When you don’t have the bottle…

A week ago today, my daughter took a bottle of formula milk from her Dad. Might not sound like a big deal but it was an emotional day in the Evans’ household because up until now, our six month old daughter has refused ALL bottles.

All in all (including two expensive Medela breast pumps which were rendered useless as she wouldn’t drink the expressed milk), we’ve spent about three hundred quid on our quest.

I never planned to exclusively breastfeed. Well, not for six months, anyway. It wasn’t that I was against it, we (Baby Daddy and I) had agreed that from the start we would share feeding. I’d done nine months hard time and now it was time for us to share the child rearing. Also, if I’m honest, I wanted to have a guilt-free drink.

Anyway, I was really lucky to have the baby latch on with ease straight away. It felt so easy and so convenient- no messing about with bottles etc which is something I hadn’t thought about. I wasn’t even bothered about missing out on the whole drinking alcohol ( I know- Who would have thought it!). So we agreed, I would continue to breastfeed and then express a bottle a day so hubs could get involved. Simple, really. Except, it didn’t go like that. The baby loved the boob. She like, LOVED the boob and no imitation plastic teat was going to cut the mustard.

Because we had, naively, told our family our shared-feeding plans before she was born, when she wouldn’t take a bottle it was like it was the end of the world.  “Keep trying” they all said. “Have you tried this bottle”, “Have you left her with someone else?”. Baby Daddy was gutted and felt like a spare part unable to help when he could see I was throughly exhausted. Others commented that I needed to keep on with the bottle otherwise the baby would become ‘clingy’. I know most of the advice came from a genuine place but I never once felt supported to continue breastfeeding.

The thing is, deep down, I had changed. Bottle feeding wasn’t something I was bothered about anymore. Despite the lack of support and utter exhaustion, I found it such a positive experince. It bonded me with my daughter in a way I never knew possible and I loved every minute. Sadly, I never felt this was something I could share with the people around me.

I kept up the facade and continued to try bottle after bottle (wasting gallons of my breast milk in process) until at four months, I cracked. The breaking point was when I bought an expensive and throughly ridiculous boob-like bottle as our last hope and she rejected it. Of course she did- It was fucking ridiculous.

I was sick of the pressure from everyone to force the baby to take a bottle when breastfeeding was going so well and the baby was thriving. Everyone could back the fuck off.

NHS advice recommends that you breastfeed for at least six months but the truth is that there can be so much pressure on women to stop breastfeeding as soon as they possibly can. Extended breastfeeding is seen by many as odd or wrong when it is the most natural thing in the world.

In the end, the decision to stop was taken out of my hands. At six months, almost to the day, the baby grew a razor sharp tooth which caused me the most excruciating pain. I started to think about the bottle situation again and on a whim we tried her with one of the bottles and some formula. She absolutely guzzled it down and I haven’t breastfed since. I suppose I could have continued to express but I was done.

To my surprise,  I feel just as close to her bottle feeding her as I did when I was feeding her and she continues to thrive. Also, for the first time in over six months I got to sleep whilst Baby Daddy finally got to take his turn.

I must admit, if I could do it all again, I would want to breastfeed again even if it meant the baby being permanently attached to me for six months (and beyond). I absolutely loved every minute but the perfect situation for our family would be for me to feed most of the time but the baby to take a bottle so I could have a rest now and again and hubs could get involved. 

With hindsight, I wouldn’t take people’s well-meaning advice so personally and I would go with my gut.

In the words of Robert Downey Junior:  “Listen, smile, agree, and then do whatever the fuck you were gonna do anyway”- Best. Advice. Ever.

6 thoughts on “When you don’t have the bottle…

  1. maisiesmum says:

    So much pressure on mums these days and everyone likes to stick their oar in! We’re two years into breastfeeding and I certainly didn’t intend to do it this long but I did say i’d do it for as long as she wanted, I’m very ready for the end now though. I haven’t received too many comments about it (I think most who know me know I do things my way-or Maisie’s way haha) but I know they have their opinions.Love that boob bottle-hilarious!!
    Great post xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • The state of mama says:

      Well done-Two years is absolutely amazing!!! I thought I’d be a lot stronger as I’m quite an opinionated person but it’s hard when the very people closest to you are the ones inadvertently putting the pressure on you. EVERYONE thinks they know best! Haha it’s hilarious- I can’t believe I actually bought it-It’s actually worked for some people I’ve spoken too on Instagram! Thank you xxx

      Liked by 1 person

  2. thesecretlifeofmum says:

    I’ve literally just stopped after a year of ebf , she never took a bottle so I just stopped bothering! I was hounded with questions too, when are you stopping or are you still breastfeeding?! Sadly part of me feels a small percentage of my decision to stop was based on the stigma attached to extended breastfeeding. But like you the bond is still so strong and we have great bedtime snuggles instead. Thanks for sharing your experience, v. Interesting read 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • The state of mama says:

      Well done mama- A year is such an amazing achievement! Such a shame that people have to be so negative about BF. I think next time I would be stronger but as a first time mum it’s hard not to listen to ‘advice’. Thank you for reading and sharing your experiences too 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. hypnobirthdays says:

    Seriously enjoyed this, especially re ‘fucking ridiculous’ bottle and pic… The things we do. My baby is 7 weeks and having a totally different journey but nonetheless feeling that judgement hitting hard. Agree that in reality the pressure is to stop, rather than continue. GP told me main benefits are in first 2 days, so had I considered stopping at 5 weeks when I complained (A LOT- but she only had to endure 2 mins) of pain. Nuts.
    I wrote this 10 days ago https://hypnobirthdays.com/2016/06/08/breastfeeding-lesson-im-a-total-hypocrite/and since decided on a bedtime bottle of formula, which I did for 4 nights then went back to full on boobing. I love it AND hate it. Go figure. That’s why I enjoyed your perspective so much- mostly you read only polarised views. You liked it, it worked, then you’d had enough. Big respect for doing 6 months, big respect for calling time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The state of mama says:

      Omg I have just read your post- you have been through the ringer. Well done on persevering for seven weeks. My niece had a dairy allergy and so my sister had a terrible time BF so I know how soul destroying it can be to spend hours feeding only for it to cause pain/sickness. It can be really lonely at times- I felt like I couldn’t tell anyone when I was shattered from 3 days zero sleep because of non-stop feeding because their only suggestion would be “well stop feeding her and give her a bottle” so I totally understand the pressure. You are doing absolutely amazing considering everything you have come up against xxx


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s