Banning The Boob: Why Some Mums Choose Not To Breastfeed

July 12, 2011, 2:58 pm Isabel Coe Yahoo!7

With the ‘breast is best’ message coming through loud and clear, choosing not to breastfeed is a controversial decision

Banning The Boob: Why Some Mums Choose Not To Breastfeed

Whether to offer bub the breast or a bottle isn’t a decision many mums spend too long pondering over. A large proportion of mums-to-be have no doubt they want to breastfeed their babies and in fact, the figures show that around 85 per cent of bubbas leave the hospital being breastfed.

But over time, this figure drops. Often for those mums who do eventually turn to formula, it’s not so much a ‘choice’ but a decision made after encountering difficulties on their breastfeeding journey. But there are also mums who choose not to breastfeed from day one.

Breast vs bottle

Over the years, extensive research has shown that the only food an infant needs during the first six months of life is breastmilk. Her mother’s nutritious milk contains antibodies that protect her from illness, and there’s evidence to suggest it may also reduce her chances of developing allergies. Other benefits of breastfeeding are that feeds are free and readily available and that it can help your uterus return to normal size more quickly after delivery, because of the release of the hormone oxytocin.

However, breastfeeding can come with difficulties. Women may encounter problems with their boobs, from inverted nipples to severe mastitis, and babies may have problems latching on due to conditions such as tongue-tie.

But when it comes to mummies making the decision not to ever breastfeed, there are certain aspects of bottle-feeding that may appeal to them. These women may find that bottle-feeding makes it easier to share the responsibility for caring for their baby, or they may appreciate that is doesn’t affect their lifestyle choices – for example, they don’t need to watch what they eat or drink, or what medications they take. Some may simply like being able to see exactly how much milk their littlie is actually drinking.

Or there may be other reasons…

‘My boobs are sexy’

Busy working mum Sandra Bell chose not to breastfeed both her children – Cassie, now six, and Lexi, now three. Sandra believes she made the best decision for her family, says that her children are healthy, happy and well-adjusted and notes that she has a close bond with both of them. Her main reason for not offering her bubs the boob? “I saw breasts as more of a sexual thing and just couldn’t make that connection between them and feeding.”

Another reason was work-related. “I had a busy catering business at the time. I went into labour at work with both my children and I went back to work within three days with my first one and five days with my second. I’m very lucky that I had a good family network that could help me with the bottle-feeding.”

For Sandra, it was important to get as much information as possible about bottle-feeding, so that she could make an educated decision. “I read a lot about it and I decided my babies would still get what they needed to be healthy and happy children.”

Bonding moments
There is still a lot of debate about whether bottle-feeding affects a mother’s ability to bond with her child. Experts say that skin-to-skin contact is an important part of a baby’s development and it may

be the case that breastfeeding mums hold their babies for feeds more often and for longer.

Like so many other mums who have chosen to bottle-feed, Sandra believes you can still bond very well with your child, even if you don’t breastfeed. “I’ve a very natural bond with my kids and don’t feel we missed anything at all by feeding with formula. I still held them close to me a lot.”

For women who do bottle-feed, there are simple ways to make sure bonding is still strong, such as holding your baby close while feeding, talking gently to her as she drinks and encouraging eye contact throughout. And allowing her to feel your skin as much as possible is a loving, nurturing experience for the both of you.

Nutrition concerns

One of the other main concerns women have about not breastfeeding is that they won’t be able to provide their baby with all the nutrients she needs. While it’s true that breastmilk is best and contains a multitude of elements that can’t be duplicated, formulas are designed to meet babies’ needs as best as possible. They must comply with strict Australian food standards and their production is based on extensive research.

Sandra never felt the need to supplement her children’s formula with breastmilk. “I was confident they were getting everything they needed from the formula – they were always healthy. I never needed to add to it and they made the transition to cows’ milk really well.”

The backlash

Often the biggest obstacle women encounter when they choose to bottle-feed is judgment from others. Sandra found that she came across a lot of negative reactions to her decision, but she was determined not to let this influence her.

“When I talked about it with other mothers, their opinion was predominantly that breastfeeding was best and they just couldn’t understand why I didn’t want to do it,” she says. “I listened to everything that they had to say, but in the end I made up my own mind. I went with what I believed and what I knew in my heart was right for me.”

But it wasn’t just other mums who voiced their concerns about Sandra’s decision. “At the hospital, though I didn’t quite feel pressured, let’s just say that I was very aware of just how strongly I was being advised to breastfeed. I wasn’t offended, though. I just stuck with my feeling. At check-ups I’d be told breastmilk was better, that my children would miss out, but everything had always been normal with my bubs,” she says.

“It’s not easy being a busy mum and sometimes you just need to do what you can to get through the day. In many ways I was a lone soldier, but I would do it again.”

  • The National Health and Medical Research Council recommends babies be exclusively breastfed until around six months of age, with breastfeeding to continue alongside appropriate first foods until at least 12 months of age. While breastfeeding is the ideal way to nourish your baby, we recognise that not all mums are able to do so. If you have any concerns about your breastfed or bottle-fed baby, see your child health nurse or GP.

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  1. Dana R03:18am Wednesday 08th February 2012 ESTReport Abuse

    #2 Didnt turn out all that bad on formula as far as I am concerned!!

  2. Dana R03:14am Wednesday 08th February 2012 ESTReport Abuse

    MIlili, You and all of your "Breast feeding" counterpart are stupid JUDGEMENTAL idiots. My son is 16 and a half and has been bottle fed from 2 weeks of age , very happy young adult, a very HEALTHY young adult who is healthier then any breastg fed kid that I know, is so healthy and strong had done JUdo for 9 years is strong as an OX. IS way more inteligent then any breast fed kid that I know.. straight A+ student in an elite private school despite me being a poor single mother.... hmmmmmm didnt turn out all that badly on formula as far as I am concerned.

  3. Betty S09:54pm Tuesday 07th February 2012 ESTReport Abuse

    What a lot of rubbish. Surely in this day and age it is still up to the mother whether she breast feeds or bottle feeds. My two youngest grand children were bottled feed and there is certainly nothing wrong with them. Once again the goody good shoes are not minding there own business. If you want to bottle feed your child go ahead and hold your head up high it is no business of the public just your business

  4. leah12:58pm Friday 09th December 2011 ESTReport Abuse

    Firstly I am not talking about women who stop breastfeeding because of difficulties or medical need here. People that choose not to breastfeed from day one without even considering the babies needs are selfish, it's like they don't want to alter their lives too much now that the baby is here. Women that breastfeed make sacrifices for their babies health and nutrition and put them first. Sure your kids will survive on formula but you are kidding yourselves if you think it is anywhere near equal to breastmilk. Women in the western wold have become so disconnected from their bodies.

  5. Alyshia Mckenna08:28pm Monday 22nd August 2011 ESTReport Abuse

    I had to stop breast feeding and switch to formula as my little one started throwing up every feed of breast milk she was getting. I dont care what others think or say i did the right thing for my child at the time and thats what i care about most. And its true there needs to be more support on the women who do choose to breastfeed and shouldnt be bullied when trying to do it. I saw this one bloke go bonkers at a women for feeding her baby in public like it was some horrible thing. We cant control when the bub wants a feed and more often than not there isnt anywhere to go.

  6. Bec10:02am Saturday 20th August 2011 ESTReport Abuse

    Of course breastfeeding is best, but when did it become okay to pass judgment on how others choose to raise their children and what is in the best interest of their family as a whole. While I don't necessarily agree with Sandra's decision it does not give me or anyone else the right to belittle and criticize her. I am a formula feeding mother, not out of choice but out of necessity, and the amount of times I have had to step up and defend my unavoidable decision is ridiculous, ALL the flack I have coped has been from other mothers, breast feeders. So all you prejudicial breastfeeding mothers be proud of your breastfeeding, but while you are making yourselves feel good I will be feeling proud that my children are happy and healthy.

  7. saturnsshadow08:11pm Friday 15th July 2011 ESTReport Abuse

    If women are concerned about breast feeding not being a manner in which the task of feeding can be shared between them and their partner then why not just express some milk into a bottle so daddy can feed the kid too? The baby is still getting what it needs and daddy is included.

  8. Allana12:14am Thursday 14th July 2011 ESTReport Abuse

    I'm a working mum with a 15 month old and still breastfeeding now. Breast pumps are the best invention for when you can't be there in person. It's so sad to read ignorant, selfish comments. It's plain and simple; human milk for humans, cows milk for calves. DAAAH

    1 Reply
  9. A09:29pm Wednesday 13th July 2011 ESTReport Abuse

    Women are told to breastfeed and then get dirty looks from people in public when they want to do it. More than half of people in Australia are disgusted by public breastfeeding, so how is that encouraging to anyone? And then if you have a husband who is trying to play with your boobs and have sex too? Too much pressure on women to be everything and do everything. They should do what they feel best about and most comfortable with, not what everyone else thinks is best. When you have your own baby you can decide how you want to feed it.

  10. Emma09:06pm Wednesday 13th July 2011 ESTReport Abuse

    My partner & I run our own small business so I had to work in some capacity from when both my boys were a few days old, however they always came first. I'm proud to say I breastfed my eldest for 12 months and am just finishing up feeding my youngest who has just turned one. Work or no work, you choose to bring kids into this world, you put their needs first.


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