There is no support for mums who bottle-feed. There, I said it. I constantly see articles about how we need to have more support and help for breastfeeding mothers and how it needs to be more socially acceptable to feed your baby wherever you choose to. That is all completely correct. There absolutely 100% needs to be more help for breastfeeding women. If there were more support then I'm certain a lot more mothers would "just stick with it" as we are constantly told to. God, believe me with the amount of pressure piled upon a new mum to breastfeed it would make life a hell of a lot easier to just crack on and breastfeed. But it's just not always that simple and this post is by no means two fingers up to breastfeeding, it's just to talk about the alternative.
If you breastfeed then you truly are amazing. I completely take my hat off to you, I wish I could have done it but for my own reasons, I couldn't. I tried and spent hours which turned into days of sobbing on the settee with various amazing friends popping in to try to help me. There came a point though when enough was enough. No more.
If I'm honest I didn't particularly love the first 2 weeks of being a mother and I put that down to the anxiety fueled time of trying to feed my hungry baby and massively failing. Incorrect latching and not understanding how to rectify, not producing enough milk and if I'm honest, selfishly just wanting a bloody minute to just walk away and get some fresh air.
It's great when breast-feeding works out and I think the image of a breastfeeding women is a beautiful sight. I equally think high-five to women who are pictured feeding their babies with a bottle in public. I spent the first 3 months not wanting a photograph to be taken of me feeding my daughter with a bottle through fear of judgement. "Oh she didn't breastfeed!" No I didn't. I chose to spend the day outside of the house enjoying the sunshine with my baby as opposed to crying on the settee with bleeding nipples. I hated it but I hated myself even more for not being able to give my baby what she was screaming for.
I get frustrated when I see photographs of breastfeeding mothers with a ton of comments underneath stating what a fantastic mother they make and how inspirational they are yet a photograph of a bottle feeding mum would get the "ahh isn't your baby cute" or "adorable" comments. Bottle feeding mums still need to hear that they are an awesome mum too!
When I say formula feeding mums need more support I don't mean we need to be taught how to sterilise a bottle, although that would be nice also, not everybody knows. Everything I learnt about bottle-feeding was learnt from the nursery support team in John Lewis (kudos to you John Lewis). I mean when we have made an educated decision to not breastfeed that we are supported with our choice. That the connection to midwife and health visitor advice is not extinguished. That we feel like we don't have to justify the reasons why we decided to give our baby formula.
If you are a new mum and are feeling a total failure (like I did) because you have decided to give your baby formula then please know this;
• Your baby will bond with you just as well as if you breastfed. Being a mother is for a whole lifetime, not just the first 6 months. The love, comfort and support you give them throughout their life will be the strongest bond they will ever need.
• Your baby is not going to be sick because you haven't breast-fed. Yes breast milk does provide a much better protection and gives a great start to your baby's immunity. We all know the benefits, but it doesn't mean your baby is going to contract some hideous disease just because you reached for the Aptamil.
• Your baby will not grow up to hate you just because you didn't offer up your boob. Until I became pregnant and actually asked my mum if I was breastfed, I had no idea that I wasn't. And guess what, I don't hate her for it! If I get a cold, I don't curse my mother for not giving me breast milk. Although maybe I should be billing her every time I have to buy some Lemsips, they're so expensive!
• All mums are amazing regardless of the method of feeding you choose. I know mums who breastfed for 6 months and now let their children eat McDonald's three times a week, washed down with a Fruit Shoot. I know mums who gave formula and now feed their children a healthy balanced diet with minimal junk. Each to their own. When all our children are running around the playground can you spot those who were breast fed and those who were given the bottle? No, me neither.
Whatever you decide to do you are amazing and never forget..Happy mum-happy baby.
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