There is nothing worse than feeling that you are failing when it comes to feeding your baby, especially when you really aren’t. Whether you are breastfeeding, bottle feeding or mixed feeding, please, take the time to read this. And pass it on to all who may need a little bit of encouragement on their feeding journeys.
To all the mums out there mixing baby bottles at 2am, testing out different formulas, teats and bottles to find the perfect blends, pulling out their boobs at the park, throwing jackets over their chests to hide the milk stains, pumping in a toilet cubicle at work, there is something not many people are going to say to you, but it’s something you deserve to hear – you are doing an amazing job.
Here’s why. Feeding your baby, while simple in theory, is anything but. It takes time for a baby to learn how to latch on, whether to a nipple or a bottle teat. It takes time for mum and bub to get used to the milk supply and demand and it takes time for a baby’s digestion to settle.
You may be faced with upset stomachs, tongue ties, constipation or explosive number threes. This is all completely normal even though it can be concerning and overwhelming. Just remember these following points:
There is no right or wrong type of breast, bottle or baby formula
It all comes down to the individual needs of your little one – the fine art of feeding is an evolving journey that you and your little one will travel together. And you will find your footing eventually.
There is also no one right way to feed your little one
This is entirely up to what feels comfortable for you and your little one. If this means feeding every three hours on the nose, then go for it. If it means feeding on demand, then that’s great too. If you prefer to feed while half asleep in bed, do it. If you prefer to be upright with a feeding pillow in place, then this works too. Do what feels right for you.
Help is out there
There are lactation consultants and midwives located all across the country who are available to help. They can help you with breastfeeding concerns as well as bottle feeding issues.
It’s okay to feel like a milk machine
You are one, especially during those first few weeks when all baby wants to do is eat. Cherish the title (and the time it affords you to sit on the lounge)! In time you won’t be just a milk machine but you will be promoted to boo-boo fixer, sibling mediator and boogie-monster scare-awayer.
The experience of feeding your baby is one in a million, no matter how you do it
As a mum who breastfed, express fed and occasionally formula fed, I can vouch that you won’t feel any less love, admiration or pure joy if you choose to feed a certain way. And neither will your baby.
It’s perfectly normal to feel stress, shame and guilt (but please try to push these feelings away)
Society has a way of shaming both breastfeeding and bottle feeding mums, making us feel like we are doing everything wrong, when really we are not.
I wish I could wave a wand and make these feelings disappear but I can’t. I can, however, promise you this – if you breastfeed, you’re doing a great job. If you bottle feed, you’re doing a great job. If you mix feed, you’re doing a great job.
These words may not mean much coming from me, but there’s someone else who would agree with me and that’s your little one. And he or she is the only person in society who should matter to you right now.