Jumping on the bandwagon: breast is best?

I have read a couple of blogs  (mammywoo and the boyandme) today on the ongoing debate between breast and bottle feeding babies and the guilt that can fill ladies who choose (or indeed have no choice) to give their baby formula milk.  This sparked my interest and I thought I would add my thoughts to the discussion.

For the good of the mothering world I am conducting a social experiment, in seventeen years and six months I will publish the results.  I have two formula fed children and one exclusively breast-fed child, when I have all their ‘A’ level results I will be able to tell you if there is any truth in the rumour that breast-fed babies are more intelligent.  Of course this experiment is reliant upon the formula fed babies passing their GCSE’s in order to get to A levels…..

Seriously though I attempted to lovingly hold my twins to my heaving bosom upon their arrival into the world.  Twin girl weighed in at a mighty 5 pounds two ounces and after twenty minutes of trying to latch on the midwife gave up and fed her some rather tasty formula as the poor child had forgotten to eat before she left the womb and was starving.  Twin boy had a bit of a crack at the boob but he saw his little sister have a good old slurp on SMA gold and the teat looked a hell of a lot easier that his mummies rather scarily large breast so he kicked up a fuss until someone went and got him a bottle as well.  Fast forward a week in hospital and no midwife could manage to get either twin to latch on and sample some mummy goodness.  I had rather impressively sized boobies which apparently even Houdini would struggle to crack open.  So the doors stayed locked and my milk went away.  My children loved their SMA, they were fed by everyone that loved them, they grew healthily and happily, twin boy suffered with reflux for a couple of years but in no way do I connect that to him being bottle fed.  However twin girl does have a small birthmark which I reckon is because she never sampled the boobie milk.

Four years on and into the world pops baby beautiful; well pops is a rather understated term for her arrival, it hurt like hell and she came out via the sunroof.  Turns out that if medical science had not evolved so well I would have died during natural childbirth; I reckon if the human race is clever enough to invent ways of saving a mother and her child in labour then it can probably knock together a decent bottle of formula.

I wanted to have another attempt at breastfeeding; I never felt I missed out with the twins by not breastfeeding I just wanted to have a go.  Kind of like how I wanted to see what a contraction felt like without an epidural (regretted that afterwards – it felt like a red hot poker burning into my spine).   By some miracle baby beautiful nestled into my arms like the last piece of a jigsaw and latched on perfectly; I loved the feeling, I was blissfully happy. 

Back on the ward it was like I had turned back time, every time I tried to latch her on she couldn’t get a grip; it was like the milk float was reversing away from my body (This vehicle is reversing, this vehicle is reversing).  Not to be thwarted out came the milking machine and I expressed tiny droplets until I could syringe feed my child.  Three days later and the expressing was wearing thin, I felt like a cow with swollen udders but my milk had arrived and it had to go somewhere. 

On my last day in hospital I met the world’s scariest midwife, a young polish woman; she blustered into my cubicle as I sat with it all hanging out spending some quality time with the breast pump.

‘you are doing that wrong, why not put the baby to the breast?’

Three days after giving birth, fed up and cross I wept in her arms ‘I can’t do it, no one can latch her on’

Looking proud and motivated by a challenge my polish angel declared ‘I am good breast feeder, I will get you on.’

At this point my two children turned up and twin girl joined in to help by lifting her top and breastfeeding baby Annabel (she made it look easy).  For twenty minutes the midwife manipulated my bosom into positions any contortionist would be proud off and then suddenly I heard the contended sucking of my three day old child.  Sweet hallelujah she was on.

I would love to say it was all sweetness and light from that point on, but three case of mastitis, two cases of thrush (yep you can get that in your booby apparently), and some spectacularly cracked nipples meant I found breastfeeding incredibly hard work for the first eight weeks and then suddenly it all settled down (with the help of painkillers, antibiotics and white wine).

I love feeding my daughter, and I loved snuggling up in an evening twin in each arm giving them a bottle.  They are all happy and healthy.  Someone asked me if I regretted not ‘trying harder’ with the twins – I don’t feel I need to justify that question with an answer.

Just for the record, I bottle fed my son until he was eighteen months until he switched to a beaker, twin girl stayed on a bottle until she was two.  Baby beautiful will remain breastfed for as long as we both desire; I am not doing it to make a point I just enjoy it and she seems to like it as well.  I am almost certain she won’t still be breastfed when she goes off to Cambridge University with her six A stars.

To all mummies out there, feed your babies milk not coca cola and you will ensure they get a good start in life.

 Merry Christmas


21 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Becky (babybudgeting)
    Dec 21, 2010 @ 21:52:06

    Your kids sound like they have a very sane, real funny, happy mum. Great stuff. ( I breastfed for 2 years with bohe kids but have been made to feel like a lightweight mum because i never gave ‘bith’ (never mind that child no1 had stopped growing weighting just 3lb at 36 weeks and without a csection would have died.!) Nope apparently its a real shame I could mnage a natural birth!!! Sod ’em all 😉


  2. theboyandme
    Dec 21, 2010 @ 21:54:48

    Thank you for such a marvellous & reassuring post. It is fab to know that you did both. Well done you.


  3. Louyorks
    Dec 21, 2010 @ 21:56:55

    I did it other way round, breast fed twins and youngest went straight on a bottle. Breast feeding twins was a work of art and very hard work. When it came to youngest I just didn’t feel that I wanted to breast feed. You do what feels right at the time. One midwife tried her best to get me to breast feed youngest but there was no chance and I didn’t feel guilty. Can imagine if youngest had been the first baby, I would have felt bullied into it.

    Love that line ‘She came out through the sunroof’!!

    Great post. xx


  4. misslexywoo
    Dec 21, 2010 @ 22:07:52

    Great post.
    Let me know how that experiment goes! x


  5. Vikki F
    Dec 21, 2010 @ 22:34:26

    Well done Jane for working through the problems. I lasted about 3 days with my first we just couldn’t get the hang of it and I felt very, very guilty – but it turned out she was very ill and nearly died at 5 weeks old. Not alot I could do about that then. With the second little lady I thought now this is it my second chance but alas it didn’t work out we managed probably 2 weeks. Then……3rd time luckly I thought this IS it…last chance but oh no he had to be 9lb 12oz and a greedy little monkey and was permanantly attached to the lady lumps. With 2 other kids and a hubby to look after this just wasn’t practical. Do I now feel guilty? No not one bit, I did what was best for the whole family at that time and thats all you can do. XX Have a great Christmas


  6. Michelle Twin Mum
    Dec 21, 2010 @ 22:38:45

    Just one thing to say Jane, really only 6 A stars when she goes to Cambridge, I would have expected 10 from one of your kids – booby fed or not! lmao

    You even manage to make something people take so serious lighthearted, well done. Until anyone has tried to tandem feed twins they really can not comment on trying harder!

    Mich x


  7. Ashley Poland
    Dec 22, 2010 @ 06:00:59

    Go you! I hate that there are people out there who would even imply that a mother didn’t “try hard enough.” Ugh. You sound like you’ve got a great head on your shoulders. 😀


  8. Kirsten
    Dec 22, 2010 @ 07:32:01

    I bf Seth up until he was poorly at 3 months but I didn’t really enjoy it, I also formula fed Nancy but I am entirely breast feeding Adelaide and I am really enjoying it, I wasn’t going to bother after suffering from the oversized boobies and very cracked nipples but a lovely lovely lovely nurse showed me how it was done and from then on we’ve been happy as pigs in muck! I absolutely love it and I honestly never ever thought I’d ever say that! Funny how times change!

    Glad you are enjoying it too Jane xxx


  9. Elsie Button
    Dec 22, 2010 @ 08:17:33

    Bloody brilliant post! Brilliant! Merry Christmas! x


  10. helloitsgemma
    Dec 22, 2010 @ 10:49:18

    excellent – A* to you.


  11. Anna
    Dec 22, 2010 @ 11:22:28

    Great post. We all take this issue a little seriously I think – as a mummy who has breastfed and bottle fed my LO I am with you. As long as she has finished on the breast by the time I send her off to uni all will be fine. Maybe she will be sleeping through by then too?


  12. @CreativeEdu
    Dec 22, 2010 @ 15:26:02

    I’ve got one of each now too and the one thing I would say is that I’ve found formula feeding to be a real pain in the butt compared to breast feeding. That said, my formula fed 9 month old has been sleeping through the night for months whereas booby fed 13 month old still require the mummy milk machine during the night.

    I too will publish the results of my boob vs formula test in a few years time. I’m sure they will be conclusive and entirely helpful. The fact that both my children have different mothers and fathers is unlikely to have any impact don’t you agree 😉

    Have a wonderful Christmas. I have recently taken to reading your fab posts aloud to hubby who thinks you are a comic genius (as do I, of course!)


  13. Jeni
    Dec 22, 2010 @ 18:33:11

    I have missed your blog – haven’t had any twitter time recently. This is fab. Well done you – a genius post! Looking forward to results night in seventeen year’s time….


  14. Geeky Mummy
    Dec 23, 2010 @ 08:55:11

    Brilliant post. How you feed your baby is irrelevant, it’s the love and values you give them that matters.

    I had a horrendous time with my 1st trying to brraatfeed. I won’t bore you with the details but after 3 months enough was enough, we switched to formula and she slept and ate putting on 6oz a day for 2 weeks.

    Baby no 2 went fab for 2 weeks, was really pleased then he too started to be miserable and not gain weight.

    With both kids I stopped instantly without any great difficulty so clearly production issues.

    Despite everything family still criticised me giving up.

    Good luck with the experiment.


  15. andthenallithoughtaboutwasyou
    Dec 27, 2010 @ 01:04:12

    I never breastfeed Baba never wanted to had an aversion to it from the moment I was pregnant. My midwife had such a go at me and made me feel so awful about not breastfeeding and gave me so many horror stories about what would happen to my child if I didn’t breastfeed that I actually changed midwives.

    I remember when I had Baba an old friend (now) told me that because Baba wasn’t breastfeed he had a higher chance of becoming a deliquant. That was a lovely comment.

    Drives me mental when people had a go at me about not breastfeeding him, but I wont be breastfeeding any other children I have either. It is something I don’t want to do, but my children are loved and cared for and looked after.

    For the record I am an SMA girl and I got A-Levels, went to University and got a 2.1 in my degree have never been in trouble, never been barred, never smoked and am quite a reasonable, sensible healthy old bird! xxx


  16. Nicki Cawood
    Mar 18, 2011 @ 20:12:05

    What a cracking post!! I think your kids sound like they have a cracking Mum who loves them very much 🙂 x


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