Josephine Martin’s second daughter has been bottle-fed since she was two days old.
For her first, born a little over two years ago now, that simply hadn’t been presented as an option.
“I was a new mum, I wanted to do everything right, and that unquestionably involved breastfeeding,” the 34-year-old Sydney woman told Mamamia.
“Even when I was pregnant, I was convinced breastfeeding was so natural, so important, and that was reinforced so heavily by the hospital, and everyone everywhere, really.”
But when the time came, like many new mums, she experienced difficulty – supply issues, latching problems and mastitis that made feeding a struggle and, at times, acutely painful.
For the first two months, Josephine says the discomfort was bordering on unbearable, but driven by the ‘breast is best’ ideology, she persevered.
“I remember one night I was shaking, crying, begging her to latch. My husband was crying, too,” she said.
Josephine was supported by a Breastfeeding Support Unit midwife at Royal Hospital for Women in Sydney’s inner west, but she says that, despite six months of distress, she was never advised to try bottle feeding.
“When I started introducing formula, I started to realise how much better my life became,” she said.
“My breastfeeding had really impacted my ability to feel joy with my daughter; every time she made a noise I thought ‘Oh f***, I need to feed again’.”
And so the night after giving birth to her second daughter in June this year, her baby screaming from hunger, Josephine asked for a bottle.
“The midwife stopped and said to me, ‘Are you saying that you would like me to give you some formula?'” Josephine recalled.
“She then told me they are not allowed to suggest formula, unless you’ve specifically asked for it.”