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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
Emily June 24, 2009, 3:40 AM

Maddie— you must be a Hanna Rosin fan the way you are asserting there is no conclusive research to prove that breastfeeding is superior to formula feeding. The data is very clear that breastfed babies suffer far fewer infections (ear, respiratory, GI) than formula fed babies. True, data is still fuzzy pertaining to IQ, future heart disease etc. but you cannot argue the anti-infectious properties of breastmilk. Regarding environmental toxins, are you not aware of the contaminants found in formulas, including insect parts and heavy metals? And it clearly states on powdered formula that it is NOT STERILE. Regarding Vitamin D, breast milk is not “deficient” - our lifestyles are “vitamin D deficient”. Humans were designed to spend a certain amount of time exposed to natural sunlight to promote endogenous vitamin D production. I would encourage you to follow your own advice about educating yourself - if you’d like current research in these areas, it is readily available.

Ana July 10, 2009, 10:40 AM

BREAST IS THE BEST… AND I AM NOT SAYING THAT WAS EASY AT THE BEGINING BUT I DIDN’T GIVE UP… I TRIED AND TRIED.. AND FINALLY WAS ABLE TO BREASTFEED MY SON.
SO HAPPY THAT I DIDN’T GIVE UP…. AFTER THAT IT WAS SO EASY FOR ME.
DIDN’T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT GETTING UP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT TO PREPARE A BOTTLE OR HAVE TO WORRY OF THE AMOUNT OF MILK THAT I COULD GIVE TO MY BABY… IF HE WAS HUNGRY OR JUST CRANKY HIS MILK WAS JUST RIGHT THERE IF THE OPTION WAS GIVING TO YOU TO PREVENT DISEaSES, HAVE A CHANGE OF A HIGHER I.Q. ETC WOULDNT YOU CHOOSE TO DO IT? A MOM WOULD DO ANY FOR THEIR CHILDREN?

Tan July 28, 2009, 9:22 AM

You have your opinions (the breast feeding moms) and thats fine….good for you for being a better parent….I refuse to feel guilty for my choice….which was not made lightly BTW , to bottle feed my child. My choice was to go back on my life saving medication after my baby was born or not. So you tell me this is it better to breast feed and leave my child with a very sick mother or to bottle feed and live a healthy life with my baby.
Call me selfish if you want to but I chose to be healthy.

Phoenix August 7, 2009, 11:03 AM

Are we seriously still having this discussion??? People, give it a rest!!!! Yes, we ALL know why women have breast; yes we ALL know “breast is best”; but what about the babies that are actually affected by breastmilk??? Are they “bad babies”? “Formula-brainwashed babies”? My son had to be hospitalized due to Breast milk jaundice when he was 1 week old, and even after he was better and we were given the OK to breastfeed, the jaundice came back. We had to switch to formula and, thank GOD!, he is now a healthy, happy, strong and smart baby. So, people, stop hating. You don’t know the reasons why a person chose one or the other; and even if you do know the reasons it was their choice.

Karen S August 7, 2009, 6:55 PM

You can say “breast is best” all you want, but it’s not necessarily true just because it rhymes. For one, you have cases like Phoenix’s kid and baby me, where the mother’s milk was actually toxic for the baby. For another, even if the mother takes Vitamin D supplements and sits in the sun for two hours at mid-day, the amount of D that comes out in breast milk is negligible. Babies who are fair-skinned can’t stay out in the sun long enough to make their own Vitamin D, and those who are dark-skinned make Vitamin D less efficiently; thus sun exposure for the baby isn’t a good preventative, either. I’ve done a lot of research, and for my own baby, I both breastfed and supplemented with formula.

Of course, if you want to exclusively breastfeed and your baby becomes a rickets statistic, that makes you a bad mom! See, doesn’t feel so good, does it, judgmental jerks…

Linda August 31, 2009, 4:31 PM

Relax! I’m 50, had 6 kids and I say, do what you think is best. I breastfed and its very hard and tiring. The first was no problem, would eat night and day and still does at 26. The second would eat for a minute, fall asleep and wake up in an hour. I was getting no sleep and finally gave up on her. The third was good too and ate well and went on for about 8 months. Gotta tell ya, had lots of nipple pain with all but the first. Fourth did OK but quit after 5 months because too hard when you can’t sit still for 20 minutes. 5 & 6th barely got a month in. The surprising thing to me is that the ones who breastfed longest are the heaviest and two of them are exceptionally smart. So, do what you want. I don’t think it makes an appreciable difference either way but its very hard on tiring on the Mom. The only upside for you is that you lose weight quickly.

Anonymous December 6, 2009, 5:56 PM

As a mother I have done plenty of things I didn’t want to do because it was in my Children’s best interests to do so: change dirty diapers, potty teach, pay for daycare, take sick children to the ER in the middle of the night. I look at your article and my response is not sympathetic. It’s: Really? Are you really equating the prochoice motto with your motherhood? I’m prochoice- don’t get me wrong- but once you decide to have that baby you must accept your responsability to do what’s best for your children, even if it doesn’t appeal to you. Breastfeeding is more than just an idealistic best that’s okay to skip if it doesn’t float your boat. I’ll give you a single fact: bottle feeding exposes your baby to a 250% higher likelihood of respitory illness. That’s not conscionable. This is harsh because there should be not tolerance for this kind of choice. Social censure is the answer. 

Amanda December 7, 2009, 10:50 PM

I think that its a horrible thing to sit there and bash another woman for wanting to bottle feed her child! It makes no difference! Breastfeeding is great but so is bottle feeding. Some women can’t breastfeed. You should be ashamed of calling someone selfish when you dont know their situation!!!!!!


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