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Breast vs. Bottle Feeding – My Experience

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!

BREASTFEEDING  

Pros

  • 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.

Cons

  • 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!

BOTTLE FEEDING

Pros

  • 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.

 

Cons

  • 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! 

You Baby Me Mummy

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12 thoughts on “Breast vs. Bottle Feeding – My Experience

  1. It’s really interesting to read other people’s experiences if this as it was a big issue for us and we weren’t able to bf in the end. I am with you on the guilt that comes with a bottle! Xx

    1. It’s so difficult and nothing prepares you for it until baby is here. The key is happy baby, happy mum and vice versa. Why do we put ourselves through the guilt?!! Xx

  2. I have six children and done both breast and bottle so thank you for sharing this balanced view. There is so much pressure to breastfeed that it can really hurt a mum’s self-esteem if she can’t and I think there should be more support for bottle-feeding.

  3. Lots more I could add to both sides, great to hear your experience. I’ve done both too, I’m on my third child and managed to exclusively breastfeed this time and still going at 9 months, something I wasn’t sure would happen! #thelist

    1. Well done that’s amazing!! Yes I think this might be a post I have to add to as I’ve thought of more since writing it!! X

  4. Really enjoyed this post – my son is now 9 months and our last bf session was the day he turned 9 months. It sort of happened so naturally it was just over without me really making a concious decision. I know that sounds weird but really it felt like it just “happened”. I do miss it some days but now that he’s in more of a routine with bottles, I also enjoy that as well. However, the guilt!!! Some days you feel like you can’t win as a mum! #thelist

    1. What is with the guilt?! There is no winning! Part of me even feels guilty I persevered with Sienna and put her through the pain of silent reflux. One day we’ll just relax and feel no guilt. Or not…!! X

  5. Really nice and balanced view – I have tried both and I would have said pretty much the same thing. Both have their difficult points – I hated the constant sterilising and found breast feeding was easier because of that aspect. But then bf was difficult too because of soreness. In the end, you feed your baby whatever way is best for you both, thankfully we have good formulas in the modern ages!

  6. I loathe that bottlefeeding guilt exists! My first couldn’t latch (we now know due to horrendous reflux) and I would bottle feed my baby in the toilet because I was so so so ashamed of being a bottle feeder. Now I just think that attitude is so wrong. How much more pressure can we put ourselves under when we start our motherhood journey. Just feed your baby, whichever was is best for you and them. Neither methods are wrong. The most important thing is the cuddletime and bonding between the pair of you. Your list is so good at feeling balanced. #TheList

    1. Thank you! That’s awful that you felt you had to feed in the toilet. I don’t really know why I get the guilt. It’s definitely all self inflicted. It’s not good is it, when we are already putting ourselves under pressure x

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