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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
breastfedlongtime December 9, 2010, 12:17 PM

Formula is disgusting… and I would rather give my baby (if my child was, sick, premature, etc) donated milk from a milk bank than give forumla if I could not breastfeed.. there is so much help out there - even if you can’t “make milk” - such a misnomer - you CAN make milk - you just have to know the right interventions

Anonymous December 9, 2010, 2:17 PM

I don’t think it’s about breastfeeders being insecure or judgemental. I think they just care. They care about other people’s children as well as their own. Not saying formula feeders don’t care. I think this is just one way that breastfeeders show they care, by informing people of the importance of bfing.

Formula is here to stay December 9, 2010, 5:50 PM

Leave the reastfeeding for 3rd world countries, tree huggers and vegans. Come on over to the 21st century. Even if formula is bad for my child as you say, it doesn’t seem to make much of a difference. We’ve had decades of over-population so it seems to be fine. Our bodies are probably immune to the pesticides and antibiotics they claim is in the stuff. We mothers are too busy to be having our baby hanging off our breast. We have jobs & life to deal with. If it’s easier on us to feed them and focus on other important things, why bother trying to feed them the natural way just because millions of years ago we were created that way. You don’t see us squatting in the middle of the road to do our business because we have toilets now. So why should we breastfeed if we have formula. They obviously add what a child needs otherwise why would it be available all this time? Stop trying to convince me that I should breastfeed. I am doing just fine. My child is fine. I don’t have time to go back to the habits of the ice age. Formula is here to stay. Get over it!

Amysbabies December 9, 2010, 6:45 PM

Not in order to “have a relationship” but MOTHERING through breastfeeding is about MUCH more than nutrients and immunity. It is a way of mothering your baby. I saw a woman the other day with her baby in a car seat in the front of a shopping cart with a bottle propped in it and a pacifier through which it was drinking it’s milk with a tube to the bottle. That baby is going to have a very deep attachment to that plastic device. When a baby is breastfed by a LOVING mother he or she is receiving love, affection, warmth, learning, trust, bonding… etc I think it is just one of those things- either you are capable to understand it or you are not. I feel badly for those who don’t get it. Babies were born to be breastfed!

Amysbabies December 9, 2010, 6:49 PM

La Leche League Philosophy- unless you don’t think they know what they are talking about either- I’ll post the following…

The basic philosophy of La Leche League is summarized in the following statements:
Mothering through breastfeeding is the most natural and effective way of understanding and satisfying the needs of the baby.
Mother and baby need to be together early and often to establish a satisfying relationship and an adequate milk supply.
In the early years the baby has an intense need to be with his mother which is as basic as his need for food.
Breast milk is the superior infant food.
For the healthy, full-term baby, breast milk is the only food necessary until the baby shows signs of needing solids, about the middle of the first year after birth.
Ideally the breastfeeding relationship will continue until the baby outgrows the need.
Alert and active participation by the mother in childbirth is a help in getting breastfeeding off to a good start.
Breastfeeding is enhanced and the nursing couple sustained by the loving support, help, and companionship of the baby’s father. A father’s unique relationship with his baby is an important element in the child’s development from early infancy.
Good nutrition means eating a well-balanced and varied diet of foods in as close to their natural state as possible.
From infancy on, children need loving guidance which reflects acceptance of their capabilities and sensitivity to their feelings.

Tracy December 9, 2010, 7:36 PM

Well said Amysbabies! There’s so much value in that. There’s no need for anyone to feel offended. It’s just a lot of helpful information. Either u take it or u don’t. We obviously can’t expect everyone to think a certain. But u can hope that if the right inof is out there, better decisions will be made. Maybe one day fast food places will get shut down or forced to sell quality food. We hope for an end to dependancy on processed foods and sugar ladened foods being given to children. And maybe one day there will be an nd to tobacco. Just because it’s being sold or being used by the masses doesn’t make it a safe product.

Look at all those ingredients on the can. How many recalls have we heard about, salmonella, shards of glass. I haven’t heard of having to recall breasts. And even if u happen to have a night when u feel like having a glass of wine or a girls night out…all u need to do is pump & dump. Then feed your stored pumped milk. It’s all so simple. And it definitely creates a closer bond with the child. It’s hard to explain, but it’s true. You’re more in tune with ur child. Your child just stares into your eyes as he or she is feeding with so much content and u can see they feel so much security. There are no words to describe that feeling and give it any justice.

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Monica December 11, 2010, 12:33 PM

@ Amysbabies MOTHERING? So because a mother doesn’t breastfeed she’s not a LOVING mother? REALLY? My son wasn’t breast-fed and he received all the love, affection, warmth, learning, trust, bonding he could get. (Sometimes too much.) He is loving and affectionate because of me. We have a great bond. Now I wonder where that came from since I wasn’t loving enough to breastfeed him? Wow, you breastfeeding moms have really dropped to a new low to assume that any mother is not loving because they don’t breastfeed. By the way I know some breast-fed kids who are attached to that plastic pacifier too. In any case everyone already knows the facts about breast milk being good for the baby. No one denies that. But different strokes for different folks. It still doesn’t mean that each mother can’t make their own choice. And you RADICAL breastfeeding mothers need to recognize that and get off your high horses and worry about what you feed your own kids and stop accusing other mothers of being loveless because they aren’t the “AWARD WINNING” mothers you are trying so desperately to prove to other people that you are just because you can whip out a breast. Yeah, you can approve and recommend breastfeeding all you want but once a person makes their choice then you need to back down and shut the heck up. Every mother on this site has love in their heart for their child and is capable of MOTHERING their child whether breast-fed or not. Obviously, or they wouldn’t be on momlogic. Either you are capable of understand that or you are not. I feel badly because YOU just don’t get it. Babies are born to be loved and cared for by their mothers whether breast-fed or not!

Lisa J December 11, 2010, 12:37 PM

I thought I wouldn’t be “into” breastfeeding either, and I was worried about the pain. But I made a commitment to do it because (as we all know) formula introduces risks that breast milk does not. It’s not that breast milk is “better” than formula. Breast milk is just the natural food for a baby, and formula is a substitute that introduces several risks for babies. So I had to try. And yes, I went through some pain. But it worked out and he’s still nursing two years later. I didn’t have problems with milk production, so in one sense I was lucky, but also I didn’t supplement with formula. So many women have a reduction in milk supply and then you find out they have been using formula. Well, that’s kind of obvious. If the baby isn’t nursing every time he/she feeds, then your milk supply will go down. If you let a baby eat as he NATURALLY should, your supply will adjust to his needs.

It’s a matter of commitment. If you want to give your baby the best nutrition, you’ll commit to it and you’ll do it. If that’s not your priority, you won’t. That sounds judgmental, yes, but it also happens to be true. In other areas of my son’s life, I don’t do the best things, and I’m ok with owning up to that. I give him candy sometimes and I let him watch too much TV. I fully admit that those are bad things to do. If I gave my baby formula, I’d freely admit that I wasn’t making the best choice for my child.

Gwyn December 11, 2010, 3:03 PM

I keep thinking people are missing the whole point. Formula is just fine to feed your baby, not optimal, but parents make lots of sub-optimal decisions for their babies/children for the perceived overall good of the family, and that’s just life and it seems okay.

There are great mothers who bottle feed and horrible mothers who breastfeed. But the whole “mothering” aspect lies in the fact that IF you breastfeed, you HAVE to pick your baby up and hold him/her in your arms every time, 8-12 times a day for six months, less than that after that. Bottle fed babies are fed by others, fed in carseats, bouncy chairs, swing, and feed themselves.

Bottle feeding CAN be done like breastfeeding, with skin to skin contact everytime with the mother, but as a professional health care worker working with parents of young children, i have YET to see a bottle fed baby consistently fed like a breastfeeding baby is fed.

Jen December 12, 2010, 2:01 PM

I agree with Gwynn, Lisa & Amysbabies. And people do keep missing the point. They keep latching on to what they feel are attacks (pun intended) but they’re missing the key points.

Monica, no one is saying you’re NOT “mothering” if you don’t breastfeed, we’re saying there’s just a little extra mothering involved when u do. I know it’s hard to swallow (pun), but it’s the truth. It’s something you won’t understand inless you’ve breastfed your child long term. The child is connected to you a little more than with straight bottle feeding. You’re more in tune with your child. Sometimes we don’t know why our child is crying, but when u breastfeed u know when it’s NOT hunger because they react a certain way when close to the breast. Sure, u can find out after you’ve prepared a bottle of formula, but it takes u that much longer to figure out what’s wrong with your child. That’s what I mean when I say being in tune. Your child is completely comforted by you. The same comforting is not there with the bottle. That’s why they attach to blankies or other comforts.

So don’t take it so personal when we say there’s a little more mothering invovled. It’s in no way shape or form saying ur not mothering correctly. Just saying u & baby are missing out on an added blessing given to u by God….and that’s just one aspect. There’s so much to be said about the nutrients & antibodies in BM…..and the many, many risks in Formula.

I have to disagree with the different strokes for different folks being an option when it comes to Formula. It really should only be as an emergency or an alternative for children who have NO CHOICE!

LisaJ said it best…it’s ok to freely admit when u know it’s not the right choice. That’s a part of being a parent. We’re not perfect, but we all do have opportunities to improve & not make the same mistakes!

Grace December 12, 2010, 2:33 PM

I just think it’s so comical when people throw out the word RADICAL when it comes to breastfeeding. You makes us sound like we’re these bare-chested women with picketing signs standing at the Formula aisle screaming out “Fair Milk for babies”. I find it hard to believe anyone is on here to persecute. We’re just here having a discussion/disagreement about what’s best for babies. How dare we care enough about children that way.

“Award Winning Moms” ??? Oh barf!! we don’t breastfeed to get patted on our backs. We do it because that’s what we’re meant to do & because it’s best for baby. We don’t feed formula because it’s honestly not good. Why give it to child when u house the good stuff?? And this isn’t directed to moms with extenuating circumstances. Those circumstances don’t include “my milk didn’t come in”. If u can get pregnant, 99% of the time ur milk comes in….period end of story. Everyone always wants to claim they are that 1% that didn’t. Seriously ?? Just LEARN how to get it to baby…it’s that simple. And if u don’t want to, that’s fine. It’s just plain fiction to say formula is a-ok….or worse to say it’s just as good. It’s your choice—agreed! Don’t be upset when we continue to talk about what’s “better”. That’s just one topic of parenting that is talked about. Get used to it!! No awards involved!|

Jaime December 12, 2010, 6:13 PM

THANK YOU for this article. I had the exact same experience.
My daughter was born 15 days late but needed brain surgery only a few hours after her birth. So of course she was tube fed for a week and I had no chance to touch or feed her in that time, as she was recovering. I was undecided going into it whether I would or not. I never wanted to, I too wanted to preserve my breastylumps and the concept just felt… icky to me personally. I love women who can just whip out a boob anywhere to feed their child, but that isn’t me. BUT MAN were the nurses on me to pump. So I did, i bought a brand new hospital pump too as I thought I would have to at least pump if not directly breastfeed because of what my little girl had been through. It too lasted about a week. It was painful and awful and made me feel like a cow.. I did not like a foreign machine sucking on my tah tah anymore than a little person. So I stopped and just formula fed. It took all the stress off me and instantly put me at ease. She was eating, lots, and gaining weight and I was in a much better mind set. I still cringe when I see moms or women (or even the occasional man) who is dead seat against the bottle/formula. Great article. I am so glad to see someone feels the same.

elizab December 13, 2010, 3:54 AM

Another example of selfishness and ignorance. Would you rather start off your baby’s life with an infinite amount of money in the bank or very little? That’s what you do when you breastfeed. When you chose to bottle feed, you compromise your child in every way.
I too was so self conscience of breastfeeding my very first child I was almost crippled by it. Thankfully, all that was overcome with wonderful support and knowing I’m giving this new human being priceless headstart in life.
Fulfillment of the pleasure principle over the better needs of the baby - so indicative of my peers in this generation. What a shame.
Good moms breastfeed. Good pediatricians encourage it.

Terri December 13, 2010, 5:53 AM

I find it so hilarious (and completely ignorant) when these uber-breast-feeding nazi speak of all these extra benefits of breastfeeding. Seriously, as an elementary school teacher, I can assure you that in a room full of student you’ll never be able to tell who was breast fed and who wasn’t. It may help SOME babies when infants (my babies did much better on formula than breasmilk - I did both) but in the end they all wind up the same. Get off your high horses and mind your own business.

Grace December 13, 2010, 9:17 AM

Terri, who in the world cares about whether you’ll be able to notice the difference?? Once again, someone missing the point. We’re talking about health and goodness. You said so yourself “it may help SOME babies when infants”… say that like it’s not a great thing. They are INFANTS…..they deserve the good stuff…..they certainly don’t deserve pulvarized cow’s milk with added corn syrup & other bad stuf. They’re newborns for crying out loud. Breast milk IS the food for babies. Formula is a DETRIMENT to babies. It doesn’t matter if YOU can’t tell the difference in the classroom. What matters is that a child receives a healthful start. But to be honest, it does make a difference in life. However, u also have to consider what the child’s health habits are as they mature. If you’re a teacher u would know better than anyone that if a child receives a head start in learning, they will have a better opportunity. Doesn’t mean that if they don’t receive a head start they won’t succeed, but it is more challenging. That’s the same concept. Breastmilk gives a perfect head start. Formula babies may still have the opportunity to receive good health, but you’re introducing more risk, therefore more challenging……why be willing to jeopardize health?

So who cares if u can’t tell the difference. But I’d actually argue that if you took a poll of who was breastfed, u would notice some consistencies. Not just intelligence. That’s not the reason to breastfeed. Health is the reason.

But thanks for the good laugh calling us Nazis. It’s funny that because we care, we’re called Nazi’s or radical or being on a high horse. I’m sure as a teacher u hope for more parents that care. Now you’ve got them and you’re still complaining.

I’m sorry you’re annoyed. I’d rather you get the message than be too annoyed to want to hear it. We’re always going to have disagreeing minds. But hopefully we’ve helped some future babies through this.

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