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