How should mothers feed their new babies?: Your comments

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baby feeding from a bottle
Image caption,
Dr Ellie Lee says that the government should offer more balanced advice about feeding methods

"Breast is best" is a message all new mothers receive, but the picture may be far less cut-and-dried, according to one parenting expert.

In this week's Scrubbing Up, Dr Ellie Lee, a parenting expert, says that the government should offer more balanced advice about different feeding methods.

BBC News website readers have been sending in their comments:

Your comments

I felt utterly demonised for not breastfeeding. However much I would have liked to I take medication to ensure I don't have seizures as I have epilepsy, and it was bad enough putting that into my baby's system throughout my pregnancy, I didn't wish to continue to feed her my drugs after her birth. I had to explain myself again and again to midwives and health visitors, thankfully my own GP was fantastic and always stood by me and told me not to do it. It may be better but some women simply cannot for medical reasons. Annie Robinson, South Yorkshire

With my first child I was offered no support, failed at breastfeeding and was told when asking to switch to formula that it was dangerous for my baby. Second time round no comment was made but formula mums had to fetch the bottles of milk one at a time as needed, making seamless on-demand feeding difficult. The very worst offenders though are breastfeeding mums. They have made a choice and are rudely evangelical about it. While I was in hospital with my second child I witnessed a failing to thrive breastfed baby being rushed to the intensive care unit and another breastfed baby crying all night in my room - furious and hungry - which could well be testament to mothers not wanting to change their game plan from breast to formula even when it might have been wise. The bottom-line should surely not be how to feed your baby, but simply to feed your baby. It's formula not poison. Fay Spencer, Oxford

I breastfed for the first few days. In hospital I was the only mother who did and this meant that I was on a ward with other mothers who were getting a full night's sleep as the nurses did the night-time feeds for them. I felt that I was disturbing everyone as I was the only woman who had her baby with her. I was left to my own devices and had to ask a midwife to watch my baby for a few minutes so I could have a shower. This led to me being sleep deprived and meant that by the time I went home when my husband was there to share the feeds I wanted to bottle feed. Best decision I made, as parents and baby were much happier! Emma, Manchester

In my experience everyone I know bottle-feeds their babies. I appear to be the exception having breastfed two children successfully. I felt like I had two heads when I told people I breastfed. And try breastfeeding in public. My mother bottle-fed me in the seventies when the advice then was to breastfeed. I chose to breast feed as it is the best option for both baby and mother and you definitely do bond. Breastfeeding is best for babies but in today's society everything has to be easy, people just don't like having to put any effort into anything. Breastfeeding can be difficult at times but things that are worthwhile do take extra effort. I worked full-time after maternity leave and had to get up earlier to express milk but I am glad I did it. Dawn, Glasgow

I was bottlefed as I was a breach baby born by caesarean section. My mother was unable to feed me as her body did not recognise that she had given birth and she was made to feel terrible that she could not feed her baby. Fast-forward 26 years and I have a very strong bond with my mother and am the healthiest and least allergic person I know so the scientific results about a bottlefed child being more sickly and allergic do not apply to me. Alison, Manchester

When I was pregnant I was determined to breastfeed. I totally accepted the information that breast is best. My daughter would not feed from the breast though - I spent a week exhausting myself so much so that my milk dried up. I felt like a failure because I could not feed her myself. No midwife would advise me to bottlefeed her but once I realised that I had no other option they all looked so relieved I could tell they were thinking she needed that. She had no health problems as a baby either! Rachel, Dundee

I was determined to breastfeed my two children, despite one of them being premature. The determination paid off, but it was hard work. There was, however, lots of available support, both at home and in the hospital. There were specialist midwives and breastfeeding clinics, and a support group at home where mums could get together and share experiences (and have a good moan!) Perhaps not all local authorities provide such comprehensive care, but learning to ask for - and demanding if necessary - support for breastfeeding could really help take the pain out of it. Take advantage of the "breastfeeding bullies" - it's what they are there for! Jan, Edinburgh

I'm pregnant with my first child and have just finished attending "parenting classes" run by midwives employed by the MOD. The last of these lessons was about feeding the baby when born. During the discussion I mentioned that I wasn't a 100% sure that I wanted to breastfeed and could I have some information about formulas. I was told they couldn't give me any as they can't be seen to be "promoting" any products, so I asked if they could point me to any websites that might have information about bottle feeding and was told "no - we don't have that information." I felt really let down as I have absolutely no idea about how to feed my baby if I want to bottle feed. Vicki, Germany

When my wife had our first child, she wanted to breastfeed. Unfortunately, our daughter did not feed properly despite all our efforts and she lost a huge proportion of her birth weight and was listless and was clearly not taking in food. Expressing breast milk also went badly, so that was not a possibility. The hospital recognised this issue and were talking about introducing a feeding tube as the next step. My wife asked if we could try bottle-feeding in an effort to see if that would help and she was told that it was not recommended, and made to feel as if she was an appalling mother for just asking the question. After two days of battling whilst our daughter got weaker, she ended up shouting at the nursing staff to get her a bottle, and one of the night relief staff helped her. The change in our daughter was immediate, and she then started to take in the world and actually open her eyes and act like a normal newborn. Steven, Wolverhampton

It is sad that mothers feel demonised, but formula is a substandard product when compared to the biological norm of breast milk. And I am a formula feeding mother. I know that I have given my child substandard food and accept that longer-term breastfeeding would have ensured him greater health than that which he currently enjoys. I don't feel demonised, I feel angry at a society which seems determined to place infant formula on a level footing with mother's milk, when it can never come close to that standard. Breast milk contains antibodies, immune factors, the perfect balance of nutrients, it changes to suit your baby's needs, even during the course of one feed, it's the right temperature and consistency and it is instantly available and is a practically unlimited resource. Infant formula is barely recognisable as milk - it has been so heavily processed. Toni, Newcastle upon Tyne

My partner always intended to breastfeed, but she's unable to due to a variety of issues. She feels terrible about it, and on top of that, every midwife, doctor, and piece of literature tells her that she's a failure. They say it's easy, and that everyone can do it. When we ask about issues related to bottle feeding, they're clueless. Their solution is always to breast feed, even though we can't. It's like bottle feeding is something they just can't comprehend. We've had to rely on the internet for all our information, which surely isn't a good thing! Graham, Manchester

I am a breast-feeding mother. I never considered using formula. I have successfully breast-fed one daughter for a year and am now feeding a second daughter who is currently 7 months old, and yet again enjoying every minute. I'm not disparaging bottle-feeding mothers, but I have to say that I feel that it has been easy, convenient, the best for my babies, and yes - I magically lost all of my baby weight. Anita, Worcester