Our Feeding Experience Part 3 : Formula Feeding

Hi Guys!
So, I’ve covered our feeding experience overall and our breastfeeding experience which means all that is left is our current preferred method which is bottle feeding. Having said preferred, I mean it is preferred because it works better for us than breastfeeding did, not because I am anti breastfeeding. As I have said many times before, I surprised myself with how much I loved breastfeeding and I miss it every day.
But I made the common mistake in blaming myself for having to make the switch to formula and even branded myself as a failure in my head for a time too. Everywhere you turn, breastfeeding is promoted and praised and quite rightly so, it is a marvellous thing with endless benefits to you and baby, should it work out. But if it doesn’t work out, or even if you simply don’t want to breastfeed…. then bottle feeding is great. No Mother should be made to (or feel the need to make herself) feel bad for turning to powdered milk and a bottle. It is simply another way of feeding your baby, of giving him or her their nutrients and helping them to flourish and grow to be big and strong.
A lot of my guilt of switching to the bottle stemmed from the fact that Teddy was born 5 weeks early and spent a short time in special care after he made his entrance. Seeing him all helpless and poorly, and feeling helpless myself for just standing next to his cot watching and waiting, left me searching for things I could do to regain control of the situation and to do anything I could to help him get the best he could to grow and thrive. Not to mention, my boobs were eager to help and I was feeling very much like a cow needing to be milked!
But, as I have explained in my last post on this subject, breastfeeding for us wasn’t the best option because Baby Bear was diagnosed with the dreaded acid reflux/GORD and I turned to using formula in a plea to help the situation. And wow! It really did. Because formula is a thicker consistency than breast milk, it stays in baby’s tummy for longer. This can cause more of an uncomfortable tummy but we’ve not noticed that much of a grumble and a bit of tummy ache is so much easier to soothe than acid reflux.

We then discovered that there are all different types of milk and bottles to help adjust to every situation. Whereas I had started off using formula with a heavy heart and a guilt complex, as I started to see how varied options were and how you can tailor things to your baby’s needs, I began to feel a whole lot better. Plus having more sleep myself due to having a more content baby who slept for longer probably helped a lot too!
There are so many different brands of milk, bottles, sterilisers, cleaning brushes, teats, teat flows…. The list is seemingly endless! As with all things parenting, I learnt on the job and with the help of some friends and family who bottle feed their babies, I found my feet with the teat! 
We use Aptamil milk and we discovered a formula within the brand that is specially designed for babies suffering with reflux. It is even thicker than regular formula, and it has made feeding so much easier. We still get covered in regurgitated milk from time to time, but on the whole, it stays down and Baby Bear burps away without any hideous repercussions.
A very lovely and generous friend of mine was kind enough to give us some anti colic bottles which have also revolutionised our feeding experience. We still don’t know for sure what colic is or is actually caused by in babies but but the general consensus is that it is linked with digestion and trapped air bubbles in baby’s tummy, so these bottles work by using a filter/funnel system which helps reduce the amount of air that the baby swallows. They have really helped us and, so far, we haven’t suffered many colicky episodes at all.
The only downsides to formula has been cost (I swear, the companies charge an extortionate amount and it is a complete disgrace) and also, it is a real labour of love with regards to washing up, sterilising and packing up feeds for when we leave the house. Boobs are there, and you just get them out and off you go. Bottle feeding takes so much more effort and time than that…. not to mention you have to keep an eye on measuring it out properly. The amount of times I have been stood in the kitchen, bleary eyed and foggy headed, measuring out and counting levelled scoops of powder into a bottle of sterilised water (my kettle has never seen so much action!) and all of a sudden, somewhere around scoop 3 (baby bear has 6 at the moment) I lose count and have to start all over again. It’s enough to drive you to distraction but then you reason with yourself that it’s just milk in a bottle and there’s no need to fret.
But the one brilliant aspect of bottle feeding, aside from its helping the reflux and leaving Teddy feeling more content, is that now he can be fed by his Daddy. Paulibear never resented or acted jealous when I was breastfeeding, and has been a massive support the whole way through the feeding journey. When I was breastfeeding, he bonded with Teddy through cuddles, nappy changing and bath time (when Baby Bear wasn’t screaming blue murder at him!). But there is something special about feeding your baby, it’s a way of building trust and they gaze at you the whole time out of love and gratitude. So, now that Paulibear can feed him too, he benefits from that feeling as well, and Baby Bear bonds with the two of us. The first time I saw him take a bottle feed from his Daddy was so special and helped me embrace formula feeding even more. Not to mention it shared the workload and opened up a whole load of freedom for me! The first day we used formula, I was able to leave Teddy at home with Daddy and meet my friends for a coffee and an hours browse around the shops. It was heaven!
But, one thing I have learnt the whole way through this feeding experience, is that every mother has to do what feels right for them. I spent hours fretting on Google, reading forums and pages upon pages of text from fellow mums all speculating and theorising on the big feeding debate. I rang a well known help line number for breastfeeding and got given such controversial advice, I won’t even repeat it on here for fear of giving other mothers silly ideas. Researching all feeding methods made me dizzy, and reading everyone’s individual scenario was frustrating because I couldn’t find anyone who’s problem and experience was identical to mine! Then, I realised, that was the problem. Every mother and baby are unique. And you just have to trust your gut instinct. We made these little people, we know them inside out and if you listen to your own voice in your head and trust your own judgement, that is all you need to do.

A milk drunk baby is a beautiful sight to behold don’t you think??

Here are some additional tips and tricks I have discovered for formula feeding:

– Remember there are all different brands of milk to try. If your baby seems to not respond well to one, try another. Also be aware of the possibility of dairy intolerance in which case there are special formulas you can use instead,  just go to your GP.
– Mix up your feeds properly…. don’t ‘wing it’ with regards to the measurements, no matter how much of a rush you’re in. You can really upset baby’s tummy if you do.
– Dr Brown’s Anti Colic Bottles are the BEST!! They’re a pain in the bum to clean and you feel like they are the Lego equivalent to bottles due to all the different pieces you have to put together but they really do help reduce your baby’s discomfort.
– Planning is key. If you make sure to have your bottles all freshly sterilised and measure out the water and powder needed for each feed, all you have to do is pop the separate elements together and you are well away. Having a hungry baby screaming at you and then finding yourself having to prepare a feed from scratch can be so stressful!
– A powder dispenser is a brilliant tool for helping you get organised, and is necessary for when you make trips out. It is a little plastic bowl with 3 sections and a revolving lid on the top which has a resealable hole in the top. You measure your powder into each section, then pop the lid back on and simply open the hole in the top to tip it out when needed. I got ours from the supermarket for £2 and it is a real every day essential.
– Warm your bottles before giving them to baby, especially at night time. I know a lot of people who skip this step which is fine, but I’ve found it helps settle Teddy’s tummy and sends him off to sleep that bit better as well…. a bit like us if we have a warm mug of something before bed. 
– As a result; we use two separate things to warm up Baby Bear’s bottles. Both are from Tommy Tippee, one being our electric bottle warmer which has 3 heat settings and works very much like an iron, warming up water before cutting out and continuously reheating for a set period of minutes. We then have a portable bottle warmer which works in the same way as a thermos…  except this one seriously keeps hot water hot. I kid you not, it actually keeps it near boiling for the best part of a day. I found this out the hard way by underestimating it’s power and after being out for a few hours one day, I dipped my finger in to check it’s temperature which resulted in a shriek, a very prolonged period of running said finger under a cold tap and a little blister on its tip that lasted for 3 days…

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