After formula feeding my son and breastfeeding my daughter I thought I would share my perspective of feeding my babies from both sides to help mums-to-be to get an honest comparison of the two from a real mum that has done both. I will share the benefits of breastfeeding and bottle feeding while comparing the reality of the two. Before reading this it is important to remember that FED is best, a mum's mental and physical well being is far more important than how she choices to feed her baby.
Easier feeding option - This is true in some ways but not in others. The convenience of simply popping your baby onto your breast rather than having to mess about with warming up bottles and such is great (especially at 3am) however its not always the easier option, particularly in the first few weeks. When your over-tired and in desperate need of rest it can be easier to have someone feed your baby for you while you catch up on some sleep but this isn't possible in the early days of breastfeeding. (add link)
I'll save money - I haven't done the maths but the cost of baby formula compared to the cost of all the nursing bras, nipple creams, breast pumps extra probably works out about the same. The only difference is you spread the cost of formula over the first year of your baby's life by buying a tub every week but when preparing for breastfeeding you need to buy everything beforehand in one bulk payment.
It will be easy - It is defiantly not easy. Breastfeeding can be very difficult for many women. After having soldiered through cracked nipples and mastitis I can assure you it is not as easy and natural as it looks. People might stare/judge - I breastfed for 9 months and every single time I breastfed in public, nobody even noticed. I have people having full-blown conversations with me without noticing so if you're worried about people giving you funny looks etc, don't be, it just looks like you are giving your baby a cuddle you really can't tell and even if they could tell screw them and their judgemental opinions.
The pressures of breastfeeding
There are a lot of stereotypes and assumptions when it comes to breastfeeding and as my due date grew closer I felt judgment from both sides. When I told people that I was planning on breastfeeding my son I had two completely different reactions. Some people were like 'Really? That's brave of you' and others rolled their eyes as if I thought I was better than them because I was choosing to breastfeed when they bottle-feed their baby. But then I had the other side where I felt a lot of pressure to breastfeed and that If I didn't that I would be failing my child. I was so worried about what other people thought that I lost sight of what I wanted and what I believed would be best for me and my baby.
In the end, I decided that I would try to breastfeed my son and If I wasn't happy doing it I would stop. I very naively thought that I would just pop my baby onto my boob and that would be that, oh how wrong I was. After a few days of desperately trying to get my son to latch on properly and winching in pain every time he fed I came down with a nasty sickness and it all became too much for me so I quit. If I had been more prepared and informed I probably would have continued.
Preparation is key
With my second baby Riley, I decided I wanted to give it another go, this time I did my research about how to get your baby to latch on correctly, what the best breastfeeding products were (click here for my top 5 bf must-haves) and I learned about how breastfeeding changes over the first few weeks and months of feeding. Being prepared made me feel a lot more confident when It came to breastfeeding the second time around but yet again miss-information discouraged me, I was told time and time again by midwives and health visitors that breastfeeding shouldn't hurt and that if it does you are doing it wrong, this is WRONG. It is perfectly normal for your nipples to hurt while they adjust, they need time to toughen up. It's like when you first start working out, the first few times your muscles ache and feel very painful but the more you work out the less pain you feel.
Feeding in public for the first time
After about two weeks I found that breastfeeding became a lot easier and I felt brave
enough to head out of the house, then came challenge number two, breastfeeding in public. I had heard so many horror stories about women being shamed for feeding their baby in public and I was terrified of getting judgemental looks or worse, I was full of baby hormones and it would have only taken one disapproving glance to turn me into a blubbering mess (we have all been there) but to my astonishment, no one even noticed I was even feeding my daughter! I had worked myself up so much about it for nothing, my partner was ready to argue with any stranger that dared to say anything negative towards me but to his disappointment (and my delight) to this day nobody has ever said a thing, thankfully.
Feeding in front of family
I am surprisingly more comfortable feeding my daughter in-front of strangers than I am in front of people I know. Strange isn't it? I worry so much about making family members or friends uncomfortable, mainly men. I can see them deliberately trying not to look as if it's wrong which just makes me feel uncomfortable so I generally just try to avoid it now which I know isn't right because it's perfectly natural and all that but I can't help but feel a little embarrassed.
Which is easier, bottle or breastfeeding?
I always thought that bottle-feeding was the easy option but after doing both I defiantly think that breastfeeding is easier in the long run, its difficult for the first couple of weeks but then it's much more convenient. I don't have to spend ages sterilizing bottles and trying to get the milk to the right temperature or any of that nonsense, its reassuring to know that no matter where I am I have an instant milk supply for my baby girl ready to go without any preparation. Whatever you decided to choose don't let anybody else's opinions or judgment make you doubt yourself, you may decide that bottle-feeding would be better for you and your baby and that's okay at the end of the day fed is best, as long as your baby is happy and loved then you are doing an amazing job.
Are you planning on breastfeeding your baby? Find out the best products to help you through those early days.