Instagram followers, Facebook friends, random people on the bus..everyone has seen me tube feeding my son. I haven’t hid it, I’ve haven’t not posted his beautiful face because there’s a tube stuck to it. I haven’t saved feeding times for private spaces away from prying eyes. I’m a loud and proud mama to a tubie!
I’ve joined a Facebook group for parents and carers of tube fed babies in the UK and sadly some tell me of terrible experiences of awful people making nasty comments about them tube feeding their baby. How can anyone be mean or nasty about a baby?! It says more about them if you ask me. And I warn anyone reading this, all hell will break lose if anyone ever tried to bring any negativity to my child. You’ve been warned *insert my smiley face*.
However, I’ve been lucky enough to not come across negativity, only questions and “awww bless him’ (and we like blessings, send them all this way!). I welcome questions. Sometimes not when I’ve had 2 hours sleep and I’m in a rush to a hospital appointment feeling extremely antisocial. But the rest of the time I do. I welcome them because it means you’re interested and want to be educated. You’re not ignorant and you don’t assume. I like you guys! So for answers to why Jaxon has a tube you can read here: “Why does Jaxon have a tube down his nose?”
This blog though, is all about the pros and cons to tube feeding and I was lucky enough to have some help from those in the Facebook group.
Lets start with the cons because I feel they’re the most obvious and commonly assumed..
- Reminder of medical issues. Tube feeding means theres something not quite right with/”normal” about your baby which can be difficult to digest. Often illnesses aren’t visible, but a tube (especially on the face) is a reminder/notice.
- Visibility. NG tubes are on the face and therefore block part of your little ones beautiful face. This also means people see, they look, they ask.
- There’s a lot of equipment: feeding sets, syringes, sterile water, test strips. This can take up a lot of space at home and be difficult to travel with.
- Childcare. You can’t just drop your little one at a family members with a bottle – they have to be trained to tube feed. It does mean you will find out who your friends are really quick!
- Pulling them out! I strongly recommend anyone with a tube fed baby to get trained putting them down. Jaxon can pull his out 2-3 times a week sometimes! If you aren’t trained to put one down this means waiting for a community nurse to come and put a new one down OR a trip to the hospital. This can also delay medication and feeding (the opposite of what we have one for!).
Okay, so now let’s surprise you with some pros, that’s right, there are benefits to tube feeding!
- Your baby can sleep whilst you feed them (see feature photo!). No need for them to be disturbed for a feed and “sleeping is growing” as my grandparents keep telling me.
- Your baby doesn’t have to taste vile medication and will not spit it out as it doesn’t go in their mouth (super bonus!). This ensures they get 100% of the prescribed medication needed. If they’re on a lot of medication this is a huge bonus because theres no fighting, tears and tantrums – just push it down the tube!
- You have one hand free unlike when bottle feeding, making it a multi tasking time. Some children are fed with a machine so super points for those being completely hands-free for the housework.
- Bonding. You can play and interact with your baby during feeding time. My son is a babbler! Whilst there is SO much to do with his medical needs and being home alone with him means juggling the daily wash loads, cooking, cleaning and admin of all his appointments. I can get very down without time to give hime the attention and stimulation he needs. Feeding time with a tube gives us up to one hour of face time for each other several times a day to chat away and remember, you’ve got that spare hand to play with toys or hold their hand.
- Takes away the stress that a child refusing to eat brings. There’s nothing worse than a baby not getting the required amount they need and essentially starving themselves – tube feeding puts less pressure on mum and baby. They are guaranteed the nutrition they need which makes for a happier baby and a much much happier/less worried mum!
- IT IS LIFE-SAVING! Getting enough nutrients is essential for growth and well-being. Dehydration and starvation kill. On top of this many children that are tube fed have other medical condition, many which require surgery that could not go ahead without their baby being big enough!
So thats 6:5 to pros! Surprising eh?! I hope you learnt something reading this blog.
If you’re reading this purely out of curiosity, thank you I hope it’s given you some understanding.
If you’re reading this as a family or friend of someone with a tube fed baby, please don’t be afraid of the tube!
If you’re reading this as a the parent or carer of a tubie then I know you can relate and I want to tell you that you’re amazing and so is your baby.
If you’re reading this as a new parent or carer to a tubie. It’s normal to worry, it’s normal to pray for them to bottle feed, it’s… but don’t waste too much precious time thinking negative, what you must do is cling on to the pros and make it suit you, its now your normal and it’s not that bad. FED IS BEST!
Also if you’ve struggled to breastfeed take a look at Breastfeeding: No need to feel #Guiltitties 🙂
Thank you for reading.
I’m happy to answer any questions you may have about anything written in this blog post. If you think others could benefit from reading any of my reality then I am happy for you to share it with them – you never know who they could help or how.
Please comment with your thoughts and opinions reading this. Your feedback is what keeps me posting and writing is proving to be a helpful therapy for me right now. A therapy I wouldn’t be indulging in without your interest!