The Breast to Bottle Feeding Guilt

The breastfeeding and bottle feeding debate is ongoing and constant. Battling the feelings of guilt and tackling a difficult subject head on, Dee from The Sleep Fairy, has spoken about supporting other mothers, regardless of their decision to bottle or breast feed. Because everyone is different and goes through varying struggles. 

Some new mums find breastfeeding easy and take to it immediately. Some get there after a several weeks or months of pain, cracked nipples, mastitis, dedication and perseverance, and are happy to continue for as long as their baby needs milk regularly because it is easy, free and it fits in with their lives.

Others aren’t as lucky. Breastfeeding, although a natural function of our womanly bodies, can be a painful and emotional battle and at some point, formula is introduced. Some women come to the decision on their own, having had enough of their bleeding nipples, engorged breasts or constantly fractious, hungry baby. It comes as a relief when their baby settles, their breast pain eases, and life becomes a bit easier (well, as “easier” as life can with a baby).

Unfortunately, some women are talked or pressured into making this decision, by their family and even health visitor, in an attempt to relieve some of the stress from a frazzled mum’s day, thinking that if they stop struggling with the battle of breastfeeding, both mother and baby will be happier. They may be right, but as a mother on the receiving end of this, it brings with it a whole host of emotions.

Moving from breast to formula will certainly be a relief for many, but there a lot of mums out there who really struggle to come to the decision to stop breastfeeding and are laden with guilt as a result. Some decide easily and still feel rotten once they have stopped.

Breastfeeding can be one of the most wonderful ways of bonding and spending time with your baby, and even if you struggle with it, you know how beautiful it can feel, so stopping can create a rollercoaster of emotions. Some mums will feel like they are losing something special, they will beat themselves up for months, questioning whether they have done the right thing. These feelings are totally natural and normal, especially as this is a time in a woman’s life when her hormones are running wild, and emotions even more so.

As mothers, we question almost every decision we make. We will often look back and think about how we could or should have done things differently. The problem with this is that we had to decide then. At that time in our life, we didn’t know what the impact or emotional outcome was going to be. When we look back it is all too easy to think that we should have done things differently because the memories of what was going on have faded and the pain eased. As a result, we then beat ourselves up about it and feel guilty about what we have done! Again, this is a normal part of being a mum and the best way to deal with it is to accept that we had to make a change and we can’t turn back the clock.

The fact is that as long as you are feeding your baby, it really doesn’t matter where the milk comes from. You won’t find Facebook groups devoted to bottle-feeding, you won’t find women congratulating each other on how long they have been bottle-feeding for, or awarding “golden bottles” for getting to a year of bottle-feeding. And you don’t get “National Bottle-Feeding Week”. Bottle-feeding mothers would benefit from a bit more support to help ease any guilt they are feeling and to help them to recognise that they are great mums, doing the best for their babies and themselves at this very difficult and emotional time in their lives! They also need a bit of reassurance that they made the right decision, when a decision needed to be made.

What are your thoughts on the debate? Let us know in the comments section below!




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