Apologies Mrs D, your question has been languishing in the Moderate Mum vaults for some time. You see I may be outspoken but I'm no masochist and I had no intention of unleashing the mummy wrath by addressing a subject as sensitive as breastfeeding. Until another guilt inducing report began floating round the web, claiming that breastfed children could read minds or something and attachment parents everywhere could hold their stance just a teensy bit tighter. And who could blame them? Aren’t we all looking for the neon sign saying ‘YOU’RE DOING IT RIGHT’ and when it comes to those that breastfeed their babies the media are happy to provide. I felt staying silent might make me part of the problem; the ‘we women totally support each other until you say something that makes me slightly uncomfortable and then I’m gonna ignore you and bitch about you to my friend Karen’ experience. And so here goes…
My short answer is to get through most aspects of motherhood as unscathed as you can and decide what’s best based on your family, your abilities and your values and that may or may not include breastfeeding. Try not to be consumed with the anxiety that you won’t be able to do it. This may happen, this does happen despite the media suggestion that all women are producing like a dairy cow from the moment of conception. Since I did breastfeed my son I can't say what it would feel like if this were the case, be prepared for disappointment but to this I would say it will probably be disappointing in the way that bungee jumping off the Golden Gate bridge will be – undeniably a cool thing to do, but not something you’re going to go to your death bed harping on about. It is likely to be the first of a great many disappointments that parenthood will bring, so consider yourself lucky to have gotten one out of the way.
Despite its image formula is cow’s milk with extra stuff added to make it as close to breast milk as possible. I know you were waiting for tales of ground gunmetal or stats about how many coke cans it would dissolve through in 24 hours but that's just not the case. Of course we all know it's not as simple as that, there are differences but I feel the main ones to consider are that the antibodies in breast milk help to develop the baby’s immune system in the first few months and breast milk means less nooks and crannies for the germs that cause stomach bugs to get into. These two reasons are why the NHS is so obsessed with breastfeeding. Of course they want less sick babies at their door but if they spent a little more time educating about how to prevent these illnesses and a little less trying to manipulate women into using their bodies in the manner they dictate, it might not be as much of an issue.
Maybe you’re being coy, with this ‘goodness me the pressure’ business and you already know you just don’t want to do it. You can’t get past your boobs as fun bags or you’ve already booked onto three month booze cruise, for whatever reason it's not in the scope of things you want to do with your life. I had a similar experience around drugs during labour. I didn't want drugs, I was going to have a 'natural' birth. It was in my plan. I was sure, I was so sure I asked about fifteen midwives whether they thought I should take drugs and they all (quite rightly) told me to do as I wished. As labour kicked in an older, less diplomatic nurse came on shift and of course I asked her and she said, ‘darling just have the epidural if you want it,’ and I was calling for the anaesthetist faster than you can say 'take a deep breath Mrs Allcott.' I just needed permission, I needed someone to give me consent. So here it is - bottle feed the baby. Go to Mothercare and buy the biggest, fanciest bottle set and steriliser you can afford. It's fine, the baby will be fine. Here's a list of brilliant people that were bottle fed:-
David Beckham, Bear Grylls, Lady Gaga, David Duchovny, Prince Albert of Monaco. And okay then, I made that up and have no idea whether any of those people were breastfed or not but the beautiful thing is, nobody does.
For information and support about breastfeeding check out the Yummy Mummy Breastfeeding Blog Facebook Group. And for information on formula feeding try the 'Fearless Formula Feeder' blog.