Boob vs Bottle

I’d always planned to breast feed for as long as possible when I had children because I believed all the hype that ‘breast is best’ and felt that it would be a good way to bond with my baby. I found it hard to understand why people would want to bottle feed (stupidly). Once Harrison was born, we reached day 3 and for a fleeting moment I felt like Pam Anderson, my boobs were huuuuge (a revelation for me as I am not very well endowed in that department!) this feeling of elation was short lived as I sat up nearly all night crying because my boobs were so sore and my milk had just come in. Harrison was like a feeding fiend and feasted for hours at a time.

I can remember seeing an imaginary halo around the community midwife’s head when she came round, marched me upstairs and taught me how to feed lying down and how to position Harrison like a rugby ball, propped up by cushions. Harry hated his moses basket too, so she recommended buying a ‘next to me crib’ from Argos – same day collection. What a babe! It’s controversial for many people, but she also advocated co-sleeping; I was so worried about rolling on him or him slipping down under the covers but she taught me how to safely do it. I will forever be grateful to her because she instantly alleviated so many fears and anxiety I had when trying to feed at night. (Once we decided that co-sleeping was the way forward for us, we also went out and bought an ‘F off’ massive super king sized bed – the crib and the bed are the best investments we’ve made to date!)

The first time using our ‘next to me’ crib was a huge break through as Harry finally started to actually sleep 💤💤💤💤

Despite finding some little quick fixes to help with feeding, I still found it really challenging and by the time Harrison was about 10 weeks old, I’d really fallen out of love with it. I’d bought a breast pump and had practised expressing because I really wanted Harrison to learn to take from the bottle so I could go out and get my hair done and we had some other commitments that I didn’t want to take the baby to.

It took a long time to pump this lot. I was knackered after this, but felt very accomplished! I never knew how much to pump either?!

I was so, so, so tired. Harrison was feeding sometimes for an hour at a time and used to drain me of everything I had. Despite what they say about your body always making enough for your baby, I really did not believe this was the case with Harrison. I was so torn about initiating combination feeding because I weirdly felt like exclusively breast feeding was like wearing a badge of honour. I also worried about whether it would break the special little bond that we’d built. With a bit of hand holding from friends around me, who were already bottle feeding, and my mum; I bit the bullet and started to gradually introduce formula to Harrison. He LOVED it. I needn’t have worried because to find a happy balance, I continued to feed him myself at night time. A) because I quite simply couldn’t be arsed to get up and make a bottle and B) I still wanted to provide him with a bit of mama goodness. I finally gave up breast feeding when he was between five and six months old, by which time I was already pregnant with Molly.

Harry loved switching to the bottle and he still uses it as comfort now!

Whilst I was pregnant for the second time, I was adamant that I would be doing exactly the same with baby number 2. To the point where I kept the perfect prep machine out because I was sure that by week 4 I’d be struggling and would be reaching for the bottle again. How wrong was I?! We are now on week 14 and I’ve casually tried several bottles with a very reticent Molly. She hasn’t taken to it quite as keenly as her brother, but to be honest, I haven’t really tried very hard. I keep wondering why breast feeding has been so different this time round, besides the fact that I only did it a year ago and am reasonably experienced. The main reason is because she is a completely different feeder. She has only ever fed one boob per feed and for about 15 minutes. (Thank goodness, otherwise running around after a 1 year old would have been almost impossible!) She also generally wakes up less at night time, meaning I haven’t had a baby strapped to my boob into the small hours, like a milking zombie. When I was out and about in the early days with Harrison I used to stress SO much about where and when I was going to feed him, we even had to come home from shopping at a local retail park once because there wasn’t anywhere to change/feed him (I didn’t think changing him in the car was acceptable at the time); now I really don’t give a shit and don’t have the time to give a monkeys when or where I am in the day. To the point where I sat at the park the other day and just slipped my boozie out for Molly to have a little top up (neither baby has liked being hidden under a muslin). I’ve also sat in a few cafes (and not bought a drink – the cheek of it) just so I can feed away from the elements. She has also accompanied me to the hair salon and several physio appointments, all of which I never dreamed of doing or struggled to do first time round.

Molly looks thrilled to be at the hair dressers 😂

The thing is, I’m a year on, with another baby in tow and still feeling even more torn about switching to the bottle. On the one hand, I have a couple of hen dos to attend this year, that I had originally planned to have switched to using formula for by then. I am also quite keen to be out and about with friends (when we can all get babysitters!) and to start exercising soon. I’m also game for a bit of independent retail therapy, without little hands grabbing everything off the rails or a hungry/angry little cry coming from the pram! I do need to get my identity back a little. On the other hand, Harrison is still drinking milk from bottles and I really can’t face prepping another lot. I’ve just invested in some more ‘easy access’ bf friendly clothes, after a massive clear out. Breast feeding also forces me to sit down and rest, which ultimately is good for both of my babies! So for now, I’m going to stick with ‘the girls’ for providing sustenance for this babe, before they inevitably deflate and become ‘Saggy Maggies’. In my head I still feel like it’s January and Molly is still a tiny new born when in fact time is ticking twice as fast as it did, first time round! I know that when the time is right for us, I’ll be much more comfortable about bottle feeding. But until then I’m going to enjoy these precious moments (and my juicy boobies). Blink and it’ll be just a memory.

 Harry loves it when I’m feeding Molly and often comes and sits with us for a cuddle too. 😍

Here are a few pages that might be of interest, having read about my experiences…

https://www.lullabytrust.org.uk/safer-sleep-advice/co-sleeping/

https://www.babycentre.co.uk/x554856/how-can-i-combine-breast-and-bottle

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