Breast or bottle? Now that’s a question

Nathan’s mumma says…

I didn’t enjoy my pregnancy much, lets face it pregnancy had not been kind to me. 3rd time round and I was philosophical about the outcome. I didn’t plan anything, I bought only what was needed at the time. I delayed my baby shower (something insisted on by my friends) until as late on as I could. The one thing I was adamant I was doing (should we get our baby) was to breast feed. I don’t find it revolting, embarrassing or any of the other derogatory and negative things people seem to think about feeding your child. I looked forward to telling people to sod off if they challenged me, to providing the perfect milk for my baby, to having that special bond.thWD3H3C2N

Enter into picture a hungry child with small mouth and a shortened tongue (similar to a tongue tie) with a first time mum. I tried to feed him in recovery, thought we were good. Up on post-natal ward my nipples were PURPLE, bruise purple. I tried again, wincing with pain from him sucking and him lying on my very fresh incision, all 4.4kg of him. HELP!!

I asked. I did. My saviour? A midwifery assistant about as useful as a chocolate fireguard, she was useless. Her words of wisdom?

“shove that (my boob) in there (his mouth)” erm…hello…38f boobs here….how does he breathe? “oh just hold a bit back from his nose”

You can imagine the scene can’t you, me at a 45 degree angle with tubes and wires coming out of every orifice. Huge baby, lying across fresh c-section wound. Only 2 hands, one is holding said huge baby, and the other is simultaneously trying to ‘shove that in there’ and ‘hold a bit back from his nose’. Nathan was doing his best impression of a goldfish, pouting his little lips at me.


I gave up, he’s screaming hungry and I’m shattered and in tears. Just get my baby a bottle! “Cow and Gate or SMA?” I don’t know. Plug in bottle, baby drains bottle, baby burps, baby sleeps. Ahhh…mummy sleeps. Never occurred to me to try again the next time, they never asked if I needed help trying again, they never questioned why I was bottle feeding not breast-feeding. The NHS have a breast-feeding team, a lactation specialist. I could have asked for them…had I known they existed. I am not a mind reader, I had no friends with babies to tell me. So I’m telling you, if you want to breast feed ASK FOR HELP UNTIL YOU GET IT!

Help and advice is also available from websites such as:

(If you don’t want to breast feed, that’s equally as important. It wasn’t my first choice but it doesn’t suit everyone. And looking back now it does have its advantages).

It wasn’t until my midwife visit the day after we came home that I was told “oh he was nipple sucking”, not a lot of help. I tried expressing when I got home and gave it to Nathan in a bottle and topped him up with formula. He projectile vomited everywhere. I asked the midwife, to be told

“oh yes they do that if you combination feed, you either have to put up with it (?!) or stick to formula”

Not why don’t you try breast feeding him again, I’ll help you. Nope, no sir-ee, not here. So formula fed he was, I was and still am heartbroken. It is my one and only regret. But I’m angry that I didn’t get any help, and angry at myself for not being more forceful. If I have another child I will TRY and breast feed.

Fortunately my aunt had bought us an Philips AVENT SCD290/00 Natural Newborn Starter Set (intended for expressed feeds for daddy to do), and a Philips AVENT 3-In-1 Steriliser. A godsend when we got home, SMA was purchased on the way home from hospital and away we went.

Which bottles do you choose?

  • Tommee tippee
  • Avent
  • Nuk
  • Dr Browns
  • Mimijumi
  • Tesco
  • Sainsburys
  • Mothercare
  • Kiddicare
  • MAM

We went with the Avent natural ones, they were new out at the time, and meant to be closer to a real nipple so cut down the risk of nipple confusion when combination feeding. They’ve been fab, he never had a problem with them.

*My mummy friends have also used the tommee tippee and dr browns ones and liked them.

Now another thing no-one told this first time mum was that baby poo shouldn’t be green, grass-green. It means they’re getting too much iron, it gave Nathan constipation at 9 weeks old. Ended up at the walk in centre with a non – pooing, screaming baby. Switch to Aptamil (thanks to a friend realising what the problem was, not the doctors or midwives) and poo was no longer green and we had a much happier baby.

Which powdered formula to buy?

  • SMA (Nathan had this to start with)
  • Aptamil (Nathan had this post-green poo)
  • Cow & Gate

(These are the main UK products but there are specialist milks for babies with reflux and other feeding issues. Ask your midwife or health visitor for advice)

So to sum up, is Nathan worse off for being bottle fed? Erm…no. He’s on the 75% for his height and weight, where he’s always been. He’s developing normally, he’s a very active little boy. We have an amazing bond, but he has an amazing bond with his Daddy too thanks to sharing the feeds.

DSCN1526His grandparents, great-aunt, aunt and godmother were all able to feed him and bond with him. Do I wish he’d been all mine? Not really, given how difficult the recovery is from a c-section it was good to share the feeds. Yes its expensive, the bottles and milk. It’s a faff to sterilise everything, to make up feeds properly, to take enough with you when you go out. It’s not something I would personally choose to do again. It isn’t the easy option, it’s just different. Like most situations when it comes to pregnancy and motherhood, everyone is different, it’s what works best for you and your child in your situation.Derby-20130112-00058

Essential bottle feeding kit:

  • Bottles, to start with when you are feeding every 2 hours you need at least 8. 6 sterilising potentially and 2 in use
  • Sterilizer…steam, microwave or cold water with sterilizing tablets.
  • Bottle brush to wash the bottles before sterilizing them
  • Newborn teats, these do need replacing every few months as they get older and need a faster flow of milk
  • Muslins, many, many muslins. We had the expensive Frugi ones which have lasted well but so have the marks and spencer and sainsburys ones. They’re just a bit bigger.
  • Milk, either expressed breast milk (for which you will need a breast pump or powdered formula)
  • Small bibs are useful to stop their clothes getting damp
  • Bottle warmer…more complex than a jug and water but easier to control the temperature
  • Thermal bags to keep bottles warm when going out (we used tommee tippee ones)
  • Travel bottle warmer, hot water to warm bottles on the go (always check your bottles fit in the bowl as they differ in size)

Bottle feeding brand websites:

Most of these products are also available at




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