PND and Breastfeeding: Why is bottle nursing not talked about? A guide for expressing, donor milk and formula feeding mums

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.

Our journey

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.


Mum Of One


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9 thoughts on “PND and Breastfeeding: Why is bottle nursing not talked about? A guide for expressing, donor milk and formula feeding mums

  1. I have never actually heard of this before, it’s very interesting. I breastfed my first and hope to do the same with my second, but if we aren’t able to then this is definitely the feeding approach I will take.
    Well done for breastfeeding for the time that you did, I had a similar struggle with my daughter but thanks to huge support from my Mum and husband I was able to continue.
    I think its important to be able to realise (as you did) when you are at your limit and not push yourself any further, a formula fed baby with a healthy, happy Mummy is much better off than a breastfed baby with a poorly Mummy who is struggling to cope.
    Very insightful post :-) x

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  3. This was a really interesting read. I’ve never heard of this, but I like the idea of it and I definitely think it would be an option for us if breastfeeding didn’t work out in the future x

  4. What a lovely article…healthy happy mummy = healthy happy baby. I too struggled with breastfeeding and it took me a long while to accept that stopping didn’t mean failing – I now see that I was successful, my journey was just shorter than others. The exclusion is unacceptable and upsetting, parenting is tough…We should be supporting one another, not making things even harder!

  5. I breastfed my baby but strongly disagree with the current approach of guilting new mums into breast feeding. Like everything in life there are pros and cons and there is rarely a black and white answer, but for some reason, the breast feeding argument is always very one sided. And like having a baby in the first place, nature doesn’t always let you make the decision you expected to. I really happy for you that you were able to find what was right for you and your baby. You should feel proud for giving her the best start in life.

  6. I had a pretty rough time of it (who doesn’t!) in labour and prolonged pushing lead to me losing a lot of blood. I was very unwell myself afterwards and needed a few blood transfusions and breastfeeding wasn’t really an option, I said I think I better stick with formula and the midwife looked relieved! I didn’t feel guilty, I simply had no strength in me. I fed my son on demand with stage one formula until he was one and it went really well. The friends I met at my pregnancy class were tearing their hair out stressing that the baby wasn’t awake for the feeds at certain times that the books said they should etc and thought I was mad for being so easy going! Scott slept through the night from 9 weeks old (the first in the group!) and I felt quite smug! As soon as Scott was mobile I gave his milk in a sippy cup through the day but last milk before bed was always on my knee in the bottle. I gave the bottles up the day of his first birthday. It was not what I had planned at all but worked really well for us xx

  7. If you’re a mindful parent, bottle nursing is what you make of it. Wonderful story, has made me remember my bottle nursing with fondness rather than shame :)

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