I struggled to write a post about my breastfeeding journey, I’ve tried many times but it’s something I have yet to fully make peace with, I decided to post something positive and instructive instead, something that would have helped me. I am not saying this is an alternative to breastfeeding or comparing the two, but it is a method of infant feeding that is not really talked about and I would have liked someone to have told me about it earlier.
They say ‘never give up on a bad day’ – I gave up on the worst day, day six, just as the baby blues should have been lifting I hit rock bottom.
My journey in a nutshell went awry because a) Joss was not terribly interested in feeding, b) I didn’t sleep for three days solid and started to lose touch with reality and c) we struggled to access good support for PND.
Truth be told I was pretty unwell with an infection and a serious bout of mental ill health, when I should have been resting I was experiencing manic highs and frightening lows. There’s a narrative to all of this that I will blog about when I make more sense of it, but generally I stopped feeding Joss because I was terrified, frightened and not coping.
This one precious photograph is so special as it reminds me she had six days of my milk, its the only one I have, a keepsake if you like.
Formula feeding was not easier, I was anxious about hygiene, sterilising, and scrubbed my hands til they were sore, but I knew how much she was taking in, and that was very important to me.
Whilst wrestling with my guilt I came across the idea of bottle nursing, associated with attachment parenting. It took time to feel that I hadn’t failed, I had tried and it didn’t work out, we do the best we can for our children and whether by choice or necessity we nurture our children in different ways.
I chose to see nursing as something that was not exclusive to breastfeeding.
I chose to tell those who said nothing compares to mother’s milk and that they just tried harder than I did that my journey ending at day six broke my heart and my spirit
But I have to point out that I am pro breastfeeding and defend mother’s rights to feed in public just as fervently as breastfeeding mothers do and it upsets me when mums row over feeding, you never know someone else’s back story, what’s in the bottle or how they came to this place (this is important as I did receive some very negative comments, being told J and I couldn’t go to a Christmas party with friends because it was for breastfeeding mams only really hurt)
So what is bottle nursing?
It’s feeding on demand close and instinctual bottle feeding, in a nutshell its emulates breastfeeding with a bottle of formula, pumped milk or donor milk. It is feeding on demand rather than on schedule, often by mum, or mum and dad alone, with skin to skin contact, changing sides as a breastfeeding mother would do support eye development, and maintaining physical closeness.
Why bottle nursing?
The benefits are many:
- Skin to skin with baby fed close to its mother
- Lovely eye contact
- A calm time to nurse and rest
- Closeness and smell to build a strong bond
- Perhaps deciding that only mum, or only mum and dad feed baby to build and maintain a nurturing bond
Deciding to feed in this way was not without its challenges, insisting that only Dad and I feed Joss was hard, the grandparents perhaps found that tough and friends would offer to feed her so we could have a cuppa etc and it probably seemed odd that I turned that down, but it was important to me to see formula feeding as just as nurturing as breastfeeding, a special time for us to enjoy, so often I would take myself away somewhere quiet to feed Joss and spend some quality time together.
In time when she could feed herself I still tried to insist on feeding as quiet time together, I think that this photograph shows that bottle feeding is no less close than breastfeeding
I wanted to share my experience in the hope of helping others to understand this option for infant feeding, it was not what I expected but the benefits for both of us were great.