Before I start this post, I want to make it clear that it is in no way an argument for one side or the other. I want to put across my experience of doing both and what I found the pros and cons to be personally (beyond the health benefits that get pushed to new mums). The joy of modern technology is that we do have a choice how to feed our babies. The important word being ‘choice’. If you choose from day one to bottle or breast feed, that’s entirely up to you, and I completely respect that decision, particularly having done both!
I started out by breastfeeding both of my girls. At three weeks, I started to supplement Ella with formula, as my supply was rubbish, and got worse the more formula Ella had as I was pretty oblivious to the whole supply and demand thing. I stopped breastfeeding entirely at 11 weeks. Sienna had her first bottle of formula at 8 weeks, and from then had one every night at 10pm to encourage her to sleep that little bit longer. All other feeds were from the breast. At 14 weeks, we decided to try her on anti-reflux formula, as she had lots of issues with fussiness and crying, and she became a different baby! I weaned her off the breast for daytime feeds over the course of a few days. She moved on to the bottle at night (after getting very upset and bringing back up a breastfeed) about 10 days later.
So, here’s how I’ve found both breast and bottle, the pros and the cons!
- The cost – completely free (apart from expressing! See cons!)
- On tap – no messing around with bottles, particularly useful in the night. And no worries of being caught out without any milk on you. It’s always available!
- Bond – I loved the bond of feeding my girls and me being the source of their nutrition. Seeing them gain weight and knowing that was the result of my hardwork, was brilliant!
- Calorie burning – I was definitely able to eat more and still lose weight when I was breastfeeding.
- Expressing – an absolute pain! Fitting it in between breastfeeds was difficult, but I was determined to do it to give me some freedom away from the baby, while still exclusively giving her breastmilk. The annoying thing is, I still have a freezer full of breastmilk that I can’t give Sienna now due to her silent reflux! Plus, there’s the cost of pumps.
- Lack of independence – I’m not so keen on the feeling that you have to be with your baby at all times, hence why I tried to express where possible. I think I just like my independence. And, while I still spend around 98% of my time with Sienna, it’s the 2% of time that gives me some sanity!
- Public feeding – I have big boobs that are difficult to hide. I’m much more confident in giving a bottle in public.
- The initial weeks of cluster feeding – it felt like Sienna was never off me. I missed out on this with Ella to a degree, as I always tried to settle her thinking she couldn’t have been hungry having just fed. No one really tells you that it’s normal for them to feed non-stop!
- Sore nipples – with Sienna, my nipples actually bled at one point, they were so sore!
- Exhaustion – breastfeeding can be so tiring!
- Easy to do in public – I’m much more confident in whipping out a bottle than a boob!
- Other people can get involved – you’re not the sole provider of nutrition, so it definitely gives mum a bit more freedom, though I do find I’m still the predominant feeder!
- Routine – I found it far easier to settle both Ella and Sienna in to some kind of routine once they moved from breast to bottle.
- The cost – anti-reflux formula in particular is quite expensive, and it’s a big bonus of breastmilk that it is free!!
- Sterilising – messing about washing and sterilising bottles. And there’s always the odd exhausted day that sees them stacking up at the side of the sink! Obviously boobs need no sterilising!
- Preparation – Sienna likes her milk quite warm. It gets more in to her, which helps her sleep better at night. Ella was the same. This means being very prepared with a certain amount of cooled boiled water ready to be topped with boiling water when making the bottle. Which means taking a flask out and about. And anti-reflux milk needs 7 minutes to thicken. Those 7 minutes can feel like forever with a hungry baby!!
- The guilt – I did say this was in my experience and there is part of me that can’t help but feel some guilt that breastfeeding had to stop. It’s all self induced. I wanted to breastfeed and I stopped, so the guilt lingers!
If I have a third baby, I’m pretty sure I’ll start out breastfeeding that baby and have every intention of continuing to do so. But I am more than happy to give the bottle if needed or if it just suits our needs better at the time. They key is, the choice is yours and, so long as your baby is getting fed, you’re doing the right thing!