A lot of you may think from the title that this is a breast/bottle debate, and...it is, albeit not the usual.
I recently read an article over on Huffpost Parents UK, about the breast/bottle debate from a mans, specifically a fathers, viewpoint.
In the article, the author, Nigel Higgins explained that he has no passionate feelings towards either breast or bottle feeding, but emphasises that with breast feeding, he (obviously having no breasts) can't really comment on it apart from that 'dads are left out in the cold'.
I have to say, I found this an odd comment. He goes on to describe how not feeding his breastfed child and thus having 'no role as a parent' made him 'seriously question whether he had even became a parent at all'.
With Nigel's subsequent children, who were required to be bottle fed expressed milk, he states that he was able to bond much quicker with these children, as he felt that he wasn't able to bond with the previous child until the weaning stages (!!). Nigel explained that 'nothing compares to the bond when feeding your child'. He ends the article by saying "So, when I see these debates, almost arguments, about what’s best, breast or bottle, just a little thought could be given to dads in these little babies lives. We want to bond and feel the special moments too. It’s not always just about mums." (I actually wonder if he realises the debate is actually breast milk/formula milk, rather than breast/bottle, as none of his children were formula fed.)
You can read it here http://m.huffpost.com/uk/entry/14229628?
This article left me so baffled I wondered for a moment if it was a spoof article. For one, yes, actually aswell as being all about the baby, breastfeeding IS all about the mum. For the sole reason in my eyes, that it's really bloody difficult. I remember my wife's breastfeeding journey, syringing drops of breast milk into our month-early newborn, him too sleepy from antibiotics and prolonged jaundice to latch. The pain for weeks, struggling to get him to feed, his tongue tie procedure, her determination to do the absolute best for our son - remembering that journey is why i believe so much that breastfeeding women should be so incredibly proud. And through that journey, my wife needed my support, not for me to demand 'but what about me?!'.
I took my wife fennel tea into hospital to increase her milk supply, i sat with her again and again, expressing her milk into syringes, I sat with her and held her when she cried at the pain, I told her I would support her decision if she stopped, I told her over and over, that she was incredible, and now, still breastfeeding a 7 month old I bring her water as breastfeeding makes her thirsty - we were, and are, a team.
But what I find strangest about the article, is the claim that you are obsolete as the 'other parent' if you do not feed them, that you cannot bond or feel like a parent until you feed them. I have fed Oskar bottles of expressed milk occasionally - I can't say it's an overwhelming experience!
I have an amazing bond with my son - it comes from being the first one to hold him when he was born,holding him skin to skin, from holding him, talking to him, singing to him, reading to him, changing and dressing him, teaching him, playing with him, wearing him in a sling, bathing him, making him laugh, keeping him safe and warm, cuddling him, watching his eyes light up when he sees me, or feeling him hold on to me..compared to those things, holding a plastic teat to his mouth, is kind of insignificant.
I'm sure there are other ways a father can bond, if myself as a mother have found many. Myself and my wife are both mothers - our bonds with our son differ in some ways, but are undeniably equal.
A few people have mentioned induced lactation to me, where a woman induces milk production, enabling her to breastfeed a child she did not give birth to. Firstly, this is kind of impractical in a lesbian couple in my opinion. It's hard enough for one Mom to ensure she is feeding enough to keep up supply/satisfy the child, ensuring she is feeding from alternate breasts etc - managing that twice sounds difficult! Plus, I went back to work when Oskar was six weeks old, and the biggest reason - I just don't see it as important or necessary; breastfeeding, and definitely not bottle feeding, doesn't = bond.
I feel more of a bond sitting with my wife while she breast feeds our son, than feeding him myself with a bottle of expressed milk.
As one of the many baffled comments on the article states, a baby is more than a digestive system. A bond is created through many different ways apart from feeding, but more than that, the bond of working together as parents to care for all aspects of your child's needs, knowing as a family you all have your ways of caring for each other, is the most beautiful bond of all.
A bond comes many things - not just from holding a bottle.
Just to add - as this picture of our son trying to latch onto my arm shows, he doesn't even realise milk only comes from breasts, never mind only Lauren's breasts!