already been asked a million times is how I will be feeding our baby girl. The first thing that comes into my mind when people ask this question is “with milk”, but whether it is right or wrong for them to even ask, I know what they really want to know is whether I will be breastfeeding or bottle feeding.
I’ve been around the baby world for a long while now, what with Beebies opening in 2012, and I have met and become friends with so many Mama’s over the years. I’ve also been witness to so much debate over which method is best, whether it’s okay to breastfeed in public, does bottle feeding your baby make you a bad mum? I know children, well, people who have thrived on both. I’ve watched on the side lines as amazing Mama’s have struggled to feed their little ones the ‘natural’ way, and yet because some of society says that breast is best, put theirs and their baby’s health at risk because they didn’t want to seem like a bad mother, or feel like they were letting the side down. I’ve seen bottle feeding Mama’s publicly attack those who breastfeed on social media because for some reason a bit of side boob offends the eye. On both ‘sides’ I’ve seen mothers whose babies just couldn’t escape the daily pain of colic and silent reflux. Gosh, I once even read a facebook post one day stating that by not breastfeeding your baby, you’re sentencing him or her to an early death. Needless to say, I unfollowed this Banana in a split second. What a load of old tosh. In my eyes, as long as baby is fed and loved and looked after, none of the above should even matter. Jeeze.
So what are we planning to do and why? I’m sorry, the answer isn’t going to be a short one.
Noone can be sure how things will go yet, but our plan is to bottle feed. And there’s a whole host of reasons why we feel that feeding baby this way will work better for our family set up. But firstly let me say, our decision to bottle feed does not in any way discredit those who choose to breastfeed. I am a big admirer of those who do. I’m just not sure it’s for us.
Daddy & Daughter Time | One of the main things that came to light when we were discussing this, was that Sean would like to be involved in our baby’s feeding routine. Now, yes, I know so many couples who both have a role when breastfeeding is concerned, but I also know a few Daddies who have really struggled to bond with their little one as only Mama is able to comfort and feed her and I don’t want Sean to feel like he can’t settle or provide our daughter with what she needs when she’s hungry. We’d really like it to get to a point where there is one feed per day that is solely his, be it first thing in the morning before he goes to work or just before we have our tea or go to bed. Of course, he will spend other time with her, but we want this to be their constant, their special time of day when they both know where they’ll be – their own little routine within a routine which in turn will give me, as the person who will be there day in day out, a little breather. Maybe even a chance to have a bath or put that pile of washing I’ve been tripping over all day away, or get out of the house and walk the dog. Blimey, perhaps I will even have a nap. Also, we’re both aware that having a newborn can get a little overwhelming – your whole life changes in the blink of an eye, and suddenly you become the answer to your new little sleep thief’s every need. If one night, after days of no sleep I momentarily lose the ability to cope with another night feed, Sean will be able to step in and take the reigns for a bit and that is already taking a bit of weight off of my mind.
Getting into a routine | Ha! I hear your laughs as I type. Is there really such a thing as routine when you’ve got a newborn? Either way, I’d like to give it a shot as I’m a bit of a planner and without a set routine to my day I’m known to go a bit stir crazy! With a bottle fed baby you are able to form the shell of a feeding routine. I am told bottle fed newborns tend to feed every 3-4 hours which already starts us off on the right foot when it comes to our daily routine, with the added bonus of knowing exactly how much food your baby is taking in through the day rather than whipping your boob out each time baby decides she wants a bit more!
I quite like my boobs | Over the last 23 years, I’ve become quite fond of my chest dwelling friends and for all of this time they’ve belonged to me and me only. As controversial as this may be, I’m not so sure I am ready and willing to share them. A friend of mine recently confided in me that she no longer feels like her body is her own since having her little girl last Spring and that she was really struggling to find her own identity. She felt like all she was, was a pair of boobs, a milking machine for her little one and as much as she loves breastfeeding, S’s comfort feeding on demand was becoming a little too much. Of course, she is seen by everyone else as more than just a milking machine! She’s a friend, a fiancée and still the same old person I knew before she had her little girl but she felt crap and stripped bare of her self. Sure, she’s bounced back. As a family they are working to wean their baby off the boob and she’s feeling a lot better. I worry though, that I wouldn’t be able to bounce back as well as that and that I would feel, I don’t know, trapped. And that’s no good for anyone’s mental state.
There’s nothing like feeding a baby | A baby cuddle is pretty good, but with the addition of a sleepy feed I think feeding a baby is the crème de la crème of baby squishes. Especially for women. Grandma’s and Granddads love to settle down in the armchair and feed their grandchild. Aunties and uncles are no different. And so who am I to rob our parents, siblings and friends of that special moment with this little one who has been so longed for by all? Besides, sometimes Mum and Dad just need five minutes. Be it for a wee, or to actually be able to eat something warm at a family barbecue instead of juggling a paper plate of… wotsits and the last of the egg sandwiches from the kids table. Also, we have a huge and sometimes rather loud family, and so making sure that baby girl is comfortable socialising and being around everyone is important to me and I think this time spent with other family members, even if only for a 15 minute feed, will help her.
A little bit of Freedom | If you know us personally, you’ll know that neither of us really lead a party lifestyle. We’re much more comfortable at home with our slippers on in front of CSI or chilling with friends and family with a takeaway. However that’s not to say that we both enjoy the occasional couple of drinks at the pub or an evening out with friends – sometimes together and sometimes apart. I am hoping that if baby is bottle fed we can rest assured that if I want to head out for a couple of hours, I can do so without the worry that she might need a feed.
I might go back to work | In fact it’s quite likely that I will have to and I want to make sure that from the onset, we lay the foundations to ensure that at whatever stage I return to the office, the transition is as easy as possible for baby and I don’t think we’d be able to do that if I were to breastfeed. Firstly having been bottle fed, she’ll be used to drinking from a bottle rather than solely from my breast, which obviously cannot be detached and packed off in the changing bag for a day at nursery! Secondly, she will not see me as the only one who can give her what she needs when it comes to food.
A lot of the above reasons probably seem a little selfish. Okay, maybe more than a little. But they all come down to one thing – a happy and relaxed Mama often (not always) makes for a happy baby. And as a family, I just think that bottle feeding is the right path for us. Of course, that might all change when baby girl actually gets here, but for now, that is the plan.
Here are a few of my favourite feeding journey stories from other Mama’s.
Alex at Lamb & Bear faced struggles while trying to breastfeed her first little boy and so chose to express and bottle feed. A good reminder that there’s more than just breast or formula to choose from!
Hannah said goodbye to breastfeeding Toby after a long four months of trying which left her feeling like a failure. She tried again with Martha and has loved their breastfeeding journey which just proves that every child is different!
Sarah finally had breastfeeding success after some initial set backs with little Lachlan.
Georgina chose to bottle feed from early on and here’s why she thinks bottle feed shaming needs to stop!
My friend Jennie has breastfed all of her children, and plans to do so with her next little one when she arrives later this year. She’s shared her experiences several times over at Edspire.co.uk
Emily shares how she knew from very early on that she’d be bottle feeding her boys, just like us. Here are her reasons.
Kerry wrote about why she stopped breastfeeding and her tips of transitioning from breast to bottle with Aria.
What are your feeding experiences? I would love to know whether your feeding plans went the way you hoped they would or whether you had to change mid course.