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Breastfeeding vs. Bottle Feeding -- It's ON!

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Christina Montoya Fiedler: A few weeks ago, I posted a blog entitled "Breastfeeding Is Not for Me" that went a little something like this:

womand breastfeeding and woman bottle feeding

Nine months ago, I gave birth to my beautiful son, Joseph. Long before I knew I was pregnant, I was sure of one thing: that I would not be breastfeeding.

The outpouring of comments the post received was overwhelming. Here's a sample:

As a mom who breastfeeds I have to say that I agree with you. I loved the bonding with my child and everything, but just like everything else, breastfeeding is NOT for everybody. If you can and want to do it, great, if not that's fine too. The most important thing is to be able to enjoy your child and if breastfeeding is not allowing you to do so, then it is not worth it. - Emma

I am shocked and amazed. I get it that it's your personal decision whether or not to breastfeed. When I was pregnant, I was terrified that I would not be able to, because of a previous medical condition and surgery on my breasts. Luckily for me, I have been able to, and my 13-month-old son is still breastfeeding now. But to try and become "militant" about NOT breastfeeding seems horribly careless. Whether you like it or not, breastfeeding is what is best for every child and trying to encourage others to abandon their children in this way is just reckless. - Seriously?

FINALLY!! Someone feels the way I do about breastfeeding!! There is way too much pressure! Kudos to you for speaking your mind. - Christy

You could have just titled the post "I'm Selfish and I don't care what's in the best interest of my baby" and saved people the trouble of reading it. It sounds like having a baby was a "thing to do" and not something you care to think too much about. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised as it's another example of the ego-driven me, me, me culture pervading the world. Good parenting is driven by decisions that are focused on the best interests of the children. The implication that you are a "bad" parent is warranted. - Arp

This whole article is tough. I breastfed, I think if you can you should, but, I find it hard to team up with other breastfeeding moms. The extremes these moms will go to, to drive their points home, is hard for me to read. Comparing not breastfeeding to abortion? Whoa. Do I agree with your choice of not breastfeeding? No. Does it affect my life one way or another? No. Go live your life & I'll live mine. - Rachel M.

I'm all for stirring up some healthy conversation, don't get me wrong. And, while the breastfeeding vs. bottle-feeding battle is definitely a hot-button issue in the mom community, I never dreamed it would provoke some of the mean-spirited comments that were directed at us moms, regardless of what side of the argument we were on.

The whole experience reminded me of something I learned on the playground as a child. Girls are mean!

I am astonished by how good we are, as women, at tearing each other down when really we should be building each other up. We are all part of the same team, and our ventures into motherhood should only strengthen that bond. As women, we are unique in many ways -- not just physically, but mentally and emotionally. We should strive to use each other as a network for encouragement and enlightenment in our individual paths of motherhood.

But back to bottle-feeding. I believe in the old adage, "my body, my choice," and for me, breastfeeding falls into this category. It is a choice. It is not a mandatory part of motherhood. Thankfully, we have supplements (formula) in this day and age that can give our babies the necessary nutrients, for those of us who choose to bottle-feed and for those who are not given a choice. Yes, science and numerous studies say babies who breastfeed will be healthier, but I can't help but look at my husband and myself (both of us were not breastfed) and our respective siblings who are all capable human beings and adults.

While I respect all mothers and their choices in this matter, I will continue to educate myself on the differences of bottle-fed versus breastfed and encourage new mothers to get all the information necessary to make their own decisions, just as I have.



next: Mother's Fight Against Junk Food Puts a School on Edge
28 comments so far | Post a comment now
ChitChatMom June 17, 2009, 11:29 AM

It seems that moms are awfully darn quick to criticize and share their opinions about what other moms are doing wrong. It seems like somewhere along the way we forgot that just because something is right for us doesn’t mean that it’s right for everyone.

I’m planning to attempt to breastfeed when my daughter is born in August but I’m not going to get down on myself if it doesn’t work out. It’s a personal choice and I think every mom has a right to do what’s best for her and her baby. If mama ain’t happy ain’t nobody happy… right?

-ChitChatMom
www.chitchatmom.com

JR June 17, 2009, 3:47 PM

I was trying really hard to phrase what I wanted to say but ChitChatMom hit the nail on the head, so ditto to that :) I’m due in Sept and same thing, will be trying to breastfeed but know it’ll be okay if I can’t.

bamphire June 17, 2009, 3:47 PM

I hated breastfeeding, did 3 months on my daughter. It just didn’t come easy to me, but midwife etc made me feel crap like I’d failed in some way. When I had my son I was 4 years older and said no way right for day one. I was much happier and so was baby, it’s whats right for you that counts

PrettySprinkles June 17, 2009, 4:00 PM

I do think it’s up to the individual as to feeding preference. However, I also think it’s irresponsible for a parenting website to publish content such as this, and the original article, which glamourises the unhealthy choice.

BW June 17, 2009, 4:05 PM

I try not to be too judgy, but what I will say on the subject is that I don’t care if you formula feed your baby, as long as the formula was a fall back plan. Everyone should TRY to breastfeed. Just TRY. Your body was meant to do it. It’s the ONLY REASON YOU HAVE BREASTS.

TheFeministBreeder June 17, 2009, 4:12 PM

Well, the fact is that breastmilk is the nutritional superior to formula. No laboratory can recreate it.

Do you have the “choice” to feed your kids McDonalds and frozen dinners every night? Sure. Go ahead. But does that mean it’s as good as feeding your children a balanced, healthy diet? Nope, not in the slightest. Formula feeding carries all of the same risks as an unhealthy diet, so I don’t see this as a simple “my body, my choice” situation. You “chose” to have a child, so I say that baby has a right to be fed the most nutritious food possible.

And the fact is that breastfeeding keeps us from being dependant on formula manufacturers for their sup-par liquid nutrition. The feminist thing to is to keep your autonomy and not make you and your baby dependant on a shoddy subsititue for what your very own womanly body can create for free. Formula isn’t liberating; it’s oppressive - that’s why I won’t “choose” it.

SS June 17, 2009, 4:21 PM

I agree that you have to at least try. That’s what put me off in the prev article. Being judgmental to moms that BF. Not all think like the extremist BFing moms so it hurts me a lot when I see negative comments geared to all moms who BF. I dont care what you do to your body and how you feed your child, so enough of all these “i am better” crap. In the end it’s not really bec your kid was healthier bec he was Bfed or bottlefed. Frankly I think it’s not the milk but probably the whole lifestyle choice that makes your kid healthy. Try to Breastfeed, if you cant than give it up. I am still nursing my son at 15 mos and happy about it. He’s very healthy & strong. But i have a bunch of friends who tried, couldnt and bottlefeeding their babies and they’re equally happy & kids are equally healthy. Pls just dont sensationalize this topic bec I dont think this is even worth to fight over or even be an issue.

Beth@ MSB June 17, 2009, 4:24 PM

It appears that you’re feeling the need to defend your decision. Don’t do that. It’s not up to others to decide whether or not you’re a great mother. Breastfeeding does not a perfect mother make. I personally am tired of seeing mothers tear each other down. What’s the point? To feel superior for point five seconds? Meanwhile, the comment that made the person saying it feel great could have permanently scarred the person it was directed at. Is that what motherhood is about? Constant competition of who is more “devoted”? I wonder how the “SuperMoms” tearing others down every step of the way find the free time to be a “perfect” parent.

Anonymous June 17, 2009, 4:29 PM

It makes me sad that people head into their pregnancy with the attitude that, “I’ll try to breastfeed, but if it doesn’t work out, oh well.” I’m not a militant La Leche leaguer by any means, whatever is right for you is right for you, but when you have that attitude, you’re giving yourself an out before you even try. Is breast feeding easy for a first time mom? No. It is awkward and weird and new. Does that mean you should just give up, because, oh well, it didn’t work out? No. Because breast feeding is better for your baby than formula. Bottom line. And it does get easier and it is so much easier than bottle feeding, especially at night.

And, FYI, breast feeding burns massive calories and makes it a lot easier to shed the baby weight.

I also wonder how someone can know that “breastfeeding is not for [them]” before having attempted it or even given birth.

But, whatever. It’s your baby and your body and your perogative.

Maddie June 17, 2009, 5:18 PM

If women would actually take the time to read the actual medical studies, breastfeeding has NOT been proven to be superior to formula. Not a single study has been conclusive — only *suggestive* — and researchers have admitted that the studies have been contradictory and biased (because women who breastfeed are typically more affluent and have access to better health care in general). Assuming a healthy pregnancy, babies are born with the antibodies they need because they’ve already absorbed them through the placenta. Anything on top of that is redundant. Mothers also pass on environmental toxins and their own allergies through breast milk. AND breast milk is completely deficient in Vitamin D, which is needed to build healthy bones and teeth in children. I am not anti-breastfeeding by any stretch of the imagination — I think it’s a beautiful thing and is certainly cheaper — but there are, in fact, advantages to formula as well. So please do not judge women who choose to nourish their babies with formula without educating yourself first.

Beth June 17, 2009, 6:09 PM

I’ve written about both why I feed formula and why ardent breastfeeders really upset me sometimes. I think it is entirely possible to be supportive of breastfeeding without making judgements or causing other people pain. That’s a choice, too. Check out my posts at adjunctmom.wordpress.com (Stop me if you’ve heard this one and Why I Feed Formula, specifically.)

Miriam Labbok, MD, MPH June 18, 2009, 9:24 AM

Dear Friends All:
Lets calm down and recognized that today everyone is enabled to formula feed, but not everyone is enabled to breastfeed if they wish. In fact, a huge number of women do not achieve their breastfeeding intention, while I have yet to hear of an issue with achieving formula intention.
Lets just help all women see that they have options.
Speaking of barriers for breastfeeding women…
Did you notice the two pictures? bottle feeding mom is hip in jeans and smiling. Breastfeeding mom is stuck in her pjs and sad. This is subtle and is part of the formula advertising…

CC June 18, 2009, 11:19 AM

When my son was born, I was sure I would breastfeed him for the 1st year. Then…PPD kicked in, and I had a terrible time of it. I was unable to sleep b/c I knew I had to get up and feed my son every 2 hours. Feeding became an unpleasurable experience, and I actually started dreading it. I started supplementing with formuala and felt so much freer. I was also able to get some sleep, which was desperately needed at that point. I absolutely and wholeheartedly believe that breast milk is best and wish..wish I could have continued breastfeeding my son longer than I did. But for my emotional health, it was not feasible. I was supported by family and friends and MDs re my decision to stop but felt an extreme sense of shame and failure. I do believe there is a culture out there that shames mothers who decide not to or cannot, for whatever reason, breastfeed. I truly find it unfortunate.

Abbey June 18, 2009, 4:49 PM

I find it humourous that the Feminist is judging another women for choosing what’s best for her and her body.

Christina: you don’t need to defend your decision. You are doing what’s best for you & your family and that’s most important. Good luck with you and your (adorable!) son!

latinamomof3 June 18, 2009, 5:58 PM

yeah it seems that she needs to defend her decision over and over LOL guilty much?

Let it go woman, it’s over. You formula fed and that’s that. Can’t go back, let it be…

Christine June 18, 2009, 11:29 PM

It would have been an honor for me to be the first one in three generations on both sides of my family to breastfeed. I would have had to “put up” with the nagging to stop that disgusting practice. If you breastfeed for more than a few months, people think you get off on it or something. If you dare breastfeed a hungry baby discreetly in public (mine cried to eat every hour and a half), they think you want attention. But you have to be strong, knowing you are giving your child the healthiest food, the food God blessed you with. You wrote an article, so you are basically asking for public opinion. That’s mine.

Sherrie June 19, 2009, 2:52 AM

if you try to breastfeed i mean really try and it doesn’t work then great find an alternative pumping is an option and a milk bank is an option but if those fail and you need formula that’s fine but recognize formula is not the same as breastmilk. Breastmilk adjsuts itself as needed through out the day, different levels of nutrients are available through the breastmilk at differnent times of the day, the antibodies vary based on what the child has been exposed to. IE if a child with a cold has been exposed to an unsick BF baby than the BF mommy can pass along the antibodies needed to fight that particular cold virus. Breastfeeding can be difficult especially when getting it initiated but in the end its worth it, breastmilk and especially extended breastfeeding is a wonderful part of a babies attachment/development. i am not saying that a formula baby is doomed or that a formula mommy is horrible i was a formula baby and am perfectly healthy but after working through the initiation with my son it is definatly worth it for me ad my son to BF!!!!! i agree you make your decision what’s best for you but don’t judge me for making the decsion that is researched and best for my kids.

Adam June 19, 2009, 10:09 AM

When my wife first breastfed, just 10 years ago, this debate didn’t really exist. Most women bottle-fed back then and they had no problem telling her how to care for child. These women would give their unsolicited advice very forcefully, most of it very unsupportive, and without any regard to her feelings. She was not promoting breastfeeding, just simply trying to raise her child the best way she new. It was back then when I realized how protective women are of their own child rearing methods. Any other approach is a major afront to a woman. Seems that a different parenting approach must make a woman question her own methods.

Is it any wonder that after years of being in the minority that a breastfeeding mother would want finally come out into the public and nurse openly? Now that science appears to be on the side of breastfeeding, something that nursing mothers must have felt intuitively all along, these mothers feel vindicated and have a desire to show their pride. They have felt defensive about nursing for so many years. They were forced into bathrooms, outside patios, or into the other room for many years, and now that’s becoming less necessary.

Now it appears that non-nursing mothers are feeling the pressure. Is it right to make any one feel sub-standard for their non-breasting choice, of course not, but just like when my wife started breastfeeding 10 years ago, it’s tough being on the other side of a popular movement.

megan June 21, 2009, 3:20 PM

i tried breastfeeding for 3 weeks and even with help, my son just wouldnt stay latched on. so he is formula fed… OH WELL!!! its my child, at least i tried.

i think its ridiculous that people get upset for someone not breastfeeding. there are how many people in this world who were bottle fed and turned out JUST FINE!

Rina June 22, 2009, 12:37 AM

In retrospect I was “clueless” about how hard breastfeeding could be when I had my son seven months ago. But Thank God I had a good support system and am still breastfeeding. Otherwise I would have thrown in the towel AGES ago. My advice is do TRY breastfeeding because bottom line, breast is best but surround yourself with support and go to breastfeeding classes if you need to and of course read read read about it.. I could never have imagined how much I would LOVE breastfeeding….it is one of the most amazing parts of motherhood…..just don’t give up and you will see for yourself.


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