Mothers should be given the same support, whether they breast or bottle feed
A mother's decision to bottle feed her baby should be respected.
For many years, the main focus of feeding babies has mostly been on mums who breastfeed – so much so that the support for bottle feeding mothers has taken a back seat.
This focus includes midwives who are insistent that new mothers choose to breastfeed. They always offer plenty of support to ensure that a mum’s breastfeeding journey is successful – and rightly so. Breastfeeding has incredible health benefits for both baby and mummy that no other form of food can replicate.
However, some mums struggle to breastfeed or continue with it for a variety of reasons. And this is where formula milk comes in as the next best option to breastmilk.
It’s safe to say that the support extended to breastfeeding mummies is not there for those mums who choose to bottle feed – and this has also been confirmed by research.
According to research done by Liverpool University in 2016, out of the 890 who did formula feeding, 67% reported feeling guilty, 68% felt stigmatised and 76% felt the need to defend their feeding choice.
But that’s not all, even mums who supplemented breastfeeding with formula felt the same. There was simply not enough support for bottle feeding mothers.
Despite a very difficult birth, Nicola Kay wanted to breastfeed her son Ethan. But her milk was late, and he ended up crying and sleeping a lot because he wasn’t getting enough milk.
She recalls the midwives insisting that she continue to breastfeed. Nicole did begin expressing milk, but after the relentless advice, she realised breastfeeding just wasn’t going to happen and she made the decision to formula feed.
“It felt like I’d been abandoned,” she said. Where is the support for bottle feeding mothers? Even though it wasn’t wrong, it was implied that she made the wrong decision by giving him the bottle.
Tabby, also tried to breastfeed Arthur exclusively but was worried that her son was not putting on enough weight.
She remembers trying breastfeeding for three weeks, but it was a very stressful experience. The feeling of failing to provide for him kept haunting her. Tabby spoke to her midwife about organising a breastfeeding advisor to come over to make sure she was feeding him right. Because of her midwife’s quick action and the help of supplementary formula, Tabby continued breastfeeding Arthur without a hitch!
For Keilly, her experience with support for bottle feeding mothers was different. She received conflicting advice.
“One health visitor told me I should top Amelie up with formula because she was underweight, but another one said I absolutely should not put her on a bottle. It was so confusing.”
As a new mum, there was no way for her to know what was the best decision. But in the end, they decided to give Amelie one bottle a day while she continued to breastfeed. While she realises later that they probably could have done exclusive breastfeeding, the decision still worked out for them as a family.
Breast or Bottle or Both?
Now, it seems, the concerns of mums who choose to bottle feed are slowly being recognised. Recently, The Royal College of Midwives acknowledged that even if experts say breast is best, ultimately, it is the mum’s choice.
Midwives are now being told that women who decide not to breastfeed their child must be respected for their choice. There shouldn’t be any discrimination and they should also offer the same support for bottle feeding mothers.
The Royal College of Midwives acknowledges that some women may be unable to breastfeed or just simply do not wish to breastfeed. Support for bottle feeding mothers should still apply so that new mums are aware of safe preparation of bottles and responsive feeding to develop a close and loving bond with their baby.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter whether you choose to breastfeed or bottlefeed . There is no shame in bottle feeding. All mums have the right to be treated the same and receive emotional support no matter what they decide.
Source: BBC, Live Science, Science Daily