When you see baby bottles, what comes to mind? Did you immediately think of breast milk substitutes or breastfeeding?
I think of both; baby bottles are part of my breastfeeding journey, and here are some of my reflections on them.
Common sense, history, and adverts show that baby bottles acknowledge the female breasts as the baseline for feeding babies.
‘How?’, you might wonder.
Well, check out the design of baby bottles through the ages, and even more, its marketing today … unlike other bottles, they are not only ‘breast’ shaped to provide storage, they also have teats in an attempt to mimic nipples as their milk outlet.
Their texture and feel also increasingly appears to have the breast in mind; I suppose this is to give them as warm and gentle a relatively ‘breast-like’ touch as possible.
Brand after brand of baby bottles appear to pride themselves in how closely their bottles are to the breast; even boldly claiming this as part of their unique selling point.
I suppose perceived association with the biological norm is more reassuring for mothers, that their babes are getting a good deal from this infant feeding aid.
My baby bottles’ experience started within the first few days of giving birth. I am fortunate that my child didn’t have nipple confusion as a result of his early introduction to them.
They made good collection and storage items for my breast milk during my many months of pumping to secure my supply, which unfortunately dwindled during the weeks it should have established. This was due to unknowingly falling into the formula top-up trap, due to poor advice and my breastfeeding illiteracy.
For many months, baby bottles served as a reassurance of a sort, that my little one was getting enough breast milk. I fed him directly, then topped him up; first with my milk and formula, then solely with my expressed milk after a few months.
I eventually developed enough trust and confidence that my child could get enough breast milk from me, directly. This freed up the time I spent on cleaning, sterilizing, assembling, and packing bottles.
I still have many used and unused baby bottles; I’m planning to rid myself of them, but I see myself keeping a few just in case.
I don’t like the ‘just in case’ nature of bottles. Its resulting premise that fully feeding my child from myself might not always be possible is both disempowering and empowering.
Empowering because I know my child can be safely nourished with my milk without directly latching to me, if need be. My child can be fed with me, even without me; as his feeding can be directly shared with others.
Disempowering because it undercuts the need for my presence to feed my baby; and can negatively impact breastfeeding, if used too early. Also, in a culture that accepts bottle feeding in public more than breastfeeding, it delayed my experience of the empowering nature of breastfeeding anywhere.
I am fortunate, like majority of woman, that I have a choice when it comes to using baby bottles. I am thankful that I am now better educated about breastfeeding to choose, all things being equal, not to use bottles next time around. This is not because there is anything particularly wrong with them, but because my breasts do a better job of feeding my child, and I’m happy and able to make it available for this … all the time and all things being equal.
More reflections to follow 🙂
~ What do you think of baby bottles? ~
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