I started breastfeeding and it all went swimmingly, I read many differing views online and decided that feeding on demand was the way to go. Babies aren't able to communicate and if they're hungry then they must need milk because they're growing so fast and that can only be a good thing, right?

Wrong.

What I am now dealing with and have been for the last three weeks is a baby who snacks. Constantly. And as much as I want her to be happy and thrive I also want to keep my sanity. It started with a shopping trip to ikea, Effie was crying for a feed, I went to the breastfeeding area and started feeding her, there was another lady in there already with her son happily feeding away, very still, very relaxed, my little bobblehead was on, off, on, off, on again then off. We were there for approximately 7 minutes, she probably fed for 4 of those minutes. All the time the little boy next to us stayed very still contently sucking away.

She was still moaning, not because she was too hot or too cold I checked both, she wasn't under stimulated or over stimulated because I tried the usual tricks for both, she wasn't tired because he had been asleep for quite a while not long before her crying started, I went to check her nappy in the baby change and she cried hysterically. I tried to soothe her and she started sucking on my shoulder, So I tried feeding her again and she was happy to feed. For five minutes. Then done again.

You see the problem with demand feeding is that the baby learns that they can feed whenever they want as much as they want, they may not actually fill up. And when they then have a growth spurt and need to feed more they might feed for a couple of minutes more but chances are they'll add a feed or two throughout the day. It is not practical to be feeding a baby 10 or 12 times a day for three months solid. But through the demand feeding method that is exactly what I got.

I have spent the last week attempting to regulate her feeding with a proper routine (thanks to the baby whisperer) we are gradually stretching her out to three hourly feeds and she sleeps for longer and better at night. We still have a long way to go but it's a start. There is already damage that can't be undone and that is to me mentally, I made the momentous decision to add in some bottle feeding using formula instead of expressed milk. It doesn't sound like the most controversial decision in the world but actually these days it is.

The pressure placed upon women these days to exclusively breast feed for at least six months is huge. My friend attended NCT classes recently and the teacher wasn't supposed to cover bottle feeding at all, luckily she covered it at the request of the class as it turns out my friend couldn't breast feed. After staying in hospital for a few days it became apparent that breastfeeding just wasn't an option for her and happily her and her new baby began bottle feeding. Are we supposed to just keep women in hospital if they can't breast feed just to increase statistics? Surely the best thing for mother and baby is that they are both happy? Breast might be best for baby but if it isn't mentally a good decision for the mother she shouldn't be made to feel guilty.

Because that's exactly what I feel, guilty that I'm giving Effie formula, I feel a failure because I have introduced bottle feeding into our routine.

But she is happier. She is more content. She is cooing and gurgling more. Making chatty little noises more frequently. Attempting to roll over. Finding her hands and grabbing things. We are also sure she's started to teeth.

A happy baby is happy regardless of how it's fed, a happy baby is happy because it has a happy mother who isn't pressured and stressed. And in my opinion feeding on demand compounds that stress and difficulty.

We have managed to get Effie to take up to 120ml of formula to date, that's the recommended amount for a baby half her age. So if you have a 13 week old who is still demand feeding 10 to 12 times a day, bear in mind that actually with a routine they could be feeding 5 to 6 times a day. Imagine what you and your baby could be doing in that time, learning, developing, sleeping! Lovely!!

 


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Betty Loo Laa