When you find out you’re expecting, you have a whole host of ideal scenarios. One of the most thought about and at times controversial is how to you choose to feed your baby. I had my ideal situation: I was going to breastfeed whilst I was on maternity leave and express once I went back to work so that I could provide milk for Mason when I wasn’t with him. However, as is not uncommon with feeding a baby, the reality was not like the expectation.
When he was born, Mason was a sleepy baby. We had to wake him for feeds and frankly he was a lazy little boy. He didn’t want to latch because he was too frustrated that he wasn’t being fed. Instead he would cry until he’d forget why he was crying. I had the option to keep trying to get him to latch, and I did try, but eventually for both our sanity and for Mason’s health, we decided to combine formula feeding with breastfeeding to make sure he was, you know, eating.
It turned out that my boy liked his food so much, that my boobs didn’t in the least bit interest him and that was the end of my breastfeeding, expressing idea. But honestly? I’m pretty happy about it. (Cue people on Mumsnet telling me that I’m poisoning my child).
Let me tell you why.
I know how much Mason is eating. The more I tried (and failed) to feed Mason I realised that it really bothered me that I had no idea how much he was getting when he was feeding from me. He could have eaten literally nothing and all I’d have were sore boobs. Formula feeding meant I knew how much he was getting and whether I should be worried about it.
I don’t have the inclination to get my boobs out in public. I know this has been a subject of recent controversy, what with Primark woman lying her face off about a security guard assaulting her whilst breastfeeding and all. I have no real issue with breastfeeding in public, but the fact is that I don’t want to do it. I also don’t want to have to lock myself in a toilet every time he whinges. It’s not good for me and therefore by proxy, not good for him. With formula, when he’s hungry, he can be fed really easily and anywhere he decides to create, without too much fuss or stress.
I don’t have to worry about ‘running out’. I can bulk buy formula in advance. I know when I need more. Other people can buy it if I’m not around and can sort it out for me. I don’t have to worry that our childminder will run out of expressed milk and be left unable to help. What if my flow just won’t cut it on that particular day? I can do without that kind of worry through my work days.
Wes can do half of the feeding. No, this isn’t a nightfeed cop out. I don’t actually mind the night feeds and the excuse for cuddles with my little man, but sometimes I want to do other things. Sometimes I need to be in places where Mason and Wes aren’t. This pro isn’t just about Wes but anyone. Mason’s grandparents, aunts and uncles and anyone who wants to help us out. It gives me a rest, it helps Mason interact with a host of other people and allows his family members to share this bonding experience with him.
It’s a totally personal thing and I see the good points for both arguments. What I don’t understand is why it’s so controversial. It’s a constant source of battling between mums as to how they feed their own children. Surely as long as the kids are being fed and are growing normally, and their parents love them unconditionally, there’s no issue.
For a lot of mums, myself obviously included, the hopes and ideals that we had before our babies arrived simply weren’t to be but we’re doing what’s best for us and our babies. I am not a failure of a mother. Now if someone could grab the ‘Breast Is Best’ militia tell them the same thing, that’d be great.
Wanna wade in on the subject in the comments? Be my guest but to be honest this was more for me than anyone else. I just hope that the next time someone dares to call a mother a failure for not doing the same thing they are, they might come across this and realise that there’s way more to this topic than they will ever know.
More upbeat stuff to come, promise!