I seem to read a never ending amount of posts about the advantages and disadvantages of breast or bottle, and 99.9% of the time they are written by mums, which if I'm honest, is what I would expect.
There always seems to be a lot of argument and debate over what is best, but rarely have I seen a post by a dad on the subject of breast or bottle fed babies, so I thought I would give my view on what appears to be a controversial subject. I have to say that I'm not passionate about either. People, mums will choose what's best for them, what suits them and quite often the circumstances dictate that the baby has to be bottle fed.
Regular readers of my blog will know I have five children from two marriages and my older children were all breastfed for a varying amount of time from birth.
I cannot begin to understand what bond is formed between mother and baby during breastfeeding because obviously I don't have boobs or produce milk. But what I can say is that, as adad, you can feel you are left out in the cold. I will explain this from two experiences of mine.
My three older children were all breastfed from birth, as I have already said, and I was 100% ok with this. But, from a dad's point of view, I never had that bonding that you get from feeding your newborn, holding them in your arms and letting them drink their milk whilst drifting off to sleep, and this was particularly prevalent with my oldest daughter.
It wasn't until the weaning stages that I felt I was beginning to bond and actually have a use as a parent. My second daughter was much the same. My son was only breast fed for about four months and I always felt a much quicker bond forming with him. I am not bitter about it and obviously breast milk is good for your children, but at times I felt I was only needed to make sure their mother ate well because breast milk is only as good as your diet.
Obviously I never did any night feeds for the simple fact I couldn't, but the feeling of having no role as a parent in those early days was at times very disheartening to the point where I use to think, "have I become a dad or not?", and I am deadly serious about that.
All the emphasis is put upon the mother and rightly so. She has just given birth and I understand that and I am not offended by it, but a little thought for the dads would be nice.
Moving on a few years and I re-married and was very fortunate to be blessed with twin girls. They were premature by six weeks and in a neo-natal unit. For approximately five weeks of their lives they were tube fed.
They were so tiny that my wife's option to breastfeed was taken away. The girls were in incubators and R in particular had breathing problems and was on a ventilator. M was only 2lb 11ozs so breast or bottle feeding was not possible because the girls simply didn't have the energy to do anything but keep warm. Although they were tube fed for the first few months of their lives it was pure breast milk because my wife expressed breast milk constantly and was able to build up a very good supply.
After about two weeks, the girls were able to be fed by a bottle and this was a wonderful experience, especially as I had missed this moment with my older children. I was able to feed my new born twins and bond with them - nothing can prepare you for this beautiful moment.
Even though I'm a dad and didn't give birth, it doesn't make me feel that I need to bond with my newborn twins and I remember to this day so clearly the first time I fed the girls with a bottle of breast milk a tear rolled down my cheek. It was something I waited a long time to do. I was a dad, that was my role. I was finally able to be involved. I without question felt a closer connection much more quickly because nothing compares to holding your new born baby in your arms and feeding them, it's a bond that will never be broken, and a truly wonderful experience.
I fully appreciate that as a man/dad I can't get pregnant, give birth, or breastfeed and I realise that the wellbeing of the mum is vitally important, but so little thought is given to dads, who also have feelings and needs and just want to be involved - or at least I do.
Please don't ignore us as if we don't exist, we do!
So, when I see these debates, almost arguments, about what's best, breast or bottle, just a little thought could be given to dads in these little babies' lives. We want to bond and feel the special moments too. It's not always just about mums.
Would love to know your thoughts.