I struggled with breastfeeding, says new mum Laura Riding (stock image)

Why I’m bottle feeding my newborn son

The Mash Report, a BBC news show parody, recently featured an episode in which newsreader Ellie Taylor announces that “women have told everyone to just f*** off”.

She continues: “After a lifetime of being condemned for having children, for not having children, having children and going to work, having children and not going to work, being too thin, too fat or wearing the wrong shoes, women have stressed that enough is enough.”

The clip went viral.

I’m sure I can speak for most women when I say this hit home hard and fast. Most women are faced with some sort of prejudice towards an area of their lives at any time and ironically – as Taylor points out – this judgment can come no matter what decision we make and from multiple angles.

Sometimes the worst judgment comes from other women, and this stings: we must keep the sisterhood strong, ladies!

Laura Riding with son Reg at two weeks

A mini battle I have faced since becoming a mother is over the issue of breastfeeding.

Before having my son Reg and throughout pregnancy I had this image of me as earth mother, my child at my breast in beautiful unity and maternal prowess.

The reality was me sitting in hospital while my newborn spent his first afternoon chewing on me with his toothless though still solid gums, causing me to grip my chair and yell obscenities at the top of my lungs.

If breastfeeding is the sole purpose of these things on my chest, then why are they so bloody sensitive?

I got the distinct impression he wasn’t extracting any milk. When I said as much to the passing midwife, she nonchalantly replied: “Oh no, proper milk won’t come through for a few days, sometimes weeks.”

What? How am I supposed to feed the little thing then? I don’t have a wet nurse – mainly because we’re not in the Middle Ages – and I’m not raising him in a village of breastfeeding mothers among whom I can just pass him around.

Why did no one mention this? “Don’t worry, your breasts will produce a small amount of colostrum, that will be nutrition enough for him until your milk arrives,” I was told.

Dan and I have been bottle feeding Reg ever since those few futile attempts in hospital, and yes the attempts were few. I could have tried harder and for longer.

But the simple fact is bottle feeding is so much easier. Dan and I can share the feeding. I’ve been getting more sleep than I may have done and the little one is getting more milk in less time. Selfish, I know.

The fact that I bottle feed has not gone unnoticed by onlookers, some of whom cast judgmental looks my way.

I’m sure I’d be receiving the same judgmental looks from different onlookers if I whipped out a tit to feed him alfresco.

Damned if I do, damned if I don’t. But our baby is thriving, he has gained weight where newborns normally drop in weight, going from umbilical cord to breastfeeding is a dwindling of nutrition initially.

He is in every aspect a healthy and flourishing child. Do I feel guilty? Do I hell. As Ellie Taylor so eloquently puts it: everyone can just f*** off.

One response to “Why I’m bottle feeding my newborn son”

  1. Esther Laslett says:

    Inspiring. I absolutely agree that how you feed your baby is a hugely judged part of motherhood and that weirdly it’s the women that often seem to have the eyebrows that arch the highest. The main thing is that you’re enjoying motherhood. You’ve nailed that. Thank you for voicing this side of the story.

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