Bottle Battlers VS Breast is Best

Bottle feeders can feel like social outcasts – I can say this because I was one, and even though it was nearly ten years ago I felt so guilty and judged for bottle feeding my baby.

I’m going out on a limb to talk about bottle feeding as mothers today are made to feel unacceptable if they are unable to breast feed, and all mothers, whatever their feeding choices should have support.

Breast is best, and nearly every Australian mother knows about it, the benefits of breast milk are tremendous and wonderful. But knowing all of this information and desperately wanting to breastfeed only makes not being able to breastfeed much worse for mothers.

For me it all started in hospital, my little boy would not latch on or feed, after several days of constant help from midwives, numerous lactation consultants and nipple shields, my son lost a great deal of weight so a paedriatrician ordered a bottle of formula. Meanwhile I was set up with double breast pumps and a nurse that came to my home every day to weigh my precious little baby who was not putting on the weight that he needed. After 4 weeks of this torment and not seeing my little boy thrive, hardly any milk being expressed and again having every lactation consultant in the area trying to get my son to latch on, I switched to bottle feeding.

It was the hardest decision of my life, but totally life changing. My paedrittion together with my health nurse advised me to give up the breast-feeding battle as both my health and my baby’s were suffering. My baby started to thrive, and ever since he has been healthy and never been sick (touch wood). My son is now top of his class (actually well above the National Average of his age); he has never had antibiotics, and is a healthy weight and super happy.

On the other hand my daughter, my second child, breast fed beautifully (well over 12 months), and had to have her first antibiotics at 6 months, had constant colds, viruses and more. She is of course a healthy and happy child now, but breast-feeding her exclusively didn’t give her better health than my formula fed son.

My point? By no means am I saying bottle feeding is better for babies than breast feeding, but I am saying for mothers that are unable to breast feed, bottle feeding doesn’t mean your child will be unhealthy or less intelligent.

Breast Feeding Campaigners have done a fabulous job all round the world, but in the wake of ‘Breast is Best’ there are many mothers hiding in seclusion for bottle-feeding their babies, feeling shamed at not breast feeding. Many mothers compared bottle-feeding to giving children cigarettes – go figure.

Whilst there is a plethora of support for breast-feeding, most mothers are hard pushed to find any form of support for bottle-feeding.

Sunshine Coast Mummy of 3, Lisa Watson has launched the first not for profit organization in the world dedicated to support and provide information for bottle feeding parents, Bottlebabies.org

“I started Bottle Babies because I felt alone and isolated in my inability to breastfeed.  There seemed to be so many sites, information, support and encouragement for women who were breastfeeding but so little for those who can’t or chose not to.  I also started Bottle Babies because I was angry.  Angry that I was made to feel guilty, made to feel like I was a bad mother, made to feel that my children were somehow disadvantaged and deprived of some vital ingredient that would not allow them to be everything I hoped for them, that there was no where I could turn for support and in turn that meant that there were others who were also being pushed aside and labelled failures, left with the same feeling I was struggling with.” Lisa Watson

There are many mums who bottle-feed their babies, either by personal choice or because they have been unable to breastfeed.

If you need support or help, please contact your local GP, maternal health nurse or call the Pregnancy Birth & Baby free helpline 1800 882 436 and speak to one of their wonderful qualified counselors.

Please note: This is not a “breast vs. bottle” post, it’s a personal story, so only constructive and non-judgemental comments will be accepted.

Claudia – Editor

9 review for Bottle Battlers VS Breast is Best

  1. Monica Flack says:

    nicely written. We recently changed over to formula and I still feel down on myself. Trying to find information about which formula is best for bub is difficult enough without having to explain again and again why you’re not breastfeeding anymore. You can’t even look at formulas online without having to click a disclaimer that you agree and know breast is best. Wasn’t interested in debating it, just wanted to make the best decision on what formula would suit baby better! The “Breast is Best” push made me feel like a failure.

  2. Megs says:

    What a well written article!! I have been fortunate to be able to breast feed my baby after he was born prem and had no suck reflex for a few weeks, but both my sister have bottle fed their children with no adverse side effects… As long as your child is fed and happy it doesn’t matter how it gets its nutrition. Bottle or breast, a happy baby is best!!!

  3. verena monaghan says:

    Reading this is wonderful!! I too had to bottle feed my baby so did my poor mum who had blind nipples and yes breast is best! but it would of been a damm sight less stressfull if I had been able to discuss and feel supported from Health professionals and others in the community when I made the decission to go to formula then have the feeling of failure as some people fight for breast feeding rights there should be rights to how you choose to feed your baby with out judgement as the important fact that some people seem to forget is that in order to thrive a baby needs nutrients and if that comes from breast or bottle what does it matter as long as the baby is thriving !!! but when I was reading thru all the pamphlets I was given in hospital I kept reading “Artificial feeding ” which at the time and still does upset me with that terminology so choosing formula was even written like a bad product to give a baby surely health professionals know the importance to feed a baby so how about being more supportive to those who choose formula and not make it any harder !! so thank you

  4. Abby says:

    Thank you! I went through the same nightmare with my daughter. Lactation consultants/midwives/specialist baby nurses/lactation tea/Doctors/medicine/hospital grade breast pumps/tube feeding my tiny baby while trying to breast feed. My milk never came in and I battled for 6 weeks while my tiny baby lost more and more weight. It was hell. All I wanted to do was breastfeed and I tried everything. I nearly lost my mind. After I gave my daughter her first bottle of formula she slept for 6 hours. The longest she had slept in one go. Ever. She was a completely different child. I still battled and tried to breastfeed her for 6 months, giving her what little I did have before each feed until she started to reject my breast. Another hard pill to swallow. She just wasn’t getting enough. She has never been sick, never been on antibiotics, it tall for her age and excels in anything she does.

    I’m so grateful for this article. There needs to be less judgement and more support for Mothers who can’t breastfeed. Nothing breaks my heart more than seeing all the articles and blogs pushing breast is best and slamming formula feed babies and their Mothers. We are all just trying to do what is best for our children’s health and wellbeing.

    The last thing any Mother needs is extra pressure or bullying from another Mother. As long as you know you are doing what is right then pay no mind to any outside judgement.

  5. Belinda says:

    Your story put into words exactly how i felt when battling the same issues and feeling 5 months ago. I battled with breastfeeding for 10 days, doing everything that the nurses and midwives told me. My son lost more than 20% of his birth weight and was about to be readmitted to hospital when i made the decision to formula feed. It turned out my milk never came in, yet no nurse or midwife suggested that this was even a possibility. I felt like a failure as i had read all the information detailing how breast milk is so much better. My son is now very healthy and happy and i know that nothing i could have done would have changed the outcome. It’s nice to know that their are others out there who went through the same feelings that i did.

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