Breasts, bottles, both…
I’m not really ready for this yet but let’s talk about the emotions of feeding.
Before we start, please reread the title, FED is BEST. This has nothing to do with the options available and the choices made when it comes to feeding our children.
This is all about acknowledging that feeding is the most talked about, emotionally loaded, hot topic out there.
It’s the one everyone has an opinion on and can be surprisingly hypocritical about. The most prominent example are those who lecture new mums on the properties of breastmilk but then flip out at mothers breastfeeding in public.
There is a particularly prickly minefield for those who do not direct nurse and express milk to take out and about. This may be because there have been challenges establishing direct nursing or because you don’t want to direct nurse in public. Even before I started exclusively expressing I was planning to pump for feeds beyond my front door because I am so uncoordinated I couldn’t envisage a time when I wouldn’t flash someone by mistake. (Those of you who can seamlessly and confidently lift up tops, pull down bras and simultaneously get a baby to latch on are magicians in my eyes).
Let’s Start Here
Although it is the most talked about and heavily advocated, breastfeeding is hard.
It is painful, hormone-fuelled and difficult to master. Even for those who pursevere with nipple cream in hand and come out the other side successful, it is a long slog of especially sleepless nights, anxiety over the quantity being consumed by your little one and hours of crying.
The crying isn’t just from mum either. My husband found our (eventually unsuccessful) breastfeeding attempts to be heart-wrenching, anxiety-inducing affairs where both baby and I were in tears and he felt utterly helpless. (I actually think it was more intense than the birth from his perspective).
If breastfeeding is not established; latching difficulties, challenges with milk supply, exhaustion, and so on, it can result in a huge amount of negativity.
A lot of this is from mum herself. Feelings of guilt, anger, disappointment, of failure.
If there have been supply challenges then formula feeding is often the next step, and many feel this is the most sustainable option as expressing can be all consuming. Some will still be topping up with formula despite putting in the long hours it takes to express. Some do a combination of breast, expressed and formula.
There are those for whom formula feeding is the most suitable and sustainable choice right from the start. This is perhaps the hardest choice of all because of the continuous pressure, attitude and opinions piled on by society, friends and family. These mums face harsh judgement, constant commenting and the most vicious external obstacles.
Let me know your feeding stories. As mentioned in the main body of the post, I did try to breastfeed so have no experience of choosing to formula feed from birth so I would especially love to hear from you.