Wednesday, 22 June 2011

When bottle feeding is baby-led parenting

While I was pregnant I stumbled upon the concept of attachment parenting and baby-led parenting.  I like the concept and I think I am becoming a baby-led parent.  This means that I will mindfully engage with my baby and follow their needs.  This does not mean that I will sacrifice my needs for my baby's but instead understand that my baby needs me to be me and that in order to fully meet my baby's needs I must balance those needs with my own.

Going hand in hand with this is the breastfeeding vs. formula/bottle feeding debate.  This has been a hot topic for a while on the internet.  I have seen some pretty strong opinions on both sides of the argument and some pretty inflamatory statements.  The general gist is that breastfeeding is natural and that formula was invented for when women couldn't breastfeed.  At the end of the day, I think that mother's make the decision that is right for them.  This post is not the place to rehash this debate.

Instead, I want to talk about how being a baby-led parent actually led me to bottle feeding.  Cub has a tongue-tie and breastfeeding is at best a trial and at worse a freaking nightmare.  Cub got to the point of hysteria every time we tried to latch.  End result, a baby losing weight and becoming jaundiced.  I could see he was becoming yellower and I decided that we needed to top up my meagre ability to express/breastfeed with formula food.  Feeding Cub from a cup was ok but he wore more than he drank and he got stressed as it took forever to get the food he wanted.  We kept trying to latch on and he got more and more stressed.

Finally, I had to take a step back.  Here was my lovely adorable baby who was getting stressed every time feeding time came up.  I was so tired from trying to settle my baby that I was starting to dread feeding time as well.  The idea of bottle feeding was tempting but I still wanted to breastfeed.  I knew that if I introduced the bottle then I probably wouldn't breastfeed.  Then it hit me.  I was putting my pride before my baby.  My desire to breastfeed was overpowering the real need.  My baby needed food.  How he got that food was really just not that important.  What was important was that he got something to give him fuel.  Cup feeding was still causing stress.  Breastfeeding was making him hysterical.  Bottle feeding was the alternative.

So, we opted to bottle feed the milk I was expressing anyway.  The first feed was impressive with the difference.  Gone was my hysterical, red faced baby.  Instead he stared up into my eyes with his gorgeous baby blues and watching everything around him.  He was a happier baby and is now putting back on the weight.  Listening to my baby's cues helped us to reach the best solution for all of us.  I hope I can remain in a place where I can listen to my baby and reach the best solution that way.


Sgnr.Perceval said...

Well done you, it takes a lot of courage to swallow your pride and do the right thing, and wisdom to recognise when you need to. He's a lucky boy with a loving mum, and one day he'll tell you that himself :)

Kitty said...

Thanks S.P. :) I'm just glad that I came to my senses long enough to make the right decision.