Wednesday, 17 February 2016

FORMULA FEEDING - WHAT ABOUT US?


The notion that breastfeeding is this big taboo has dominated the headlines for a while now, the idea of acceptance has taken over and the amount of negativity surrounding it has most definitely helped raise it's profile, maybe for the wrong reasons of course.  There has a been a lot of media attention around breastfeeding of late, with well known TV shows hosting chats on the topic, celebrity mums posting #brelfies, (breastfeeding selfies) and now men are boldly talking out and sharing their thoughts on the subject.  All of this is amazing, the reasons behind it is of course to raise awareness and acceptance for these muma's.  I wholeheartedly agree that you should be able to feed your baby at any time, in any place and by any way you please.  If you choose to breastfeed your baby and your baby needs fed whilst your in the supermarket / in a local cafĂ© or even on the train, then by all means feed that baba!  I am 100% in support of any mum who wishes to breastfeed, however, I am also 100% on board and in support of formula feeding too.

The subject of formula feeding in my opinion is most definitely overlooked.  What about us?  What about the mama's that can't or choose not to breastfeed their babies, what support and information is out there for them?  Whose campaigning for team formula?  The harsh reality is that there are very few!  This subject is one that I am really passionate about.  As a first time mum, and with many questions around feeding, I was, like a lot of other mothers, pushed along the breastfeeding route.  I was asked by my midwife constantly throughout my pregnancy if I was going to breastfeed.  Did I know the benefits, was I aware of the support I would get, did I know that there were groups I could attend with other mothers?  I was also given a DVD to watch at home.  I was booked into a "Breastfeeding" class, I was told it would cover both breast and formula.  The formula section lasted 5 minutes and was shoved in at the end.  It went something like this...

"If you choose to formula feed then that's fine, simply choose a brand of formula and stick with it.  The hospital will provide you with a few bottles after the baby is born, but it's recommended that you bring in some of your own.  You will need to buy some bottles and a steriliser and you should make the bottles up as you go, never make them in batches as they collect bacteria." " Ok, so any questions?"

Woah!  Roll that back a minute.  So that was it, that was all the information I got.  After leaving the class I seriously considered breastfeeding, I knew all I needed to know, I would get support from a special breastfeeding midwife, I could join a breastfeeding mothers group, there were loads of leaflets  on it and according to the midwife I'd lose all my baby weight in a matter of weeks!  That night after the feeding class, I went home and did a bit more research, the internet was littered with breastfeeding advice.  I looked at breast pumps, I thought I could express all my milk and I wouldn't need to actually breastfeed.  That seemed like the best plan.  But was it?  Was that really the best plan for me? In short the answer was no! No it wasn't the best plan, why?  Because as an individual it wasn't what I wanted, it wasn't what I felt comfortable with and it wasn't for me.  And that's ok!

It's alright not to want to breastfeed!  It's alright if you can't breastfeed, and it's alright if you decided that you are going to be a formula feeding mummy!  What's not alright is that there isn't enough support, advice, or guidance on the subject.  Yes breast may be best, yes it may be cheaper, more sanitary, but it's not for everyone, and in my opinion the NHS should be doing more to support mothers that choose formula.  By all means, encourage breastfeeding, but if a mother decides it's not for her or for reasons out with her control cannot breastfeed, then the NHS should be extending the same amount of support, guidance and advice as they do for all breastfeeding mums.  We are all mums none the less, we are all equal!

Formula feeding does not make you a bad mother, you shouldn't feel like you have failed, and you shouldn't be made to feel inadequate.  After my son was born the midwife asked me if I was breastfeeding or formula feeding (it was already on my notes, but I assume it was one last attempt to push breast!), however, I advised that I was formula feeding, and without any question the midwife (who was lovely) wandered off and then returned with a bottle.  My husband had dressed Oscar for the first time, he was looking adorable and the midwife left us to it.  As first time parents we were clueless.  Ok, so the formula was already made up and it was ready to drink, but we had no idea, were we holding him right? How much should he get? Was he suckling right?  We just stuck it in his mouth and hoped for the best.  Ten minutes later the midwife returned, she came to see if he was taking it and she noticed that the teat wasn't completely full with milk, which meant air bubbles were getting in, which in turn meant that he would likely be sick, as the air would cause little gas pockets in his belly!  See, if someone had bothered to show us the right way and explain about bloody air bubbles I wouldn't be doing it wrong five minutes in!

My point in writing this post is to highlight the fact that regardless of how you choose to feed, as new mums we all seek and need advice and guidance, and whilst the NHS push breast, there needs to be an understanding and acceptance for formula feeding mums as well.  Know that your not alone, the assumption is, that formal feeding is easy, you fill up, feed and all is well, when in fact that isn't the case at all.  My first night on the ward with Oscar was daunting, he kept wakening and crying, I kept feeding him, but he was just being sick.  At 2am in the morning I was walking the halls looking for a midwife, I'd had enough and I wanted answers.  When I found one, she told me to just keep feeding him, and that he was probably just taking too much at once, she walked off... great!  The following day a feeding midwife arrived on the ward, this was exactly what I needed.  To my disappointed she was only there for the breastfeeding mums, when I asked to speak with her she said "oh your not on my notes as breastfeeding" I said no I am bottle feeding but I need some advice, she then said "ah ok, well I'm just for breastfeeding but I'll see if one of the midwives can speak to you".   Don't bother! Regardless of the pressures to breastfeed, I knew it wasn't for me so I continued to do my own research and between my husband and I we got the feeding down to a fine art.  After 2 months of bottle warming with boiling water, we invested in the Perfect Prep Machine, a complete God send - if your formula feeding, drop everything and get one of these ordered pronto!

So For those of you who are interested in formula feeding, or still trying to decided, think long and hard.  Decide what is best for you and your baby!  Don't be swayed by your midwife or health professional if it's truly not what you want.  Don't feel alone either, there are lots of formula feeding groups online that will welcome you in.  And finally don't be scared to push your midwife for information, they have it available and can definitely provide you with leaflets.

I'll soon be uploading a formula feeding Q&A onto my Youtube Channel, I'll speak about and cover more of the practical side of things!  Pop over and subscribe so you don't miss it!  Leave me your thoughts, and of course any questions you may have.

Kirsty x

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2 comments

  1. It's so true. My little boy was formula fed, I decided I wanted to try breastfeeding but was quite poorly during and straight after labour and didn't really have the option too and by the time I was feeling better he was already doing really well on the bottle.
    Thankfully I didn't feel any pressure from the midwives/health visitors but I did occasionally feel it from strangers when they asked how he was feeding and I'd reply with formula.
    There definitely needs to be information and support for mums who chose or have to formula feed. x

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  2. As a first time mom it's sometimes hard because you don't have the experience. You need support from others to not get stressed out. Talking more openly about breast and formula feeding creates a safe environment, where mothers can choose freely how to feed their babies without feeling judged from others.
    A website that helped me a lot when I had questions about formula is https://myorganicformula.com.
    Kind regards,
    Scarlett

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