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Bottles & Boobs: It's OK to Formula Feed!

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Guest blogger Jill Simonian: Ah, life with a newborn! Eat, poop, sleep, wash bottles ... then repeat. Yup, I said the nasty B-word: BOTTLE. Secret's out folks: I'm not breastfeeding, and I don't feel guilty at all.

baby drinking milk
I didn't always have this unwavering strength of opinion about the breastfeeding thing. From the beginning of my pregnancy through the day my little girl was delivered, women from all areas of my life asked me if I planned to breastfeed. Friends, relatives, doctors, nurses ... even a few strangers. It was an epidemic. Depending upon who the inquisitor was, I either said, "I'm thinking about it" or "Nope. I've never been into it." The latter answer was the truth; the former was the lie that shot out of my mouth to keep me from feeling guilty at the time.

Breastfeeding is a hot topic for new mothers, and frankly, I'm tired of everyone being so damn interested and judgmental about such a personal choice! That said, I acknowledge and respect the medical research that says breast milk is superior to formula. However, this did not change my decision. The bare truth is that the thought of breastfeeding makes me uncomfortable. I can't help it. Apparently, I am that immature. I could not imagine having my baby suck on my boobies.

I've also heard that it's painful. And that your breasts turn into deflated-tire-like globs and are never the same. For a gal who was flat-chested to begin with, these conditions sounded extra scary and intimidating ... and I wasn't interested in experiencing them firsthand. I know this might seem selfish, but sorry, that's how I feel. (You will not be shocked to find out that my mom did not breastfeed, either. Perhaps I've been subconsciously brainwashed about this subject?)

Even though I made up my mind well before heading to the hospital, the nurses got to me after delivery. Every time I answered the "Do you want us to send in the lactation coach" question with a polite "No thank you," I could feel their underlying disdain. I spent three days following the birth of my baby doubting my choice. I cried and cried. My husband thought I was nuts for questioning myself and told me to stick with my original plan if I was going to lose my mind over it (and he's a pediatric doctor, for God's sake).

Long story short, I caved, called in the lactation nurse and tried "pumping" as a compromise. (I still wasn't mentally ready to try breastfeeding directly.) To my surprise, pumping wasn't that bad; it didn't hurt and I actually found it fascinating to see what my body was capable of producing. I also felt politically correct about supplementing my baby's formula with what nature intended.

That positive attitude lasted exactly eight days. After a few episodes of painful engorgement, stained sports bras and minimal milk production, I opted to ice my chest and shut down the dairy factory before my throbbing little tatas exploded into a million pieces in the middle of the night. I'm glad I tried to change my initial opinion about breastfeeding, but it just didn't work. And I was now OK with it.

My question to myself (and you) is: As a grown woman, WHY had I felt that I needed to compromise my own personal comfort and make excuses to others in the first place? To those women who are at ease breastfeeding: More power to you! But it's not for all of us. I don't judge breastfeeding proponents; why should they judge me? I am exhausted from the ongoing and heated debates comparing breastfeeders to bottle feeders, and insinuating that women who do not breastfeed are uncompassionate mothers.

As women, we collectively cherish our freedom to shape our lifestyles, careers and families. Let each mom feed her baby however the heck she wants without passing judgment! As long as the baby is eating, he/she will be fine! My baby has been on the bottle for over a month now, and we are bonding, thriving and happy.

To my fellow formula-feeders: Don't ever feel guilty about what you're comfortable with, and don't let any walking milk makers boss you around.


next: Could Frisky Behavior Run in the Family?
129 comments so far | Post a comment now
Tina December 7, 2010, 4:20 AM

Yes, I totally agree, Women has her full freedom to choose to breastfeed her child or not….Although scientifically and medically its normal and it is important for the child’s brain growth as well as development but there other alternatives present in the market. Why to insist women to do things without her consent and without her likings…this is totally ridiculous….Society has to understand the fact that without full intentions and the mood that milk would be just a white liquid instead of being a super nutritious diet for a child….. I know why human beings are intelligent ‘Mammals’ but breasts have other uses too…I am a mother of 3 and I have breastfeeded all of them but nobody asked my choice. I dint felt any pain, infact when I hadnt breastfeed my children then it pain as a natural alarm which said I should feed my baby….My boys and girls are strong with the mind and body although but it was clearly I dint like to do. Anyways my time has gone…..but sometimes I wonders , it this the big reason we have got the baby bag in tummy and milk cans on chest…..Its natural to all the mammals and so do I….Animals cant deny breastfeeding but I can and so do I…But literally its personal choice…

Tina Climenstsky
Gynecologist Madrid
My Business homepage : Walking Sticks

Patricia December 7, 2010, 6:33 AM

Of course you have a right to choose to formula feed.

But your pay-off is insulting and demeaning, and promotes the sort of division and judgementalism you say you are against.

I am not a ‘walking milk maker’. I am a mother.

If you think - correctly - that there is more to mothering than breastfeeding, then don’t reduce breastfeeding mothers to breasts.

Samantha Baker December 7, 2010, 6:43 AM

I had every intention of breast feeding my son when he was born 10 years ago. Unfortunately for me the pain of it was excrutiating, so I pumped and eventually weaned him onto formula. When my first daughter was born 15 months later I tried again with even moore pain to the point where I threw my back out because my body tensed up so much. When my second daughted came along 2 and a half years later I had the formula and breast pump ready to take to the hospital. My best friend at the time had a daughter, too, and exclusively breastfed. I watched her struggle so much with a baby who never thrived while my daughter, who was 2 lbs lighter at birth, outpaced her in every way. Her family made her feel so guilty when she eventualy switched to formula, it was heartbreaking. Why, why, why do we do this to ach other? If our goal is to raise a happy, healthy child and formula is the best way to achieve that, why would we be hurtful to other Moms for that choice? And for the record, my three children have had a combined 4 ear infections in their lifetimes. They are normal sizes and weights, and do extremely well at school, so I’m guessing that their brains developed perfectly. All the people who used those scare tactics on me were apparently wrong….

Pamala December 7, 2010, 8:20 AM

I was going to try but honestly I did it once and was like nope not for me. I like being in control and knowing how much my child is eating. I can’t trust I know myself. So I went straight to bottles and I’m not sad or guilty about it at all. I never intended to breastfeed with my first either. Why would I feel guilty? They’re fed, they are happy and doing quite well. Both are healthy, rarely sick (and my oldest never was sick until she entered school at 3 years old), and are smart as hell. So I can’t complain or be guilty.

K8 December 7, 2010, 8:44 AM

As long as you acknowledge that you are giving your child an inferior medical intervention…

Natalie December 7, 2010, 9:26 AM

I formula fed my daughter. I breastfed for maybe 3 days before we went to the doctor and she was loosing weight. Mind you she was 9 lbs 7ozs, born the old fashion way. At first i was really upset but i was the only one that bottle fed her and we have a great bond. Now she’s 27 months, speaking in sentences, knowing all her shapes, some number and colors.

Katie December 7, 2010, 10:04 AM

I say that sure there are things in mothers breast milk you might now find in formula. However, I also say hundreds of thousands of children are formula fed every year and are not sick, or stupid, or malnourished so the only thing that truly separates the two is money. If you have clean,safe bottles and water and the money to buy formula then who cares and stop judging. To each their own

Leah December 7, 2010, 10:27 AM

I NEVER had any desire to breastfeed (and I was breastfed myself). I honestly cannot see the difference in grown children so while breastmilk may be slightly more beneficial in the end I firmly believe formula is just as good. None of my babies were ever sick and I was a way happier more effective mom by not breastfeeding.

Milky Mother 2 December 7, 2010, 11:05 AM

What’s a little off putting is that the formula feeding mothers are saying their children are fine, thriving, smart and healthy. I ask u….. Why were u willing to EXPERIMENT with ur baby to find out?? Sounds like a big risk in order to not compromise ur convenience or ur own personal issues with breastfeeding. Formula is a huge risk! There are no guarantees that ur child will not be affected negatively. On the other hand, breastmilk is guaranteed to be the best for ur child….why would u gamble with that??

Tess December 7, 2010, 11:26 AM

The only sensible thing in your post is that you acknowledge that breastmilk is better for a child.

The rest of it comes across as selfish, shallow, and defensive.

You didn’t even try and your reasons are vacuous. How insulting to your baby.

Anonymous December 7, 2010, 11:40 AM

I wonder how many of these moms who are criticizing you are the same moms who responded to the other post about how they smoked pot during their pregnancy and how healthy and smart their kids are???

Monica December 7, 2010, 12:03 PM

I’ve always thought that as long as the baby is fed, what difference does it make. Yeah, it might scientifically be better for them. But in the long run, 20 years later will we really see any difference. Will we send our kid off to college and say, hmm, if only I had breast fed him he would have gotten into a better college. Or his IQ would have been just a few points higher had I breastfeed him. Look the point is, whatever a mothers choices are as long as they are for the benefit of the baby it doesn’t matter. If the baby is fed, changed and loved why should any person judge what choices a mother make unless it would physically or mentally harm the baby.

response to Anonymous December 7, 2010, 12:22 PM

It would be more likely that the formula feeders would smoke pot during pregnancy. Their babies health is as much of a priority than their own needs or desires.

mel December 7, 2010, 12:25 PM

you are so obviously defensive. is it because you know in your heart that you you chose what was second best for your baby? i suffered a long 4 weeks before my daughter would latch and i could breastfeed her with ease but i never gave up and never gave her formula, because as a mother i am willing to sacrifice whatever it takes to give my baby what she deserves. i don’t understand why people become moms if they are going to be selfish.

response to Monic December 7, 2010, 12:31 PM

Why don’t we give our children tap water while we’re at it?? Who knows, they might not end up with an illness later on in life. Let’s also fill all their cavaties with mercury & feed them tuna every day. Then we can wait until their grown to find out if in fact nothing happens. Sounds like a brilliant idea!

preemiemum December 7, 2010, 12:38 PM

my son wasnt breast fed as he was 8 weeks premature and weighed only 4lb 10oz yet 9 months later thanks to FORMULA he now weighs over 20lbs and is a very healthy happy little boy.
if my son was born on time i still would have formula fed him,same as im planning on feeding my daughter (due in 16 weeks) formula,i never plan to breast feed and never will i let someone make me feel guilty for it,do what YOU want with YOUR child,dont tell me how to raise mine

response to Monica 2 December 7, 2010, 12:40 PM

nursing mothers talk about the IQ factor as an added bonus, not a reason to justify nursing. It’s funny that people stick to that as an argument. Focus on the health issue. There’s no health in formula….just as it is not healthy to feed a baby steak. Would the child make it to adulthood on steak alone? Probably! Is it right?? Not so much!

Samantha Baker December 7, 2010, 12:47 PM

Did I forget to mention my rampant pot smoking during pregnancy? And that my evil scientist husband and I formula fed as an experiment? My bad! Are you kidding me? I brought up the overall health and intelligence of my kids to validate my point, that I WASN’T risking those things. I truly believe that formula can be just as nourishing for a child whose mother (in my case, at least)CAN’T breastfeed. I will not be made to feel guilty due to my own physical limitations. How would me being laid out in pain have been better for my babies? And for those who chose not to do it for personal reasons,don’t judge! Did you ever stop to think that some people might have been uncomfortable with it due to a past history of abuse? Shame on them, huh? We should all be thankful that there is a safe perfectly healthy alternative for our children. The judgement and harshness some of you are putting out there is astounding to me.


response to preemiemum December 7, 2010, 12:54 PM

Preemiemum…..u must be so proud. I applaude u for making the choice to feed ur next child something u know is not the right choice. U don’t even have the excuse that u tried and couldn’t succeed. Right off the bat you’re saying u just won’t and “don’t judge me”. U sound like a drugged up mother that says “it’s my child and I’ll do what I want”. Tsk tsk

sungirltan December 7, 2010, 12:56 PM

formula milk is never ‘best for baby’ so don’t kid yourself. Even the WHO only rates formula milk as being 4th best and pretty much in place of starvation.

you might as well have posted ‘i can’t breastfeed - euw it grossed me out!’. yet you managed to have sex and give birth, both of which are considerably more invasive than breastfeeding.

i would say ‘its your baby, do what you want’ but i cannot consider an infant human being reduced to a possesion. instead i will say have your opinion but don’t try to alleviate your guilt trying to round up other dim witted lazy parents.


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