A slight rant about formula feeding and breastfeeding – bear with me…

Okay, so I tried to breastfeed. I really tried. Really really really. But the baby was about ten days old, losing weight and the doctors pretty much told me that unless I gave her ‘some’ formula then I would damage her kidneys. Great. So I did.

Aaaaaand, I think that’s one of the main reasons that my breastfeeding got bollocksed up.

Well, I have some medical issues which may also be implicated but we’ll never really know if the baby hadn’t been introduced to a bottle (‘hello Babybear’ ‘hello Bottle’) whether we might have been able to get my supply up a bit more. As it was, with feeding round the clock, domperidone medication and yield tests (expressing every two hours for 48 hours – what fun), combined with the expertise of one of the best breastfeeding specialists in the country, fenugreek, Guinness, other stuff I took that I can’t remember…. I managed to get up to about 30% of what she needed per day and so we did mixed feeding (otherwise known as the worst of both worlds) for 17 weeks. It wasn’t perfect, but I really loved it. And I think I went a wee bit mental, which helped.

People talk about ‘nipple confusion’ but I don’t think Babybear was in the slightest bit confused. She knew that the bottle was easier and so she slowly took less and less from me, therefore stimulating me less so the whole thing kinda petered out. Gutted doesn’t touch it. I was heartbroken. That’s why I put myself (and Babybear, if I’m honest) through the mill about it for such a long time. I was so sad when it stopped, so humiliated to pull out my formula bottle in cafes etc and it totally got me down. Still does, when I think about it, which I try not to.

Anyway, onwards and upwards, yes? If I can’t breastfeed then I’m sure as dammit going to see to it that she enjoys a healthy and varied diet…

So I look at weaning material online and pretty much everything talks about transitioning from breastfeeding to solids. I understand that the advice has to be pro-breastfeeding, but it rather seems to defeat the point of trying to create a strong and positive lifelong relationship with food for our babies if those of us who couldn’t or didn’t want to breastfeed feel excluded when it comes to the next stage. Is it a class thing? Are formula feeders, having ‘opted’ for a processed solution to milk feeding just supposed to head for the jarred food section of the supermarket until the babies are old enough for turkey twizzlers? (Not that jars are inherently evil, don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings but… oh you know what I mean.)

Then one day I was chatting with my rather marvelous ante-natal class chums and someone mentions baby led weaning and Gill Rapley. Really? No purees? Straight onto solids? Hhhmmmmm, sounds interesting…

At first I found it incredibly difficult to find written material (hence this blog, ladies) but when I did, on some crazy Dutch website, inevitably came the warning.

“Parents who are bottle feeding their baby should also consult with their health advisers, for the reasons outlined below.

It is not clear whether a baby-led approach to the introduction of solids is appropriate for babies who are bottle fed; more research is needed to establish this, since bottle-feeding seems to be more mother-led. It is difficult to make predictions about how bottle-fed babies will manage solids, so we need to be careful. However, as long as care is taken to ensure an adequate fluid intake, there would seem to be nothing inherently wrong in adopting this approach. It is recommended that parents of babies who are being bottle (formula) fed discuss the matter fully with their health advisers if they wish to use this method.”

Oh yeah. I forgot.  I jam bottles down my baby’s throat regardless of whether or not she wants it. In fact, I schedule her feeds solely to coincide with my soaps on the telly and the sooner she learns how to boil the kettle so she can make her mother a cuppa, the better.

Ach, I know that’s not really what it says, in fact I think it’s phrased rather well in a manner that is clearly designed to play it cagey while not ruling out baby led weaning for formula feeders, but when you’ve tried and ‘failed’ to breastfeed it doesn’t take much to kick you in the chops. And the advice to ask our health advisers..? Fine, but what if they say ‘I’ve never heard of it. Sounds unusual. Don’t they choke? I wouldn’t do it myself. Do you want a free pack of baby rice?’

So here’s what I think. It’s not medical advice, it’s just my feeling on the matter.

I can see the point that if you do keep to a strict schedule then your baby might be unaccustomed to regulating their own appetite… but I’m not 100 per cent sure I buy it. Maybe it’s just my daughter, but I can’t get her to drink half an ounce more than she wants to, and she will make herself perfectly clear if she fancies some milk at any time. I haven’t met anyone who feeds specific amounts at specific times, and certainly any reading material I have is quite clear about the necessity to demand feed with formula.

From my experience, therefore, I would say that if you are demand formula feeding I can’t see what the problem would be. (Frankly if you aren’t I can’t see what the problem would be if you were scheduled so long as you were able to cede control to the baby, but it’s not something I’ve done so I can’t really comment.)

With regards to the water issue, my daughter really didn’t drink much of it to begin with but I made sure it was always available as the formula is unchanging whereas breastmilk has a lipsmackingthirstquenching effect, so too much formula liquid can lead to over-feeding. It took a while and a massive heatwave to get her going with water, and she now drinks from a Tommee Tippee cup while we’re out and a shot glass in the house. With varied results…

To be honest, I don’t think that Babybear is drinking less milk than she used to, we’ve just incorporated the solids into her usual intake. (We normally make up about 6-sh bottles of 7 ounces per day, and she drinks what she wants of them. Sometimes loads, sometimes hardly any. She’s obviously growing fine so I think what’s happening is that the solids are supplementing her feeds so the milk isn’t going up but her meal time consumption is. )

So I know this is quite the rant, and to anyone who managed to get to the end of it, well done. All you breastfeeders out there, keep it up, you’re doing a grand job, really, and to the formula feeders considering baby led weaning… don’t worry, everything’s going to be fine.

Post Script

Guess who left a message on the main page? Gill Rapley, that’s who. Wasn’t that kind? In case you didn’t see it, here’s what she wrote.

Hi to everyone! Amazingly I have only just learned about this blog – I think it’s great! I’m looking forward to reading everything! For now, I just want to comment on the rant about formula feeding:

I’m delighted you’ve raised this. Personally, I have little doubt that babies who have been formula-fed are just as capable of self-weaning as those who have been breastfed. My hesitation in saying so in public stems from the fact that I am working in the world of academics and health professionals. In that world, any new drug, procedure or idea has to have a research evidence base to substantiate it before it is accepted – common sense is not enough. This is a safety feature – just in case there could be a hidden danger. If I step outside that I will not be taken seriously by people who, if they are convinced, have the potential to share the BLW message with lots of parents. So, since my own small piece of research was done using breastfed babies, I am not able to make assertions that are more general. You, as mothers, are perfectly free to state what makes logical sense – and I thank you for doing so!

One final small note: I hoped to publish my research in 2003 (as mentioned on your home page) but in fact have still not done so! (I am about to re-submit it to a journal after making amendments to the write-up.) I have, however, had a chapter published in an erudite book and am in the process of making a video about BLW. Watch this space!
Best regards to all of you, Gill Rapley


216 Responses to “A slight rant about formula feeding and breastfeeding – bear with me…”

  1. Jenni Connolly says:

    I’m glad that I chanced looking at your ‘rant’ here, as I’m both breast and formula feeding at the moment, but I’ve founds most rants on this topic to be staunchly anti-formula. It’s a tough grey area to inhabit in my experience, so it was good to read (especially that you tried Guinness to up your supply too!)
    I too found it very upsetting to find I have a low milk supply; Stella was born with Tongue tie and I don’t think my supply got going early enough. Anyhoo, I just wanted to say that I’ve been using a supplemental nursing system or SNS since she was about five weeks. She’s now just shy of six months. My supply has fluctuated throughout this period and twice she was barely having any top up at the breast but now it’s about 2oz every couple of hours. I reckon she gets over half her milk from me though. Unfortunately expression is nigh impossible, I can barely get half an ounce in total from both my girls, but I do still pump when needs be.
    I just wanted to share my experience. You can get an SMS online easily and if you’re bereft at the thought of leaving the breast behind it’s worth a go. All the best, Jenni

    • Aitch says:

      i bow down in awe at anyone persevering with an sns, i got one of those (‘WHICH colour tube to use? i have to BOIL them on the stove??! do you think i don’t have enough to occupy my time, medela, with a small baby to look after??!!) and just couldn’t bear the kerfuffle in the end. Well bloomin’ done for sticking with it for five months, that is unbelievable.
      there is an update to my bfing story, perhaps i should write it down? my second child was born 7 weeks prem and came out at 4lb1oz (so not bad, actually, especially as the reason she was wheeched out so unceremoniously was that she had stopped growing three weeks earlier). Gosh, i’ve got lots to say about that bfing experience as well, now that you have reminded me. Must blog about it one day, but basically yes, thank god for formula. Not liking formula companies is very different, i think, from not having an appreciation for their product, (and for our clean water supply and sufficient funds to pay for it).

      • Nicky says:

        So many mothers struggle with breastfeeding and I just wish that more(I’m an IBCLC) isn’t done at the hospital to prevent the problems that so commonly occur. After 16 years of hospital practice and after listening to so many mothers tell their stories, I believe that getting off to a good start is the best way to avoid a difficult experience. There’s a huge range in a newborn’s ability
        to latch and nurse and a huge range in a mother’s ability to help a baby to transfer milk at the breast. It can be extremely difficult (although not impossible) to learn how to nurse a baby who has developed a breast aversion and difficult (although not impossible) to increase a mother’s milk supply if the baby doesn’t nurse well during the first 3 days because the hormonal climate at this time is prime. This is why the first few days after giving birth are so important. A skilled pair of hands and good instruction to learn position and latch BEFORE the baby starts to refuse the breast is so important. Likewise, the more colostrum a baby transfers, the better the milk supply will be. Pumping before the milk is in is grossly over-rated and tires mothers out. The removal of the colostrum is essential and pumping just doesn’t work that well because the colostrum is too thick and the quantity too small for a real let down to occur. The best approach is to learn how to use breast compression to increase the transfer of colostrum while the baby nurses and this helps the baby from falling asleep at the breast from slow flow or from nursing for extended periods of time but not getting much. If baby isn’t latching at all, hand expression is much more effective than pumping IF done properly. A mother will tell me she can only express a few drops but after I show her proper technique, she can usually express at least 5 ml’s which is enough to finger or spoon feed to the baby. You can even just hand express directly into the baby’s mouth if you wish. By nursing frequently and efficiently, infant dehydration, bottles and maternal and infant fatigue can be avoided. Of course, there are more complicated scenarios, but I would venture to say that breastfeeding would be a lot easier if mothers received better help immediately postpartum.

      • Aitch says:

        If only, Nicky…

      • Nicky says:

        Sorry the next post is in the wrong spot. I posted a reply to Jenni below (a few replies down from here). My apologies!

    • Margaret says:

      Holy Moly Jenni. I’m amazed by the SNS for 5 months. Did it for a couple of weeks in the early days and thought I was going to lose my mind.
      I’m still BF my 6 month old full time with the help of Dom and a good pump (I’m working full time too). But I think formula is in my future cause my little one is quite small (7% at the last doctors visit with a drop from 15% in 6 weeks). For now we are keeping an eye on the weight and hoping food with make up the difference. I’m a little sad about the possiblity of formula — I LOVE nursing, but reading the stories of other mothers who HAD to add formula to their babies diet helps. I know I’m not looking up giving nursing. But the diet things are so emotionally complicated. Doing what’s best for the baby and what feels best aren’t really always the same thing. Ugh…



      • Aitch says:

        for me, the idea of formula,which I had long succumbed to as i was The World’s Worst BFer ;D, became so much more palatable in my mind (and so much of this took place in my mind, by the way) once i had introduced solids. one ‘foreign’ food source was much the same as another, i reckoned. good luck with everything, Margaret, and yes i totally agree re the SNS. am full of admiration for anyone who could use it at all, it drove me round the twist.

    • Jess says:

      Hi Jenni,
      Thanks for sharing your story. I am currently using the SNS 8 times a day, not boiling, but sterilizing and my daughter is now six months old, and we share a similar experience. She is thriving and drinking less than half of the required formula, so we figure the rest is from the breast. Sometimes she will take the breast alone, but since the SNS is much faster, she does have a preference. Just wondering how long the SNS worked for you and how you did the BLW. Any issues with iron? Thanks.

    • Nicky says:

      Every baby should be assessed for tongue tie during the newborn exam (just after birth) and if the mom wants to breastfeed, the tongue- tied baby needs a frenectomy ASAP. Unlike bottle feeding, babies need to be able to protrude and extrude their tongues freely while suckling at the breast because the baby actually threads the milk out. (And that’s why introducing a bottle impacts the breastfeeding so negatively.) Delaying frenectomy results in sore nipples for mom and often the introduction of a bottle for baby because he can’t transfer milk at the breast. After a few bottles, baby becomes accustomed to it and doesn’t learn how to suckle so even later, after a late frenectomy, the baby will often refuse the breast (or sometimes accept but not be able to transfer any milk). Frequent, efficient emptying of the colostrum from the breast during the first 3 days is key to developing a good milk supply and contrary to popular belief, pumping is a poor substitute. Hand expression is better prior to the milk coming in but of course nothing works like the baby.
      Doctors really need to realize this. Preaching breast is best, does not help a mom or a baby in this situation. I’ve even heard doctors refusing to do a frenectomy because “the baby will grow out of it”. Not very helpful, when baby needs to breastfeed now. Jenni, you’re amazing for hanging in there with an SNS for so long. I’m sorry that nobody suggested it earlier so you wouldn’t have had to use it for so long and of course, maybe not at all if the tongue tie had been corrected soon after birth. You’ve done the very best you could have after a difficult start and it really paid off. I think it’s really remarkable that you were able to produce so much milk after all! Wow!

  2. Jenni Connolly says:

    Shoot, that should be “SNS” there at the end of my comment It’s late hey, goodnight :) Thank you.

  3. christine says:

    Oh wow, I can’t believe this, I had no idea that a formula-fed baby could participate in this wonderful thing I just heard about (BLW) at all!! This is SUCH GOOD NEWS, I don’t have to freak out that if something should happen to go wrong with breastfeeding (knock wood) I can’t do this at all and am doomed to a life of cereal spooning that I really hope to avoid!! THANK YOU for putting this info and resources out there. (The stress reduction honestly will probably improve my chances at breastfeeding!)

    • Aitch says:

      good luck with the bfing, it’s SUCH a treat to do it when it goes well. (like, ahem, in my case about twice… but still… ;-D)
      make friends with my friend Jane at http://www.howbreastfeedingworks.com if you need a good chat about it all, and many of the women on the forum here are champion lactaters as well, arf!

  4. ashley says:

    i was heart broken when i had to give up breast feeding. eliana came home with thrush from the hospital and refused to eat because it hurt to much and she had GERD but i didnt know it yet. my milk supply went down and i couldnt produce enough to feed her for one day. i had to go to formula. it was hard but she is healthy and strong. thats what matters.

    • Aitch says:

      it is SO hard, isn’t it? and actually, although i think i am so over it, sometimes i still manage to get bitten in the ass by feeling bad about not having had that great experience with my two. i agree, what matters is that they are healthy and strong but i do understand and sympathise regarding how miserable it is at the time.

  5. Amy says:

    Thanks for posting this rant Aitch…it’s refreshing to read. I was devastated when I couldn’t breastfeed and spent months trying, and on domperidone, expressing etc – what a nightmare… and didn’t realise at the time I had PND. I’m so upset and angry at how the anti-formula propaganda that we’re bombarded with during pregnancy and after birth makes you feel even more awful when you already feel horrible for not being able to feed your baby yourself…but everything on line is about how amazing it is to breastfeed and how people give up too easily when they don;t get the latch right!!! Grrrrrrrr. Why can’t there be a balanced approach which says breast feeding is great, but no probs is you can’t do it and quite frankly let’s be thankful for formula which can nourish and grow our babies when they won’t/can’t breast feed! Imagine what would happen to those poor babes if we didn’t have it! Anyway…there’s my rant to join yours

    • Aitch says:

      i totally know what you mean, in terms of the ‘propaganda’ it’s easy to feel like the pendulum has swung too far in the zealous emphasis on bfing but the online world is not the real world, at the same time. internet types talk a good game, but the bottom line is that bfing rates are shocking, and that support is cack in many cases.
      personally, if it was me in charge i would forget about the posters and the campaigns and for the next ten years concentrate SOLELY on helping those women who want to bf, to bf. proper support is all, imo.

      ‘course it looks like what there is is for the chop under this lot, which is quite bonkers.

      and yes yes yes, let us ALL be thankful for formula, for the fact that we can afford to buy it (HAVE YOU SEEN HOW MUCH IT COSTS?! it was six quid a box for aptamil five years ago) and for our clean water to make it up. couldn’t agree more.

  6. missd says:

    just get ovedr it love there is nothing wrong with formual feeding. Same thing happened to me and happens top many women. Personally I felt more humiliated wacking my boobs out in cafe’s than bottles.

  7. missd says:

    Oh and to be perfectly honest, she was obviously healthier having had the formula so therefore formula was better for her.

  8. Peta says:

    What do you mean “she was healthier for having formula”? I can sympathise with all of the ladies who have had to abandon BFing through lack of support and lack of information but………………….Breast feeding is still by far the best nutrition and protection for your baby.
    No one should “put down” anyone who can’t, for what ever reason, manage to breast feed. It is an extreeeeemly difficult time. However we should all put pressure on the government to provide adequate help for new mothers and babies. It is clear from so many studies that breast fed babies do better than bottle fed ones do. Let’s get some support going. Breast milk banks of pasturised breast milk for the early days would be worth supporting too!
    Keep trying all you wonderful new mums – and ask for help when you need it, we all did too !!!!!!!
    In times gone by women didn’t have to cope alone as they do now……
    Love to you all

    • Celine Alby says:

      I wanted to breastfeed it was logical. I didn’t even think about buying the equipment for bottlefeed, what brand I would use. BUT the midwives couldn’t wait to feed my baby because I had gestational diabetes so he had to have milk whatever milk from me or formula… So he got formula. Not my choice (He also got the jaundice so he HAD to be fed every 3 hours), then I tried to breastfeed him, got some help from breastfeeding suport, they even came to my house but still I was struggling, I couldn’t do it… I thought my little boy was just lazy because he prefered the formula. But it was discovered 2 week after his birth he had a tongue tie, bad luck (so he wasn’t lazy, he just couldn’t keep the breast in his mouth!) it wasn’t discovered at the hospital. He had the cut operation but by then it was too late.
      So I didn’t abandon Bfing through lack of support or lack of information or because I can’t do it. Just little things which made it impossible.
      Now we don’t live in prehistoric time when Bfing was a matter of life and death for the baby, we have formula. Now it’s like everything else, we have to use common sense. When at the beginning the midwife and HV told me to feed him every 3 hours, I didn’t, it wasn’t natural! I gave him formula on demand when he wanted (around 3-4-5 hours it depends) and I intend to try BLW as soon as he is 6 months.

  9. Amy says:

    I wasn’t going to reply again as I feel so upset about this issue and thought I’d put it behind me…but feel I have to add something to the last post. I can see that the sentiment is a good one, and generally kind to women who struggle with breastfeeding, but I really have to say that even with support and info coming out of your ears breastfeeding can fail. There are real medical/physical reasons why some people cannot breaastfeed, and the idea that with the right support etc ALL women can do it is really damaging to those who really can’t. I had been constantly told that people simply give up too easily, so tortured myself for months trying to do it and feeling that it was my fault and I’d let my baby down. Also, although I still think it is preferable to breastfeed, in general the studies about formula/breastfeeding do not prove all the miracle benefits that are claimed for breast milk as other factors in the babies upbringing cannot be factored out.
    It really isn’t helpful to go on about breast milk being amazing for your baby to people who have been unable to breastfeed!! What about reminding people that it’s your relationship with your child that matters most, and cuddling/loving/chatting with them when you feed them? I was so upset about not being able to breastfeed (and maternity services were so completely focused on breastfeeding) that for a long time I cried every time I fed my baby with a bottle. I needed someone telling it was fine to feed him with a bottle (not acting like it was a tragedy) and that I should enjoy him and love him and make the most of the time he was so small.
    Second rant over.
    PS I am guessing that when missd said her baby was healthier on formula it was because before she had it she was losing weight, failing to thrive etc, therefore with formula she was healthier. This is certainly the case with my baby who was dehydrated and starving before we gave him formula! We shouldn’t be so obsessed with breastfeeding that we put it before a baby’s well being!

    • Ella says:

      Very well said!!!!

    • Laura says:


    • Jess says:


    • maladygraves says:

      Thank you so much for this comment. I can’t tell you how much I needed to hear someone else saying this, you have described what I am currently living through with my 4 week old baby.

      • Aitch says:

        oh it’s TERRIBLE, isn’t it? I SO sympathise. As do all the many others who have commented on this post as well. We hear ya.

    • Harriet says:

      This is the best comment I have ever read on the internet. Thank you.

      • Aitch says:

        (you know folks i think this might actually be spam but am allowing it in case this really is the best comment Harriet has ever read on the internet. ;D)

    • LJ says:

      Amen! Some of us kill ourselves (figuratively speaking) over trying to breastfeed our babies! We don’t need other moms making us feel worse! I’m on a fb breastfeeding support group and people are always on there bragging. I’m like is this a “support” group or a brag group?

  10. bek'n'seth says:

    to go back to the original post, just wonderful. thank you. i had a very similar experience with feeding my son. i combination fed to about 16 weeks. i had such conflicting feelings on it all, he was loosing weight, i wanted a bit more control, i wanted him to be healthy, i wanted to breast feed, i wanted some help….etc etc. very conflicting but it all worked out ok.(i still perhaps am dealing with it!) now at 6 months he’s started baby lead weaning and is doing great. i must admit to skipping huge sections of the book i read as i felt it to be very pro breast feeding, but i used my common sense and i knew my own baby, so knew it was right for us. from early on, and from when still mainly breast feeding, i fed my son 3 hourly. we got a routine, and i instigated it, but it totaly suited him too. i woke him for feeds, and after a while when i felt we needed to, we went 4 hourly. i still now instigate his feeds, but he’s ready for them too. i dont have a baby screaming for milk, he knows what he’s getting when and we’re all happy and confident in where we’re at. as you mention in the first post, there is no way i can make him drink if he doesnt want to, and no way i would not give him milk if he were hungry, but its about judging your own child and getting to know them. so, the idea that if you dont do demand feeding, then the baby wont be able to feed them selves, i think is crazy. we now sit down at certain times of the day ( about breakfast time, about lunch time, etc) and he has some food. he wont have it if he doesnt want it, and i’m sure when he gets hungrier for it, he’ll be sure to let me know. just felt i wanted to put my story across, you can have a routine and not be an evil dictator! thanks guys

    • Aitch says:

      i always think that it’s like vets say ‘if the dog has a shiny coat and wet nose, you’re probably doing okay’. my two have shiny hair, and their noses… well, perhaps a little wetter than i’d like sometimes but they are healthy wee things and full of bounce. glad you are feeling positive about the way you are doing things, bek.

  11. bek'n'seth says:

    thanks aitch.i’m really glad i found this site, it’s a breath of fresh air to me. good work!

  12. kate says:

    Thank you so much for this post. It sums up my experience with breastfeeding precisely. I’m still combined feeding at 15 weeks and my wee one has recently decided the boobs aren’t quick enough for feeds where she’s totally awake. So expressing and bottle are where she gets most of her food from. Nighttime feeds are boob, but I think a lot of that is just comfort as opposed to proper feeding. I have felt like a failure for so long and am sick to the back teeth of hearing that breast is best. I’m all too aware of it and would love more than anything to feed my baby from myself exclusively. I also tried drugs and alcohol free beer and lactation cookies and fenugreek to no avail. She needed the formula to grow and I’m finally getting to the point that I don’t need to see the psych anymore to be okay about the formula. I’m also really glad to hear that it doesn’t preclude me from BLW. Give it two more months and she’ll be away with some grown up food. Thanks Aitch, a lot.

    • Aitch says:

      You are welcome, Kate, a lot. My bf counsellor was 100% clear that every drop counts, so you have done very brilliantly indeed. it is a SLOG doing mixed feeding, an absolute SLOG, well done.

  13. BK twinmum says:

    At long last I have found (very randomly i might add whilst looking up finger food recipes!) words that have put my mind at rest more than anyone or anything else has in the 7 months since i had my twins, and the 3 months since i stopped breast feeding. No actually it was this – breast feeding one whilst topping up with formula, breastfeeding the other whilst topping up with formula, expressing 8 times a day including all through the night to keep my supply going and to try try try to put breastmilk instead of formula in the bottles I was topping up withm as well as fill up the freezer in case the terror of my milk diminishing happened… therefore essentially making enoguh milk for triplets and becoming completely engorged with milk and in agony every 3 hours, every day, every night, for FOUR months whilst trying to look after newborn twins. Need I go on?! The guilt and shame about not being able to breastfeed my babies and having to rely on formula turned me into this obsessive, that was so wound up and wrapped up with breastfeeding that I couldnt see what was really important. The well being of my babies. Both of whom were getting to grips with 100% tongue tie, GERD, traumatic birth, being v small…and just being damn hungry! It still makes my heart ache to think that I couldnt ‘exclusively’ breastfeed my babies. But now its more about the extra time i wlould have had with them had i not been spending my life, feeling guilty, feeling judged, feeling worried, expressing, sterilising, making bottles, applying nipple cream! etc etc. And the mums that have gone through this to try to feed their babies know that their bonding experience and committment to their child can never be questioned. To all those uppety holier than thou breast feeders – please try to imagine how this feels as a mother and stop right there. WE dont want to know the rest! Belive us we have researched and worried it to death! x

    • Aitch says:

      real professionals who know about bfing do know how hard it can be, i found. i’m glad you found the piece. hope you enjoy weaning, BK, at the risk of sounding like a bit of a hippie, i found weaning my children a very ‘healing’ experience. I just felt like i was ‘back in the game’ again, if you know what i mean?

  14. wacky12 says:

    Hi Aitch. I combo-fed mine for 8 weeks and stopped when I realized he wasn’t enjoying the BF. He never latched on properly and never got a lot from me, I had a SNS as well; it ripped my boobs up from the tape and he would latch on then look up at me like’ well, you gonna yank me off again?” as I tried to get him to latch on. So I stopped. he at one point was on 45 oz of formula! I’d never have produced that much milk. I was on everything you can try to get lactating. I’m glad I tried and didnt’ give up easily but he is a now healthy, happy, very tall 2.5 year old.

  15. Gab says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your story! I have insufficient glandular tissue, so I am unable to fully breastfeed my 5 month old. Like many other posts, I felt like a complete failure not being able to breastfeed, as I had fully intended…

    As you said – it is what it is! I breastfeed once in the early morning, and pump 4-5 times a day. My little guy gets about 50% breastmilk, so that’s something!

    I am always happy to hear other women’s stories about their troubles with breastfeeding as it makes me feel like I’m not alone. In the early weeks I felt I had to convince people I actually had a medical issue with breastfeeding, and I wasn’t just ‘giving up’. Women need to support each other, regardless of their decisions to breast/bottle or their troubles with either.

    By the way – I made it 5 full weeks with the SNS – beat that! (Once my lactation consultant told me I ‘didn’t have much to work with’ – I tossed the old tubbies!)

  16. Ameya says:

    Hi there!

    Thanks for writing this blog and in particular this post! We just started BLW with our 6 month old daughter and finding this post has been refreshing, but also reminds me of the grief.

    I have IGT (insufficient glandular tissue) and cannot fully breastfeed my daughter. I had phenomenal support from public health and my doctor, so support was not the issue. Unfortunately, nature didn’t bless me with fully functioning breasts. At day 5 the diapers went dry! A few months of breastfeeding, supplementing, then pumping for 20 minutes (on top of supplements) and all I could sustain would have been a newborn puppy. Six months later for some god-awful reason I am still pumping 5 times a day (low supply boobies aren’t desirable to an active bottle feeder) and breastfeeding (and bottlefeeding) in the night…actually I know the reason…the guilt society places on formula and the inability to mentally stop the craziness.

    Why can’t all of the people who spend so much time and effort boycotting formula companies (and putting down formula feeders) put that time and effort into establishing and maintaining breastmilk banks??? I would gladly pay for breastmilk!!

    I feel that our public health personnel did me an injustice not teaching me about the fact that breastfeeding can fail for more reasons than latch, tongue-tie, formula introduction, etc….how about my body’s inability to produce it because the equipment is substandard. Maybe then I wouldn’t have spent a couple of months crying to myself about the relationship I always thought I could have but can’t. The shock that this can actually happen and does quite frequently could have been spared on me in those early days – knowledge is power and I would have been prepared for the worst-case scenario.

    This isn’t a new problem…back in the day there were wet nurses and a high infant mortality rate…hmmm…could it have been that it was due to insufficient supply??

    The world of bfing brings so much judgement…we women are hard enough on ourselves that we don’t need others to come and stomp on the bits of us we’ve left intact. We need to support each other in this crazy and wonderful journey of motherhood and have understanding that just because something works for you and hordes of others doesn’t mean that “Tina Tiny Titties” sitting in the corner formula feeding didn’t give it her damnedest.

    Despite it currently being my only safe option, I still feel so sad that my daughter is satiated by a processed product and not something I so desperately wish to provide. But such is life at this point.

    Thanks for the space to rant…and the therapy ;)

    Love the resources you have for the fun journey of BLW!

    • Aitch says:

      such IS life, though, isn’t it? i couldn’t agree with you more about milk banks, i would have loved that option. (i may have posted before about dd2 being born prem and me refusing to let them give her formula until they had at least brought me a pump… got 50mls that time, which doesn’t sound like much, but was enough to sustain her for the first seven hours of her life and make sure that the first thing in that tiny tummy was mine. i then asked the annoying doctor, who really just wanted me to shut up and give permission for formula, if there was a milk bank at the hospital, to which she replied ‘no, but would you really want that anyway? eeeeeeuuuuuuuwwww.’ i of course complained later and got her trained up on not being an asshole about bm in front of a woman who kept nearly dying of high bp/eclamptic stuff).

  17. Starbucks says:

    I am at last happy and proud about the way in which I am attempting to feed my baby with baby led weaning. I know I should feel proud about formula feeding but its tricky The boob didn’t work for us either and I was also on the brink of madness. We lasted 6 weeks – so hats off to those of you who lasted longer. Boo is now 6 and half months, healthy and bouncing (his record for fluid ounzes in one day is 43). At last I can read a discussion like this without physically wincing with grief or sobbing. I love the way you articulate the idea that formula feeding can be on demand and baby led. I too feel like this and try to make the whole process feel as natural and spontaneous for us both (and Dad) as possible. As a mother all I want is to create opportunities for Boo’s intuition to thrive and BLW is just one way of doing this. In turn I am learning sooooo much about myself too.

    • Aitch says:

      brilliant to hear, starbucks. it all seems a long way away for me now, and even i read that post thinking ‘gawd’ and the funny thing is that i wrote it when i was some distance from the experience… it’s hard to explain, isn’t it, unless you’ve been through it. so very glad you are happy and proud with the feeding thing now, i totally get what you mean. (and hope that in time you will be happy and proud that you did your level best wrt bfing and are happy and relieved that we live in a country where formula is safe and abundant. if you know what i mean?)

  18. mamabear says:

    I am so glad I came across this post while researching BLW!

    My troubles started right away when my little guy had zero interest in eating for his first 24 hours. I would put him to the breast and he would purse his lips. Then jaundice required him to be under the billilight for the next few days. I pumped colostrum and cup fed every 3 hours (as often as I was allowed to take him out from under the light). Once the jaundice was gone he struggled to latch. I breastfed the best I could then followed up with cup feeds, waking him every 3 hours for a month. Somewhere in there I started using the SNS to supplement at the breast. My little guy had lost more than 10% of his weight and took weeks and weeks to get back to his birth weight while I struggled with the tube from hell. I didn’t leave the house for 2 months except for 2-3 times a week to visit the lactation consultant. Finally at 6 weeks when we went to the lactation consultant for a weigh-in my little guy had lost weight again. In 6 weeks I’d suffered 5 infections related to breastfeeding. I was on the edge of crazy. I packed him up in the stroller and went out to buy a bottle. I continued breastfeeding and following up with a bottle for almost another month before he decided the bottle was where it was at. He started to refuse the breast. Who could blame him, really.

    I wish people could understand. It isn’t a lack of support ( I had supportive midwives visiting my home, the best lactation consultants in the country, tons of breastfeeding friends supporting one of whom is a LC herself). It isn’t a lack of effort. My child didn’t thrive on breastmilk. I simply couldn’t produce enough and he never got the hang of latching well enough to meet his nutritional needs. Fastforward 2 months and my little boy is THRIVING on formula. I shudder to think of what would have happened if I had continued trying to breastfeed without supplementing. It was the last thing I wanted but I for one am grateful to those formula companies ~ my son is healthy and growing because of them!

    I watch his cues and feed accordingly. I have no reason to believe he is overfed.

    I’ve done a lot of research and I believe that many of the claims related to the “Breast Is Best” campaign are exaggerated based on the available evidence.

    We are now starting cereals to ensure that he gets enough iron and planning to do BLW in conjunction.

    • Aitch says:

      i’m so glad you are happy with your formula situation, it takes going to a dark place ;-D and coming out the other side, sometiems, doesn’t it?
      btw i wouldn’t have thought he’d need cereals for iron, that’s amply taken care of by the formula these days, and it’s trickier for babies to do the whole spoon thing than it is just to hand them some (iron-abundant) broccoli.

  19. mamabear says:

    Ahhh…yes, but we’d switched to low iron cereal a while ago due to constipation. Plus I started the cereals before I did any research on BLW. I also have a history of food allergies myself so we’re starting slooooowww. I have no doubt he’ll be chomping broccoli with the best of them before long.

  20. Emily says:

    Hello! My baby boy is 10 months and I discovered BLW when at 7 months he was still showing no interest in food. He still isn’t a big eater (even though he himself is HUGE) but he likes to taste and play with his food, some of which is now making it’s way to his tummy. I also offer him food on a spoon as he does enjoy the odd fruity puree. Anyway, my concern at the moment is the recommended daily amount of milk is about 600ml but he has between 800-900ml. Is it normal for mostly BLW babies to have more milk? He also is always hungry at night- we don’t seem to be any where near giving up the late night feed. Admittedly, going on holiday and chicken pox hasn’t helped but any advice about the amount of milk he can have would be very welcome. Thanks.

    • Aitch says:

      i had thought that was more like the minimum recommended? mine guzzled milk by the gallon until about 14 months or so, then started to cut it back by themselves, so it was obviously not on my list of things to worry about now that you ask. if he’s big and happy and is now eating a bit, aren’t you nearly there? good that he enjoys the fruity puree as well.
      plus, the poor wee guy, chicken pox is a misery, i’d be all about the comfort and security of a warm bottle myself if i was covered in sore spots.

  21. Emily says:

    Thanks for the reassurance! Sometimes I think that’s all we need. All too often it’s easy to feel inadequate as a new mum, like everyone else is getting right apart from us. Breast feeding with with my daughter came easily and I loved it. With my son however, it was a total nightmare! I’ve never experienced such pain- at least with giving birth there was an end in sight. What with Tongue-tie and thrush etc etc. I did persevere but made the decision from the beginning to mix feed. Initially one formula feed and the rest boob. It took the pressure off massively- the bottle was there if I needed it. On so many occasions though all I wanted was for a midwife or health visitor to say “it is ok to stop”. But through the blood and the cracked nipples and the tears, formula feeding was never even discussed. After a hideous five weeks things did get better. Over time I increased the formula feeds until we were down to the one comfort boob feed at night. And now at 10mths I’ve just stopped. Also, my baby is a big boy! So unless I was eating a truck full of food a day, there’s no way I would’ve produced enough milk to just bfeed. Anyway, think I’m rambling now. My point is we have to do what is right and best for our babies, but we also have to do what is right and best for us- whatever that may be.

  22. G says:

    I am really glad to have found this post (not what I was expecting I’ll admit.)It is about time someone voiced the experience of a high percentage of women. Hats off to you all. The only thing I would like to add is that none of you ‘GAVE UP’ breast feeding which is so often how the question is worded ‘when did you give up?’. You looked at the facts, thought about the welfare of your child and ‘STOPPED’ when you felt the time was right no matter how long that was a day , a week, a year….. The guilt trip we are all put under takes a long time to come to terms with and is totally unneccessary.

    My son is now 14 months and had absolutely no problems leading the weaning despite having a bottle. The idea that he is not his own master just because he had a bottle is just silly. (Ironically I was originally advised to wake him,strip him down and constantly stimulate him to keep him awake while I breast fed every 2-3 hours to get his weight back on. So in all honesty he ended up having more control with the bottle). When weaning fingers were in everything and if he was sat on my lap he would uninvitedly help himself to a bite of whatever I was having. Great for the diet !If he was not hungry he just threw it on the floor (occasionally screamed)and did not eat. To be fair not much has changed with the throwing but I’m working on it and I’m a better catch! Good luck with the latest child-rearing challenge ! May the force be with you !

    • Aitch says:

      thing is, though, for me at any rate the ‘guilt’ ((and i wouldn’t necessarily describe it as such) came from me and me alone. i WANTED to bf, it seemed so … odd… to have had my baby inside me for so long and then start feeding her from a packet when she was out. so in effect i gave myself my own guilt trip. totally agree about giving up bfing though… it gave me up both times. ;-D

  23. Ellen says:

    Just poking around more of the site here, and wish I’d have found this post a couple months ago when my great nurser decided bottles were better. It was really hard for me to accept, as it was so much easier with her than my first. I literally have a scar on one nipple from #1’s terrible latch, but she at least would have bf forever if I could have taken it.

    Funny that having bf 2 babies to 7 and 6 months respectively, that I didn’t even take into consideration that BLW wasn’t ‘sanctioned’ for formula fed babies! So I agree with you. We’re just used to ‘on demand’ feeding regardless of how we get it done, so it hardly seems to make a difference. Thanks for this whole thing, BTW. Great site/forum/blog. :)

  24. Sam says:

    Like this a lot! I did the whole transition from breast to bottle ready for the 6 month change over, preparing myself for the mush….then I discovered BLW. I was really sad that I had given up breastfeeding and then absolutely gutted when I found out about BLW. For 2 weeks I kept wishing I was still BF and wondered if I’d done the right thing but my little girl treats the bottle just like the breast and only takes what she wants, when she wants. When you know your baby, you can read the hunger signs and bottle feeding can be just as ‘baby led’ as breast. Little Emily is nearly 7 months and is trying all sorts of fruit and veg, had banana on toast this morning and even had an attempt at meatballs and pasta a couple of days ago! Well done everyone, keep it up.

    This website is FAB!!!

  25. Tamsin says:

    It’s always good to read similar experiences to your own.
    I am a mother of two. My elder daughter is 4 now, my milk didn’t come in properly with her as she was tongue tied – still something that the doctors don’t seem to think of as it took two weeks before they would perform the simple procedure to loosen the tongue and by then it was too late. So we combination fed for 4 months. I weaned my daughter at five and a half months and spent hours in the kitchen steaming and pureeing! My daughter always ate as much or as little as she wanted and still does and also moved to solids very quickly with no choking! So I was all set to do the same thing with my 4 and a half month baby. My baby is totally bottle fed. When the midwife weighed Amber at 7 days and told me she had lost too much weight I wasn’t going to put myself through hell for a second time and went staight for the bottle! I still have doubts that I made the right decision as it is so drummed into us that breast is the only way but as before baby Amber is a little and often feeder who takes what she wants when she wants it just as if she were breast fed, she’s happy, I’m happy and elder daughter is happy that she gets to spend time with us as I’m not constantly sitting on the sofa with my boob out! However the more I read about baby led weaning the more it makes sense. I loved making the homemade purees for my other daughter as it really gave me the safisfaction that I missed out on with the breast feeding but knowing that I can have the same satisfaction without spending the hours in the kitchen is the future for me. I am so glad that I read all your comments and I look forward to starting my daughter on BLW at six months.
    Thank you everyone

  26. Joanneziapn says:

    Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you!

  27. LauraRose says:

    Oh my god – there are so many of us! I am practically in tears at the moment, it brings it all back, I had felt so alone when I was struggling with breastfeeding. My little boy is now 10 months, I combined fed from 3 days old (paediatrician’s instructions due to baby’s weight loss & my post partum haemorrhage) to 20 weeks. He had an undiagnosed tongue tie til 2 weeks old (despite me asking them to check in hospital) untreated til 4 weeks old. Like many of you I had fenugreek, SNS, pumping after feeds etc & despite this I think I never made more than 1/5-1/4 of his needs. He would take at least 2 hrs per feed, for weeks I had 3 hrs sleep in 24, it was awful. I had so much bad advice, felt so guilty, cried when giving bottles, felt a failure – I was a one-woman misery factory torturing myself over what was happening. The whole experience led to my PND. In fact, I wish I could support others but for the local breastfeeding training you have to had ‘successfully’ breastfed at least one baby :-( I agree that all the literature everywhere felt like propaganda that just was slapping me round the face with the fact that my body had let us both down (well, that’s how it felt at the time!)
    What was healing for me was weaning. Finally I could give my son nutritious meals. We started on puree as I wasn’t aware of BLW at the time, but he is so independent he insisted on feeding himself, so we kind of fell into it quite early on.
    I am so glad to find this site (the lovely recipes as well as such reassurance that my emotions over BFing were normal) but so sad to hear that so many people have also had such difficult experiences. Many many hugs to you all. My GP said something very important to me once (she had also had problems BFing) – apparently in France they focus on every day spent breastfeeding & see each one as an achievement rather than holding up some gold standard (6months?, 2 years?) that many can’t achieve – so I now look on the experience with a glass half full mind (& gloss over just how traumatic it all was) and enjoy my little boy sharing delicious meals with me :-)
    Thank you all so much xx

    • Aitch says:

      yes, totally agree with that, my bf counsellor said much the same thing, to think of each ml as a ‘live transfusion’ of antibodies etc. okay, so we can’t handle all the nourishment element ourselves but what we can do is absolutely worth doing.

  28. Xtina says:

    Thank you all so much for this thread and all these posts. I can’t tell you what it means to have found it. It really is like therapy! I’ve tried to find people who have gone through what I have before but only found forums full of horrible nasty comments about women who combination or formula feed. I’ve felt so bad about this I’ve even spoken to a counsellor in the hope they can help me feel good about what I have achieved and make the decision to stop expressing without regret, guilt or feeling I’m a failure/bad mother. I had no idea there was such a thing as difficulty breastfeeding until I had my first son and it traumatisied me – if it’s natural then surely it’s just a case of making the decision to do it? Wrong! After a traumatic birth I stayed in a high dependency unit for four days and nights trying to breastfeed because I so desperately wanted to and they didn’t want to let me go until I could. Armies of midwives, maternity assistants etc came in around the clock to help but nothing worked. Despite doing everything they said and despite having read the books, watched the DVD, been to the classes and done lots of reasearch on the internet, none of it made a difference. I insisted on leaving in the end against their advice as I finally saw how miserable and exhausted we were both getting about it. I was sent to see a breastfeeding consultant (“if anyone can help you she can”) but she couldn’t help either. I found no support for what I was going through but plenty to make me feel worse on the internet and from the local midwives who came to visit. I was convinced because of what I had read and been told (and because I was a first time mother who was pretty much worried about everything!) that my son would suffer cot death if I stopped breastfeeding. Keeping trying to latch him on distressed us both so I started expressing. Unfortunately I was so sore from my latching attempts that when I started pumping my nipples quickly became bruised and cut and bled. It was agony but I kept on until I couldn’t physically manage it because of the pain and the trauma my nipples were undergoing. Because of this I had to stop suddenly and got mastitis. I was really ill with a high fever but did my midwife give me any sympathy for what I was going through? Did she tell me it was ok to stop and my son would not die because ot it? No. In fact she told me off for having a fever like I had done it on purpose! Anyway, with my second I was hoping things would be different. I read more books, did more research and bought more gadgets I thought might help. I managed to breastfeed my son for 20 minutes just after giving birth and I’m so happy we shared that special time. Unfortunately, despite trying throughout my stay and a few times when I got home I encountered the same problems as before. This time I decided that if it wasn’t working I should switch to expressing straight away in the hope I could give him breastmilk for longer (I managed five weeks with my first son in the end). Well six months later and I’m still doing it. I’ve had to give formula top ups in varying amounts from about week one but since I got my supply up my son there have been times when my son has had nothing but breastmilk. The other times he has had mostly breastmilk with formula top ups. My record was being able to produce six 6oz feeds a day, which I was very proud of. It hasn’t been easy – I’ve had mastitis twice, my nipples have been sore and cracked pretty much constantly and at times it has hurt so much I’ve had to take painkillers before expressing. I also have DMER which means when I first let down my milk I feel – very briefly – feelings of panic and claustrophobia. I’ve also got two slipped discs which has been excrutiating at times.Yet despite dealing with and overcoming these challenges, and despite the amount of breastmilk my son has had and for how long, I still feel I have failed, like maybe I could have done something more or better, and I sometimes wonder whether I tried hard enough (even though I know in my heart I did!). I still sometimes beat myself up and feel like a failure and still feel guilty for thinking about stopping. It breaks my heart I couldn’t breastfeed my boys the natural way and even though I’m only expressing now I feel so sad that soon I won’t be. The fact that I’m about to start weaning him does help a bit – it’s not like my body can make solid food for him too! My baby is a big, healthy and happy chap and I know I’ve played a part in that (I also know that because of his size I would have struggled to produce enough milk to feed him breastmilk 100% despite my best efforts). I know I should be proud of what I have achieved and feel good about it but its so hard in the face of everything negative out there. Anyway, the good thing is that these posts have really helped. Finally I have found women who have been through what I went through and felt the feelings I have felt. It’s made me re-assess my thinking about this whole thing. I’m now more able to feel good about what I have achieved and let myself off the hook for what I didn’t manage. Thank you.

    • Aitch says:

      SEE? SEE? i wish everyone, friend, parent and health care professional alike who says ‘oh it doesn’t matter whether you bf or ff’ could read what you wrote and see how much it DOES matter… and then i wish we, those of us who have felt/do feel the way you do/did would just bloody well absolve ourselves of it all and get one with the gerzillion other things we have to do. feeding those wee babies ourselves means the world, doesn’t it? bonkers as conkers, but it DOES.

      so yes, i utterly salute your every effort, successful and unsuccessful (although from where i’m looking, it does sound like a success story to me, for your children at least, if not for, ya know, yer actual mental health at times ;D) and anoint myself the female Pope of Breastfeeding and I ABSOLVE you. you totally, freakishly did your blasted best, you have not a single squirt to feel guilty about so now… go in peace to love and serve your kids. (only slightly blasphemous there. must try harder.)

  29. Xtina says:

    Wow I didn’t mean to go on so long! Sorry about that! I think I just needed to off-load!

    • nessy says:

      Wow – what an amazing story, thank you for sharing. I second the absolution granted above, if ever there was a story that screamed success – albeit in a way you didn’t wish for – it’s yours!

  30. Shamhat says:

    So nice to read these comments. As a first-time mom who has struggled with breast feeding , I have found many sites to be horribly judgemental and unhelpful. It just doesn’t work for everyone no matter how much we may wish for it to do so or how much we’re willing to disrupt our lives to try. Ultimately my son has been on a combo of breast milk (nursing and expressed) and formula since he was a month old. I beat myself up for some time over not being able to meet all his needs and spent more time trying to get milk for him than taking care of myself (got down to my pre-pubescent weight at one point)or actually just enjoying my beautiful baby. Eventually I came to the realization that this wasn’t helping either one of us and accepted reality. I believe we are both happier and healthier because of that. My son turned six months today and we are preparing to start the weaning process. I am hoping that introducing solids will help take some of the burden off my milk production. We will see how it goes. And for the record, I think it would be more helpful to have lactation counselors who are educated on the subject and have personally dealt with breast feeding difficulties than those who were “successful”. The average sixteen-year-old has no difficulty getting pregnant, but that hardly qualifies her as a fertility counselor. Stupid rule.

    • Aitch says:

      that is such an interesting thought, shamhat… i was really lucky (eventually) with my bfcs, because i ended off at a specialist centre based in a hospital so they had seen EVERYTHING and EVERYONE and really promoted the proto-Tescoan (;D) idea that while exclusive bfing is best for mother and baby if it can be achieved, if that wasn’t to be then every little counted. I think that was because they dealt with so many ‘failures’, spoken at so many conferences, iykwim, it had totally softened the outlook of the place. Whereas less ‘educated’ peer supporters are so enthusiastic they can’t draw the line.

      • Aitch says:

        ah, i see you wrote ‘mom’, so unless you are from Birmingham, England you won’t know what i’m on about with the Tescoan gag. it’s a supermarket ad in the UK, ‘every little counts’. hate quoting them actually, cos they are rapacious gits.

  31. Becca says:

    Finally, a chance to rant! I breastfed my gorgeous little girl until she was 4 months old. Over that time she lost more and more weight until she was right down on the lowest centile. I kept going… having been told she had reflux and started expressing and giving her gaviscon (which i and she hated). We got to the point where when i produced my breast she would scream and scream and I would cry. For a few days she had nothing to eat at all and I thought she was going to die. My partner suggested putting her on formula which weirdly had never even entered my mind as I was always going to breastfeed. I gave her her first bottle and felt like the worst person in the world. I went to my baby yoga class where everyone looked down their noses at me and the ones who were formula feeding just kept quiet for fear of being tarred with the same brush. I felt that i had failed and not only that but i massively missed that connection with my baby.

    She then started putting on weight rapidly and stopped crying all the time. I’m doubly ‘bad’ as we also have a routine, which she has set where she gets fed every 3 hours. But, do you know what, she is now 6months and laughs all the time and has more energy and is developing more quickly than other babies of the same age. She is really sociable and said ‘mummy’ last night. We have the most wonderful relationship and she connects as well with me as she does with her father who also feeds her now she is on formula.

    My rant is also about on demand feeding which I feel is the downfall of many mother baby relationships, leads to overfed babies who don’t have much chance to interact with anything but the breast. I’m sure that on demand feeding makes sense if the mother can differentiate between needing sleep or needing food. In my experience sleep is needed more often than food and babies that are overfed and under slept tend to cry all the time and interact less. I have friends who are on demand feeding still at 5months who now just use the breast as a means to keep the baby quiet.

    My little girl is content as she knows that when she needs to sleep she will be put in bed and not have a boob shoved in her face and equally when she is hungry she will be fed…. duh duh duh formula!

    I could go on and on but would like to thank the person who started this as it’s given me an opportunity to get things off my chest and have a little cry!

    By the way, I’ve been BL weaning my little girl and until we gave her egg it was going brilliantly!! xx

    • Aitch says:

      YAY for the ranters! oh it’s good to let it out, isn’t it?

    • Annie says:

      Are you kidding Becca? Where did you get the information that breast fed babies can be ‘overfed’ this is just physically impossible. Please get your facts straight before ranting about mothers who feed on demand – which, by the way, often helps the baby sleep really, really well. Reading your rant makes my stomach turn, it’s one thing to support mothers regardless of what they feed their babies, it’s another thing when you use such harsh words ‘boob shoved in their face’ when speaking about breast feeding mothers. I worked really hard at breast feeding, through thrush, plugged ducts, engorgement – I read several books, and spent countless hours in the first weeks getting to a place where my son and I are comfortable. I battled doctors, family members, and other ‘people who knew better’ to give my son the best start possible, breast milk. I am empathetic with mothers who cannot breast feed, but that doesn’t mean we should forget how difficult it is for mothers who breast feed – glared at when public feeding, condemned for feeding after one year, constantly being asked if they are ‘supplementing with formula’, having to pump, having to watch what they eat, not being able to go out for drinks, being up in the night, and, like your comment, judged for breast feeding as a form of soothing. You will likely not get this message, but you are not the only person who is misinformed about ‘overfeeding’ and it just feels good to get this all out.

      • Jodie says:

        I breastfed for 4 months, I had no problems whatsoever. However, I was always intending to combination feed then give up breastfeeding and switch to formula after a few months as I wanted some freedom.It was my choice to breastfeed, to give up having drinks, to do the night feeds, to get my breasts out in public and everything else you mention above(I didn’t watch what I ate, if I listened to the HV about giving up dairy and greens and everything else, then I would have felt like crap) I made that decision and by the sounds of it so did you. I know quite a few people who strongly advocate breastfeeding and are of the opinion that if you formula feed then you’re not doing the right thing, yet they moan constantly about how tired they are, how they’ve had to give up things to breastfeed and how the baby is clingy to them.. I’m sorry, but you made the choice, like it or give up, because there are plenty of mothers wanting to breast feed but struggling, they don’t need to hear those who can BF moan about having to give stuff up or having to feed in public.
        I was told the other day that I wasn’t doing the right thing by one of these mothers. I would rather formula feed and be happy and have a happy baby than be like this particular mother who is constantly tired because she can’t have her 12 hours of sleep, resentful of her husband because he doesn’t have to feed in the night, crying at the drop of a hat and the baby ending up crying and stressed out.
        I have a friend whose baby born just before mine. She couldn’t breastfeed but really wanted to. I wanted to combination feed but baby refused a bottle. We would sit there in awe of each other but encouraging and praising each other about how well we were both doing. I now formula feed and love it just as much as I enjoyed breastfeeding.
        However you end up feeding, give yourself a huge pat on the back! You’ve grown a person and are doing what is best for your baby- only you know what that is! Don’t let anyone else tell you any differently, they don’t know your baby :)

    • Debbie says:

      Thank you!
      I have just stumbled across this whilst excitedly trying to plan my baby girls first BLW week!

      It had never occurred to me that there would be any problem with BLW based on the fact that she is formula feed and on an evil routine. To me it makes sense that having had set feeds since she was 2 months the transition into eventually having three meals a day will be easier than for those friends of mine who demand feex. As you said Becca I know friends who DF and now use the breast as a soother and whose babies need to be fed to sleep. My little one loves her routine as her needs are met before she gets desperate.

      On the formula front I feel so good to know I am not alone. My father went into critical care 3 days after my daughter was born and died 10 days later. The hideousness of the situation ment my milk just seemedto have no fat content. She could nurse every 3 hours for half an hour and put no weight on. At 9 weeks, having watched her fall from the 50th to 0.4th centile, we gave her formula. She had never been so happy and my heart broke. I couldnt maintain combination feeding as once she knew that the formula feed was waiting round the corner she would scream at the sight of my breast. We had been told she had colic but as it turned out she was simply starving, the day we started formula feeding her hour long crying spells ended.

      I felt destroyed not only had I failed to do what was ‘best’ for my baby I had also been starving her. I felt judged making up a formula feed in a cafe or restraunt. A well meaning friend joked that I should just start feeding her in mc Donalds where id fit in! I just can not get over the class stereotype associated to formula feeding.

      I have come to terms with what happened. She is now 1 week from 6 months and is the happiest baby I have ever known and perfectly following the 25th. I am proud that given the circircumstance, she was bf for the first 9 weeks exclusively and then combination feed to 12 weeks. I am proud that I made the decision that was best for my baby by providing her with the food she needed. But as the original post says from time to time it still catches me and i have a little cry. I am so relieved that I dont have to miss out on blw just because we have already missed out on breast feeding.

      Sorry that was so long. I’ve clearly been storing it up!

      Anyway I really did just want to say thank you.

      • Aitch says:

        HOORAY! the longest comments always appear at the bottom of this post, i think because we get to say everything that we want to say when people ask (quite innocently) if we’re bfing or ffing…

  32. […] Im an evil FF (not by choice) I feed on demand. I also know a couple of ladies who FF and BLW. http://www.babyledweaning.com/featur…#comment-43994 Pfft, parenting is so […]

  33. LauraP says:

    Wow. I wish I had read this post much earlier on. I burst into tears reading this because finally….I know I wasnt alone in my struggles. The emotional hell Ive been through over the past 5 months since my daughter was born because I was a big fat BF failure. Thankyou for this. THANKYOU.

    My story is I had an EMCS for preeclampsia and was very poorly after my daughter was born. She was drowsy from all the drugs I had to have during labour and I had awful BF ‘support’ from the MWs in my hospital, showing me poor techniques after I begged and begged them to help me latch because my daughter wouldnt latch.

    We were readmitted 12 hours after we were discharged because my daughter lost so much weight, was dehydrated and was very jaundiced. I was told I would get more BF ‘support’ which consisted of being stuck on a pump and no latching help, nor any meds to get my supply up.

    When we came home I pumped like a madwoman and kept trying to latch, my daughter used to get so distressed ay the breast, screaming and frantically shaking her head…and then she started refusing my pitiful EBM…I had to give up after 14 days for my own sanity.

    Unfortunately my sanity was affected and I felt like a failure, like the worst mum in the world. I felt inferior and Im sorry to say was exposed to some of the nastier mums out on the internet who treat you like crap if you FF or combi feed.

    As everyone says, the support out there is rubbish and I think most of us armed ourselves with enough information beforehand…so I dont think the BF rates are low because of lack of information.

    Whenever I see those bloody BF posters (constantly reminding me of my failure) I get so angry, how about putting that cash into funding for more BF peer supporters or actually teaching MWs how to help mums to BF instead of wasting money on those posters?

  34. Vickyq says:

    I’ve never written on one of these before but feel compelled to say ‘thank you’. I have two beautiful thriving boys of 20 months and 6 months, both of whom are formula fed. I was convinced I would breastfeed my first, as I had been. I would grit my teeth through the painful nipples, cope with night feeds alone etc etc. However, poor baby was delivered by forceps and was jaundiced and would not feed despite milk running down my body. I expressed for 3 weeks but was struggling mentally with the presence of milk but lack of suckling. With baby 2, also traumatic delivery, also jaundiced, I stopped trying after a day as I felt my mental health needed to be tip top in order to look after both my boys.

    I am so lucky to have two babies who are happy and healthy, but this guilt – totally self-inflicted – is horrid. But hey, as mums, I think the guilt switch is flicked at the moment of delivery and will remain firmly in the on position for many years to come!

    • Aitch says:

      unflick it! unflick it! it’s a waste of your precious energy, or it is mine. (but then my marker for maternal success is ‘are they broken yet?’)

  35. […] today? Just wanted to share a refreshing read with you from a blog site about baby-led weaning: http://www.babyledweaning.com/featur…-bear-with-me/ I've read a lot about how breastfed babies self-regulate and why BLW then suits but what about […]

  36. Lucy says:

    Well done mums, no matter how you are feeding your babies!! Having had a skim of all the comments here, I just have to say I heartily agree that the idea of only someone who has been successful at breastfeeding being qualified to become a breastfeeding counsellor is the biggest load of rubbish. I have had absolute plain sailing with breastfeeding both times round, and while this is obviously great and convenient for me, I wouldn’t have a clue how to help someone who was struggling with it! What do I know? I didn’t perform some sort of magic that I can pass on, I just had the good fortune to have it work out with a minimum of fuss… I know a mum who has struggled for weeks and months, expressing, sns-ing, mixed feeding, and then getting from that point back to exclusive breastfeeding, only to have baby point-blank refuse the breast a few weeks down the line and having to at last admit defeat. Now mums like that are the ones I’d want helping me!!

    • Aitch says:

      i kind of agree, you know… i suppose the logic is that those of us who ‘failed’ are a big bunch of scaredy quitters and would encourage others to do the same? ;D

  37. Annie says:

    Goodness, I am so glad I stumbled upon your rant. I’ve through nearly exactly the same thing. Persevered with BF at the start, then topped up wotf formula. BROKE my heart. I actually couldn;t watch my hubby giving my wee toot a bottle no matter how much I told myself that it was, indeed for her own good. My daughter had two nights in SCBU being tube fed which meant a 48 delay for me getting to BF her after birth. No offer from the hospital for me to express in the meantime so POSSIBLY a bad start for my supply (still not convinced that I’m not just using that as an excuse though but, never mind). It took my wee toot 5 weeks to get back to birth weight!

    But I still continued with what seemed like constant BF, expressing (with the extremely disappointing doscoveery that my EBM couldn’t be stored without tasting like soap), fenugreek, lactation cookies and a maximum of two top-up’s of 2oz formula at a time per day. So, after a very high score in my PND test at about 9 weeks and, by this time, my daughter actually screaming any time my boob came near her, I gave in. And now, after a few weeks, I do not look back. I’m happy and my daughter is beautiful, smiley and a healthy weight. I still give her two bottles of EBM per day but this is now just with expressing only 3 or 4 times per day. I had NO quality time with my daughter expressing 8 to 10 times per day.

    More power to the exclusive breastfeeders and the exclusive expressors but, you know what, more power to the Mum’s, like us, who have been through what is often a hugely depressing, heartbreaking time, who have been to some very dark places but, have come out the other side. We made a decision we did not want to make and it was difficult but necessary.

    Anyway, my wee lass is 15 weeks now so I’m starting to read up on BLW. It’s so interesting and I can’t wait to get started in a couple of months or so!

    Thank you Aitch for your rant and for providing a platform for me to respond with a wee rant myself. Ah, sweet catharsis…

    • Aitch says:

      HOORAY! astonishing bad luck on the soapy milk, btw, does that mean you have to scald it? what an enormous pain in the ass on top of expressing… i made it to 16 or so (miserable-ish) weeks with both of mine before giving up the expressing entirely and letting nature take its course, which in my case took only a short time for milk to disappear. If she’s still getting a couple of bottles of EBM every day that’s an extraordinary achievement considering what you’ve been through. I mentioned it on the facebook page quite recently, I’d be so much happier with ditching ‘breast is best’ and going with ‘every drop counts’.

      • Annie says:

        I like “every drop counts”! I only found out about the scalding thing recently by which time my supply had dropped to the two bottles a day anyway so it’s used almost immediately. Also I’m a dreadful cook so, undoubtedly, I would have burnt the milk. :)

  38. Jessica May says:

    Yay for the plain speakers. I wish there were more out there. I am a really confident and pro active type of person. I was determined that I was going to successfully breast feed and not listen to anyone who said ‘dont get too upset if you cant and have to use formula’, I got all snooty and insisted that a good deal of hard work and determination was all it would take. Well, I was well and truly wrong. I was not impressed with the help on the maternity ward in the first place. I had gestational diabetes and so when lo was born had to feed straight away. This basically worked, he had the natural desire to suck down, as attested by the blood blisters all over my boobs where he had missed the nipples but no one told me to try feeding him little and often to start with and get my mild supply going. In the ward the midwife did my lo’s blood and said in the nastiest of all tones ‘if you dont get his blood sugar up we will have to suppliment with formula’, she then proceeded to ‘help’ me by insisting i lay on my side, flat, and grabbed my boob and babys head and shoved them together. Unfortunately my very generous hh cup boobs didnt work too well this way. Fortunately I had some better help a little later but dispite this at a week old and losing weight it was recommended that I give a little formula. Yay, my first night with longer than 30min stretch of sleep. Awful thrush followed which affected my supply even more as after 10 min or so feeding I would give up and finish with a bottle. This broke my heart as I have wanted to breast feed a baby for as long as I can remember. Lo was very happy switching between the two till we were in South Africa for holiday and at 5 months basically said so far and no further. I think it was the heat and him being held so closely to me to feed being really hot and stuffy. It made me so sad to have to stop but my mantra became a happy mommy makes a happy baby. Now combination mush and BLW, I didnt want mush but I havent the time to sit for hours with him descovering food so its weetbix for breakfast which is devours and mostly finger foods the rest of the time (though a cold has stopped him wanting much at all). I felt guilty when my friends whip out a breast to feed. All of them have maanaged to successfully BF completely, and a good many of them have managed till after 12 months as well. How frustrating that we can be made to feel guilty for loving our babies and keeping them well and letting them lead the way as much as is good and propper. I really hope that I manage for longer next time but I simply refuse to be made to feel guilty for what was really the only solution for our health, head and body. Its so nice to hear others doing the same. Big up the breast, Big up the bottle.

    • Aitch says:

      lol at ‘Big Up The Breast, Big Up The Bottle!’ good luck for the next time, and well done for having such a great outlook.

  39. zoe says:

    My son was born at home last march but shortly transfered to SCBU due to breathing difficulties, he stayed there for 4 days and at the end of it we were just told that it was just one of them things. i felt unable to breast feed him in that environment i would have preferred more privacy and so he was formula fed from the off, i didnt want to set myself up for “Failed to breast feed” so i carried on with formula feeding. i started BLW at 6 months and have not looked back it has been a wonderful experience with no stress and no problems, i also had a routine when it came to milk feeds. if anything it made it easier for me and for my son because i could offer solids at the right time because i knew he wasnt full up or starving either so he was more interested in exploring food, he made a brilliant start with this method and honestly meal times are an absolute joy in our house, he is confident with food and its lovely to watch him learning about food in such a positive way. So from what i can see…its not any different making the transition whether the baby be breast or formula fed as it didnt make any difference with my son.

    • Aitch says:

      I agree, Zoe, it didn’t seem to make a whit of difference to either of mine, who were both fully formula fed for a couple of months before weaning. So pleased that BLW has been such a positive experience for you, it really was for me too, thanks for posting.

  40. Elsie_D says:

    Wonderful to finally read an honest set of opinions from mums who struggle on with the crazy breastfeeding/bottle feeding conundrum, as I have been for 4 months now – I feel much less bonkers! Our little one was born with a tongue tie which wasn’t corrected for the first 6 weeks, leading to a horrific feeding experience for both of us, low milk supplies which never improved (I’ve tried it all…) and topping her up from 2 1/2 weeks. Feeding takes at least an hour, every 2 1/2 or 3 hours so it is my life! The physical and emotional toll of this feeding regime cannot be underestimated so it’s great to hear I’m not the only one!

    How do you manage to fit an addition 45 mins or so of baby led weaning into this crazy schedule, or do I need to give up the breastfeeding for that “meal” and up the formula? Thanks for your help.

    • Aitch says:

      Oh I’m SO glad you feel less bonkers. I’ll tell you what, now that my kids are a bit older I’m so surprised by how raw that post sounds, because, ho ho ho by the time i wrote it i thought i was handling it all really well…
      Look, what you are going through right now is tough, and I totally applaud your efforts. As it turned out, I couldn’t keep it up and decided to go ‘au naturel’ at four months or so with both of mine. It took I think a week for my supply to peter out in both instances.
      So I don’t have the experience of pumping blah blah blah feeding blah blah blah as well as weaning, but bear in mind you might yet crack it and the bfing will improve. And if not, then you will be fine also… because at least from now on you will get a designated chance to sit down and eat for a while.

  41. nessy says:

    I would like to say THANK YOU for the most refreshing post I have read in a long time (the original blog entry and the many wonderful comments since – especially “Big up the breast, Big up the bottle” a few posts ago!). Combination feeding IS a slog, I’m not sure if someone who hasn’t done it can really understand how it takes over. I, like many people on this page, was so devastated to have trouble breastfeeding, it completely dominated the first few months after my baby was born. At first I tried so hard to avoid giving my daughter formula that I was unable to put my situation into perspective. I look back with enormous regret and sadness that I was so pro-breastfeeding that I allowed my baby to go hungry for days rather than give her any formula – I really thought I was doing the best thing in the long-term, and couldn’t see the woods for the trees. When I did start supplementing with formula I entered the ‘worst of both worlds’ and for 7 months my life has been all about how much (excruciating) time she’d had at the breast, pumping after feeds to keep supply up, giving just enough formula to keep her from hunger but not so much that it would impact my milk supply even more… etc etc etc…
    Now, a few days after her 7 month birthday, I have hung up the breast pump for the last time and feel a huge weight lift off my shoulders. I tried, I really really did. I lasted longer than some people who had no issues, and less time than some people who had more issues. I think I can hold my head up and say I did my best – wouldn’t it be great if I didn’t even feel like I needed to?!
    Thanks for the post, and everyone’s comments since. Here’s hoping next baby is a different experience – but if I have the same problems I know I don’t have to hang my head in shame!

  42. nessy says:

    PS – for anyone still struggling with low milk supply – after trying everything and anything (including domperidone/motillium which didn’t help) I can highly recommend acupuncture. Various points on your back, fingers and legs stimulate milk production and flow. And best of all, even if you don’t see any results, you’ll get a wonderfully relaxing and calming experience. Highly recommend giving it a go

    • Aitch says:

      WELL BLOODY DONE, nessy! seriously. now, welcome back to the world… ;D

      • Annie says:

        Well done Nessy! I can only imagine 7 months of that! Hats off to ya! You’ll maybe have seen my comment a little higher up too. I was giving my daughter two bottles of EBM a day but have whittled that down due to new meds I have to take (as an aside, my God am I annoyed with the amount of “are you quite sure they’re going to be toxic to your baby? are you quite sure you NEED to take them?” when I asked for advise from various breastfeeding forums on quitting pumping without pain/mastitis). Today was day two of formula only and I’m with you on the “weight off the shoulders” thing!

  43. Cat says:

    Thank you thank you thank you! I did everything possible to up my milk supply (under the guidance of my midwife and a lactation consultant), but when I got a diagnosis of hypoplasia and confirmed that I would never be able to have much of a breastmilk supply, I grieved. I still tear up at the idea that I’m not giving my baby the best start in life. I was so excited to start her on solids because I can control that and I can give her the BEST food. BLW has been wonderful for us — she is now almost eight months old and eats (and plays with) a wide range of healthy food that I prepare with love. Researching solids, baby nutrition, and BLW has allowed me to control what I feel my baby. She’s still getting most of her nutrition from formula (and probably a few drops a day of breastmilk — I’m no longer pumping eight times a day and the Domperidone is not enough to up my supply alone) but she’ll start to get more from her food soon and she’s doing wonderfully with eating. Like nessy (who I’m pretty sure I know…) the day I got rid of the pump I danced around the house like I’d been freed from prison. Which I had. I’m so sick of reading about how if I had just tried harder I could have breastfed exclusively. I couldn’t try harder and I couldn’t breastfeed exclusively.
    Now my Squidge and I spend a bit of our time together every day making something tasty and healthy for both of us to enjoy. Thanks again for this post; it gave me a giant smile.

    • Aitch says:

      A-blooming-men to i couldn’t try harder. i couldn’t either, i just couldn’t have. TWICE. Meh. Hurts like hell at the time but you do get over it and BLW helped A Lot. So glad that has been your experience as well.

  44. Nottley says:

    What an amazing thread! It’s not just me who has been through the mill with breast feeding! My 4 year old daughter was a big baby and had lost bout 16% of her birth weight at her first weigh in at 5 days old (on exclusive and excruciating breast feeding). I’d been in a local hospital most of that time and thought I’d received good support from the midwives as there were so few of us on the ward. But, being first time parents we honestly didn’t realise her nappies weren’t wet enough – and I’m still cross and upset that the midwives didn’t pick up on that either. So we were sent into neonatal and every test they did came back with worse news. She wasn’t allowed to stay in the room with us… then cup feeding was ruled out as it wouldn’t be possible to get enough fluid into her quickly enough…she had to be tube fed my EBM and a LOT of formula as she was so dehydrated. I was in tears all the time. I expressed and tried to put her on the breast, but she was so full of formula that she wasn’t interested for a couple of days.. It was hard going.
    I do just want to say how fantastic the neonatal unit was though, full of just the most amazing and supportive people dealing with emotionally wrecked mums!. And they did the best thing for my daughter – she looked so much better when we were allowed to go home.
    At home I stuck with bfing, but after falling weight and being told that if she didn’t gain by the next day we’d have to go back in to neo I sent hubby out for a bottle and formula. I then bfed, bottle fed EBM then topped up with formula at every feed. Bfeeding was very painful and stayed so for at least a month. I saw hv and midwives and went to support groups and phoned help lines. I cried when I fed her and cried when she had a bottle! I stopped expressing at about 5 weeks when it got less painful. But at 16 weeks it got bad again and I’d had enough, I couldn’t face expressing again so to give my boobs a rest I bfed morning and night (then topped up with bottle) and she had formula for every other feed.. We kept this up until she was 8 months when she decided she’d had enough with the boob and she just wasn’t interested any more.
    I’m a firm believer in ‘every drop counts’.
    When getting ready to have our second baby I swore blind I wouldn’t combo feed again and if bfeeding didn’t work I wouldn’t feel guilty or put myself through helll again – after all I’ve got my eldest to look after too…
    Our second gorgeous daughter arrived and I couldn’t believe how well the breast feeding was going. It didn’t hurt, she latched on really well and she had good wet nappiesl!
    And would you believe it, she’d lost 14% of her birth weight at the 3 day weight in…so into neonatal again! I burst into tears walking through the doors and just couldn’t believe we were going through it again! Luckily this time she’d been caught earlier so wasn’t as poorly as our first daughter.
    We’d learned our lesson though and went home topping up with formula. I think she gets about half her needs met by my breast milk – and I’m really happy and proud of that! I thought I wouldn’t make 4 weeks combo feeding and she’s now 5 months and we’re still combo feeding.
    I totally understand that feeding takes over your world but you have to do whatever is best for you, your baby and both of your mental states.. A happy mummy equals a happy baby.
    Hmm…I actually started writing this with the intention of saying that you do eventually come to terms with any unhappiness or feelings of guilt (I had both), but that for me it took a couple of years. Maybe I’m not as ‘over it’ as I thought!? Or maybe I just needed a chance to write down what we’d been through – therapy like lots of others on this thread. This thread should be published! I totally agree with however said that ‘breast is best’ should be changed to ‘every drop counts’. Being a mum is challenging enough without making yourself feel guilty over how you feed your baby. I’m looking forward to starting BLW in a month or so and hoping it’ll be a much more laid back affair than ‘traditional’ weaning was with my eldest!
    Thank you for letting me vent!

    • Aitch says:

      you’re totally welcome, it’s amazing how it all rattles out, isn’t it? am TOTALLY with you re the wet nappies, we thought dd1’s were wet, we didn’t realise they should be soaked. anyway, it depends how often you are changing them…

  45. Jerry says:

    Interesting to read your experiences.

    The other day I was wondering where the ‘max 32oz/1l’ of formula came from, and why there was even a max, why can’t babies feed on demand using formula? I can’t find any research or anything else apart from endless repeaters about 32oz.

    Our baby gets 4 bottles of 8oz at set times, and I was just wondering how we could even tell if she’s had enough. She always drinks the whole bottle. Will she just stop drinking the whole bottle now that she’s going to eat little bits?

    • Aitch says:

      i’ve no idea where it came from either, and always ignored it as mine were total milk monsters, neither of whom cut back on their formula/cow’s milk intake until well after a year.

      • Jerry says:

        My wife is convinced our girl shouldn’t exceed it, because ‘it’s there for a reason, else she’ll get fat’.
        I really wonder, when the formula producers are trying their hardest to make formula as close as possible to breastfeeding, we should have an upper limit on formula, but babies can drink all they want from the breast.

      • Aitch says:

        Gosh, really? I’m afraid i just plain disagree with your wife’s line of thinking, there, and wanted my two to be in charge of their intake. They’re 3 and 6 now, perfectly normal shapes and refuse food if they are full up, even if it’s their absolute favourite.
        I think the thing with formula, of course, is that it isn’t differentiated in the way that bm is, so they can’t snack on more watery milk when thirsty, but then i always had water around so that mine could quench without diving for formula, if that’s what they wanted. I’m not actually sure that the 32oz limit was ever mentioned to me by a HCP, though, I think it’s something I saw online and just ignored as it wouldn’t have worked for us at all.

  46. Myriam says:

    Thank you so much for this post. I almost cried reading it (and replying!) because that is exactly what I went through. The endless battle with my son as he wanted less and less of the breastfeeding and more of the bottle, until I just gave up two or three weeks ago when he was just over 5 months old. Like you, he was loosing wait around the 5 week mark and I was told (actually, they even gave me the bootles, I din’t have a choice) to top-up at every feed, so after feeding both breasts I had to give a bottle, with the instructions: 75 ml every 3 hours or 90 ml every 4. How does that help getting milk back??? I was also heartbroken and cried for 3 days. Why did no-one say: “here’s an appointment with the lactation consultant, she’s going to help you to try and get some more milk.”? With formula came pretty bad reflux and so we also need to give him Gaviscon with each feed… I am hoping that getting him on solids will help with that. I am still a little hesitant about baby led weaning since he is a little small for his high chair and can’t quite reach the tray. (Apart from being quite funny, it’s not very practical.) We have tried cushions and things like that, but for some reason, we have a baby who prefers lounging and he immediately pushes on his bum. Any suggestions?
    Thank you again for this post, it helps to know that others have gone through the same experience.

    • Aitch says:

      LOADS of us have, Myriam. This post had hundreds of comments on it before, but we lost them when a server went ‘phut’, you are so not alone. What highchair do you have, by the way? Most people doing BLW find the cheapo Ikea one is fantastic, because it’s a bucket seat with a solid partition at the legs. http://www.ikea.com/gb/en/catalog/products/00069725/ Honestly, the amount of people who end off with it after first buying something so much more expensive…
      Have a look at the reflux advice that one of our forumites, Eleanor, kindly wrote for us. It’s sometimes better, it turns out, to let refluxy children get started a bit earlier and on purees, as i’m sure you know, but it’s perfectly possible to cull the best aspects of BLW and proceed with that ‘head’ on.

      • Myriam says:

        Sorry it’s taken me so long to find this website again. For some reason, I completely lost it. Now my daughter is 6 months and I would like to start baby-led weaning with her. Just to add to my previous post, we discovered that my son was allergic to cow’s milk. So being forcibly given bottles to feed him was the worst thing to do. Anyway, he is almost 2 now and I’m hoping he is growing out of it. My daughter is also allergic, but I managed to breast feed exclusively (soooo happy it worked this time!!) and because I’d already been through it once, recognised the signs early on. She had silent reflux, but not at every feed, until I stopped all dairy. It disappeared from one day to the next. I’m on soya and almond milk, etc., so she’s doing much better than my son ever was. It did take her 6 weeks to get back to birth weight, but with help from my local lactation consultant, managed to get my milk supply up. (She’s awake, so I have to go. But thanks again for this post.)

    • Jerry says:

      We’re having good succes with the Bumbo (google it), she could sit much more securely early on, and she can sit on a chair in the bumbo, easy as pie.

      • Aitch says:

        I always wonder about the Bumbo and BLW, though, if the idea is that their sitting up by themselves is a sign of readiness.

      • Jerry says:

        Well, she can sit fine now, but she just tumbles over now and again. That’s where the bumbo comes in. While at first once she sloughed to the side she couldn’t get back up, she will right herself now just fine.
        Right now I’m looking at her in her bumbo on the coffee table eating a breadstick, full of concentration, she’s over halfway through :)

      • Myriam says:

        I’ll look into the bimbo idea. My daughter’s so tiny that she’s not going to fit into a high chair for quite some time. She’s following her centile, but it the 2nd one. So, I just have to accommodate for this. We gave her a little broccoli tree last night. Very funny! I took a few pictures, but she was crying by that point. I will draw a line at one thing though: no paper!! She ate some yesterday. Swallowed it before I could get to her. I think baby-led means she eats or not what I give her, rather than choosing what she eats herself. ;)

      • Myriam says:

        Oh my goodness!! Only just realised the auto-correct changed bumbo into bimbo!!! :s

  47. Natalie says:

    I too am in great appreciation of this post and all its replies as I have also gone to breastfeeding hell and back. I won’t relate all the details of another sad story but like many of you it involved breastfeeding, pumping, Domperidone, Fenugreek, Blessed Thistle, SNSing, and eventually bottle-feeding. My little guy is 6 months old now and I still pump 4 times a day and supplement with formula on top of what I pump but he’s been pretty much done with any feeding at the breast since 3 months. The guilt, regret, and sadness I’ve felt over it have been overwhelming. I only hope it will hurt less with time.

    If I can I will put a plug in for a fellow Canadian’s book that has brought me some comfort and fueled optimism for the next time around – Breastfeeding Take Two: Successful Breastfeeding the Second Time Around.
    Others may find it helpful as well.

    We must all applaud our breastfeeding efforts! Reading these posts I am constantly amazed at the lengths we all went to – such dedicated and committed mothers!

    • Aitch says:

      I can only re-iterate, Natalie, that I found BLW to be a very healing experience, it just felt like I was getting back to some sort of ‘natural’ continuum. I really hope you have the same experience, and would say that regret and sadness, yes, I get it, but i refuse the guilt. we really all did our best, and you most certainly did and are doing. that counts.

  48. Jen says:

    Just want to lend support to the mixed feeders and ff only group! I have combination fed both my children (now 3 and 8 months) for 6 months then changing to formula only. I too felt terribly guilty that I had failed my first child, but in hindsight I now realise he wasn’t thriving with just breast feeding partly as he had reflex and vomited all milk like you wouldn’t believe, but also because I was stressed at being a new mum, prob a bit depressed and quite obsessed with over analysing everything so my supply was poor! I never really demand fed as such but interestingly both children have found their own schedules of when they tend to eat/sleep etc and one advantage of bottles is not becoming a human dummy which some of my friends who bf have become! I have also found that neither child will eat if they are not hungry no matter how hard you try so I don’t think I have over fed them by using formula. I have blw both my children as I can totally see the logic of it… I wouldn’t want to eat varying mushes of unknown food and then be expected to just eat the real food when I am deemed old enough! I didn’t even consider that blw was for bf babies only and just assumed you could follow the philosophy with ff babies too! I have 2 children who eat everything (literally- spicy curries, all shellfish, in fact are less fussy than me!) I give them, appear to manage their appetites well and weaned their own milk (ff) as I think a bf baby would. I do think the saying “happy mummy leads to happy baby”and people should go with their guts a bit more and feel a bit less guilty… You can only do your best with what you are given! And all these babies are born v different! Good luck everyone!

    • Aitch says:

      It sounds like you’ve done a brilliant job there, well done, lol at them being less fussy than you. The only thing I take slight issue with (and it’s not just you at all, it’s been said loads of times on this thread) is the happy mummy = happy baby thing. of course i do think it’s true, so it’s not that, it’s just that i had a friend with PND, so most definitely not a happy mummy, who used to find that line absolutely devastating, because, well, if the first is true, does it follow that an unhappy mum = unhappy baby? Like i say, absolutely 100% not directed at you specifically, but i’d be interested to hear if any of you have any thoughts there.

  49. Jen says:

    Aitch- thanks for your comment, however I think you may have misunderstood the”happy mum/happy baby” comment. What I really meant was that we mums should be happy with what we decide is best for our (individual) baby not that if you are a happy person you get a happy baby and thus if you have depression your baby won’t be. My thoughts are mothers need to believe in ourselves a bit more that’s all, as am pretty sure all of us are doing our best in what is one if lifes more challenging experiences! The more I learn the more I realise there really isn’t a right way to do any of this, just perhaps a right way for you and your family! I also think that as soon as you get pregnant you seem to become hotwired to feel guilty for every little detail of your choices! I then think babies are happy with your plan/whatever you decide to do! I hope your friend doesn’t get offended by the saying as I am well aware that pnd is way more than just being a bit unhappy and is a medical condition that needs approp support and treatment and I apologise if that is the case. I hope she has recovered fully from it. Regards.

  50. Aitch says:

    oh god no, i absolutely 100% knew what you meant and so would she have done (totally recovered, it was yonks ago), i just think it’s an interesting point of discussion, that’s all. it’s one of those phrases that gets used a lot, and i think unless you’ve been an unfixably unhappy mum it would never really occur not to use it. i certainly did.

  51. jennyeightyseven says:

    It’s been great to read this thread, I had so many of the same issues as the mums here and had to take the difficult decision to mix-feed. I eventually (I won’t go into the very long-winded story of the ups-and-downs) got to the point of bf every-other feed…only for him to grow 2 teeth at 4 months and refuse to stop biting! He’s now nearly 6 months and I’m really excited about him starting to eat food with blw- I’m winding down the bf and he will be fully ff by next week. I felt so guilty at first, but I know I did everything I could to give him ‘every little drop’ so I’ve made my peace with it.

    I wanted to ask a quick question about formula when starting blw- is it best to move on to the ‘no.3’/ 6month+ formula, or is this specifically designed to complement ‘traditional’ weaning where the baby is probably getting more food at first anyway…or should I stick with no.2 for a while? Thanks in advance for any advice you have!

    • Aitch says:

      as i understood it when i was giving mine milk, these 6 months and beyond formulas were created to get round the regulations that prevent companies advertising formula to babies below six months, so i never bothered with them, on the probably faulty logic that if it was best for them at their most vulnerable and tiny if would be best as they grew up. with the first, though, i used aptamil, which i later found out has an ingredient in it that makes poo more like breastmilk poos… this was a point of some pride to me until i realised that my bfing friends who had weaned their kids were no longer experiencing the same. so basically i had given her the shits for an extra six months. i used c&g with the second, and her poo was remarkably different. so, basically, i think i am saying that i have no idea. are the second and thirds cheaper? again, i found this off-putting with my precious first born, if it’s cheaper it’s not as good, right? but i now imagine that what it means is that they jack up the first one (i mean seriously, HOW can powdered milk plus some vits and mins cost that much? HOW??!!) and then take a smaller (massive) margin with the second and beyond.

      so… i think i cannot help you because if you go by what it says on the side of your box, i can totally see your thinking. it’s just that i no longer automatically believe what is on the side of the box.

      am really glad you have made your peace with the bottle, btw. it’s a process, like everything else… and it takes a while, but jeez it’s worth doing, because not having peace only makes you unhappy.

  52. jennyeightyseven says:

    Many thanks Aitch- I have been using Aptamil too and he has just about got through using Gaviscon without being too blocked up, so if it does have some laxative ingredient I guess it works!

    My main concern is that they put fewer nutrients in no.3, and obviously bm has a slow tail-off which suits blw, so it seems odd to make a sudden change- I might do a half-and-half job for a while to introduce it. I don’t think there’s any difference in price between the 6+ and 0-6 month formulas, but I know they are legally allowed to have special offers on the 6+ so perhaps that’s why they’re sometimes cheaper?

    And as for making peace with my decision, it’s been a long road, but he is so happy and healthy, and has thankfully been so adaptable to whatever I’ve given him- breast, ebm or formula (sometimes all 3 at one feed!) that I feel very lucky to have had such a good outcome from a rocky start. And my husband was ff from the start- in the 70s when formula was nowhere near as good- and has turned out just fine!

  53. Kristen says:

    I came across this blog post via Google – which is ridiculous when I already have this webpage bookmarked and I’m a member for the BLW forum. I am struggling with the idea that I will likely have to wean my 4.5 month old son onto formula (to do mixed feeding or full time I’m not sure) and I really want to do BLW when he turns 6 months and I needed someone to tell me that I could do BLW and formula feeding too.

    My breastfeeding story is so very different to everyone else’s here and I think that is why I’m still struggling with my decision to wean or not. I have really good supply, my son is gaining weight and feeds well – the problem is he has an uncoordinated suck and poor attachment where he doesn’t bring his tongue forward over his bottom gum and so breastfeeding has been on and off been a painful experience for me as my nipples can be in agony from feeding. I am fortunate (in a way) that I haven’t suffered from cracked or bleeding nipples, from blocked ducts or mastitis, but I have suffered pain in many feeds (lately every feed) since my son was 2.5 weeks old. He is 20 weeks old today and I have been feeding in pain for 18-ish weeks now – a great achievement even if at times it probably makes me seem like a martyr.

    I’m sitting here in tears as I write this coz part of me wishes that things could be different and I could breast feed my son pain free, but it looks like I can’t. I have seen many early childhood nurses, a speech pathologist, a lactation consultant and am seeing a osteopath and everyone says that maybe he will grow out of it and maybe even if things could change he just doesn’t have any incentive to change how he feeds as he gets all the milk he wants and it doesn’t hurt or bother him. I always wanted to breastfeed and I know that I should be proud that I still am but it is so hard knowing that it’s very likely I will be giving up breastfeeding because it isn’t the best thing for me, not because it isn’t the best thing for my son.

    Anyway, sorry for the rant – like others I think I needed to vent this out somewhere “publicly” but at the same time where no one really knows me. Everyone says I should be proud of how long I’ve kept this up, but I don’t feel proud – just sad that things couldn’t be different. Hopefully when I’ve made a decision to wean I’ll be able to look back and know that I did everything I could for me and my son and that 4.5 months plus of breastfeeding is fantastic when “every drop counts” (I love that slogan, it should so be adopted so that mums like us who have to formula feed but did do some breastfeeding don’t feel so bad…).

    And as for BLW – well we will be starting that in 6 weeks and I can’t wait. I’m looking forward to giving my son the best start in solids and not having to do purees and rice cereal is so exciting :) I can’t wait for the mess and the look of curiosity and amusement on my son’s face as he eats “big people’s food” for the first time. And I know I’ll get lots of support with any questions I may have on the forum here :)

    Thanks Aitch for this blog post and for helping me to see that BLW is the way to go, no matter how your baby receives their milk :)

    • Aitch says:

      oh you poor, poor thing. my friend used to take paracetamol before every feed because the pain was so tremendous, and she was a doctor working in obstetrics and could call on the best bfing counsellors available. she kept going because her son shaped up, if i recall, so it only lasted a few weeks, but she was in agony that whole time.
      have you pumped and given your son a bottle? would that be a way forward for you? (as someone who has done both bfing and bottle i wonder if the ‘you feel so close with bfing’ line is probably only true if it’s going well?)

      • Kristen says:

        Thanks for your reply Aitch :)

        I’ve started on the regular 4-hourly panadol again and also started expressing again as well. Though I’m not having much luck with the expressing at the moment, partly because I stopped expressing a while ago because it just became too much effort and I was still able to breastfeed ok and partly because my son is feeding up to 8 times a day and my breasts are still only adjusting to that (up from the normal 6 times) and so adding a “9th feed” is a bit tricky. If worse comes to worse, I will try weaning him onto formula for one feed then expressing that one and then I’ll be able to replace two feeds a day (one with EBM and one with formula) and try going from there. It doesn’t help that I also suffer a little from nipple vasospams too (caused by my son’s poor latch we think) and so expressing is not pain-free either (and my poor nipples go a lovely shade of purple :( )

        And yes, in a way the ‘you feel so close with bfing’ line is only true when it can all work and since expressing full time just isn’t something I’m willing to do (I just don’t think I can put in the time and effort when something like formula is there and we have done a good job with bfing for almost 5 months now) then I guess there will come a day when I will be able to say to myself that I did my best and despite how close I got to doing it well, it just wasn’t meant to be.

      • Aitch says:

        Oh My God you have nipple vasospasm AS WELL? jesus, woman, JACK IT IN. (not really… well maybe a little bit really… oh god i can’t advise someone to give up bfing that’s so WRONG but i had those vasospasm things when i was pregnant and it honestly felt like someone was holding a cigarette lighter under my nips and BURNING them off…)
        Look, only you knows how long you can continue with this. I was proud of myself for getting to four-ish months with both of mine. You are doing an amazing, did i say amazing i meant AMAZING job, i hope whatever decision you make is the one that will make you happy and right in yourself. i am In Awe.

      • Kristen says:

        Yeah it’s bad isn’t it Aitch. Well we’ve tried the Osteopath and that failed and I can’t manage to express any more than 5mls so that doesn’t look like it will work either. So I’m off to a local chemist to get some advice from a lovely pediatric nurse on how to put my lil guy onto formula as feeding is now pure agony (nipples being on fire describes how it is when I feed at the moment) and as much as I don’t like to admit it, I know that I cannot go on as I am. So we will be doing some kind of bfing till 6 months as I’ll start to wean him over Easter but will drop about 1 feed a week so I don’t end up with mastitis and as for adding a bottle of EBM – dunno yet? Probably isn’t worth it…

        Thanks for the support Aitch. Yes it is pretty amazing to have kept up with this for so long but in some ways it is pretty silly too I guess – I just want to do what is best for my son, and now I know that the best thing for my son is for his mum to not be in pain when she feeds him.

        I’ll keep you posted on how we go :)

      • Aitch says:

        i was a terrible expresser too, i got five mls at a time as well. i used to be SO depressed seeing all those bottles with five mls in them… I have The Most Enormous sympathy for you, and Ginormous admiration. (and, as you’ll see i wrote in the piece ‘i think you probably went a bit mental as well, which helped’.) This bit is bittersweet, for sure, but really, you have so much to be proud of, you have given the best of yourself here, most definitely. good luck with the transition.

  54. Kimberley says:

    I had to move onto formula for my son at 2 1/2 months because my milk was just minimal and he was so hungry. I moved onto a formula “similac” as heard its “closest” to mothers milk. (High number of mucleotides). And I have no constipation, diarrhoea. No problems. It is the best thing I ever did. First couple of times getting him onto the bottle was heart breaking as he REALLY screamed in distress. BUT once he realised he LOVED it. I used Tommee Tippe bottles. Now onto Avent. He is 6 months old today and til this day my son has ONLY ever cried for his bottle, otherwise always happy. Had his jabs today and like every time doesnt make a sound. I think IF there is a reason then no problem with bottle feeding. I cried so much at first as I felt so guilty. BUT dont! My son LOVES his bottle and comforts him all the same, and most important he is content and full after every feed.

    Good luck! x

  55. Aitch says:

    and don’t forget that two-and-a-half months is a fair whack of milk, right there. haven’t heard of this similac, though, is it american? formula manufacturers make all sorts of claims, don’t they… i do think, at the end of the day, that there is always going to be a big, big difference between a ‘live transfusion’ of bm and some reconstituted milk powder, there just has to be. And of course it takes some time to make peace with that, but i have done and am glad you have too.

  56. Laura says:

    Hi again,
    I’m on BLW day four. Leon appears uninterested in food and I’m a bit at a loss. He gets annoyed at the high chair in about ten mins. At the moment I’m under pressure from my mum to try purees which I don’t want to do. Is he just not ready? I have tried feeding him little bits but I get worried when he gets annoyed at that too as really he should be doing it. Do I just keep trying? Do some babies take a bit more than six months to be ready?

    • Aitch says:

      Of course they do, please don’t worry. Think of this as like when your child learns to walk. The books say a year but we all know kids who start before and many, many after. The number who start walking in the week after their first birthday? Minimal, i should imagine.
      Basically, 94% of kids in a recent study using the Gateshead Millennium cohort reached out for food between 6-8 months, so chances are he’ll fall between those times. And with the chair, just take him out of it, no point him being unhappy. If i recall my first baby sat on our laps at the beginning, principally because i don’t think we’d been to Ikea yet.
      Regarding your mum, you kinda just gently need to tell her that she got to bring up her children the way she wanted to (and if she didn’t she might recall how irritating it was not to be able to) and that it’s your turn now, and your child.

      • Laura says:

        Thanks Aitch,
        I am seeming to find now that Leon actually is happier on my lap taking my food off my plate!! Anything I like to eat he’ll grab straight off me – think he likes taking part and using me as a taste test!! Now I am trying to think up recipes we can have with finger food for him to try too. I will carry on with the gentle telling of my mum. Swear I’ll scream if I get the ‘baby rice won’t hurt him’ line once more!!! Thanks for your comments – much appreciated and reassuring.

      • Aitch says:

        soft fruit and veggies are good, pretty much, and my nephew recently feasted well on a full roast dinner while sitting on my (horrified) husband’s lap. (my fault, we were babysitting and i’d forgotten a highchair). glad to hear it’s going better, and good luck with your mother. the thing to remember is that when people were weaning earlier, they still all gave finger food around six months anyway… and why? because that’s the age that kids can do it. (and because by that point they were bored with three months of spoonfeeding so were desperate for the kids to get a bit more autonomous).

  57. Aash says:

    Dont feel bad about not being able to Breastfeed … My baby is 4 months old and REFUSES to take a bottle (Of expressed milk) which means I can never leave her with anyone else for even a few hours and I’m worried that when I am ready to stop breastfeeding she will not take a bottle.
    So, there are ups and downs no matter what route you go..:)

  58. Kate says:

    WOW, can i just say a huge thank you for this, this sums up my experiance in a nut shell.
    my LO is now almost 3 months, i was ADAMENT BF’ing would ‘work’ for us after feeling heartbroken when BF’ing didn’t work out with my first.
    so my son was born, a birth i hadn’t planned for so that shook me, then BF’ing, i thought it was going ok, was sore as i expected for the first 5 days, then he was weighed…. found to have lost 14% of his birthweight so he was admitted, and found to be dehydrated, i was DISTRAUGHT, 5 days after having my beautiful baby and we were in hospital getting told i HAD to give my baby formula as i didn’t have enough milk for him, i declined for hours but after several doctors scare mongering agreed and gave him his first bottle (he took about an oz) this was the begining of the end, i discharged him as things were too distressing, i needed to come to terms with giving my baby formula which i never ever planned to as well as figure out how i was going to hydrate him, took their advice of topping up after every feed, he started to pile on weight, was back to his birthweight by 10 days and was thriving, i was still offering the breast before every ‘top up’ which were begining to feel more like full time FF’s not ‘top ups’ it became obvious he was getting very nipple confused, he would refuse the breast 5 times out of 10 but then would amaze and surprise me some days by having lovely long bf’s, but all in all things went down hill, he prefers the bottle and no matter how hard i try now at almost 3 months he won’t latch for more than 1 minute, i STILL offer the breast before every FF AND in between times when he’s awake and settled, i’m still, 3 months on, finding it so difficult to come to terms with not being able to BF my son, i never imagined it wouldn’t work this time, i swore i’d grab every bit of advice, but it’s like no one wants to help, i asked for all the advice i can get and even my bf’ing support worker basically said there is nothing else i can suggest, i was (up until last week)pumping with a hospital grade pump every few hours and had never managed more than half an oz…
    it annoyed me when i read some BLW ‘experts’ suggest only BF babies to follow it, that’s ridiculous, my daughter BLW’d and was FF and she got on just fine with BLW.
    because of this whole BF’ing experiance i am now SO defensive when it comes to feeding choices, i still am very pro BF’ing, but look at FF’ers in a whole different light now, how do i know the lady FF’ing in a cafe isn’t having as rough a time as me behind closed doors? i try my hardest not to bottle feed out in public, i hate that i’m ashamed to FF but i am!
    thankyou again for this blog, although i hate that we have been through the same it helps that other people do go through this too.
    my boy is happy and healthy and in the grand scheme of things that IS all that matters, i’d give my right arm to start all over again and be EBF right now but i don’t have a time machine and i have no choice but to accept and come to terms with it.

    • Aitch says:

      I think it does require a shift in your head to be able to bring out a bottle with confidence, but then I remember bringing out bottles of expressed breast milk and still feeling wonky about it. Like you say, there is no time machine, there’s only doing the best with what’s in front of you now, and it really does sound like you’re doing great in that respect. Every drop counts, and all that, take heart.

  59. Lornie says:

    We did BLW with our little girl who was FF from 5 days old, I never even knew that there was any evidence out there to suggest that we shouldn’t! I am quite sure though that however a baby is fed a mother (and father)knows the signs of when they are or aren’t hungry bf/ff!
    I was quite devastated and felt such a failure that I gave up bf at 5 days. I wish I’d known then that you could do both, for some reason I thought you could only do one or the other! No idea to this day why I thought that at all!
    I now have a 3 month old little boy who has been bf/ff from pretty much day one after one horrible midwife told me that he was obviously starving and why was I wasting my time trying to bf if I couldn’t do it last time! He then developed jaundice and became dehydrated etc etc so by day 7 we were goign to stop and go for just ff. But I deceided to just express what I could for as long as I could.
    At 6 weeks approx he became very ill with gastroenteritis and ended up in hospital, I got mastitis because I couldn’t express as much as I did at home. So I was expressing more when home and decided to see if he’d latch on to see if it would help clear the mastitis, which he did and does about 70% of the time now.

    I have days when he won’t take to the breast and days when he wants it constantly. I don’t have a great supply, despite expressing and trying fenugreek, not tried guiness, I will google that later! So he has top ups of 3/4 oz formula at each feed with a bf and long bf feeds from me at night!

    Despite all this I still feel ashamed that we have ff! I constantly tell people, including random strangers who are talking to him that we bf as well! Why I need to ‘defend’ how we feed upsets me.


    • Aitch says:

      I think it’s a grieving process, really… anger, denial, acceptance and all that. the defensiveness is denial, and it will pass, of course it will, but it’s frustrating and annoying, isn’t it?

  60. Emma says:

    Its a mothers job to love and nurture their children, regardless of how the baby is feed. It sounds very much like that is what your wee ones are getting, so keep up the good work.
    Only you will ever understand and appreciate the journey you are on, outsiders are not entitled to make you feel anything so please stop worrying about what they are thinking.

  61. Zeltzin says:

    Is your tap water safe to drink? do you drink it straight from the tap? If yes then there is no reosan not to use it for your baby. In the UK it is advised to boil all water before giving to a baby under 6 months (personally just good practice), and to always use hot boiled water when making formula (but this is due to the potential of contaminants in the formula no the water).Using special water sounds like a bit of a way to get more money from the consumer to me.

  62. Gemma says:

    Finding this today has made me feel like I’m NOT a failure!!
    I was given my beautiful little boy 23 days ago, he unfortunately had to be an emergency c-section after 2 failed inductions then a none progressive 1st stage on the 3rd attempt (I laboured for 48hrs before my c-sec).
    As no part of my labour was natural my milk didn’t start with my baby, however, no body explained this could happen and 4 days later we were readmitted as my LO was dehydrated and had lost 13% of his BW.
    In those 4 days he was on my constantly and unfortunately the lanolin based nipple cream given to me by the midwife actually caused an allergic reaction in me and my baby (my nipples cracked so severely they both spilt completely in 2, and his face was red and the skin pealed).
    I then mixed fed (using an amazing bottle that didn’t confuse him as the teat really did simulate a nipple) up until getting mastitis.
    However from the word go my milk just wasn’t enough for my gorgeous baby and I felt like I was the worlds worst mother! After 3 weeks of crying because he wasn’t full after being BF I decided that to torture both my child and myself, along with feeling that I wasn’t enjoying him as I should, wasn’t reason enough to carry on. My milk production was poor and nothing worked to bring it up to a good level, my mastitis still hasn’t gone, but I now know my baby is getting enough from his feeds and he doesn’t have a crazy crying lady clutching him to her!
    I won’t be put off BF if I ever have another child, but, I also know that what I’m doing is right for us, and that after everything we’ve been through, so far, we are actually very fortunate to both be healthy and safe.
    It’s an amazing comfort to know that you aren’t alone, so thankyou to everyone who posted.

    • Aitch says:

      you are SO super-duper not alone in this, honestly. sounds like you’ve had a rotten run of luck, you poor old stick, and it’s totally okay to feel sad about that, but in time it will fade and you will feel less bonkers about it all. in fact, sounds like you’re a good way along there as it is. congratulations on your lovely new baby, onwards and upwards and all that!

  63. Beckie says:

    Do you know, the further along I go as a mother, the more I think all texts about parenting and ‘what is correct for your baby’ information should just be chucked out of the window. I honestly blame the breastfeeding information that I received at the hospital made it impossible to breastfeed. They really didn’t have much advise for big droopy boobed women like myself and kept placing me in these awkward and uncomfortable positions. They also continually grabbed my newborn at the back of her neck, with their cold hands, and thrust her into my breast. No wonder it didn’t work! Either way, rant over. We too ended up on formula top ups, which naturally progressed to full FF. Now we’re at weaning stage and every book, health worker and club is on about purées, which my (almost) 7 month old daughter is refusing. Having tasted half of my home made purées I can’t say I blame her, lol. My point is that, right from birth she has been leading us; showing us what to do for her. She has chosen baby lead weaning herself. I don’t think being bottle or breast fed made any sort of difference with that; it’s just what she prefers. Thank you for the wonderful observation of that and I look forward to looking through the rest of your web site to help us support our little one, since there is little advice for BLW elsewhere. x

  64. AR says:

    Many of these stories resonate with mine. I will refrain from writing my own due to the length of the discussion board as it is, but I do want to express a few thoughts:
    -Because of the ‘breast is best’ campaign, I firmly believe that even if doctors, pediatricians, midwives et cetera know about the real trouble that many women have BF, they will not say anything so that moms still try. That is fine, except when they withhold information from mothers who desperately want their babies to be healthy, and yearn for mental and emotional health for themselves when they cannot BF.
    -If you know any woman who is pregnant and trusts you, do everyone a favor and tell her “if you have any problems BF when your baby is born CALL ME”. Had most of us had someone tell us that, we probably wouldn’t have undergone such atrocious mental anguish for so long! Spread the word, BF is not natural for everyone – moms and babies. Period end of sentence.

  65. sasha says:

    I’ve been using this website for a while but somehow missed this thread. So many people seem to have had a very similar experience to me resulting in reluctant combination feeding followed by FF. (I never even knew BLW wasn’t recommended for bottle fed babies!)
    It is such an emotive subject and so difficult to deal with BF difficulties. Looking back I feel I didn’t get nearly enough support and regret that I wasn’t more proactive in seeking this, but I was very ill with PE and HELLP Syndrome and my baby was 7 weeks premature so I think the odds were stacked against us from the start. I’m okay with how things went now but I cried for weeks when I gave up BF completely just before 5 months and can still get teary when I think about it now.
    My friend is currently going through BF difficulties and I’m finding it hard to know how to support her. Her LO is 9 weeks and has only put on about a pound since birth – I’m worried about the baby but Mum is adamant she doesn’t want to give formula. I worry that too much emphasis on ‘Breast is Best’ is affecting so many people in a negative way. Well done Aitch and all other posters for a great thread.

    • Aitch says:

      I think Breast Is Best is so flawed, I’m fully supportive of Breast is the Biological Norm (SO LONG AS IT IS SUPPORTED BY STACKS AND STACKS OF CASH) and given that it blardy well never will be i prefer ‘Every Bit Counts’.
      Oh i feel for your friend, Sasha… it’s so hard when you’re in it. I look at pics of DD2 when she was wee and I was trying to exc feed her and i just think ‘what on earth was i doing?’
      PS 5 months with all that stuff going on?! *applause*

  66. Laura says:

    I just wanted to give a little advice to those of you (like me) that were are unable to breast feed for long, but are missing that special time with your baby. What I did was continue to feed my baby topless, and I took off his clothes as well and snuggled him in close, so during feeding times we still got our special skin on skin contact. I did not do this in public, but at home. He is four months old today and I still do this at his night-time feeding. Dad also does skin to skin contact when putting our baby to bed when I am working. Some people thought I was crazy, but it worked out well for us.

    My baby and I were both happier after switching to formula. But I also glad that I did breast-feed for as long as I could give him my anti-bodies!

    Also my sister had a formula fed baby and did BLW and it turned out great for her. My son is also formula fed and I will be doing BLW for him as well!

  67. Chiara says:

    Firstly I want to say that I dont usually look at blogs or forums because I cant stand the conflicts but I have found this thread fantastic!!! I’m SO glad to know I’m not alone!!!! My little miracle lost 11.8% of birth weight & I was devastated at having to ff. I am over it now & at 16 weeks am combo feeding – I’m happy at still giving him something of me & he’s happy & satisfied as well as thriving. I’m looking at he information on blw as for me it makes a lot more sense than feeding the little guy mush to start with…. Can’t wait to have that conversation with my hv:-) thanks again I feel relieved to know the guilt is normal and Aitch you are so right we shouldn’t give ourselves a bar time as long as the baby is healthy & happy that is the main thing!!!

  68. Aitch says:

    It’s normal… and it’s also a ginormous waste of your time. Not much you can do, though, until you’re out the other side of it, glad you’re managing the combo feeding, it’s Hard Work. Believe me, no one should ever question the commitment of combo feeders to bfing…

  69. valentina says:

    Its normal for babies to loose some weight when they are born. My 3 babies lost similar ammounts, all around 15%…… if it was up to some doctors i would have 3 bottle fed babies…hospitals no longer have the time and money to support breast feeding. BF it’s not as “natural” as it looks, its a learnt skill and requires a lot of support.
    Also, if i had a penny every time i hear a pushy granny saying, go on, give it a bottle, the baby looks hungry…argh!!!!

  70. Steph says:

    I have just found this blog and wanted to say I am so glad I’m not alone.
    My daughter was born in 2008 and my milk never came in due to the bp tablets I was taking during the pregnancy. She went onto bottles on day 3 after being cup fed by midwives in the hospital on donated milk (they refused to let me do it as I was not ‘trained’ so i sat next to them hooked up to a double pump like a cow trying to express a few mls while they got to hold my baby close and feed her). I was devastated and felt guilty for a very very long time.
    Roll on to 2011 and my son was born in December. This time, I was prepared. Unlike 2008 when i didn’t know what I was doing, I had read up on things (my bp was not an issue this time so not on tablets) and spoken to bf consultants, was aware of the local bf cafes etc.
    Depressingly, it was another total car crash.

    My son latched on enough to get colostrum and to get my milk coming in but he would not suck hard enough to get milk for him. As a consequence by day 3 he would scream whenever I brought him to the breast. We had no wet nappies and I started to top him up with cup of formula but i was still offering him the breast. By day 7 he had lost 15% of his birth weight (although I suspect his birth weight was artificially high as I had a crash section) and we were ordered into the local hospital immediately.
    Naive, we went in around 4pm, taking our 3 yr old daughter with us. Fast forward to 11pm and we were still waiting for a decision. My poor little girl had had nothing to eat except toast that a kind nurse made her (and I still fill up when I think of this) and we were completely bottom of their list as there were more poorly children there (understandably). Everytime we asked to just go home and to wake him every 2 hrs and I would pump and my partner would cup feed him, they ‘weren’t sure’.
    I just gave in and said that for the benefit of our whole family, I would give him a bottle.

    I then had bf consultants come to the house and everyone said I was doing nothing wrong – his latch was good, my milk was plentiful (I leaked everywhere but could I express any?? No! How frustrating) but he would not suck properly.
    I managed to mix feed him (probably 80% formula and 20% expressed) to 4 months when I gave up.

    I have since discovered he has tongue tie. I had asked 2 separate midwives about this in hospital and both said no he didn’t have it. Why could they have not said, we’re not sure but we’ll ask someone who does.
    I am not so heartbroken this time as there is nothing more I could have done to get him to the breast without seriously affecting my daughter’s well being, but it still really affected me.

    I feel so excluded. All the local baby cafes are bf drop ins, so I feel like I can’t go. I am still ashamed to bottle feed in public.
    For those who found bf really easy, it is so hard to explain why we ff. You are made to feel like it was just too hard or you couldn’t be bothered. On one fb blog recently, they were discussing formula and one woman posted that it was pure poison, women should try harder and use milk banks!

    So, my son was 6 months old yesterday and we have started to wean using blw. Like others have said, he is really not interested in food at the moment (my daughter was and took to it really well) and just mushes stuff around and gags it all back. This has surprised me as he loves his milk.
    Could the tongue tie be preventing him eating? His is mild but it is there.
    We’ve been offering him fruit and veg for about 2 weeks now but he is not keen. He is more keen on toast but I’d rather not revert back to this every day.
    he is also really messy – he throws food around, squashes it into his face and hair – we end up covered in it.
    This time is also exhausting as he is still taking all his milk feeds and is trying food up to 3 times a day. I feel a bit trapped in the house as i am either feeding him, giving him finger food or preparing food for the family!

  71. Kate says:

    This is the most interesting thread I’ve ever seen on net. I am attempting to bf my third child. First two children failed to thrive despite good latch, no apparent problems except low supply. Health visitor said she had never come across a case like mine – now I see it’s not so unusual. I ruined my first few months with our son (now nearly 7) by my bf obsession, spending all my time either feeding, pumping or rocking the poor starving child. Second experience with daughter didn’t feel so bad as she is a more placid child, but she ended up like an emaciated little 9th centile sparrow (having been born 42 weeks 90-oddth centile) before the doctor made me ff her at 3 months. This time I was sure I would ff after a couple of weeks of bf, but our daughter surprised us by gaining weight (very slowly). She is now 6 weeks old and despite pumping when I can manage (not to detriment of any of the family), seeing bf experts, taking fenugreek (which increases supply but makes her posset excessively so defeats object), my supply has started to fail to fill her. So now I’m bf for 40 mins each time she’s hungry, and if she won’t settle I’ll top her up with a couple of ounces of formula. This relaxed approach has made my newborn experience completely blissful. I know I don’t have a great supply, and I know whatever I do or however long I persevere, I am never going to be dripping with milk (never leak, never feel full, just slight pinching sensation occasionally), and I’m not willing to have a baby who is unhappily hungry ever again. If I hadn’t been made to feel like a “freak” one off, I may have had a calmer and more blissful newborn experience. Either way, I have very healthy, happy 6 and 4 year olds. The only person tormented by the stupid milk issue was me. I will still feel self conscious when it comes to the point that I have to ff this baby in public though! I think it is disgusting how this breast is best campaign has probably contributed more to women suffering pnd (incl me) than encouraging potential formula feeders to breastfeed.

    • Aitch says:

      That’s just what i was like, an occasional prickle of feeling full, but no swelling or engorgement unless i’d not fed for hours and hours, and no leaking. and all the bfcs is saw in the beginning were marvelling at how relaxed i was, how i was a natural etc. no milk, though. :D

  72. Nikki says:

    I’ve just found this site and have found it very useful with tips and advice. My little one is now 61/2 months, we had to give up bfing at 5 months as she had extremely slimey nappies, a couple of blood shows and was losing weight, the doctors kept telling me to carry on bfding as ‘I was doing the best I could for her’ and to feed more often and my supply would increase – I couldn’t feed any more regularly than every 2 hours, I was shattered and Mum told me I looked like a broken woman!!! After my persistance with them that something wasn’t right, we were referred to PAU. Paediatrics decided she could have an allergy and prescribed Neocate LCP formula, I was mortified as I LOVED feeding but had myself lost weight and was now a stone under my pre-pregnancy weight(this didn’t seem to be significant for the doctors!), after the first week baby gained a whole lb and 6 weeks on she is doing really well, we are now 4 weeks into BLW and she loves the ‘food experience’. We still don’t have a definite medical conclusion as to what the problem was but I don’t think she has an allergy, I feel that my supply definitely wasn’t enough after around 4 months and who knows what amount of nutrients were actually making their way through to baby. I became obsessed with bfding and put myself, baby and partner through unnecessary stress as I felt that it was the only way to go.
    My point is don’t take the professionals’ opinions too seriously, listen to your body and observe your baby, do what you instinctively feel is right.

  73. Lauren says:

    Really interesting thread, so great to see some support for the bottle, especially as in most cases it is not through lack of trying BF first. I too have had issues with BF for medical reasons and have had to move from mixed feeds to formula, it was a very emotionally draining time but i now feel much more comfortable about my fate. My son is now 7 weeks old and my main concern now is that he is putting on large amounts of weight quickly (he has gained 2.3 kgs in 4 weeks!) and I am trying to work out if this is from excess feeds. He has 8 x feeds of 120mls but if you follow the guideline of weight vs daily intake he is having approx 150mls more than he should per day, it also suggests he should be have 6-7 feeds per day rather than 8. Has anyone had a similar issue with excess weight gain with formula feeding?, most of my reading has suggested you can’t overfeed with formula but I am starting to think that I have created a habit of feeds (every 3 hours) rather than demand based on real hunger. I obviouly dont want to deprive my baby of feeds so any suggestions as to how to rectify or limit intake would be appreciated. All comments welcome.

    • Aitch says:

      is he asking for milk every three hours, or is there any chance you are looking at the clock and ascribing any upset to needing a new feed? wrt formula feeding, i tried to make it so that we always had some left over in the bottle, so that i knew it was still ‘demand feeding’, iykwim? (not that i think every three hours is in any way excessive at that age.)
      if i was you i’d try to free up the baby’s schedule a bit, if possible, bearing in mind he’s only seven weeks old and a creature of instint with nothing yet set in stone. but also, i wouldn’t bother about what it says on the side of the box, any more than you or i would stick exactly to what the ‘serving suggestion’ is on the side of the M&S pack. ;D
      PS both my girls had a very distinct hunger cry, which sounded (muslim chums please forgive) just like they were calling Allah, Allah… see if you can hear anything like that, apparently it’s quite common.

  74. Jones2125 says:

    This thread has truly summed up feeding your baby. Difficult, Rewarding, Time Consuming, Satisfying, Frustrating, upsetting and Wonderful. It’s a crazy thing BF.

    I BF my son till 8.5 months, not without its problems. Terrible birth didn’t hold baby till 6 hours after birth. Mastitis in the first week and baby lost 1lb, regained but by 6 weeks he was under his birth weight and hospitalized. Traumatic does not cover it. I was FORCED by our wonderful NHS to give my baby formula, no support was given. I was told my milk was not calorific enough to sustaine my baby. It was never tested!

    But boll***s to the NHS. I continued to pump and sought outside help in a support group. Within 10 minutes of the group leader observing me feed she had spotted he wasn’t sticking out his tongue and therefore wasn’t gettin enough boob in his mouth. I was shown a new way to latch him on and support and guidance in increasing my supply which had dwindled. I was taught that the formula could be used as a ‘medicine’ to help him gain weight.

    I now give him bottles of formula as and when he needs it, he’s 10 months and thriving. I stopped feeding due to 6 very sharp teeth. But it was my choice and although I was devastated I had to stop b4 he was 1 (my aim) I am so glad I got the support I needed to get to 8.5 months.

    I loved feeding but due to the problems I have always panicked about his weight. I even bought some baby scales so I could weigh at home. I panic if he misses a meal, doesn’t eat much, leaves his milk. This will probably never leave me.

    Any feeding is hard and thankfully formula is there as ‘medicine’ in my case and food in others. Whatever choice you make or is made for you in how you feed you baby will always be judged by someone and unfortunately this is what makes us doubt our mothering skills and choices. Xxx

  75. El&henry says:

    Wow! I haven’t been able to read all the posts but wow! This is the blog I’ve been missing!!! Not being able to exclusively breastfeeding after a huge blood loss at birth was easily one of the most distressing times of my life. I had no idea, prior to giving birth, that making the decision to breastfeed wasn’t always enough. I knew how good breastfeeding was. Of course I would. No question. Formula, I considered at that point, was for lazy mothers and I judged those I knew who had used it as non-committed. And now, here I am, 4 months later, continuing to feed my darling boy formula at every feed. And I can only just accept it! Only those who have been there will understand. All the things you do – the pumping, the supplements, the medications – anything to increase your supply. Because unless your ebf, you’re denying your child of all those benefits.. It’s not fair! It’s soooo emotional! So, huge respect to you all! Anyway. I want to ask a question! Now that ds is 4 months, he’s totally frustrated with nipple. I’ve been finishing on the breast to try and keep him on longer, but he still won’t stay for long – especially if he can see the bottle. It’s fine at night when he’s already half asleep, but he doesn’t feed to sleep in day so it doesn’t work as well. I’m worried about my supply dropping. Also, he’s feeding every two and a half hours – day and night, taking about 3 oz/100ml of formula and breast milk. This is getting a wee but exhausting, though I can’t persuade him to drink anymore, even if he goes to three hours. I’m thinking about pumping and bottle feeding in the day and breast feeding only during the night, or if he wants to in the day. This means I’ll still be emptying my breasts to maintain my supply and don’t have to get stressed about him not doing it, and he might take in more calories during the day to reduce the need for continuous night feeding (it would be fine if I didn’t have to warm a bottle of formula every time! – how nice it would be to cosleep and have enough breast milk to stay in bed all night ; )). What do you think?

  76. Lorna says:

    I’m so glad to have stumbled across this post. I’ve also nearly died due to preeclampsia complications (HELLP Syndrome) twice now (I lost my first baby to this horrible condition) and think it is the main factor in my inability to produce enough breast milk to EBF my daughter. She had a great latch, it was just my body couldn’t give her enough. The only advice i got while in hospital was to hand express, which isn’t much use if you’re doing it every 2 hours and only getting a couple of ml a time! After getting a medela pump she now gets about 20-30ml expressed before her formula feeds and is piling on the weight after initially dropping a lot in her first week, which was more serious than normal as she was 5 weeks early. It’s just not the case that everyone can EBF, no matter how much support they get, and I’m glad BLW is still a possibility for us. BF is, of course, the natural thing, but if everything else about my pregnancy/birth had been done the natural way both me and my daughter would be dead right now. So as I see it, formula is just another of the advances modern science has given us that I’m incredibly grateful for.
    Oh and nice to see it’s a fellow Glaswegian writing such sense! :-)

    • Aitch says:

      Weegies of the world unite! Gutted for you that you lost your first baby, just gutted. I had PE with dd1 and an early delivery (7 weeks early) with dd2 because it was all happening again. WHAT a head-spin (and both of us being from G’gow you know i don’t mean ‘spin’. ;D) THANK GOD for modern medicine and scientific advances, i just couldn’t agree more.

  77. Tina Williams says:

    As a fully paid up formula feeding mother, (I too tried the breast feeding thing and Baby George and I did not take to it as swimmingly as I had fondly imagined we would), I can assure all concerned that BLW works just peachy thank you, for bottle-fed babies!

    One of the Mums raised that her baby did not seem that interested in food – it will come! from my experience of BLW, George did not wake up one morning and decide to eat three meals a day, there was a lot of sitting in the highchair, staring at me like I had lost the plot as I offered him (what I considered to be) tempting little morsels to have a go at! From there we progressed to eating a bit and then screaming for a milk feed, to where we are now which is 3 BLW meals per day and three milk feeds.

    My mother is also horrified, and WILL NOT allow George to feed himself when she has him at her house – she simply takes whatever I have sent him with, mashes it and feeds him from a spoon. I have argued and pleaded with her to trust my method and respect my wishes to no avail. She cant get her head around the fact that “babies dont have teeth therefore they cant chew” whatever evidence I give her to the contrary (including showing her George eating at my house which she “couldn’t watch” and turned her head away from), so I have given up! George has a day a week where he is given mush, and he actually quite enjoys it! I have decided not to sweat it, and instead grit my teeth when my mother smugly tells me “he always eats more my way anyway”. It just proves that she doesn’t get it – she never will get it, and that’s just a generational thing that i cant overcome!

    My MIL on the other hand thought that I was a complete lala for trying BLW until the woman next door mentioned that she was doing the same with her baby – it suddenly became perfectly acceptable and she’s fully on board!

  78. Eloise says:

    Like all the other posters I was so glad to read this! I live in Mexico and here an awful lot of women opt for caseareans and bottle feeding. While I was pregnant I was going on all the time about how terrible it was and how I was going to have a water birth and then exclusively breast feed. Unfortunately I ended up having to have a caesarean after my waters breaking prematurely and being induced and then in labour for 16 hours to no avail and eventually when meconium appeared in my waters I agreed to let them do a caesarean. Unfortunately there was no opportunity for me to have skin to skin with my baby immediately after she was born and she was taken away to the nursery until after I had been stitched up and spent an hour or so in the recovery room. By all accounts I was very lucky that my baby was then allowed to spend the night in our room as most hospitals don’t allow it!
    Anyway, not sure if any of this had anything to do with the subsequent breast feeding problems I had. I couldn’t get the latch right and there are no midwives visiting you at home here so my mum and I were pouring the internet looking for diagrams and my poor mum spent hours sitting with me in my bedroom with me in tears feeding Scarlett with my nipples so badly damaged that she was spitting up blood! She was feeding constantly – hungry every hour and I was a wreck. All the while I consoled myself that although I was in pain, Scarlett was healthy and eventually it would come right etc etc.

    However, when I went to the doctor at 4 weeks he told me she hadn’t gained enough weight and I should top up with formula for 2 weeks. I was horrified, my mum was horrified. I didn’t want to do it but my husband (who is Mexican) went mad, saying I couldn’t ignore the doctor and that Scarlett was hungry and I had to feed her the formula. Eventually I did it and my whole life changed! She’s so much happier, I’m so much happier. I had started using nipple shields around the same time which have helped my nipples to heal and this has probably been helped by not having Scarlett permenantly attached to my boob. I am a bit in denial though and only agreed to do it on the proviso that we wouldn’t tell anyone! So just my husband and my mum know that I’m topping up with formula!
    Anyway, she’s 7 weeks tomorrow and at between 4 and 6 weeks she gained 700g and the doctor said i could go back to just breast feeding. I have been giving her fewer and fewer bottles and hope to stop completely next week. I’m quite sure had I been living in the UK I would not have been told to top up with formula and that was one of the reasons I didn’t want to do it. But actually I am glad I have because I feel so much better and happier about being a mum and Scarlett is much calmer and now I am so much more relaxed about the whole thing! The most important thing is that both babies and mums are happy and healthy and yes, for some people that happens with exclusively breastfeeding but if it doesn’t then aren’t we lucky we can use formula as a back up.
    Here in Mexico it’s hard to breastfeed as there isn’t the support but in the end I think I have benefitted from the more relaxed approach to bottle feeding.

    • Aitch says:

      it sounds like you’ve done BRILLIANTLY, well done! i’m not so sure that you’d have found the bfing support so much better here, though, it’s very patchy unfortunately, and in my experience there was certainly a rush to top up with not so much advice about how to get back to exclusive bfing. you’ve done fantastically, hope you and Scarlett keep going in whatever way makes you both happy.

  79. Eloise says:

    Thanks! Yes, I was surprised actually when I read your story. I think you always think things in your own country are better when you’re abroad!! I suppose it depends which health visitor / midwife you get.
    Thanks for all the information on this blog. I am bearing it in mind for when Scarlett’s old enough!

  80. Liz says:

    Just wanted to say what a relief it is to find this amongst all the militant pro-breastfeeding stuff on the web. My baby is almost 3 weeks and I had to start with formula top ups from about a week in – my midwife said he’d lost too much weight and if we didn’t top up with formula he’d have to be hospitalised. Which to me doesn’t feel like much of a choice.

    He’s now spending less and less time on the breast and getting quite frustrated with it. I will be persevering with combination feeding for the time being but sadly feel like it’s only a matter of time before he refuses the breast completely. Judging by how little I’m able to express when pumping, I’m not convinced he’s getting much from me anyway.

    Reading the experiences that others have shared here reinforces how gutted I feel (it’s early days for me and I’m sure I’ll become more rational about it!) but it really helps to know that others have gone through this, that low milk supply is a real problem and it’s not just about incorrect bf technique or lack of trying! As others have said, what matters is that my baby is now gaining weight and is happier and healthy.

    So grateful to have stumbled across this, it has saved my sanity!

  81. James says:

    My wife and I live in the UK, we have an 8 month old girl who is breast-fed and is now enjoying Baby-Led Weaning, we also know about 10 other couples with similar aged babies. My wife has successfully breast-fed my daughter since birth but our friends have not had such good luck and now their babies are a mix of breast-fed, formula-fed, both and, in one instance, early transition (at 2 months) to total solids due to a variety of problems. All are fine.

    As a man looking in, one could reasonably say that I know little of the subject matter but I have made the following conclusions based on discussion with male and female friends on this matter:

    – It is generally held that breast-feeding is of most benefit to the baby so if you can; breast-feed. If you can’t, your baby won’t or for some other reason it doesn’t suit, formula-feed or do something else. As long there is something going in, it’s all good..

    – If you can only get the first 50 mls of breast milk into your baby immediately after birth then that’s better than nothing and something to be proud of, that’s the real good stuff.

    – If your baby is happy, gaining weight and healthy then whatever you are doing is working, if not then consider a change. But consider it yourself, ask a medical practitioner for confirmation rather than permission. Its only food.

    – There is no reason why any baby cannot be BLW’d. You are going to be there watching aren’t you, whats the problem?

    – I have generally found that people who judge quickest are most in need of judgement, who cares what others think of your feeding choices? Do they have your child, are they in your situation? We can assume not so ignore them, their opinions are irrelevant to you.

    I am reading lots of replies on here from many who have had difficulties in feeding but if you care enough to worry then you are a better parent than some.

    Have fun with your little ones.


  82. Rebecca says:

    I had similar problems, my baby is 16 weeks and stopped breast feeding at 8 weeks but I’ve been expressing since week one cos she wasn’t feeding enough. Interestingly, she was diagnosed with a posterior tongue tie (not an obvious one) which basically has the symptoms of you not having enough milk cos the baby is always hungry but actually is just that they can’t get the milk out. We paid to have hers cut and she attached on for the first time properly after 8 weeks, however by then had been having bottles and they were just easier so she didn’t breast feed from me much after that. I’m lad I found out though cos I felt awful about not being able to feed her, and struggled for so long thinking it was me when actually it was just something physical with her. I still express about 8oz a day but that takes about 3 hours but it’s the only way I feel like I’m contributing to her life if she still gets some breast milk. She is on mainly formula just with sme breast milk.

  83. Marcee says:

    Thank you so much for your “rant”! The way your told your story felt like I was reading my own. I had my heart set on breastfeeding and finally settled on supplementing with formula for the first six months (until my supply ran out). I felt that same pang of guilt when pulling out my bottle of formula in public…wondering who was judging me and how they had no idea what we had been through with breastfeeding. That being said, I’m so thankful for organic formula. Well, I’m thankful for formula in general, because it saved my baby’s life. Having an organic option made me feel much better about formula feeding. Making sure that my son gets high quality, organic, homemade food has also been very important. What we feed our children and babies sets the tone for the rest of their lives. It gives them the healthiest start and a taste for real food. Aside from breastfeeding, I think that is the greatest gift of health that my husband and I can give to our son. I didn’t know about baby let weaning when I first introduced food to my son, but if we have another child, we’re interested in giving it a try.

  84. Naomi says:

    I am so glad to have found your site. At 3.5 months I started feed Squidgasaurus some cereal in the evenings as she just wouldn’t settle unless I did. Quickly she decided she wanted to feed herself. It was still mush and very messy but I let her do it. By 4.5 months I started to give her soft foods and she took to it quickly. Now she’s doing just fine and trying all kinds of yummy finger foods and the time she does have a mushier food she prefers to try and manipulate the spoon herself. I wouldn’t have her any other way. The goal Husband and I have is to raise an independent, creative and initiative taking child and BLW is certainly helping that along.
    On the Breastfeeding note, I was succesful until I need an emergency operation when Squidge was 4.5 months. Since then it’s been both formula and BM. It suits us. I’ve never enjoyed BFing but perservered because it’s free and I feel it has been a main factor in her not getting severe colds or the flu Husband so easily caught. I’ve tried hard to get her back on breastmilk only with no success. She’s now 7 months and insists that she has 2-3 bottles per day.
    In saying all this I firmly believe that as a parent you just have to follow your instincts. The medical knowledge available and adapt it wisely to your own circumstances. A happy Mumma and Pappa make a happier family… and after all, as far as I know, Squidgasaurus has never read the same books or journal I have.

  85. Cyndi says:

    So glad to have found this post. We had trouble feeding in the befinning and try as i might breastfeeding was not successful this time. I’ve been struggling with my little one who eats until she’s full for the last few weeks, she almost 12 months old. We are on some what of a routine but she drinks as much formula as she wants to and if i offer it to her when i think she should eat, i end up wasting more ounces then if I look for her cues. I offer her formula in 6 ounce bottles because she has drank 8 ounces in one sitting only a handful Of times but mostly 4 to 6 ounces. She never drinks after bed time excePt on 2 occasions she had less then our dr recommended her daily formula intake be. I’ve been concerned thinking there could be something wrong because she is less interested in her formula, but she doesn’t seem to be in deress or unhealthy. Thank you for your rant.

  86. Lise says:

    Thank you all for the amazing comments and support. I had never even considered the books would ‘punish’ me even more for not being able to bf by saying I could not when it was time try blw. It is incredibly reassuring to know that the weaning process can be what ever my baby and I choose it to be regarless of my struggles with bf. Low supply despite Motilium, fenugreek, acupuncture, herbal tinctures expressing you name it I have tried it…we have reached 6 weeks but my supply is again dwindling but I am persevering trying to get to 8 weeks with bf ebm and formula top ups but it’s getting harder especially when my little man screams with frustration at the slow let down. There is so little consistent advice especially in terms of how long feeds just last how much top up to offer it’s just so worrying as I never really know if he is satisfied and live from each weekly weigh in to the next. I just feel outrageously guilty so it’s reassuring to know when the time for solids arrive we have just as much choice as all women.

    • Aitch says:

      I feel for you, really I do… you can only do your best, and sometimes that isn’t the same as perfect but it’s all we can do.

  87. Charis says:

    this has been a revelation! I’ve been combination bf/ff feeding for over 4 months now, including expressing; used cups, syringes, bottles. I’ve felt such a failure and so alone until reading this thread as well as being driven insane by endless expressing. I had no idea that there were others out there who can’t produce enough milk as everything you read about seems to say or imply that you do one or the other and that bfing is the be all and end all.

    The baby is now five months and i am looking forward to blw in a few weeks. We are now bfing at first and last feed only and using formula during the day so that i can have some kind of life! It seems to be working at the moment but have accepted that the bfing will probably end in the next few weeks.

    I did recieve great support from medical staff and as my gp said, babies need love more than breastmilk!

  88. Geraldine says:

    I really don’t want to impose or turn this into a breastfeeding ‘thing’ but I keep coming back to this post only to read more sad stories and now I feel compelled to write something mums currently struggling with bfding/low supply.

    My heart literally aches when I see how many mums have struggled with breastfeeding and feel like somehow, you are a ‘failure’ as well as feeling disappointed that it didn’t work when you tried so hard – because I know the science behind bfding and know that sometimes – no matter how hard you try, it won’t work as well as you’d hoped unless you get personalised information and support.

    Often low milk supply has very little to do with what you the mum are doing during the feed and more to do with what your little one is or is not doing. Also, some breastfeeding problems can start before baby has even reached the breast, so if you are finding it tough, do your best and know that you are not alone.

    During the feed, check that both baby’s cheeks are touching the breast (so baby can drain upper and lower half of breast), compress throughout to keep milk flowing (flat hand on breast, push inwards and hold for 20 seconds before moving to another part of the breast) feed from both sides at each feed, multiple times if needed (RHS, LHS, RHS, LHS). Only when you are doing all this will the likes of Domperidone Motilium)fenugreek and others start to work. I’m not for a second suggesting it is this ‘simple’ but this is a good place to start.

    Combination feeding enables you to give your baby so many breast milk benefits and a lot of mums find combination feeding works well for them, their baby their family.

    I don’t know if this will help anyone but really hope it does. BLW is fantastic and so much fun as you will soon find out. :)

    • Aitch says:

      Do you know what, i actually hummed and hawed about approving this, which is weird, as i approve basically everything on here… i guess it’s just because i remember being tired of being told ‘if you’d just done more, known more, been helped more… then maybe…’ It was actually quite painful to think that i might have been tantalisingly close to making a success of it. (I wasn’t, mind you, I did everything you mentioned and was still absolutely hopeless, twice, but I have sufficient distance to see that clearly).

      I’m approving it, because I 100% know that your post comes from a good place, and because I can see that you were as hesitant in posting it as i was in approving it. ;D Thanks for your input and concern.

  89. Geraldine says:

    :) thanks Aitch, that is exactly why I was hesitating and if it is too painful for other mums, please take it down.

  90. Taylor says:

    Thank you so much, I thought I was the only one. I was heartbroken too, and my boy started refusing the breast at 4 months. I tried so hard. Thanks for making me feel like I’m not a failure!

    • Aitch says:

      FOUR MONTHS! you did fantastically! It’s such a shame you’re not proud of yourself for that just yet, but you will be one day. Distance counts for a lot. I can see the pain in the post above, and i recognise it as me and my very genuine and valid feelings at the time, but i also look at my chickpea-eating children now and think that you know, i did okay. We try our best.

  91. Nadine says:

    I just need to say Thank you to all the wonderful mums (and dads) who’ve taken the time to discuss so openly their struggles with feeding their babies…

    My baby Bells (not her real name!) is exclusively breastfed. Whoa. Wait. Why am I even posting here?

    I, too, naïvely assumed that I’d have a lovely, smooth pregnancy, an all natural, medication free ideal birth, along with that oh-so-necessary breastfeeding bond straight after our kangaroo cuddle.

    No way. Fate had other plans!

    When I fell pregnant, it was brilliant – we defied the first hurdle. Hubby has spina bifida, wheelchair bound, surely disabled people don’t procreate…. (sorry, wrong forum)! Anyway. I’m straight down to the GP, given a script for what seemed to be a bazillion micrograms of folic acid. Great, I thought, here begins the perfect pregnancy

  92. Boomama says:

    Good grief, what a relief. I’m not alone!! I identify with so many of the emotions expressed here. Boo is 21weeks now, and I stopped expressing last week, although she was already 95% ff. like some others who have posted, I too had the double whammy of a traumatic birth(having planned a home birth!) and then ‘failing’ at bf …. And surely the two were connected but no one around to provide the right intervention to support the establishment of my milk supply. Life goes on though, the Boo thrives and I love her and her bouncy self to pieces. Blw is our next adventure. Thanks to all those who posted… Your honesty has brought tears to my eyes. I just wish you were here in person so we could have a group hug!

  93. mrs_ixy says:

    Hi there,

    I realise it’s been a long time since you published this post, but I just wanted to thank you for it. Like others, I found you through Google, looking for information about BLW, and specifically for babies that had been bottle-fed.

    My daughter is nearly 5 months old and I always imagined that I would breastfeed her exclusively for the first 6 months. She was really good at breastfeeding and she got it right away, apart from being a bit sleepy initially. We never had any problems with latch and I lost count of the number of people who said it was ‘textbook’ breastfeeding.

    So I was absolutely devastated when she continued to lose weight after being born. It was more than 10%, and around the 12th day, a midwife came in and gave her formula, showing us how to do bottles and so on. She was actually very experienced and sympathetic – the same thing had happened to her as a new mum – unlike one of the midwives who’d come before (they visited us every day), who said I had to pump every 2 hours, even through the night.

    I didn’t think the tears and the guilt over it all would stop. I was so upset at failing and felt I had no control. Anyway, as soon as we started supplementing with formula, my daughter began to thrive, and has gone from being a wee slip of a thing to one of the biggest in our NCT group (but she is in proportion, and not overfed).

    Of course, like a lot of folk on this blog, I have found that the formula has become less of a supplement and more of her main feed, with a little bit of breast milk alongside. And from 3 months she started to get really fussy on the boob, which I found heartbreaking. But I am determined to continue, although I sometimes wonder why. My favourite feed is the dream feed because she is asleep and to date has not fussed. She will sometimes feed for 25 minutes and during the day it will never usually be more than 5 – the flow is too slow, I guess.

    I am looking forward to weaning because I will have control again and I can give her the best. I want to do BLW even though she is on a schedule (she set it herself, though).

    Anyway, thanks again for writing this.

  94. Jackie Smith says:

    I could not breastfeed due to medical reasons and I have to say that I still get looks from people when feeding my daughter. A lot of the advice around is soley centred on breastfeeding.

    This blog and topic is such a relief to see. I am thinking about baby led weaning for my daughter. It just feels right and will be an excellent way for her to discover food. Thank you for your site!

    • Aitch says:

      You are so very welcome. Would that we all could breastfeed, but hey, as I tell the kids, sometimes we don’t have get what we like… and then we can either worry about it, or decide to like what we get… do you know what i mean? Thank the lord for bottle-feeding, in my case.

  95. Grace says:

    Like many others have expressed: thank you so much for this honest post. I find it heartbreaking that 2+years after you wrote this post, women are still judged for not breastfeeding. I think most of us attempt at it and there are so many circumstances that just doesn’t allow for breastfeeding to be successful. We all know that breastmilk is the best thing we can give our child (why does everyone point that out when they hear that a baby is formula-fed? We are not ignorant- only unsuccessful at bf). But it doesn’t make us bad parents if we don’t/can’t! Why do we make each other feel guilty for only trying to do our best?
    I have a 9-week-old and I have to supplement with formula. I pump exclusively and am able to give her breastmilk anywhere from 30-50% of her daily needs. It is so hard to pump exclusively- it would be SO much easier to breastfeed! Waking up in the middle of the night to feed my baby, burp her, put her back to sleep and stay up for an extra 20-30 minutes just to express breastmilk is so time-consuming!
    When I don’t feel so nice, I want to ask every single one of those women who look down on formula-feeding: “do you work out 3-5 times a week, do you sleep 8-10 hours a night? Because research shows that’s the best thing you can do for yourself.” My point is that we are not all perfect and do everything right all the time.
    Breastfeeding vs formula feeding is so personal! Why should we care what others are doing? The bottom line is that women and moms need to support each other! Let’s not judge!
    Thanks for this site- I plan on BLW for my daughter. Look forward to learning more about it and for the support I know I’ll find on your blog!

    • Aitch says:

      I’m glad you’re in such a good place with such a young baby, you obviously have a wise head on your (knackered from holding the pump) shoulders. Onwards and upwards!

  96. Julie says:

    My baby boy is 4 months old and gets the breast first thing in the morning and last thing at night. During the day, he gets expressed milk in a bottle, and during the day he gets a formula feed. It’s hard going expressing, but this was my ‘compromise’ after the first 10 weeks of absolute agony, feeling like a prisoner in my own home, and being utterly exhausted. Determined to keep going with BF, and consumed with guilt about my failing, my GP eventually pointed out to me that the one thing you CAN buy for your baby is substitute milk. You can’t buy him love, your happiness, play time, cuddles, taking him out, showing him off, and all the other things our babies need. So, I buy some milk and now he gets a much better ‘mummy’ cause I’m not in pain.

  97. TeeferTiger says:

    Thank you for this rant. I’ve felt like a failure since about week 2 of my baby’s life (he’s now 15 weeks).

    I really wanted to ebf. REALLY wanted to. In addition to it hurting so much (toe curling, feeling like I was going to pass out kinda painful) despite being told he was latched on properly and my nipples just needed to ‘toughen up’. He wouldn’t latch on properly most of the time and when I tried to get him latched on, which took time, he got really worked up because he was hungry, which then meant he wouldn’t latch on and we couldn’t calm him down enough to try again.

    Turns out he was also a comfort sucker and so would be on my nipple for over an hour… that’s fine that he wanted to do that, but they were raw and bleeding and I was crying! He also kept being sick (puking up that liquid gold that I just sobbed my heart out to give to him!) which we thought was because he was taking too much as he never came off the breast himself… turns out he has reflux!

    So I started expressing full time by about 2 weeks which meant my milk supply was never properly established. I used to cry when feeding him but not because it was painful this time, but because I felt ashamed that I was giving him formula and not “the best” and that I’d failed him as a mother. I still get upset thinking about it now. I’m actually starting to well up now just typing it.

    Anyway. He barely gets any breastmilk anymore after my milk pretty much drying up after my (emergency) c section wound got infected and I ended up on antibiotics which made me, erm, “ill” shall we say? and I got rather dehydrated. I did a lot of pumping and used all the galactagogues I could find but to no avail. He won’t latch on at all anymore.

    It still irks me when I’m asked if I’m breast or bottle feeding after having to explain for weeks that it was both in one. I don’t like that we’re made to feel like we’re killing our beautiful and much loved kids because ‘breast is best (and bottle is bad!)’. And when unhelpful people say in response to questions asked about feeding by just saying judgmentally “breastfeed”. That doesn’t answer the question asked and is a kick in the guts for those of us who really wanted to but ‘failed’.

    Anyway, enough of my rant/moan. Thanks again :)

    • Aitch says:

      what can i say, except that I SO TOTALLY KNOW where you’re coming from, i really do. and i look at my five year old and my seven year old mucking around in the school playground and i think ‘why did i care so much?’. but i did, so there. and it really hurt… but i am so glad to be over it.

  98. Amanda says:

    So nice to find this post! As a first time mom who was unable to BF, I went through a time when I was so disappointed in myself for not being able to provide food for my son. After having a breast reduction I was told I may or may not be able to BF, but have had several friends who have been able to with no problems so thought I would be the same. Taking fenugreek, blessed thistle, lactation cookies, pumping every 2 hours, and only getting 1-3oz once a day was so incredibly frustrating, for me and for him. He would get so frustrated when I tried to BF because he just wouldn’t get anything, add to that having flat nipples with not a lot of sensation in them making it difficult for him to latch. But now he is almost 11 weeks and seeing how he is thriving on formula makes me happy

  99. sarah says:

    i have 3 daughters my 1st i had at age 18 she was bf till aged 4 years until our 2nd daughter was born, our 2nd was bf for 4 weeks(totally regretted stopping) our 3rd was bf for 16 days until she was admitted to hospital with 20% weightloss 2lbs loss to be exact,jaundice sepsis infection enlarged liver dehydration cataracts basically deaths door,she was diagnosed with a rare hereditary metabolic disorder GALACTOSAEMIA (galt) bf was KILLING her so she can never consume any milk proteins ever she must have a low galactose diet and some even reccomend eliminating fruit and vegatables and beans which contain galactose. she may also have learning problems and probably never have children due to females with the disorder suffering premature ovarian failure. so little did we know whilst i was bf our 1st for all those years that myself and my partner both had this rare gene. please spread the word about GALACTOSAEMIA and for bf advocates..when you see a women bottlefeeding there may well be a very good reason, for my little one soy is a lifesaver!

    • Aitch says:

      AB SO LUTELY. you never can know. and to be honest even if someone just doesn’t want to bf Just Because it’s not what they want to do, i support that too. i hope your little girl goes from strength to strength on her soy milk.

  100. Cyn says:

    I really enjoyed reading this. I discovered that I have insufficient glandular tissue when my son was about a week old, and I had already started giving him formula a few days before that at his pediatrician’s urging. I am still breastfeeding with the Medela SNS at 11 weeks (which I noticed in a much earlier comment that you mentioned was quite the pain, and I agree with you), and I am only able to provide about 5-10% of his daily needs in breast milk. I look forward to baby led weaning in the coming months. I’m sure that this website will be an invaluable resource when my son is ready for solids.

    Thank you so much for your story!!!

  101. Emily says:

    I bf’d in the beginning but my ds was failure to thrive at 11 weeks and they just wanted to keep pushing the formula on him. I was completely against it but then we found out he aspirated to so we had no choice as there is nothing safe to thicken breastmilk at 12 weeks. So he has been on formula and rice or oatmeal since then and he chunked up big time but I started just giving him stuff to chew on at 4 months because he would watch us eat and lean into it. Baby led weaning is what I was doing without knowing and a friend of mine pointed it out and it has been amazing. He would rather pick up his food than have someone feed him unless he is tired but at almost one he has eaten a lot of food that I wont so I am hoping he continues his trend. He still aspirates but I am in the process of trying to figure out if we are changing his whole team of doctors (GI, Neuro, Pulmonary, ENT, and then the docs for the swallow studies) or if we are going to try to stick this out. And other than the swallowing issues he is anatomically perfect. But I wanted to say thank you for writing about all of it because I felt like a failure for so long.

  102. Suzanne says:

    I had seen this post before, but I am so glad I stumbled on it again (and to read all the comments) while pregnant with my second! This really is therapy and I want to thank all the ladies who contributed.

    It’s really astonishing how common the experience of having to combination feed or formula feed is, how common the struggle we all thought we were going through alone, because all the breastfeeding information claims that all women can do it.

    My own story: I really wanted to make it work in spite of having had a breast reduction. I read up on normal breastfeeding. I read up on BFing after a reduction. I knew all the best practices. I got tons of pro-breastfeeding help lined up.

    And it did. Not. Work.

    The struggle to get my screaming son to the breast every feed, because he quickly knew there wasn’t much to get there. The top-ups of formula, as little as possible to ‘not teach him to rely on the bottle’, which of course he DID.

    Sleeping when baby sleeps, don’t be daft, still have to hook up to a pump after the rugby match that passes for nursing, and then still bottle feeding, and just hope it actually helps your production even though you’re barely getting enough to get the shield wet. I think my record pumping was 5 ml when saving up every drop for a whole day, but hey, pumping is no indication of what baby gets, right? RIGHT?

    The daily weighing, cheering for a 10 gram gain that would be lost again the next day.

    And then, the day when my son completely crashed and would not wake up any more. Not just on his own, at all. Earlier that day he had already become indifferent to the breast instead of screaming when it came near, now he couldn’t even muster the energy to open his eyes any more. He was completely floppy in my arms. Scariest moment of my life.

    Our choice was to either rush him to the hospital, or to fix him a big bottle of formula and hope that in his unconscious state he would still have the instinct to swallow. Which thankfully he did.

    I spent another 24 hours pumping, pumping and pumping some more with a special technique under the guidance of a LC to try and see if there was ANY hope of EVER boosting my supply. Only drops ever came out. Even the LC recommended going exclusively on formula, while my son was recovering from starvation he was too traumatized anyway to even comfort suckle at the breast. He was 10 days old then.

    If there is anything I regret it’s not giving in MUCH sooner, before silent malnourishment set in and before my son became too traumatized to even consider combination feeding.

    And still, and still, and still. Now that I am pregnant with my second, the what if’s start rearing their ugly heads again.

    What if we had gotten a perfect start in the first hour after birth, instead of awkward tries because stitching me up took so long?

    What if we had gotten his tongue tie snipped right away instead of on day 5?

    What if I had held off on formula top-ups longer?

    What if I had given that first big bottle sooner, so he would not have been starving?

    What if I had tried cup feeding, or a SNS, or waking him sooner for a feed, or pumping just one MORE time at night, or, or, or?

    It would probably be easier (bad, BAD mum for even considering this!) if I go straight to formula this time around, but I have decided to at least try giving my colostrum. But I have ALSO decided that this time around I will NOT give it my all. The name of the game is ‘every drop counts’ instead of ‘exclusively BFing is the goal’.

    I will NOT limit formula top-ups in hopes of my supply increasing if baby suckles foraciously enough.

    I will NOT be hooked up to a pump instead of getting the rest I need to be the best mum I can be.

    I will NOT spend an hour fighting a desperately screaming and starving baby to accept the breast when I have the power to actually FEED the hungry, with formula.

    No more. Breast only as long as baby is actually happy with it, no keeping baby hungry to force the issue, and no pointless and exhausting attempts to increase an almost non-existent supply.

    Now all I have to do is come to terms with this decision and stop feeling guilty in advance for ‘deciding not to give my baby the best’…

    • Aitch says:

      And hey listen all I can say re child number two is that I broke my heart slightly less the next time… still didn’t really work out but with the goal of ‘every drop counts’ and her robustly healthy combo-mostly formula-fed sister clambering on top of us both I at least felt in a more confident and more mentally healthy place to deal with the heartbreak. Good luck with all your stuff, a new baby! Total excitement!

  103. Sarah says:

    Wow, all of you ladies are really great. Breastfeeding does seem to work out so easily for a lot of people, but it is HARD. My girl is 5.5 months now and I have had bad thrush/deep cracks since a week or so after she was born. We go through a lot to give our babies the best nutrition we possibly can, and if you are combo feeding because you have supply issues (especially even after being on domperidone and taking all the supplements, etc.) and you’re still trying to get as much of your milk into that baby as possible, you are a superhero mama! Good for you for doing all that you can and not throwing in the towel Aitch and all of you other mamas. Maybe it feels like throwing in the towel because it eventually didn’t work out. But you did everything you could do and that is all anyone can ask for. I am amazed to hear these stories of perseverance, and what Suzanne above said is true – trying to get lactation going to the point of your child starving is not in anyone’s best interest, and feeding that hungry baby formula when you can’t produce enough for him or her IS being a GOOD mama!

  104. Claire says:

    Oh I am so thankful I came across this.

    I don’t even feel ready to vent about my BF/FF story yet. It involved being manhandled painfully by a midwife whilst trying and failing to nurse my son, watching him fail to thrive and be seriously ill, and then of course I was judged by all and sundry for not trying hard enough. I now whip my bottle out in public with a ‘come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough’ flair, and will likely offer the boy a range of foods, BLW and mush – but still can’t reconcile the first few days of his life in particular, and the damage I could feel it doing to our new bond.

    The formula haters are very lucky indeed, they can’t ever have suffered this heartache and pain.

    • Aitch says:

      Gah, it all sounds HORRIBLE. thank the lord for formula. sure, it stinks of fish (put me right off seafood for years) but my goodness it’s a lifesaver for many of us. I’m hugely for bfing promotion and support, though, massively so, as i’m sure we all are.

      • Claire says:

        Undoubtedly Aitch. My sister in law is still happily BF at four months and intends to carry on and on – the promotion of bf has made her feel secure in that choice and for that I could do cartwheels. It’s more the lack of support for ff or even mixed feeding mums I feel a bit sad about.
        (And yes, wtf is the fish smell?! Bizarre!)

  105. Helen says:

    My son is now nine months, breastfed despite early difficulties, and we have started weaning. I am not sure if I am doing the right thing by posting, and totally understand if you choose not to publish, but I thought I might like to share my story, and maybe it will help somebody out there.
    As a first time mum with rosé tinted spectacles, I decided I was going to breastfeed as it was the best thing for my baby and also free, which was an added bonus. My baby was born at half 9 on a tuesday night, after my waters broke at a similar time on the Monday night, hence I was completely wasted and only remember bits of my labour. The midwife had to knock me out with pethidine to give me a chance of seeing it through and pushing my son into the world, which I eventually managed to do. We were ticked off and admitted to a ward for the night. I had tried to breastfeed but my little one didn’t seem interested, so I assumed he wasn’t hungry (clearly a new mum, i knew nothing!) and we went to bed exhausted.
    Only in the morning when the midwife came round did it become clear to me that my little one should have been fed several times in the night (I had tried each time he woke, but again he didn’t latch), and also that the midwife who signed us off had ticked to say we had been shown how to feed (we hadn’t). So there we were, my baby was twelve hours old before the poor mite had any food. Looking back now i wonder why i didnt realise he must be hungry, and the midwife asked why I hadn’t buzzed for help. All I can say is I was very very tired and probably not thinking straight, plus I knew nothing about babies apart from the literature I had read before the birth, which I don’t recall mentioning specific feeding times! So I didn’t realise anything was wrong.
    All went along fine with the breastfeeding after that (or so it appeared), until the five day weigh in, when my little one turned out to be 14% underweight because my milk hadn’t come in. (This was the first time I had heard that milk might take a while to come in, I had just assumed that milk was there from day one!) Little wonder though with the shaky start we had! We were admitted to hospital where we stayed for five days, feeding every three hours, part breast, formula top ups, expressing to avoid formula and trying to get my milk up.
    The information we received while in hospital was lousy, each new set of nurses (shift change every 12 hours) told us something different and I was left thoroughly confused, in tears, trying to do my best and do right by my baby, but having received lots of contradictory advice about what that was and how to achieve it. At our lowest point, my son was lifeless, too tired to breastfeed, and too tired to feed from the bottle too. I cried buckets when I had to consent to him having a feeding tube put up his nose, I thought we were going to lose him.
    My son would no doubt have been raised on a bottle had my breastfeeding dream not been saved by the help of a family friend, who I am so lucky happens to be a midwife. She listened to my tales of woe, understood how confused and upset I was, and told me to listen to all the advice but then chuck it out of the window and find our own way. That turned out to be the best advice of all!
    In terms of increasing my milk, her best tip I think was to express on the other side while the baby was feeding. The biggest problem with expressing (from where I was sitting) was letdown, and by expressing on the other side this suddenly wasn’t a problem any more. Let the baby sort the problem, and I was soon expressing a lot more milk. Why had nobody else suggested this simple solution? I have no idea. But it worked for us and surely should be worth at least a mention as somethingto try to anybody given a pump. Plus by expressing at the same time as the feeding, I got more sleep, the value of which cannot be underestimated with a baby less than ten days old.
    We turned a corner after three days in the hospital, and were released after five days, and I have breastfed ever since. Initially we carried on with some expressed bottle feeds in a tommy tippee bottle (sore nipples, lanolin etc etc), but I soon found I was better off just breastfeeding, otherwise my son would get lazy with it, and my milk was affected whenever he didnt feed off me. I was over the moon as the combined feeding had been really hard work, and I admire anybody who can keep that up for any length of time as it nearly broke me! I feel for anybody who has to get up in the middle of the night to prepare a bottle, as breastfeeding is so much easier in that way. Plus my little one has never been sick yet (touch wood) apart from his injections, and I am so grateful for that.
    There are drawbacks though. I am tied to the baby and the house, though we do go out, and I have got used to getting my baps out in public! I cant share the feeding burden, it falls to me every time. and despite our initially using a basket, and now having a cot beside the bed, it is largely unused as we struggle to get the baby out of our bed and into his cot, since he falls asleep on the breast (as we feed lying down). The HV says I need to put him down in his cot while he’s still awake!?! How does that work? He just screams to be pulled off the breast, and the only thing that stops him screaming is his milk! Off topic I know but if anybody can help us with that I’m all ears! I can’t have him screaming much as my husband works long hours driving for a living, so he needs some decent sleep.
    We were so close to taking up that bottle ourselves, so please don’t believe that everybody is judging you. We all do what we have to to get our baby through, so they grow up healthy and happy, and that is what is important. Having read all this I realise how many more problems with breastfeeding there can be, I guess we only saw the tip of the iceberg, and my heart goes out to anybody who wanted or tried to breastfeed but couldn’t.
    Once our feeding was established I had surplus milk and asked about giving it to a milk bank. But nobody offered me any solution and I have a freezer full of milk that is probably past best now, it’s such a shame to throw it out. I wish I had been able to donate some of it to somebody who was struggling, I would have done so gladly if there had been some way to do so, or to get in touch with somebody who wanted it.
    I wish you all the best, don’t forget what babies need most is love and care. This matters so much more than the type of milk. X

    • Aitch says:

      What a lovely post, thank you for sharing and well blooming done for getting through all that and being able to donate to a milk bank in the end. Re the putting into their cot while awake… never managed it once, not once, with my two. Didn’t even try particularly hard… watching your child drop off to sleep is a precious time imo. (Not always… but still).

    • Claire says:

      I just wanted to say thanks Helen for sharing this – I could have written it myself except for your lovely friend and outcome (did manage mixed feeding for a few weeks). Yours is a genuine success story and midwives should encourage more new mums to try expressing – I wish I had sooner. So glad to hear it worked for you x

    • Nicky says:

      I see this all the time at the hospital and it drives me nuts. Sometimes when I get to work (maternity unit), the whole ward is “breastfeeding” (either with a poor latch or even better no latch!) then pumping then topping up with colostrum or formula, meaning formula because the colostrum is too thick to be pumped out properly, every 3 hours but that’s ok, the nurse said the pumping is for “stimulation”. Everyone is exhausted or in a state of shock, “is this what breastfeeding is supposed to be like?”, or in pain, nipples sore and bleeding, and naturally wondering how long can I go on like this?
      I get report: “mom and baby are doing well, breastfeeding well and topping up with a bit of formula afterwards…by bottle. A mom asks to see the lactation consultant (there isn’t one) but there are lots of posters: “breast is best”, “anytime anywhere”… uh..I guess you see where this is going.

  106. Kristy says:

    I could have written this post. Thank you so much! I tried and tried and tried to breastfeed my daughter but, after 3 months with a colicky baby (because she was hungry!), a bajillion trips to lactation consultants, multiple trips to the pediatrician and lots and lots of tears, I gave it up. I’m still sad about it (and feel tremendous guilt everytime I see the words ‘breast is best’) but realize that as someone who had a breast reduction surgery years ago I just couldn’t keep up with my babies needs. Now transitioning to babyled weaning I’ve been having trouble finding information- thank you for posting!

    • Aitch says:

      Just a bajillion trips to the lactation consultant? My sympathies, it’s AWFUL, isn’t it? The whole thing. Well, we did what we could do, we did our best, and you will find BLW to be very healing, i am sure.

  107. Leanna says:

    So relieved to have found this blog and have the chance to share my story…it’s 4am as I write this post. I am expressing because my sweet boy decided that after having a bottle feed of EBM expressed breast milk, he was less interested in me.

    He’s never had a problem feeding or latching and all was good till I introduced the bottle which he blatently prefers. He is 14 weeks old and I’m devastated because I love breast feeding my boy so much!

    I’m definitly greiving and am wary of going to seek help at a breast feeding centre because I don’t want to be shamed. I introduced bottle feeds because I started a business the same week I fell pregnant so those commitments can’t be put on hold any longer. I have found it challenging to get back to expressing since having him feed from me on demand since bringing him home from the hospital. He was in NICU for 4 weeks due to a birthweight of 3.3 lbs at 37 weeks and I diligently expressed that entire time third hourly.
    So basically like all of you gorgeous dedicated women, I had decided that I was going to breast feed no matter what, not realizing that my boys choices and preferences would have an impact on this choice.

    My baby started fussing after tasting a bottle which appears so much faster and easier though as I said he’s a really strong sucker, and I have more than enough milk which sometimes squirts him in the face if he’s not quick enough in getting his mouth on my nipple! Ha!

    And despite adequate supply and his ability to feed, he likes the bottle and one day I got tired of trying to feed a fussing baby that I have him some formula as an experiment as I had no EBM on hand and whammo- he went nuts for it and drank 90 ml and that was after feeding on my boob for 15 min!
    So now a week later he is weaning off me and doesn’t want my breast at all and he’s still so young and under 9 lbs still that I am going to start expressing again to try and supplement his formula feeds because I grrl so guilty! So now his feeding routine takes an hour with diaper change, etc and I too of that I’m expressing for 40 minutes! Lord help me!

    Thanks for letting me share, I send you all love because it is heartbreaking when this precious experience doesn’t go to plan! I try believe our babies will tell us what they need to thrive!!!

  108. Leanna says:

    I have to post more after reading even more of the posts written by women above…
    My boy barely gained any weight over the last 3 weeks and as he was born at 3.3 lbs, this is not good! Now that I’m supplementing his feeds with formula, I want to celebrate that I now know he is getting as much calorie ridden food as he needs! So I’m thinking that weight gain and a thriving child is best even though I realize that as I give my boy what he wants-formula- it is a means to an end because the more he gets of it, the less he needs of me…sigh…welcome to motherhood! Ha!

  109. Kristen says:

    I love this rant because it is exactly what went through my mind as I read the book. Breastfeeding is hard for a lot of women even without supply issues or surgeries that have damaged milk ducts. A happy, healthy baby who is gaining the right amount of weight is the goal, not pressuring women who are not successful at breastfeeding!

  110. Kayla says:

    Hi, I’m sorry about your difficult experience with breastfeeding. I have just found this site and am considering BLW when my baby is ready. I just wanted to say that the breastfeeding difficulties are not your fault and you did absolutely the best for your little one. I am currently reading The Politics of Breastfeeding and it is an amazing read… You will very quickly understand how breastfeeding has become undermined and why so many women struggle. If nothing else, it is enlightening and has totally changed my views… I hope you consider having a look.

  111. Embra says:

    I don’t know how many of you will scroll all the way down here but I just wanted to say a heartfelt thank you to everyone who has shared their stories. I felt such a weight lifting as I read them.
    My wee lad was born with a tongue tie which wasn’t diagnosed until 8 days old, which along with my inverted nipples meant latching from the very start was a nightmare. The first week of his life was a mess of an incredibly distressed baby whenever he was at the breast, me desperately hand expressing and Syringe and cup feeding.
    Feeling bad enough about not being able to BF, things got worse when a horrendous birth injury was diagnosed meaning I had to return to hospital at 7 days post birth and the nurses and midwives kept forgetting to give me equipment for expressing – my milk took a nosedive and it took days to get it back up, although it never returned to ‘proper’ levels I expressed for 2 months and reckon maybe a third of his feeds were from me.
    All this was happening with the backdrop of a terminally ill parent and cousin, both of whom I have now lost. I don’t think stress does much for milk levels either!
    Why am I sharing this? Not for sympathy or to depress anyone – but what I realise now (baby is 6 months) is that I should feel like some sort of superwoman for getting through all this. However I feel like a failure for not being able to BF! There is something wrong with the system. I understand raft breast is best, but women who can’t need support too.
    Here’s to Superwomen!

  112. […] “A slight rant about formula feeding and breastfeeding…” – Baby Led Weaning […]

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