I am all about informed choice. We all have different needs, experiences and concerns that lead us to conclude that what’s best for most may not be best for us as individuals when we take the whole picture into account. Bottle feeding, breastfeeding, whatever you do, it’s hard having a baby.
Big thanks to the gorgeous Clare for sharing her story with us here…
Why Bottle Feeding Was My First Choice
I chose to bottle feed my second son who was born in August from day one for a couple of reasons.
When my first son was born four years ago I breastfed in hospital, I wont lie, I wasn’t too sure about whether I was cut out for breastfeeding, self conscious and a bit of a clutz at times I was convinced I was going to become the local boob flasher and likely give my father in law the fright of his life at Christmas.
Anyway, I was in an excellent midwife led unit (I lived in Shropshire at the time) with my 3 day old. I was still there because I’d had high blood pressure in labour which they’d been monitoring and I was in no rush to leave anyway because I had no support network or clue what I was doing!
My husband passed him to me to see if I could settle him, as soon as he did I could see Nathan’s face was blue, I shook him and screamed “Nathan!” the midwives ran over and took him from me rushing him out of sight telling my husband to come with them. After a couple of minutes a midwife came back and said “come with me he needs you near”, she led me into a room where he was on one of those resuscitation beds, he had an oxygen mask over his mouth and nose and one of the midwives was pumping it to keep the oxygen going in.
She said to another midwife “we need the blue lights”. An ambulance came and Nathan was put in a little pod all padded out and with an opening so the midwife could continue to squeeze the oxygen mask on the journey to the main hospital which was about 30 minutes away.
When we arrived at hospital we were taken to A&E, Nathan lay on a full size bed completely limp. They took loads of tests, and he didn’t flinch or cry because he was too weak. It was awful and I think I was just in shock, people were talking to me but I don’t really know what they said, it was like I was underwater!
After being transferred to a neo natal unit they stabilised him and discovered his glucose levels were “below that of a starving child”. I just couldn’t understand it because I’d been feeding him!
I was put in part of the maternity ward on my own with 9 empty beds and told I needed to feed Nathan every four hours and I had to express milk using the hospital breast pumps because he was too weak latch on. I spent my time in a four hour blocks sterilising bottles, pumping, eating, sleeping, pretty much only able to see him when he needed feeding. The consultants said there was an improvement and perhaps he just hadn’t been ready to manage his glucose levels. After ten days Nathan was fasted to see if he stopped breathing again before they would discharge him.
The results showed he was managing his glucose levels however as a precaution we were instructed to ensure he fed every six hours. This meant we set alarms and wrote down every single feed until he was signed off by the consultants for a couple of months. I expressed with the hospital pump they loaned us for a week after we got home but after all we’d been through I was emotionally and physically drained.
When I put Nathan to my breast because we had to give the breast pump back I was in a state, my nips had healed and I couldn’t face establishing feeding.
So dramatic as it sounds second time round I wanted to know this time exactly what my baby getting because I wanted to know he wouldn’t stop breathing. He was given a bottle without hesitation shortly after being born. The picture is his first feed.
The second reason; as if I needed another one! I suffered with postnatal depression the first time, I invested a lot of time in myself during this pregnancy to put my mind in a good place. I prepared for a completely different birth experience, which I got, (yay!) and in order to stay in a positive place I didn’t want to put myself under any extra pressure. I wanted as much support as anyone was willing to give me and thought if I breast fed I couldn’t share the responsibility of feeding. I also thought if I was exhausted I could more easily get sleep when I desperately need it which would be good for me emotionally. PND was debilitating and impacted me and my family massively so bottle feeding was an easy choice for me.