A selfish choice?

I didn’t watch it but have read lots about Jamelia appearing on Loose Women this week and saying that mums who choose not to breastfeed are selfish, and that it should be compulsory.

Guess what Jamelia? I’ve made a very ‘selfish’ decision. Baby number three will be formula fed.

I am an absolute avid proponent of breastfeeding. I think that everyone should at least give it a go, even if it is just for the first couple of feeds (which I will give to baby before moving on to bottles). The health benefits for both mum and baby cannot be denied. Do I think breast is best? In most cases, absolutely. I’ve breastfed Alex now for almost 21 months, after only intending to do it for a couple of months, which shows how passionate I feel about it.

Harrison was formula fed. I tried to feed him, but he didn’t take to it very easily. If I’d persevered, I’m sure we would have got there. But do you know what? I didn’t want to keep trying. I’d just spent over four hours in incredible pain. I wanted to enjoy those first few hours with my first baby, not worry about getting him to feed. He was bought up on formula and is now a healthy happy and intelligent three year old.

We have ummed and ahhed about how we were going to feed this baby, before coming to the mutual agreement that after a couple of initial feeds (if he/she latches well!) we will use formula.


To be honest, the main reason is for ease. I will have three kids under four. Breastfed babies tend to feed more often than formula fed babies as the milk is digested more quickly. Breastfed babies also cluster feed, and if he/she is like Alex, my entire evening would be spent in the sofa feeding. Not great when you have two other young kids to sort out. Bottle feeding means Graham can take over the feeding and let me carry on with our routine of getting the boys settled into bed.

I also need sleep. Breastfed babies wake up more often in the night usually. Alex is 21 months and has only started sleeping through in the last month after several weeks of night weaning. Even now he still wakes up at 5.30 and feeds until 7/8. I can’t go through another two years or so of broken sleep, especially looking after three kids and having to get up for nursery runs. Of course, there is no guarantee that baby will sleep longer even with formula,but it is more likely. It also means Graham can do the odd night shift as well!

I want the boys to be involved as possible with their new brother or sister, and buy helping give bottles they can feel like they are doing something. Yes, I could express but that just creates more work and with Alex I was never much good at expressing.

Possibly the most selfish reason is that I want my body back. Three pregnancies in four years, and breastfeeding for almost two has meant my body hasn’t really felt like my own for a long time. I’m determined to lose some weight (yes I know breastfeeding can help!)and get fit. I also want to be able to buy and wear pretty bras with underwiring again, rather than frumpy unflattering nursing bras. I want to be able to wear the half of my wardrobe that is left abandoned as they’re nor breastfeeding friendly or I don’t have a suitable bra. I never thought I’d miss things like this, but I do.

I want to be able to go out and have a drink and not worry about the alcohol levels in my milk. I want to be able to go out full stop! I can’t leave Alex for more than a few hours at a time as he still feeds so often. I’m not on about crazy nights out (those days have truly past!) but just to the hairdressers, or for a drink.

I absolutely loved breastfeeding Alex up until he was about 12 months old. Since then, I have to admit I’ve struggled and not really enjoyed it. I don’t want to do it again. Is that selfish? Maybe. Do I feel guilty? A little. But do you know what, for us, all of us, it will be the right decision.

What are your thoughts on what Jamelia said?

Mummy 2 Monkeys

41 thoughts on “A selfish choice?

  1. Wow! I didn’t see that. What a thing to say! How sanctimonious . Well I am selfish I guess, thanks Jamelia for putting more pressure on us mums, like there isn’t enough anyway. I didn’t want to breast feed full stop, the thought of me doing it makes me feel uneasy, so despite massive pressure from my midwife I didn’t. I guess I will be in the bad mummy club forever x

  2. Considering you have breastfed for a long time I would have thought breast feeding another baby would be a walk in the park. You seem to agree there are health benefits and I would think that with 2 young boys the convenience of just feeding on demand would be easier than sterilizing and making up bottles. As for getting your body back my friends who breastfed definitely returned to their post baby bodies quicker than the bottle feeders. Having read your post I don’t really understand your justification but it is a personal choice, however one that I would personally restrict to a baby that won’t attach properly or low milk supply. I’ve had 4 kids and breastfed them all to 12 months so I’m very familiar with the trials and tribulations of breast feeding! I’m certainly not a breast feeding nazi but I think most mothers would make the choice of increasing their baby’s immunity over wearing pretty bras. I don’t mean to cause offence because I’m all about supporting mothers, but in this case I have to agree that it seems like a selfish choice.

    1. Thank you for your comment. I haven’t found breast feeding easy one little bit – I have suffered with mastitis three times which left
      Me bed ridden. Up until a
      Month ago I was still feeding every two hours through the night, which meant I was exhausted to the point I could barely give my other son any attention. It certainly isn’t down to just being able to wear a pretty bra – if you read my post you will see that it is so that life can remain as normal
      As possible for my other kids who will only be 3 and 2 when baby is born. I can’t risk being pinned to the sofa feeding for hours on end. They will need my attention, especially as my eldest will have started nursery a few week before. I also have to say I’m not entirely convinced that bf means immunity is improved. Out of the two children the one who has been bf suffers with many more health issues than his brother. I meant I want my body back as in have more ownership and control over my body, rather than losing weight immediately, although that is something I want to do as I mentioned. I’ve fed my son for 21 months so I believe me and my body deserve a break. I cannot risk having mastitis and feeling so poorly I want to stay in bed. I need other people to be able to help me out

  3. Selfish for not breastfeeding how stupid, some people cant even breast feed. I would find it selfish if people chose not to feed their kids at all. I bottle fed Kian as felt that was the right decision at the time but felt really guilty that I didn’t try to breastfeed. With Maisie I gave breastfeeding a go but found out it wernt really for me, I got ratty with everyone from my lack of sleep so did express some milk for night feeds so James could do a feed while I slept a bit longer but after 2-3 weeks I gave up and bottle fed, I found it much easier that way and plus James didnt feel left out at feeding times as we took it in turns. If i was to have another baby I would breastfeed for first few feeds then straight on to bottle again

    1. As long as baby is fed, it doesn’t matter how. You gave it a go, it wasn’t for you and that’s fine. I will probably feed when I’m in hospital but move to bottles at home. Breastfeeding takes over your life for a bit, and with other young kids to deal with, you don’t need or want that! Not looking forward to the sterilising and faffing much!

  4. I wouldn’t say it was selfish.

    I would say what I’m choosing to do when my baby arrives in August is selfish. I am choosing to breast feed. For one reason and one reason only – I have a condition called Endometriosis which I have had numerous surgeries for and leaves me in incredible pain – I’m still amazed I am pregnant!! – I have been reading how breat feeding can keep endometriosis at bay, it’s a 50:50 thing so time will only tell but anything that keeps me from having another surgery whilst baby is so young is worth a go!

    I don’t believe in the whole immunity thing for children – I was breastfed and my brother wasn’t – I was in and out of hospital / doctors etc all the time from birth with this that and the other – my brother on the other hand, never poorly! So I’m not 100% on the whole immunity thing!

    Once I have established breast feeding (I mean you can’t say I will be any good at it, I might bloody hate it!) I want to express milk so my partner can get involved with feeding too – just one bottle a day but I want him to have that time with his son.

    Anyway.. I would say I was the selfish one for choosing to bf for health reasons for myself. I see nothing wrong with formula milk and no-one should ever make anyone feel bad for using it. Everyone has different ideas of how to raise their children – some use ready made baby food in jars, others turn their nose up at it.. It is whatever works best for you and your family!

    Great post by the way 🙂

  5. I don’t think your selfish in the slightest. I tried to breastfeed but like you had troubles. David wouldn’t latch on. I did give him successfully though the ebm?? Think that’s what it’s called. I think people who say your selfish are disgusting judgemental human beings personally. Just because breast feeding for you is swimmingly doesn’t mean it is for other. I even pumped after my son wouldn’t latch on, my breasts started to hurt because I was producing loads of milk. I even at one point think fell asleep whilst feeding David as it took the energy out of me. Is this really whats best for my child? Falling asleep whilst trying to feed or pump the milk out of me?

    At the end of the day it’s YOUR body, YOUR baby. YOU do what you think is best. Heck when he’s born you might have a change or heart or you might go from formula to breast milk. I know a lot of mums in the ward I was on who skipped breast feeding. Yes there are obviously health benefits to breast feeding but there then comes a time is it what I want. After all if your unhappy the baby will pick up on it. Some things breast feeding pros forget about.

    Ignore the arrogant insulting twats 🙂 xxx

  6. I didn’t see the Jamelia thing. I don’t for one second believe that not breastfeeding your baby is selfish. Neither Nicholas or Bradley have been breastfed ( I never even tried) and it has done them no harm. Nicholas was on hungrier baby milk from 2 weeks old so I don’t think breastfeeding would have been enough for him anyway. I knew from the time I found out I was pregnant with both of them they were going to be formula fed. In my opinion it is the mothers choice on how they feed their child and what is best for them. I agree with you Rach that with you going to have 3 children you want to spend as much time as you can with each of them and not sitting trying to feed for hours on end. Keeping the kids in a routine is so good for them that’s why I have kept Nicholas in a routine since Bradley came along. Even though I’m on maternity leave he still goes to nursery 3 days a week at 7.30 like he does when I’m at work. He needed that routine kept normal so it wasn’t too much of an adjustment when Bradley was born. Some mums want to breastfed, some mums don’t but that doesn’t mean they are selfish,it just means they are doing what they feel will be the best thing for themselves and their child(ren).

  7. I don’t think it’s selfish… i think that you have to do what is right for you and your family. I breastfed my eldest for six months and then my other two for two months each… but I needed to go back on medication and it was better for them to have formula and a healthy mama than breastmilk and a sick mama.

  8. My wife tried to breast feed our 1st (Rachel) for 2 weeks, she didn’t take to it and lost a lot of weight. Nights were awful for both of us until we switched to formula milk. She’s 9 now and seems to have coped well with our ‘selfish’ behaviour.

  9. My daughter is 17 months and was bottle fed and has only been really ill once in that time. It’s either for you or not. As long as your baby is getting the essential nutrients does it matter whether it’s from breast or bottle?! You do what’s best for you! I had to return to uni after 7 weeks so breast feeding wouldn’t have worked anyways plus I had no intention either abs I have no regrets what so ever! Don’t listen to the negativity! X

  10. You have to do what’s right for you and your family and I would choose like you your option. Breastfeeding is natural but it certainly isn’t easy and each baby is different. I think you are being completely sensible and looked at all the pros and cons.. What gives others the right to judge our choices.. Good on you Rachel xx

  11. Definitely not selfish at all!! I didnt breast feed with Paige as it just isnt for me, im all for other moms bf but its just something, that isn’t for me. And Paige is very rarely ill so I dnt believe it is best for the immune system either. And when this baby comes along im going to be bottle feeding again as thats what I feels best for me and my baby. x

  12. I have twin boys nearly 8 years old and i felt pressured by the nurses and midwives at the hospital to breastfeed them especially as they were premature, i tried and failed so i expressed milk while they were in hospital for 2 weeks but it would have been impossible for me to carry on when they came home and i honestly didnt feel comfortable doing it. I don’t feel like i was selfish and the boys are strong and healthy now. Surely it is a personal choice? I have a baby due in 4 weeks time and i won’t be breastfeeding as i don’t want to, simple as that. I applaud anyone that does breastfeed and think its amazing how long you have done it for with alex rach but i don’t think i should be made to feel like a selfish or bad person for choosing not to breastfeed. I don’t blame you for choosing not to breastfeed with your 3rd child, your doing what you think is best for the whole family.

    1. Thank you 🙂 I can’t imagine trying to breastfeed twins, must be so difficult!! Expressing is hard work – even harder than feeding I think as it’s an extra thing to do!!

  13. I must agree with rach as iv got 4 kids under 7 and I’m deffo not having anymore I want my body back I want to lose weight and beable to buy nice underwear and clothes so I can feel like me again yea I tried breast feeding all of mine older 2 wouldn’t take to it my younger 2 tried my son jj couldn’t latch so expressed found that easier but it dried up after a while then with my last baby he latched but wouldn’t suck but expressed with him but I bottle fed and breast Fed which you can do so I formula fed during the day and expressed during the day ready for night Fed’s but with my milk it dried up within a week but they got what they needed from me but am I selfish no I’m not for wanting for myself my kids have everything they need so now it’s my time now

    1. Well done for expressing – that’s even harder than actually feeding in my opinion! I could barely express a drop. It isn’t selfish – sometimes you have to think about yourself in order to be the best parent you can, especially with more than one child!

  14. I have 5 children and tried with them all especially the second to youngest as he was 7 weeks early but failed every time, got mastitis and have never experienced pain like it. If you can do it then go ahead but don’t criticise them that can’t or make the choice not to.

    1. Mastitis is so so painful. I’ve had it three times and ended up bedridden. I can’t risk that with two other kids to think about. We should support anyone regardless of their feeding choices!

  15. Actually, put back in context, I think she’s right. Many people cannot breastfeed, and that’s another issue, but mums who don’t want to, not to even give their child the proven health benefits of feeding for even two weeks (is two weeks *really* that hard?) are, in my opinion, putting themselves before their baby. No one would think it normal for a kitten to be taken from its mother and bottle fed dog milk, or a calf taken from it’s mum and bottle fed sheep milk – yet it isn’t considered “the norm” for human mums to breastfeed. There will always be mammals of all types who need bottle feeding, but I think we should stop lying to ourselves about this “choice” element and just go with what is biologically normal, and expected. Then if it doesn’t work, you switch.

    1. Breastfeeding should be seen as the norm, I totally agree. However, breastfeeding for two weeks can be extremely hard, and actually can be the hardest point in feeding as they can be doing it constantly. Their latch can be hit and miss to begin with, and there is the pressure of making sure they are gaining weight sufficiently. I also had mastitis in my second week of feeding which made me incredibly ill.

  16. Yes I know, I was badly engorged due to poor advice with my first, it was hellish and having to return to work when he was 12 weeks old and breastfeeding barely established was the beginning of the end for that. I had mastitis and was horrendous – and again with my second. But I feel you should always try again, despite the awful problems with my first, with much better advice with my second after only a few days things quickly improved and I fed my twins for 16 months as it was so easy by then. So many struggle with number one, sadly because so often mums are feeding in isolation, communities barely exist and families are too far apart, which results in little support for the new mum. So sad. And yes, it doesn’t work/isn’t possible for everyone, if I had gone on to have a fifth I would have had to either BF on a very strict exclusion diet (I was MEWS free with the twins, that was a nightmare) or formula feed elemental formula. I would probably have gone with the latter so I know from experience it doesn’t always work/isn’t always possible. I just think not to try, with any baby, (if there is no medical reason why not) IS a selfish decision. It might be a good selfish decision in other ways IYSWIM, but you are not making that decision for your baby.

  17. My boys are 9 and early 8 and I no longer feel the need to justify how or why I fed them like I did. The time has come to STOP making this a discussion and start supporting womens educated choices FULLSTOP!

  18. I’m not a mother so I can’t say anything from that perspective, however I wasn’t breastfed as a baby (I was adopted so it wasn’t going to happen) and I don’t think it did me any harm – I think each case should be looked at individually and the best route for both baby and Mum should be taken.

  19. This is such a well written honest post. I saw Jamilia say this and Ii also felt sad. I managed to breastfeed for 2 weeks and in the end gave up as I felt I did not have the correct support from the midwives at my local hospital. I was not making enough milk for my little man and we had to go back to hospital as he lost weight. I was made to feel like a awful parent and in the end I switched to formula. My child is a happy, intelligent little boy.

  20. I don’t watch that show sometimes it get me mad, omg thats crazy I could not breastfeed my daughter I have to express as she was born 10 weeks early and was in a incubator and we was not allowed to touch her for sometime , very upsetting.

    And some mums can’t do it for medical reasons .

    1. That must have been incredibly difficult for you. I also think expressing can be even harder than actually breast feeding so anyone who does it gets my respect!

  21. I don’t feel the need to justify any of my parenting decisions to anyone. Whatever decision you make will be best for you and your family, which is all that really matters.

  22. You have to do what is right for you and your family. There is no point in you and everyone else being unhappy. I don’t support what Jamelia has said as it’s thoughtless comments like this that widens the bottle vs breast divide. Women have the right to choose how to feed their baby, and shouldn’t be criticised for it as the only thing that matters is they made the right decision for them. I completely know what you saying about having children close together, and the toll it takes on you. I’ve had 3 children, the last 2 are about 2 years apart. The one thing I have realised is they have all been completely different feeders. I hope your first few feeds go well Zx

  23. My advice would be that you do what you feel is right for me. I didn’t breastfeed either of my sons and now they are over 21 and fine…..It was my choice and worked for me and my lifestyle.

  24. I think there will always be the pro-breastfeeding argument. I personally tried it with both of my children and struggled on both occasions. For me, I felt I had to try because it was constantly drummed into me about the health benefits. I think the right decision is whatever decision is right for you and your family, and with three children under four I can completely understand your reasons not to breastfeed on this occasion.

  25. Great post, and good luck with your third baby – go you!!
    I really believe everyone is doing the right thing for their children and their situation and we need to stop judging and labelling our fellow Mums and let live. I’ve also blogged about these thoughtless and stupid Jamelia comments, I felt something needed to be said!

    1. Thank you Yvette – I will definitely pop over and have a read of your post!

  26. It is a tough decision and women should be left to make their own choices, however, I have breastfed all of my children and do think that people should give a it a proper try. I have never used bottles as if I am honest…..I cannot be bothered with the faff of making them up / sterilising etc.
    I almost gave up BF with my daughter as we were having problems but I persevered and got help…….turns out she had a stiff neck and jaw from birth!

  27. Wow, this is certainly a subject that gets people going! I totally agree with you and it is of course personal choice. To call it selfish is ridiculous as you are thinking of your entire family not just the baby. I fed my eldest for 3 or 4 months before starting to wean and bottle feed. Middle boy had jaundice so had to bottle feed to measure his intake. I expressed for 4 months before going onto formula. Baby boy was entirely bottle fed formula and I have the strongest bond with him. He is also the healthiest of the three. Baby number 4 will also be bottlle fed as well. It will be a great way for them all to bond and also give me a break when required! Go for it lovely, you know what’s right for your family xx

  28. Not at all selfish. There’s not just new baby to consider there is your other your go children and of course yourself. To be a good mum you need to be happy and rested, this will be picked up on by the baby – happy mum = happy baby. I was unable to BF but forced into trying for 3 horrible days in hospital. I’m sure my LO picked up on my stress adding to her not feeding (found out at 11m she has tongue tie!!
    ). I expressed for 6 miserable weeks due to pressure but it was bloody exhaustion and I wouldn’t do it again. Only now at 2yrs and 4m do I not feel the need to justify to anyone why I didn’t BF.
    Your family, your body, your choice.

  29. Great post and I can understand everything you’ve said. As you saw from my post (thanks for the comment!) I had huge problems bf the first time and the second time was no easier. I’m a bf supporter but I’m also very much of the view that you have to do what’s right for the family as a whole. I also found it hard juggling bf with a toddler, so I can imagine how tough it would be with 2. Happy Mum = Happy Kids!

    Good luck! x

  30. I totally agree with your approach. I always wanted to breastfeed Tin Box Tot and will be giving it a go with my second when she arrives in a few months. However, I always promised myself and still do, that I shouldn’t get hung up on it. I know people who have really struggled and made themselves ill because of it. I also understand what you are saying about wanting your body back. I think everyone should at least give it a go. If it is not for them then at least they tried. I hope it’s all working out for you now 🙂 #FlashbackFriday

  31. almost 13 years ago when i was pregnant with my first, breastfeeding wasn’t mentioned to me as much as it is now. I didn’t breastfeed him, I didn’t try I just went straight to formula. It wasn’t pushed on us as it is now so I didn’t even think about it. Now when i had little j almost 2 years ago ‘Breast is Best’ was everywhere. Posters in the hospital said it, memo pads on the doctors desk said even my midwife had a badge on saying it. So I did feel slightly pressured in the way that if I didn’t at least try I am not doing the best for my baby. How sad is that. Some people can’t do it based on circumstances, some don’t want to do it but for her to say if we don’t we are selfish is ridiculous. I actually tried and it just didn’t work so after 6 weeks I gave up. Am I selfish? No way. Thanks for linking up #FlashbackFriday

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