This is about my bottle-feeding journey. I aim to support those who have chosen this path.
|A Bottle Feeding Mumma!
First off, I would like to say that breast milk is the best milk for your little one, 100%, I do not doubt that, and I fully support all you breast feeding mummas out there. This is not an advertisement for formula. It is not promoting it. It is just support for those who are bottle feeding.
This post is about my bottle-feeding journey, and I aim to support those other mums who have chosen this path for whatever reason.
My reasonings are personal, as will yours be. Bottle feeding, like breast feeding, is a big decision to make, and a lot of private experiences, feelings and thoughts go into making those decisions. It seems though however, that with bottle feeding, on a regular basis, you will be asked to share your reasons. By family, friends, colleagues, people in Morrisons, other mums, the instructor at your baby-mumma exercise class, your grandfather-in-law…
And to be honest, the only person who truly knows why I chose to bottle feed, is my husband. And that’s because it’s his business. It is no one else’s business. At all.
While I was pregnant, I wasn’t battling with the decision, I knew I wanted to bottle feed, but I was battling with sharing my feelings with my husband. I thought he would be disappointed in me. I thought he would be shocked. I didn’t think he would understand. But when I plucked up the courage to tell him he was confused as to why I was crying. He had no idea it was a big decision to make; to not breastfeed. To him, I chose bottle and that was fine. No big deal. It was a relief.
My next fear was telling the midwife. My husband took the reigns on that one. She assumed I was going to breastfeed, so my husband interjected and cleared things up. She raised her eyebrows and gave me a lot of pamphlets on breastfeeding. On our form she also selected that we were, ‘still thinking about it’, rather than selecting bottle feeding.
I was expecting that response, but my husband was appalled. He made her change the selection to bottle feeding and put on his teacher voice. I’m glad he’s on my team.
And then time and time again after that, I knew I’d have to ‘confess’ that I was going to bottle feed.
I am not embarrassed or ashamed of my decision to bottle feed my baby, but I am shy, and have always found it tough to stand up for myself. So, I practiced what I would say before I was faced with those conversations. “It is just the best decision for my family.” Wonderfully vague, and 100% true.
No health professionals gave me any information or support with bottle feeding. I think I was given a leaflet by my health visitor, but of course, that was after I had been feeding my baby for a week, so it was useless at that point.
Despite the lack of support and information out there, I am here to tell you bottled-feeding-parents, that you have nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed of. You are feeding your baby. Formula is not a bad word, it is not bad for your baby, and it shouldn’t be hidden away.
Reasons why formula is not the devil
• It is not the best, but it is second best.
• Daddy can feed baby too! Which means, you can share the load. And that is a bonus when it comes to night feeds. It also means, that Dad gets to have a special bond with baby from the very beginning, just like you. 50/50 parenting.
• Formula would not be sold on shelves if it was harmful to your child.
• You know the exact amount your baby is having.
• If your baby suffers with colic, or reflux, there are formulas that help ease that discomfort.
• Bottles are easy to drink from.
• Your boobs will become engorged, around day 3, but then they will start their journey on returning to their pre-pregnancy state.
• Your body is no longer a machine for your baby’s survival. You can have it back.
• You can get back to work quicker, if you need/want to, without the need to express, or arrange for your baby to come into work to feed.
• At around 6 months your baby will be able to hold the bottle themselves, which helps develop their independence.
A few things…
The colostrum in breast milk is an excellent defence for when your little one first enters the world, but that does not necessarily mean that a bottle-fed baby will be poorly. Maybe I am lucky, but I have such a happy little chap, who has never been unwell.
I also must state that breastmilk is better for your little one’s gut, as it does not fully form until around 6 months. My little one has had no problems though.
My bond with my son is epic. That has not been compromised because I did not breastfeed. And the most wonderful thing is; his bond with his Dad is just as strong. I love that.
Things you need to know if you are bottle feeding (very informative, and boring if you are not bottle feeding)
• Like I’ve mentioned before, you could potentially be judged… a lot. Be prepared.
• You will need a method of sterilising the bottles. You can use sterilising tablets, or liquid, or a machine. After a bottle has been used, you need to clean it well, (especially the teat, so I recommend getting a good bottle and teat brush), and then sterilise it. If the bottles are not prepared properly your baby could get thrush in their mouth, or a tummy bug of some kind.
• There are a few different methods you can follow for formula feeding:
- Instant bottles: saves on time, faff, and storage-expiry, but is the most expensive. I used them when out and about, initially.
- Prep machine: Purchasing a prep machine makes the ‘prep’ of a bottle much quicker. It takes 2 minutes. A hot shot of water comes out, you mix the formula with that to get rid of any bacteria, and then the filtered room-temp water comes out. You then mix well, and it’s ready to go.
- Boiling the kettle: You fill up the bottle with boiling water, mix in the powder, and then fridge it or run cool water over it until it’s the right temp to give to baby.
• When staying away for a night, you have to take everything with you (bottles, prep machine, steriliser, bottle brush, formula tub etc) , unless you take enough bottles for the whole trip, and instant formula, which to be honest, is still a lot of stuff!
• When out and about there are a few choices you can make.
- Instant bottles. Nice and easy. You just pour the contents into your baby’s bottle and heat up if required, either with a travel bottle warmer (flask type thing), or a mug of boiled water.
- Take a pot of formula, and a bottle. Ask for hot water to be poured into your bottle in whatever establishment you’re in, and then mix the powder.
- Take a pot of formula, and a bottle with boiled water in. Mix when out and about. Professionals say that mixing the powder with already cooled-boiled water will not kill any bacteria within the formula. Hot water is needed for this. Bacteria in formula is rare, but this is still something you may want to think about.
- Same as previous suggestion, but with the prep machine water, (just miss out the adding the powder part when using the machine).
• Once a bottle of formula has been made up, or a bottle of instant formula has been opened and dispensed into the baby’s bottle, the contents must be consumed within 2 hours, or discarded. I think this is because some of the baby’s germs from their mouths go into the bottles as they are drinking it, which in turn makes the milk bad after 2 hours. I think. I have tried to find the answer to this but have struggled. If you have not poured some of the instant formula into the bottle, that can be stored in the fridge for 24 hours. I think.
• For babies who have colic, there are anti-colic formulas, some can be prescribed by the doctor, and there are anti-colic teats. I suppose they help support the baby’s digestive system with a little more care.
• If your baby has reflux issues, there are anti-reflux formulas, which are thicker. Therefore, the method to make these milks are slightly different, so make sure you read the instructions.
• There are different types of teats. I suggest you buy the vari-flow teats, as they allow your little one to drink as slowly or as quickly as they like.
• Maybe because of how delicate a little one’s gut is, formula may have an effect on their digestive system. Their little bodies are getting used to digesting, and this takes a little time. I have heard that bottle-fed babies struggle with digestion problems, whether it be colic, reflux, constipation etc – just monitor them and see if a change in formula will help, or whether they need to be kept upright after feeding for 15 minutes or so, or they need regular burp breaks.
• Formula brands. Now, after watching a Dispatches episode, I learnt that all formulas must contain the same, legally required ingredients. However, each brand has different ingredients on top of those required ones. This is what makes the difference. Our little one was spitting up a lot with our initial formula, so we spent a few weeks trialling different brands. We used the instant ones, so as to not commit to buying the large tubs. We trialled each formula for about a week. His reactions were different to all of them, which confirmed that they are all different. We did try Sainsbury’s own brand, because it’s the cheapest, but our little one had very bad smelling spit up from that. We finally found one that our son enjoyed and was able to keep down. So, shop around.
• Expense. It gets more expensive the more they drink, obviously, but refrain from buying in bulk, until you find the right formula for your babe.
I think that’s it, but if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask. If you have something negative to say, keep it to yourself. This is not about you.
No matter how you feed your baby, you are feeding your baby, you are sacrificing your life to make sure that little being you made is loved, fed, happy, warm and safe – as long as you are doing those things, you are a good mum. Mums should stick together and support each other. Let’s keep each other afloat, even if our parenting choices are different.