Sonia Hanley: 'I bottle-fed my 5 kids – and look at them now!'
Committed bottle feeder, Sonia Hanley felt the pressure to breastfeed for the first time recently when her fifth baby had to spend 10 days in the special care unit of the hospital.
Baby Scott arrived seven weeks early and Sonia found herself surrounded by breastfeeding mums at the Special Care Baby Unit of Cavan General Hospital.
"I have great things to say about the unit but there definitely was a lot more pressure put on me to breastfeed than with the previous children.
"I wasn't angry about it but there was definitely a guilt factor. I did express for 10 days but truthfully it wasn't for me at all."
Sonia, a primary school teacher, lives with her hotel manager husband Michael and four older children, Amber-Dee (7), Bobby (5), Lucas (4) and Max (2) around the corner from the hospital and was able to go over and back to feed Scott.
"I had to tell them I had no intention of breastfeeding him at home so there was no point in pretending I was going to," she said.
Sonia believes her decision not to breastfeed was in part influenced by her family.
"In my case my mother has six children and none of us have been breastfed. She's from a family of nine and her mother never breastfed. We had no experience of it.
"When Amber-Dee was born just one of my sisters had a baby. I watched her and she was very routine-orientated and everything worked very well, and I felt if I was breastfeeding this baby 24/7, I would never get anywhere. I was happier to do the 'every four hour' thing and get into a routine very quickly," she explained.
Sonia feels the lives of friends who breastfeed are "upside down and out of control" but she stresses that she has no issue with people who opt to breastfeed.
"Don't get me wrong, I admire people who do it, and people who have no problem doing it. It's for them and they enjoy doing it."
And she believes her children have not suffered as a result of her choice.
"I have five perfectly beautiful children. Honestly, they are sick very rarely. I have had no trouble at all as regards sleeping at night. They are good eaters, they are well rounded, I genuinely don't think if I had breastfed them, they would have turned out any differently," she said.