I’ve never breast fed a child.
There, I’ve said it.
All three of mine were bottle fed and are happy, healthy and as robust as you’d ever want a child to be.
But I don’t advertise this fact. I don’t go around telling people that I haven’t ever breastfed for one simple reason.
I can’t be bothered to have to justify my decision to them.
Most people nowadays know that a fed baby is best. Even so, a lot of women still feel that breast feeding is the ‘right’ way to go and if you don’t at least try, you are setting your baby up for a life long list of allergies, problems and just general ill health.
When I was pregnant with my first, I knew that I didn’t want to breastfeed. I can’t really explain it, I just knew that once she was out I needed my body back. I also knew that bottle feeding would mean being able to share the load so I wasn’t too overwhelmed. Plus it would help ensure I got enough sleep when I needed it (and as someone who has suffered from severe depression I know how important sleep is to feeling well for me). I sometimes think that was selfish of me. Good mental health is incredibly important to how good a parent I am though, so I don’t beat myself up about it. I had to do what was right for me. Anything else wouldn’t have worked anyway.
As it happens, my labour was so traumatic that when my daughter was born I couldn’t even contemplate breastfeeding. My mum was the first person to feed my baby and I love that she got that opportunity. The fact that I felt let down by the midwives caring for me meant that I wanted to be as self sufficient as possible. I didn’t want care in the hospital and needed to get out as fast as I could. As such, bottle feeding was my life line in feeling in control and able to look after my daughter by myself.
I did the same with baby number 2
Bottle feeding worked so well for me first time round that it didn’t cross my mind to try breastfeeding with baby number 2. Being able to share the load with my husband/family had huge advantages. It meant that I could rest or have a break when I needed it. It meant that my husband could do as much for our baby as I could and that my family could help out. Plus it was nice for them to enjoy spending time with her without me on hand to feed her every hour.
I’ll be honest though, with baby number 3 I began to wonder if I should try. I didn’t like the thought of it and didn’t really want to have to go through the pain that I’d seen a lot of mum friends go through but from somewhere the guilt started to creep in. When he was born though, I couldn’t face it. I’ve hated every minute of every pregnancy I’ve been through. I’ve been miserable, in pain and phenomenally exhausted from iron deficiency. All of which meant that when my baby was born, I just wanted to take advantage of the fact that I could now rest, relax and recover.
I didn’t want the stress of trying to learn how to breastfeed. I didn’t want more pain from having to put up with lingering SPD and painful joints. And I definitely didn’t want low moods because I was up every hour feeding a new born baby.
And so I didn’t.
I trusted my instincts and I bottle fed baby number 3.
I let my husband do half of the feeds, including overnight.
I took advantage of having at least two nights off a week where I caught up on my sleep.
And it made me a better mum. Yes I felt guilty for the first few weeks but it quickly became apparent that he was going to thrive. That he was healthy and happy. That he wasn’t going to be really sick and poorly because he didn’t get my antibodies.
And it meant that I could be emotionally strong. That I could have enough energy to look after him and my two older children. That I would look at him and feel overwhelming love not resentment that I was just a milk dispenser.
I’m not knocking breast feeding. I have sisters who’ve done it and it’s been an amazing experience for them. I’m just saying that bottle feeding has been an amazing experience for me and has allowed me to enjoy being a mother more than I’d hoped I would.
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