In those early days with a newborn, feeding takes pride of place in the worry/guilt department. Breastfeeding for some comes easily, but for others it is hard, often painful and to many women feels very unnatural (why would you stick a screaming little creature to your tender, swollen breast and then have it suck on it?!).
‘Breast is best’. How many times have we heard this saying? Of course breastfeeding is the first choice for our babies if you are lucky enough to successfully breastfeed. However many women cannot or choose not to breastfeed. There are so many other contributing factors why some chicks bottle feed such as birth complications, boob complications, mental health issues and person choice to make a few. 
Take my first baby for instance. It was a traumatic birth resulting in an emergency Caesarian under general anaesthetic. I woke up extremely groggy and trying to breastfeed for the first time was overwhelming. And painful! No one told me how extremely painful it would be. Long story short I chose to bottle feed my baby, as every time he cried to be fed I would cringe and want to run away. Once I made my decision I felt like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders.
But then the guilt came. And boy did it come! My thoughts included ‘why couldn’t I do what is supposed to be so natural?’, and ‘am I not giving my baby the best start in life by not breastfeeding?’.
At my mothers group meetings I was the only bottle feeding mum so there was no one else to talk to about it. All the talk seemed to revolve around breastfeeding and there were many comments about how important it was and how great breast milk was. Naturally I felt horrible. With the beauty of hindsight I learned that bottle feeding was the best choice for our family at the time. Our baby was getting fed, he was growing beautifully, reaching milestones and no sicker or healthier than his breastfed mates. And I was happier….
Roll on baby number two. I was all geared up to try breastfeeding again. But the same situation occurred. This time, the birth was natural and beautiful but the incredible pain in my nipples while feeding meant that I couldn’t proceed past day two. I had another bottle baby. My decision was easier second time around as I saw that my first son was thriving, intelligent and not at all ‘damaged’ by being bottle fed!
Son number three came along and was also a bottle baby. I tried breastfeeding again, with an action plan from my midwife. I would express until my milk came in then use nipple shields. However my nipples were bleeding even on the pump so I didn’t continue. I have since learned that I probably have what is called Raynaud’s Phenomenon which is where my nipples constrict during feeding which elevates the pain to a whole new level.
I was very lucky in that I was supported by the midwives with whatever decision I made: bottle or breast. I was not made to feel bad, nor was I pressured into breastfeeding.
Baby number four got one breastfeed and that’s it as the thought of doing it again turned my stomach. He’s a roly poly four month old bottle fed Bub and couldn’t be happier. 
According to http://www.bottlebabies.org: ‘The 2001 ‘National Health Survey in Australia’ indicates that 83% of infants are fully breastfed upon discharge from hospital after birth. This figure drops to 57% by 3 months, and by 6 months of age, only 18% of infants are fully breastfed (source).’
I believe there needs to be more support and information for bottle feeding mums, similar to the amount of support for breastfeeding mums. Each mother and baby are different and each family situation is different. No one should feel judged for their decision on how to feed their baby. It should not be a topic of conversation: “how is breastfeeding going?” should be replaced by: “your baby is awesome!!”
Also, I take offence the term ‘exclusively breastfeeding’, or EBF. It implies that bottle feeding is sub-par to its ‘exclusive’ alternative! I believe I am also EBF, exclusively bottle feeding!
Good luck with whatever way you choose to feed your baby. It’s your decision, you shouldn’t have to defend your decision and other people have no right to give their opinion. It’s not their business!

D