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Bottle feeding judgement - Did you experience it?


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#1 L's Angel

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Posted 12 February 2014 - 10:57 AM

We are bottle feeding Isla, currently a combination of EBM and formula but will transition to just formula over time. Basic background is that I had some serious blockage/infection issues that started within about 12 hours of Islas birth (which was a c-sec 2 was early due to foetal distress) so we never established BF, I underwent all sorts of treatment to deal with those issues and was expressing through it to try and clear the blockages. Eventually things resolved and I spent the next few weeks expressing to try and bring up my supply before we hoped to attempt to start feeding Isla from the breast. I was expressing every time she fed, up to 8 times a day, DH was still on paternity leave so it was manageable as he did the feeding while I expressed, and we both shared the sterilising and settling etc. I felt it wouldn't be manageable once he went back to work, so I reduced to expressing 3 times a day at 4 wks, and she's getting about 50/50 mix of EBM & formula at the moment. I also made the decision that I wouldn't try to get her on the breast after all, I just didn't feel I had it in me to fight another battle after all we'd been through as I was really struggling to cope already.

Anyway, after all that, the point of the thread was to ask about your experiences of other people's reaction to your bottle feeding?

I had a bit of a WTF moment the other day which made me think about this, my lactation consultant did warn me that I would find some people would judge me for bottle feeding but I was still a bit taken aback. It was a friend of DH's grandmother, who is a retired midwife, the conversation went something like this:

Me: Hello, nice to meet you
Friend: Hello. Oh, she 's very cute.
Me:Thank you, we think so
Friend: Are you breastfeeding?
Me: Um, no, I had some problems in hospital and it didn't work out, so we're bottle feeding
Friend: Oh, you mustn't have had a good nurse then.
Me: (somewhat bewildered) The nurses were fantastic, as was the lactation consultant, it was just my body couldn't get it right.

She then went on to tell me about feeling her kids and how she stopped breastfeeding the first one because she had trouble and was advised to stop, but she did feed the next one because she was determined to work hard to do it. I got the distinct feeling that in her eyes I hadn't tried hard enough, or had made a selfish choice or something.

The whole conversation left me feeling a bit weird, I guess because I never expected to be justifying something so personal to someone I just met - but this is what my LC warned me to expect, especially when it comes to mothers groups and feeding with a bottle in public.

Sorry for the essay, but I'd love to hear from anyone who bottle fed their bub/s - Is this unusual? Or should I expect to be explaining my medical issues to random strangers until Isla can drink from a sippy cup? How should I handle these sorts of exchanges, when my first answer of 'I had some medical issues' doesn't seem to be enough? I don't want to be rude but I don't think our feeding choices are anyone's business but ours!
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#2 Mel B

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Posted 12 February 2014 - 11:21 AM

I had a similar situation to you. I had a LC and I pumped and I bf every feed and I just never had enough milk. My ducts were underdeveloped apparently.

It's so long ago now I struggle to remember but yes there were absolutely people who gave advice I didn't need or had already tried with no success. I was also judged for my c sections so it was a double whammy laugh.gif

The fact is there are people in the world who truly believe that everyone can bf if they try hard enough. There are others for whom bfing is the single most important part of parenting their baby and they will almost kill themselves to achieve it. Those people are never going to be convinced no matter how much you explain yourself.

My personal belief is that it is nobody else's business how you feed your baby, apart from you, your husband and your child's doctor. I also think that by justifying myself by explaining my medical history I am reinforcing the idea that I did something wrong. So I never explain unless I want to, which is usually only when I am supporting someone else in a similar situation.

If you are talking to a friend that you are comfortable with, you might choose to explain the situation with them. But you need to firmly stop them as soon as they start with advice. I used to say something like "The decision has been made and DH and I are comfortable with it." Smile and look confident while you say it.

If it is someone you don't know very well I would respond to their questions with a question: "Why do you want to know?" Usually that shows them what a personal question it is and they shut up.

And there will come a time when nobody will care any more biggrin.gif

Take care x




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#3 CookiesandCream

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Posted 12 February 2014 - 01:01 PM

DS1 was bottle fed from 2 weeks of age. We had attachment issues, weight loss issues (he had lost over 1/2 kilo in 2 weeks) and we didn't now it at the time but I think some of it was related to reflux issues that reared it's ugly head at 4ish weeks.

I can't remember anyone saying anything too much, the only comment I got was when I took him into work to meet everyone and a lady who had started working there about 3 months before I started maternity leave asked 'are you feeding him' and whilst she didn't say breast feeding I knew exactly what she meant. I just replied with a simple yes because I was feeding him! just not breastfeeding! She was one of those types though, in the three months I knew her she constantly whinged and bitched to me about how her DIL didn't breastfeed, let her kid have a dummy, didn't let her see the kid enough (I felt sorry for the DIL and I hadn't even met her!).

I felt like I had an almost anti breastfeeding vibe from family (not DH but other family) when I moved to formula I got a lot of comments such as ' at least you know how much he is getting now' and 'other people can feed him now as well' with DS2 I breastfed him until 3 months and then mix fed until 6 months and I got a lot of comments such as 'you won't be one of those babies that are breastfed till 2 years old will you' or 'no one else can feed you now' all passive aggressive and directed to the newborn baby not me rolleyes.gif (FTR no one besides DH fed DS1 either even though he was bottle fed as I still felt it was an important bonding time for the two of us).

I did have a few girls in mothers group say that they had random come up to them and ask if the bottle contained breast milk or formula, to me that is just plain rude and no one elses business. mad.gif
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#4 Gretch

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Posted 12 February 2014 - 02:01 PM

If you haven't already read it, get Tina Fey's 'Bossypants'. Her chapter on breastfeeding is a funny look at 'extreme breastfeeders' like the one you describe.

I breastfeed, but I don't need any more gratification for feeding my child than knowing that I'm fulfilling a vital part of parenting in feeding my kids. Some people seem to think it's a competition about who does it best and it doesn't stop at breast/bottle feeding.

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#5 Monica

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Posted 12 February 2014 - 02:17 PM

Yes, from my SIL.

As I lay in acute care seeing my baby for the first time in 24 hours, she was on the phone to DH asking if I wanted a book on breastfeeding. DH was very stern with her that it wasn't the time to be asking that (ftr she had already been on the boob but not much was happening due to the trauma my body had gone through).

I was terrified I wans't going to be able to BF, my milk didn't come in til day 8 but once it did we had no issues. I decided at about 6 months to start comp feeding and Nina had an allergic reaction to S26 - I felt awful. I tried her on NAN at 7 months when she self weaned (which I was told a baby can't do rolleyes.gif ).

Considering I didn't think I'd even be able to BF and I got to 7 months, I was really sensitive to her passive agressive comments (she BF fed my newphew til close to 3 and is feeding my niece now at 8 months).

I didn't have an issue with her extended BF'ing so why should she at my 7 months.

People are rude.
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#6 aChocLover

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Posted 12 February 2014 - 04:14 PM


Absolutely sad.gif Everything you do as a parent seems to be fodder for conversation and opinions.

With DD1 I was hopeless - my boobs were gigantic (almost twice the size of DD1s head) and I struggled to discreetly breastfeed her, not to mention the ongoing issues with supply *insert screaming from hungry baby*; so battling a squirmy baby in public, with large boobs hanging out all over the place, I managed to really upset/disgust other patrons. *sigh*

So being quite self conscious, I thought it better to bottle feed in public.
And, I managed to really upset/disgust other patrons. *sigh*

Best to focus on pleasing yourself and baby, and not the randoms x

#7 truffles

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Posted 12 February 2014 - 08:05 PM

Ergh, don't you just hate the judgement from people? It seems like as soon as we become parents everything we do is up for judgement and criticism... BF'ing, bottle feeding, dummy or no dummy, things our kids eat or don't eat, pretty much everything *sigh*. Yes, we faced this with DS... He was formula fed from 6weeks due to our whole BF'ing experience being a complete disaster- a baby that didn't suck well, failure to thrive, poor attachment, blisters, nipple thrush, breast refusal, the list goes on. What I hated the most was this whole attitude of "oh you mustn't have tried hard enough' if you are formula feeding. People have no idea what we went through! On a different note the BF'ing experience I am having with DD is completely different... Same equipment obviously, just different baby! I just don't understand how people can judge others for feeding their baby?! Fed is best.


QUOTE(aChocLover @ Feb 12 2014, 05:14 PM) View Post


With DD1 I was hopeless - my boobs were gigantic (almost twice the size of DD1s head) and I struggled to discreetly breastfeed her, not to mention the ongoing issues with supply *insert screaming from hungry baby*; so battling a squirmy baby in public, with large boobs hanging out all over the place, I managed to really upset/disgust other patrons. *sigh*

So being quite self conscious, I thought it better to bottle feed in public.
And, I managed to really upset/disgust other patrons. *sigh*



aChocLover I can so relate to this! The whole big boobs and squirmy baby thing and it is so hard to be discreet when they are squirming all over the place. Yes it doesn't matter what I do I manage to offend too, good to know others can relate!

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#8 bluenomi

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Posted 12 February 2014 - 08:36 PM

Aren't people fun with their judgements? One of the best ways to get around it is to refuse to discuss it. Randoms don't need to know, just smile and nod and ignore them.
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#9 Tigridia

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Posted 12 February 2014 - 09:31 PM

Oh you are damned if you do and damned if you don't.

I have had massive issues with low supply and slow weight gain both times around. I've had to comp feed from 5 days both times and comp feed the whole time. I have literally tried everything to boost my supply and I don't make enough milk.

I have felt judged by BFing Nazi's who assume I haven't tried hard enough and judged by bottle feeding mothers for not giving up and fully bottle feeding. I have supply line fed both times and that gets you some seriously weird looks when you do it in public! I actually just wrote a blog today (link in sig) about my supply line feeding experiences. I have copped plenty opinions from everyone on what I've chosen to do, especially the passive agressive comments about giving them formula but not letting anyone else feed them since I still have to feed with the line mad.gif People just like to have an opinion.

It is ridiculous but when I feed in public and use the supply line I get looks but when I give a bottle I get just as many. I also got some looks when I was breastfeeding on the beach one day because I was showing some boob, ironic given most of the beach was half naked! You really can't win rolleyes.gif

I've found by 6ish months many babies seem to be mix fed and you see bottle feeding more and more as they get older. You know what is right for you. Don't feel bad about it. Well done for expressing for as long as you have, that is no mean feat!
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#10 Guest_Windsor_Guest

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Posted 12 February 2014 - 10:38 PM

Yeah I've got the judgy vibe but I was 'lucky' (HA!) to be able to say 'well after 6 BF related hospital admissions I decided to stop...' with Caitlin and then follow that up with 'I've had previous breast surgery and scar tissue' with Natalie. No one judges after that.


BUT it is sooooo hard to shake the feeling that people are judging you and it really is about the guilt of no longer BF too. Even though I KNEW the likelihood of issues with #2, KNEW I made the right decision at day 5 and totally enjoyed her newborn stage as a result of stopping, it was so hard to shake the guilt and so hard not to feel people were talking about me feeding my tiny tiny 6pd baby formula.


If you ever need some lighthearted relief during late night feeds (cause FF can take a bloody long time too and mum is still usually the one doing it in the middle of the night...) check out this blog http://www.fearlessformulafeeder.com/

#11 flowerrose

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Posted 13 February 2014 - 12:07 AM

I still can't quite believe that we have managed to make something so basic as feeding your baby into a contentious issue! It really troubles me. Don't feed Ilsa at all and you and I might be having words but seriously; formula, bottle, 4 months or 6, baby led or whatever...talk about a first world problem! (The judgment, not your struggles).

There seems to be a thought process that 'I experienced X, Y & Z, that makes me an expert on ....well, pretty much everything child related. I can happily apply those to every parenting situation.'
I challenge any of these people to stand in my daughter's playground and point out who was and wasn't fed by whatever system.

Isla is thriving and you made the right choice, as her mother knowing all the circumstances. Please be confident in that and don't even bother to explain or justify to anyone else.

#12 beachgurl

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Posted 13 February 2014 - 12:18 AM

I decided not to BF either of my babies. I asked for the tablets after each was born to stop my milk coming. Was a good thing I had decided this as I took many hours to leave recovery after my emergency c/sect and DH was able to feed her when she was ready.

The most common question asked by ransoms was "are you feeding her". No actually she can survive without being fed.

I was fine with the comments. I knew that the decision was the right one for me and my children had a mum confident in that choice. I really think that made all the difference and most of the judgement stopped.

#13 L's Angel

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Posted 13 February 2014 - 09:11 AM

Thanks everyone, I guess as a parent I'm going to have to get used to everyone judging everything I do - I was just a little taken aback by it as I would never start a conversation like that with someone I just met, I never thought other people would either.

I believe I've made the right decision, I hated that so much of our first few weeks was focused in the negatives of what was going on with my body and I decided I wanted a chance to just enjoy my baby. I still do feel a little guilty because I probably *could* have got her on the breast if I'd tried, and that's probably why the comment bothered me so much, but I've got nothing to feel guilty about and I'm going to have to learn to have confidence in myself as a parent and know that the only ones who get to judge what's right for my child are me, my husband and our chosen medical professionals!
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#14 jantastic

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Posted 13 February 2014 - 09:41 AM

You would be hard pressed to pick out the breast fed ones when they are five.

Parenting judgement sucks and it really starts when you first fall pregnant "was it planned?"

I've had some curly questions come at me either way - harshly judged for using shields, immunising, getting the flu shot while pregnant, taking my son to physio, starting him in daycare, working part time instead of full time, working part time instead of being a sahm, going back to study, not studying enough... You truly can't win in everyone's books so you can only do what is best for you.

For the record, I'm pretty sure that you worrying is a good indication that you are doing a pretty good job (not suggesting that if you didn't worry you would be doing a bad job! - see you can't win tongue.gif)

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