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Needs of bottle-feeding mums neglected

The needs of mothers who bottle feed are being neglected, potentially risking the health of their babies, suggests research published ahead of print in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

The evidence shows that most infants will receive some formula milk during their first year of life, even if their mothers have opted to breast feed. 

Most research carried out on bottle feeding has looked at the reasons why mothers choose this method, in a bid to come up with activities to promote breastfeeding, rather than looking at how best to protect the health of bottle fed babies, they say.

Some mothers who bottle fed their babies, either because they could not breast feed or because they preferred to bottle feed, frequently experienced a range of negative emotions.

These included guilt; worry about the impact on their baby and what healthcare professionals might say; uncertainty about how to proceed; a sense of failure; and anger as a result of feeling under pressure to breastfeed.

Some bottle-feeding mums said they received inadequate information on how to bottle feed correctly and consequently did not feel able to make decisions about whether they should bottle feed, or the frequency or quantities required.

Mistakes in the preparation of bottle feeds were common. Incorrect preparation can boost the risk of infection, promote excessive weight gain, or under-nourish a child, say the authors.

Some bottle feeding mothers also felt that hospital midwives spent far more time with breastfeeding mothers than they did with bottle feeding mums.

The research also indicated that some mothers felt "relieved" when they started bottle feeding, either because it made things easier or that their baby was now getting enough feed.

Archives of Disease in Childhood

Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

"I also totally agree, my daughter had her son last Dec, he was jaundiced and needed phototherapy, so was bottle fed, not cup fed, not even expressed breast milk. He then wouldn't breast feed, so my daughter was discharged on a Sunday with no information, no bottles,no milk and then at what should have been a wonderful time was left feeling confused and inadequate. Whilst I certainly endorse breast feeding, when that is not possible all the relevant information should be readily available without prejudice" - Pat Baker, Leigh-on-sea, Essex

"I totally agree with the comments. I have witnessed first hand the discrimination of bottle-feeding mothers when my daughter had our first grandchild. They were made to go on their own to be shown how to make up a bottle and there were obvious attempts made try to make them change their minds. Breast feeding mothers clearly got more one-to-one assistance." - Carole Hollis, Stevenage