Breastfeeding v Bottlefeeding – whose business is it anyway?

Feb 3 • Featured, Uncategorized • 930 Views • 32 Comments on Breastfeeding v Bottlefeeding – whose business is it anyway?

Recently mummy blogger Crafty Creative asked if there is a civil war among mums when it comes to the breast v bottle debate. The responses proved she's probably right.

Personally I've never understood why some women feel they have the right to tell others how to feed their babies. Some (not all) mums who breastfeed successfully seem to be under the impression that those who don't have failed in some way because they didn't have the right support or information (how patronising) while those that bottlefeed become defensive about their decision.

My feeling is that as long as a child isn't at risk in any way, no one has the right to tell another mum how to feed their baby. And actually that goes for every other decision they make, too. Help, support, offer advice but for goodness' sake don't preach, belittle, condemn or make the mum feel inadequate in some way. Breast is (probably) best for baby but ONLY if it's right for you. If you find it difficult, either physically or emotionally, your baby will sense it and that won't be good for either of you.

I'd love to hear your views – does becoming a mum give you the right to tell other mums (even strangers!) how to feed their babies? And meanwhile, to read some personal experiences of breast and bottle feeding, click here.

written by Liz Jarvis


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32 Responses to Breastfeeding v Bottlefeeding – whose business is it anyway?

  1. Vegemitevix says:

    It’s been a long time since I breastfed but the whole dogma of it all still bugs me. I breastfed number one baby for four months until the very action of him latching on filled me with intense rage and a desire to throw him out of the window. Decided then that in our case breast wasn’t best for baby! Number two baby was breastfed for two months even though I took to expressing her feeds almost exclusively after the same intense hormonal emotions arose and led to post natal depression. I stopped once diagnosed with pnd with the doctor’s blessing. Number three baby was bottle fed! 🙂

  2. Very Bored in Catalunya says:

    You’re absolutely right it’s nobody else business. So long as you do feed your child, love and nurture them, everyone else should just butt out and concentrate on their own family. Congratulations you have managed to come up with two subjects today that I feel really strongly about. x

  3. Trish says:

    This topic always gets people so incensed on both sides that I’m wary of saying anything at all. My mum bottle fed me so when I was pregnant with my son I felt more comfortable with the idea of bottle feeding. However when he was born a nurse asked if I wanted to breast feed and I thought I’d give it a try. It worked! I was a bit surprised and kept going for about 7 months until I wanted my boobs back, thank you very much! My son couldn’t manage a bottle so went straight to a feeder cup. But never ever did I feel this gave me the right to pontificate to other mums. Some breasfed, some bottle fed. What’s the problem? Do what you feel is right for you and your baby.

  4. sam says:

    Being a mum doesn’t give you the right to tell other new mums what to do – but there is no harm in experienced mums offering advice based on their personal experience – IF it’s asked for. I remember the euphoria of the first time both my children latched on. I also remember the agony of the first month of breast feeding – and I remember wondering what it was that made me put myself through so much pain when all I needed to do was offer a bottle and the pain would be over. But I – being somewhat lazy at times – decided that it was easier to suffer the initial pain than juggle sterilising, mixing milk powder and endless bottle washing for months on end. As it turned out – neither of my two children ever had a bottle and they breastfed until they’d had enough (around 10 months for the first). Which, for me, was great. But at the end of the day, so long as a child is fed and nurtured – who cares how they get it…

  5. Alison says:

    Why does this subject get people so riled? It’s the Number One Topicafter stay at home versus working Mums I think. People will defend their position til the death. I’ve just written a post on being judgemental on my blog

  6. the real mamma diaries says:

    I totally agree with you but do get upset when I see mothers – and even midwives in hospitals – ignoring all the research that says breast is best for baby and giving them bottles moments after they’ve been born. Breast feeding creates a natural bond between the baby and mother and is easy (as well as convenient and free) if you latch the baby on as soon as you can. Why aren’t mothers even trying? Breast feeding has many positive health benefits for mum and baby and helps you lose all your baby weight so what’s a bit of discomfort for a couple of weeks for a lifetime’s benefit? Yes, if you try and don’t get on with breastfeeding, I’d never judge a mum for bottle-feeding, but hearing women in hospital saying: ‘No my breasts are just for my husband, not my baby’ disgusts me. Breastfeeding is natural – but as long as you’re baby’s healthy and happy that’s the most important thing.

  7. Anne says:

    I could not agree more! I breast fed 3 babies and, believe me, I know how hard it can be to carry on. I now work for a BPA-Free baby bottle company and come across lots of mums who have come to the decision to mix feed or bottlefeed exclusively. Every mother deserves the right to choose what’s best for her and her baby. Some women can’t breast feed, some choose not to. Either way, no one else should be judging them, and plenty of support should be given to all new mums whatever their feeding choice.

  8. Hot Cross Mum says:

    This is such a personal decision and I don’t think anyone has the right to judge. I know people who have been heartbroken because they have been unable to breastfeed for one reason or another so you just can’t judge people by what you see. It is a debate which will run and run though so well done for highlighting it.

  9. New Mummy says:

    I struggled to breastfeed BG for a number of reasons and after a lot of support I decided to bottle feed her. It took me a long time to come to terms with the fact I was bottle feeding and a lot of this was due to the looks I would get when I got a bottle out to feed her. People’s first questioned always seemed to be how are you feeding her, which would lead me to give a long explanation in why I had choose to bottle feed. I think every mother has the right to choose how she feeds her baby without criticism from other mothers.

  10. grit says:

    my first reaction was the same – i couldn’t care what women choose in situations where they are making a choice. it’s an individual choice. there seems to be a lot of noise about it. i can only understand the noise if it is politically focused or if it has an anti-corporate agenda (old hippy that i am), so we should all feel right to make a noise on the world stage if nestle behave in disreputable ways to increase their worldwide sales. put your energies into bombarding grey suits sitting on piles of cash while the world starves. sometimes i think that fostering these endless debates between women is more of a distraction than a support; perhaps it is a rather useful way to keep women busy in non-threatening ways by encouraging them to squabble endlessly about bottle vs breast or the best way to stuff a mushroom. we should be mindful enough to resist that.

  11. Natalie says:

    Ah Liz you’re on a roll today with the posts. Well said. I’ve breastfed both of mine but absolutely will not look down on someone who chooses to bottle feed. I gave myself a hard time when I decided to introduce a bottle with my first. I gave myself a swift proverbial boot up the bum when I realised that I was forgetting about putting the needs of my child first, not my ego or fear of other people’s comments. I had an acquaintance tell me off for giving her the bottle, going so far as to express her disappointment. Ridiculous carry on. As women, I feel it’s important that we have to get behind our own choices and be careful of seeking validation from people that really, when it comes down to it, we don’t give a monkey’s about. The fact that someone does something different to me doesn’t invalidate my decision. I also don’t need someone to say ‘oh well done for breastfeeding’ because it’s a bit like when some fathers expect pats on the back for being around. I’ve loved breastfeeding both of my kids (still am with 9.5 month old) but it doesn’t define me or my motherhood and I have absolute respect for those choose to bottle feed. I don’t think there is a civil war but I do think that some of the debate about it & the media does give off that vibe.

  12. Karin @ Cafe Bebe says:

    I agree…it should be your right to choose how you feed your baby and you shouldn’t be made to feel guilty about either choice. However, the overwhelming initiative FOR breastfeeding, the prohibition of support and education if you do choose to bottlefeed and the disclaimers that you have to click through on formula sites which say that you will accept the information you are about to receive if you choose to NOT breastfeed, make the guilt all the more palpable. After a ridiculously negative breastfeeding experience where my boobs were shoved here, there and everywhere and my child was made to cry and suffer even though there was no milk/colostrum there, I relented and allowed for formula. The midwife, once I affirmed that that was my decision, never offered one bit of support and I was sent home without so much as a piece of paper to tell me how to prepare bottles properly and safely. This is part of why mums are struggling to know what to do with bottle preparation and why, in some cases, babies are getting sick. My experience was horrible and I will never breastfeed, if given the chance to do so again but I would never tell a woman that she shouldn’t. What I am tired of is the extreme lack of support for formula feeding and hate that finding information and education is almost like trundling down back alleys to get what you need. Education and information should be balanced and support should be offered and readily available to mums no matter what method of feeding they choose.

  13. Peggy says:

    You know my views on that question and they are the same as yours 🙂 Let’s be ALL proud of what we achieve everyday as parents. Accept that we will never all succeed in the same areas, let’s tolerate each other choices and learn empathy. Sometime when we look at life from the others point of views we can understand certain decisions… Thanks for linking A Mother’ Secrets post 🙂 x

  14. Crystal Jigsaw says:

    I never contemplated breast feeding Amy. I bottle fed her right from the start. I was never pressurised by nurses, midwives, HV’s etc. I had absolutely NO intention of breast feeding because I didn’t want to do it. I wasn’t maternal and couldn’t even think about it. If any one wants to challenge me that breast is best, then they can do it with pleasure. But I have living proof that that is cobblers. Amy is healthy, fit & well, she took her feed beautifully, no problems, and I very rarely needed to wind her. She’s always been a windy child! CJ xx

  15. YummyNo1 says:

    I chose to breastfeed all four of my babies and luckily, I didn’t encounter any real problems and I had really enjoyable experiences. I fed each of them for different lengths of time (from between 3months to 1year) And for me, when I stopped feeding altogether or went on to mix both bottle and breast, I never had any qualms about them having formula because it was right for me and my babies at that time. I would never judge another mummy who chose to bottle feed though and I think the ‘breastapo’ have a lot to answer for in that I think their militant ways can actually put some mummys off even trying it in the first place. Really interesting post x

  16. Gemma Johnson says:

    I recently went to my local NCT group after haveing my baby girl 3 months ago. As soon as I sat down I was asked by a couple of other mums if I was breastfeeding, I hadn’t even got my coat off at this stage. I replied that I was not. Honestly, the look they gave me stayed with me for days, I felt so bad and that I had somehow failed. They challenged me on why and I told them I had gone through a crash cesarean and with the combination of painkillers, a vomitting bug and the trauma of the birth I just didn’t feel able emotionally or physically to be able to do it. I mentioned I had struggled through 2 weeks of breastfeeding….their answer was, if I had done 2 weeks what was the issue with doing more? I got up and left at this stage. Hmmmm, to say it has put me off going back is an understatement. Every mum has a right to do what is equally best for herself as well as her child. Why should our mental, emotional and physical wellbeing be overlooked, we also count and as I always maintain, a happy mummy makes for a happy family! A visiting nurse asked me today if I was breastfeeding, rather try and explain why not, I just said "NO" and didn’t leave the door open for criticism, judgement or a further comment. Stay strong mums, whichever way you choose 🙂

  17. Lin says:

    I don’t think anyone has the right to judge. I had to be induced at 14 days overdue, and then didn’t produce breastmilk until the 4th day, my baby needed feeding before then, so I HAD to give him bottle, and perhaps as a result, he just couldn’t latch on to my breast at all. So it depends on personal circumstances, mums don’t always have a choice whether to breast feed or bottle feed. My midwife was great, she helped me try with breastfeeding, but given a choice between a hysterically hungry baby who couldn’t latch on, or a happy bottle-fed baby, for me, bottle won in the end! But I don’t feel guilty, nor was I made to, because I tried my best and it just didn’t happen. My baby was 9lbs 14oz when born and is now a strapping toddler at over 15kg at just 17m old and in 2-3 yr clothes already and is very healthy. At the end of the day, I did what was best for my child.

  18. amy says:

    I’ve bottle fed all four of my girls and i gave breast feeding a go with each of them. I couldn’t keep up with my 1st and 4th child, my 2nd child wouldn’t latch on at all and my 3rd child was a good breastfeeder but i was finding it hard to sit down and feed a baby for 45mins whilst running after 2 other children. (selfish? yes it may be but i am an avid believer of happy mum happy baby) I will be giving breast feeding another shot when baby boy is here and i will judge for myself whether it will work for the both of us and the girls too. We shouldn’t judge as mum’s we should support each other becuase no one knows how hard being a parent is than other mums. I commend anyone who is a sucessful breastfeeder, I wish i could’ve done the same but my babies have grown well and that is all that matters xxxx

  19. Tattie Wealse says:

    To be honest Mums have a hard enough time just being Mums why fight about it? I did both breast and bottle it worked for one and not the other. Both boys seem perfectly OK. Concentrate on what’s importnmat you being a Mum and be proud of it . Be supportive befause to be honest there’s an awful lot out there who are not .

  20. Laura McIntyre says:

    I find it hard to comment on these type of posts as the last thing i really want to do it make people angry but i believe 100% breast IS best . No i don’t tell people how to feed there babies but admit to feeling sorry for bottle fed babies. I feel to many people just go well bottle is just as good without fully understand the risks of it and why breastfeeding is so important. Yes a happy mum is important but number one is the health of the child and in my experience so many mums just don’t really care to try . I understand problems happen and turning to bottles may be the best option , but what really makes me angry is when people refuse to admit that bottle feeding is not as good as breastfeeding. They are not the same thing// the

  21. nappyvalleygirl says:

    I think the real problem is that there is a real breastfeeding mafia out there that thinks that the best way to promote breastfeeding is to bang on about how easy it is. It may be ‘natural’, but for many, many people it is not easy – I managed to breastfeed my babies but the first one was a real struggle at first, and I went through lots of emotional heart-rending about it. I know lots of other mothers who have been unable to do it, physically or emotionally, and have been made to feel ridiculously guilty rather than being given good advice on how to bottle feed instead. Formula is not evil; as a whole generation of bottle-fed babies has proven.

  22. Laura McIntyre says:

    Sorry sent before done , but as i always have to remind myself . I have been one of the lucky ones, breastfeeding for me was natural and easy . All 3 of my children took to it easily and i can count the problems i have had on one hand (and that’s after 4years and 8months of feeding ) . I only wish it could of been the same for everyone

  23. Tech says:

    I recently blogged my breast/bottle feeding story. Feel free to have a read:

  24. angelsandurchinsblog says:

    No, no and no again! How can any mother tell another how to bring up her children? It would be like telling a stranger that her daughter’s pink ra-ra skirt is possibly a little brash, or eating that packet of crisps might not be the healthiest snack. Successfully breastfeeding often means you’ve been lucky, not that you’ve climbed the Mount Everest of feeding options. Some find it easy, others tricky, many impossible. I was even told it was ‘a shame’ I didn’t manage to do it for two years’!!

  25. scribblingmum says:

    My friend’s really struggling with feeding her 5 week old baby, you can remember it well that feeling of utter exhaustion layered on top of feeling of utterly inadequate. Her health visitor helpfully calls formula ‘fake milk’. Just to make her feel better….

  26. Young Mummy says:

    As a mum of twins I learned quickly that every baby is different and I now breastfeed one and bottle feed the other! I felt guilty about bottle feeding but as soon as I saw how much happier my little one was on bottles this feeling quickly went away. And I’ve bonded with both babies just as well, so there’s that myth debunked too…

  27. sharon says:

    I heard about a study recently (detail here: ) I found it fascinating that it was such a small news item, I know it’s just one study but it certainly hasn’t been widely publicised to back up mums who bottle feed. I am currently breastfeeding my 6 month old and will continue till she’s 1 like I did with her brother. I don’t see it that I’m lucky, doing better for her or any of the other things people say to me, I do it because (brutal honesty) I can’t be bothered with the faff of sterilising and bottle making. I am tied to her and can’t leave her overnight or for a day out shopping and ALL feeds are down to me, but it’s my choice and I don’t believe anyone should be made to feel guilty about choices that don’t damage their baby. I find the number of peoplw who assume that I breastfeed that I am part of some "campaign" for it annoying or sad, I hate it when I’m out and fellow mum’s I don’t know think I may be judging them if they’re bottle feeding as I’d not like them to judge me for my choices. This debate is yet another way women are piched aginst each other in a guilt-fest for no reason. Hooray for ALL MUMS!!!!!!

  28. Pingback from Notes from Motherhood: Breast or Bottle? Is it really anyone else’s business? « Baby BornFree's Blog

  29. emily says:

    agree, the whole debate is incredibly tedious and very dull and everyone should go and find something more interesting to do rather than obsess about other people’s business. women have it hard enough so should be supporting each other – particularly about this and work life balance issues. far too much judgement, far too little support sisters. and stop feeling guilty – it is such a waste of energy!

  30. Rachel says:

    Much to my surprise & delight I had a wonderful experience breastfeeding my daughter, and continued until she was about 13 months (I went back to work full time at 7.5 months). My Mum never breastfed neither did my sister, however I was interested in it as it sounded like an amazing thing to do. Most of my friends bottle fed – their choice. Personally I’m way too ‘lazy’ to be getting up through the night to prepare bottles – one of the very many advantages of BF’ing. I’ve never preached to people about breast feeding, but I have occasionally mentioned how wonderful a personal experience it was for me, and how that was much to my surprise. Almost without exception, women who have chosen to bottle feed take this as a hostile attack on them. It puzzles me as I am merely talking about my positive experience. How is my great time an attack on anyone else? I’m very careful not to preach, but I am perfectly entitled to express gratitude, surprise and delight at my own personal experience – like anyone would. SO why the defensive and angry reply. Why do I feel that even mentioning something lovely about breastfeeding is unacceptable? It has led me to believe that many women who choose to bottle feed when they are able to breastfeed, are upset about their decision – for a variety of reasons. The more support and encouragement that can be given to promote BF to pregnant women the better. I think many women choose not to because they think they may feel uncomfortable, or they feel they would be unaccepted in society breastfeeding. No one likes to make a decision out of fear, especially one they probably later regret and on a topic that seems to enrage people so very easily. No doubt I will now incur the rage of bottle feeders (again), but believe me I have nothing against it. What does it matter to me if your child is bottle fed? Nothing at all. But let’s continue to support and encourage those who for cultural/family/class reasons may instinctively feel they can’t breastfeed, but would like to be supported to at least try it.

  31. Katie says:

    I think every mother wants to breast feed. I have breastfed both my babies for a year. The second time it was a breeze because I knew what to expect the first time I had my moments where I thought I couldn’t carry on/along with mastitis/cracked nipples/blocked ducts and all the rest of the lovlies. The reason I think it is important for mothers to offer honest advice, if wanted, is that it helps. i would have found things a lot easier if I could really, comfortably speak to someone that had been there. And that someone wasn’t a HV, midwife, nurse or doctor. Just a mum, same as me.

  32. Josie says:

    The sadness about this issue comes when belittling either choice undermines the journey that mums have gone through. As someone that found breastfeeding a huge battle and very much a victory of willpower and perseverance, still going even now (Kai is 19 months) it hurts sometimes when I am made to feel like I can’t be proud of that achievement without making other mum’s, for whom it didn’t work, out feel bad. This why it MUST MUST be about personal choice. And women should feel brave and confident enough in their own decisions to make it ok to praise and celebrate other’s choices. I support my bottle feeding peers in their decisions to do the best thing for them and their baby and respect their choices absolutely – happy mum happy baby is ALWAYS going to be the most important thing. But I wish too, that breastfeeding could be celebrated by bottle feeding mothers as the fantastic achievement that it is. It’s about MUTUAL support and respect. And it makes me really sad that so often this doesn’t happen. After all, we’re all just doing the best we can.


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