The first drop of formula…

January 15, 2017

I’ve written about the fact that I exclusively express quite a few times. I won’t write again about why I started, but it’s here if you want to read it. Little M is now seven and a half months old. She’s well into weaning, and as a result we’re spending a lot more of our day at the kitchen table around trying to go out and generally have lives!

This has meant that I’ve felt more under pressure when trying to express, particularly when hubby is at work. I’ve been finding it harder to meet Little M’s needs and fit in expressing. As a result, I’ve been starting to wonder whether the benefits of breast milk are continuing to outweigh the disadvantages of expressing. And I’m not sure they are.

I want to be able to give Little M my time, when she needs it. At the moment I’m having to squeeze in expressing when really I should be interacting with her. I know there are still benefits of breast milk at this age, but I’ve given her the best start that I possibly could, and now it’s time to move on.

So on Saturday night we fed Little M her first bottle of formula. I cried. I cried with a mixture of regret, guilt and fear. Regret that our breastfeeding journey hadn’t been what I had wanted it to be. Guilt that I was only giving her formula to make my life easier, rather than making hers better. Fear that the ‘poison’ that is formula would damage her little digestive system in some way.

Combination feeding, stopping expressing

Because that’s what I’d been brainwashed into thinking. That formula is some kind of poison that I shouldn’t feed my child. On Sunday morning I had a little Google of combination feeding. I really wish I hadn’t. As I read, it seemed to me that all of these web pages were written in a ‘breast is best’ tone. They made me worry all over again that I’d be damaging Little M’s gut lining.

I grew cross that all this information is written as though every woman reading it is choosing not to easily breast feed their child and instead combination feed, on a whim, just because they feel like it. I’m not sure if anyone who has written this pages has actually spoken to anyone who combination feeds, but personally I know several women, including myself, who would give their right arm to be able to breastfeed easily.

So yes, I am cross. Cross that these websites and health visitors and the like are told that they have to promote breastfeeding in such a way that it makes women like me, who for whatever reason can’t do it, feel utterly terrible about themselves.

I made a decision right then and there. I refuse. I refuse to feed bad or sad or guilty about moving to formula feeding. And I’m not going to read anything else on the subject. Except of course, for the instructions for how to make up formula safely. And then I’m going to enjoy my day with Little M.

My Petit Canard

16 responses to “The first drop of formula…”

  1. Zoe says:

    Oh Jules! Be kind to yourself. An exclusively pumping Mama is an entirely different kind of warrior. Breastfeeding is hard. The pressure to breastfeed is insane and I have followed your journey these past 7+ months. Jesus. I pumped for 24 hours whilst away from V (amd for a week before going away) and despite a huge oversupply and a great response to the pump I felt under so much strain trying to fit those pump sessions in. Breastfeeding may be the bilogical norm but enjoying time with your daughter is also oh so important.

    The only thing I will say, is use infant formula. Despite her age, there is absolutely no need for you to purchase the more expensive “follow on/6 months +” milk. They were only invented to circumvent advertising laws in relation to first stage milks. (Take a look at if you haven’t already)

    Sending you much love x

    • Jules says:

      Thanks, I did know that already. My health visitor is really supportive and told me about it in the early days. I feel grateful that I have been able to express enough milk so that Little M could be exclusively breast fed for as long as she has been xx

  2. Mrs Lighty says:

    Oh bless you! I’ve followed your expressing story since the start, and every time I’ve read anything about your journey I have thought what an amazing job you’re doing. And you still are doing an amazing job; switching to formula isn’t easy, but there is no point in having this little bundle of love if you are going to be miserable tying yourself up in knots trying to express. Be kind to yourself, you have done fantastically well xxx

    • Jules says:

      Thank you. I kind of wanted to get to a year but it was starting to feel like I was doing it to prove something, rather than actually for M’s own good. Hopefully once the transition is done we’ll all be more relaxed about our time together xx

  3. donna says:

    Making your life easier will make her life better. You’ve done so well! I breastfed for 8 months this time, but my first had breast and formula after the first month. He just ate and ate and ate, constantly, i couldn’t cope. And i felt guilty. But he was happy, and healthy. He’s 6 now, and perfect. I don’t regret the decision.

    Well done on breast feeding for so long, it’s a huge achievement. #marvmondays

    • Jules says:

      Thank you, I appreciate your kind words. I’m looking forward to just being able to enjoy spending time with M without feeling tied to the pump!

  4. You’ve done so well! Expressing is so much harder than breastfeeding! xx #MarvMondays

    • Jules says:

      Thank you, that’s what a lot of people have said, but I just found breastfeeding impossible, so to me expressing felt like the easy way out! x

  5. Michelle says:

    Expressing for over seven months is amazing! Well done you and she’s looking well on it. I started giving my daughter formula at six months and stopped all breast milk by 11.5 months. It was tough but i’m so glad I did it. Again a massive well done to you #marvmondays

    • Jules says:

      Thank you. I’ve massively reduced the expressing now so don’t think it will be too much longer until there’s no more breast milk.

  6. Life as Mum says:

    Oh bless you lovely. You do what is best and fed is best not breast or bottle, FED. A close friend of mine breastfeed for a few weeks until her baby wasn’t gaining much weight and after long thoughts, she moved her onto formula and she’s gained weight and much happier since! You know your baby and you know what’s best. Dont let anyone make you feel guilty about your choice.

  7. You’re quite right to do what is best for you all as a family. Your daughter will be healthy and happy no matter whether she has breastmilk for formula. My daughter was combination fed from 5.5 months and it was a huge decision but it made bedtime so much calmer for us. Besides once they start trying to eat stuff of the floor (despite all your attempts to stop them) it all becomes a moot point. Good luck with this next step on your journey! xx #marvmondays

    • Jules says:

      Thank you. The decline in breast milk is coming quite quickly so I don’t think she’ll be combination fed for much longer! I’m already feeling more freedom as I don’t feel so uncomfortable between pumps anymore (assuming it’s because my milk supply is dropping) so expressing isn’t on my mind so much.

  8. Devon Mama says:

    Oh lovely! Feeding your baby is so hard and so emotive! I think you’ve done incredibly well in order to achieve such a long time exclusively pumping.. it’s amazing. So many people have strong opinions on feeding and put it out there without thinking aout those who have the choice taken away from them. #marvmondays

    • Jules says:

      Thank you. I still struggle as in a way I feel it was a choice and I should have tried harder; but it’s easy to say in retrospect when I’m no longer in that awful fog of hormones and sleep deprivation!

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