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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
Louie December 7, 2010, 9:23 PM

I could only bear to skim your article, but the fact that you felt the need to write this at all suggests that you do indeed feel guilty, and yes, your reasons for not bf are immature, and yes, formula is crap, gives babies belly aches and constipation and does nothing to build up immunity or all the other amazing things breast milk does. This is not all said to make you feel bad, it is just facts. You have decided to formula feed for selfish reasons, fantastic, now own it, don’t give us this crap about ‘walking milk makers’ making you feel bad or whatever else you are waffling on about, I know plenty of self assured and happy mums who formula feed and who don’t see other breast feeding as some kind of personal attack, nor do they feel the need to write articles like this, because they ARE genuinely content with their decision. I really hope you can one day be at peace with yours.

honor your issues, emotions, your feelings! December 7, 2010, 9:33 PM

this article is all about your issues. not the stuff you mentally argue about towards the end…
heal yourself, emotionally, and then walk from there. realize you know your decisions are made from your emotional imbalances. try some energy therapies, see a psych, try traditional chinese medicine. heal yourself and see if you breastfeed or not next baby. if you were truly ok, and not writing about all your issues, your decision to bottle feed may or may not have been different. you know, deep down, that you wanted to give your baby everything, the best, thats why you tried to breast feed…that was your experience. honor that. honor yourself.

honor your issues, emotions, your feelings! December 7, 2010, 9:33 PM

this article is all about your issues. not the stuff you mentally argue about towards the end…
heal yourself, emotionally, and then walk from there. realize you know your decisions are made from your emotional imbalances. try some energy therapies, see a psych, try traditional chinese medicine. heal yourself and see if you breastfeed or not next baby. if you were truly ok, and not writing about all your issues, your decision to bottle feed may or may not have been different. you know, deep down, that you wanted to give your baby everything, the best, thats why you tried to breast feed…that was your experience. honor that. honor yourself.

Maria December 7, 2010, 9:38 PM

Do we have the right to choose how to feed our children? Absolutely! But don’t fool yourselves into thinking formula is on equal footing with human breastmilk. Corn syrup solids have absolutely no nutritional value whatsoever. None. I have the right to feed my children soda too but would never do it because I not only care about their short-term health but more importantly care about the long-term ramifications of ingesting crap. A lot of things are within our rights as parents, that doesn’t mean we should do them.

Joan December 7, 2010, 9:55 PM

I am wondering if you were sexually abused in your past?

Jennifer December 7, 2010, 10:23 PM

Wow, you sound just like me! I was ok, sort of, with BFing. DD never took to it, I just didn’t feel comfortable at all. I tried pumping for a week, then gave up. I was driving myself crazy, all because “well meaning” people guilt tripped me everywhere I went. If we have another one, I won’t even try, I’ll just get the bottles and put on a sports bra right after delivery. DD and I were both calmer when I made the final decision to just stick with formula.

Jennifer December 7, 2010, 10:30 PM

I love how the b*tchiest posts are always by anonymous people. They don’t even have the nerve to put a first name down.

Free December 8, 2010, 12:14 AM

I appreciate that you shared your viewpoint. I can understand breastfeeding is difficult for many women for different reasons. But ultimately I don’t see it as an equal choice to feed naturally or not as breastfeeding is a normal biological way to feed. Its unfortunate that breastfeeding is seen as yuk or disgusting and babies are the ones who suffer. They do not think it disgusting at all.
I am not against mothers who bottlefeed by choice or not but honestly I do feel sad for the babies. Saying that though I think the worst thing we can do is punish those who are doing what they believe is right for them and their families. Sometimes we are selfish for the sake of our children in the long term and I cannot argue that. Women who are happy in their parenting within themselves make better parents. I have friends who have formula fed their children and I know they love them so to me that is the most important and beautiful thing in the world.

MercatiesA December 8, 2010, 12:32 AM

I’am a mother of Two, ages Ten and Four. I’ve had Diabetes since I was Three and I was Breast fed. Apparently, it didn’t help my immune system. My husband was formula fed and that was back in the late 70’s before formula was fortifed to copy breast milk. He’s one of the healthiest people I know. I chose to Formula feed my kids partially because of this and mostly because I went back to work when my kids were six weeks old. Both of my kids are very smart, very healthy, and at a normal weight. A coworker of mine a few years ago had a baby and would spend her entire lunch and breaks pumping because she insisted breast is best. Her Son is now fifteen lbs overweight and is constantly sick. Other than the fact that the “experts” SAY breastmilk is healthier I haven’t seen any actual proof of that in my own or anyone elses kids.

Greensleeves December 8, 2010, 1:35 AM

Of course you have a right to choose. Don’t we all have rights in this society?! The fact that you need to justify your decision says it all actually. You sound very defensive. And it doesn’t make a pleasant reading.
Yes, it is painful at the start but so is labour. You obviously made up your mind even before trying, so psychologically you were set against it. Of course, in that case it wouldn’t work. But your information that breasts sag due to b/f is incorrect.

Anonymous December 8, 2010, 2:37 AM

I was 19 years old when i had my first baby (which im sure you will say nasty things about) and i never once thought about putting my baby on formula. I was determined that my baby would get the best. And he did for a whole year :). So what that i couldnt drink alcohol and that we were attached at the hip, i loved all of that :). I loved being the one to get up at night to feed and bond with my baby. I would never and have never put my needs before my childs needs. I have a second child and he is 20 months and is still going strong being breastfed. When he is ready to give up, then and only then will we stop breastfeeding. And dont get all high and mighty and say its just gross for me to be feeding an 20 month old, cause then i will obvioulsy say that you must think that breast are a sexual thing when infact breast are for feeding a baby. Thats why we have them. Thats why the produce milk. Get over yourself and your feelings and put your babies needs first. For your babies sake.

zandhmom December 8, 2010, 3:50 AM

Wow, I am completely appalled by all of the responses to this article. For the sake of this argument, I will not stated if I BF or not but I will say that being a mom, I try to always do what is best for my children. I have seen so much different styles of Moms, rather just in my own family or friends and we all have different styles in raising our kids. Some mom believe in using a very firm schedule, other moms could care less and let their kids set their own schedule. Some moms believe in letting their kids cry it out while other mom never let their kids cry. Some moms are firm in disciple, other moms let their kids run free. I could go on and on comparing the different styles that I have seen over the years but the truth is, it really doesn’t matter. What I feel is “right” and what someone else feels is “right” is only relevant to the person who feels they are right. To all MOMS, I say take the time to enjoy your children, love them, teach them to love themselves and don’t put so much pressure on yourself to be perfect because none of us are!!

liloleme December 8, 2010, 5:27 AM

I think sometimes that things get exaggerated in our minds based on what we expect rather than what we actually experience. I am a breastfeeder. Through that I have been to several types of support meetings & met many other breastfeeding moms now (didn’t know any before that). I have to say I think the idea that we all set around judging formula feeding moms is really misplaced. I was told these women were crazy, that they would guilt me into nursing & try to make me breastfeed. I never experienced anything like that. They answered my questions & concerns & when I had problems they showed me how to get through them to be able to continue. Had I WANTED to suit, perhaps that would have felt like pressure…but I wanted to continue so it felt like support & help.

FWIW I too was weirded out about baby suckling at the breast. Didn’t know anyone who was nursing, couldn’t imagine what it would be like, but the more i read about it, the more I figured I ought to be at least willing to try to do it if it was best for my baby. So I tried it. It was hard, I had moments when it was really sweet & times I just wanted to quit. I made small goals & stuck to those & in the end I nurse for over 3yrs & through an entire pregnancy before starting on nursing my next baby. It is soooo worth it. When someone asks me why I care of they nurse or not the answer is I really don’t. But I do want them to know that they are likely missing out on something if they don’t even try it. Lots of things in life aren’t comfortable at first, are hard, require perseverance, and many of them turn out to be the most worthwhile things we do.

If you want to know WHO has an agenda - you might want to look at the BILLION dollar a year formula industry. Mommas like me that just want to share info & support & support don’t profit ONE dime & do all of our work as volunteers taking time out from our own families to assist moms who are trying to nurse. I get so tired of LLL getting vilified because they have given me countless hours of assistance to help me nurse. If women want to stop nursing, why are they calling LLL for help anyway?

Anonymous December 8, 2010, 6:36 AM

Mel - YOU clearly sound like the defensive mom who has to attack formula moms because YOU were unhappy with your choice!

Tara December 8, 2010, 6:40 AM

WOW I have never read so many unsatsified comments by breasfeeding moms. If you really felt great about your choice you wouldn’t need to bash others. Sounds like a lot of jealous breastfeeding moms out there…

Judgmental Tracy December 8, 2010, 9:25 AM

That’s me! The anonymous, callous,cruel, judgmental, breastfeeding Tracy!
Listen Formula Moms, I agree with you, a lot of this comes off as judgmental and it hurts your feelings. I sympathize! I don’t mean to come off as cruel or condescending. We’re all here because someone posted a blog that GLORIFIES FORMULA! Breastfeeding moms don’t want to bring you down, but it is seriously ridiculous to be advertising that it’s okay. Fine it’s a personal choice, supposedly. I get it. So is abortion, supposedly….yes, I know the two don’t compare in any real way…I have a point to make. I bring that up because it’s not necessary to encourage others to make that same choice. If it’s a personal choice, then keep it that way….don’t make it easier for other women to give up on what is the best choice because your choice happens to be ok. I would seriously be appalled if some blogger posted,”Having an abortion is okay…go ahead and do it because it’s a personal choice”. We all have different view points. But one thing remains constant….breastfeeding is what’s intended for your baby. Formula came about in the 50s to resolve the issues of babies without mothers, or mothers with serious diseases, or just plain lazy, selfish mothers who were feeding Corn Syrup mixed with water….(yes, that’s what they were feeding them when they didn’t want to breastfeed) and that’s what you’re doing. No one’s trying to bring you down, but rather educate those that still have the opportunity to make the right decision. Many of us are being brain washed into believing that Formulas is normal…..Think about it, it really isn’t. Even I knew that as a kid. I thought,” Powder & Water, how weird is that”. It’s not normal. You’re not a bad mom because you’re choosing it, you’re just an uninformed mom. Get informed, but if you’re still adamant that Formula is okay, there’s no need to tell every other mother that. Just like you don’t care to hear that we breastfed, we don’t care to hear that you Formula fed. It’s as simple as that. So get over the fact that we’re putting you down. Don’t get on a site like this if you can’t handle it!

Mommyof4 December 8, 2010, 9:28 AM

I am a mother of 4 who proudly breastfed all of my children and am currently still BFeeding #4 (10+months) and I never once even considered formula…I cannot agree that formula is just as good as BM it never will sister and my girlfriend fed their children formula and their kids are always sick and have persistent ear infections…and my children have never had the benefits of BF are there and when you choose to give your baby formula just because you think it is gross, then you are being selfish you cannot recreate the benefits and the antibodies that are naturally in your BM..why do you think we have them in the first place? How do you think people fed their children before formula? It is natural and the best for your baby..and when I first started to BF yes it can be painful and they would get engorged but I did not give up and you know what? after a few weeks all the pain subsided and it was nothing for him to feed…now don’t get me wrong I am not saying that all mothers who give their babies formula are “bad”…there are woman out there who cannot BF for med reasons and that sucks..and if you think I am wrong and coming of too strong well thats just to bad cause the way you wrote your article basically bashing BF moms well of course we are going to get offended and put our 2 cents in….I am a BF advocate all the way, and I have friends on both sides of the topic, I do try to encourage my friends on bf but I do not push it on them it is always going to be their choice but I do make sure they know everything there is to know about the benefits of bf cause half the time they didn’t know and thought that formula was just as good….and its not! I am fine with whatever a mother chooses to do with their baby as long as they know the benefits and risks of both sides first and then make their decision…sorry for the rant I just had to get it out there…that article really pushed my buttons..

nancy December 8, 2010, 9:47 AM

If your child needed a blood transfusion…would you pick cow’s blood or human blood for your son/daughter ??
That’s a pretty simple choice…human blood for human baby..

The feeding choice is also simple..human milk for human babies. Not optional. Not about mom. All about baby.

Karissa December 8, 2010, 10:05 AM

Breastfeeding is normal. Mothers are supposed to nourish babies at their breast. The only reason you feel the way you do, is because of our society. Every baby deserves human milk. If you ‘can’t’ breastfeed, then maybe consider getting human milk from another source such as Eats on Feets or a milk bank. Don’t trust your child’s life with some formula company.

molly December 8, 2010, 11:03 AM

Holy crap. The comments on this blog are exactly what “mommy wars” are all about. After reading this blog and the comments to follow it is clear that moms will never support one another. The self-righteous attitudes literally sicken me.

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