Posted in Parenting

The Breast is Mightier than the Bottle

Or so they say.

Personally, I breastfeed and I love it.  My breasts don’t hurt, I have more than enough milk, I love the proximity with my baby.  But when the people around me learned that I was pregnant, one of the first questions they asked was “are you going to breastfeed”.  I didn’t think much of it at first and always answered “if I can, I’d like to”.  I mean, for me, it was a no-brainer: it’s practical (no bottles to warm up or carry along when I’m out and about with the baby), cheap (I was shocked when I found out how much formula costs) and good for the baby’s health.  However, there was always an exit door in my answer, always the “if”.

You see, my mother tried to breastfeed.  She really did, really wanted to.  But she didn’t have enough milk for me (or for my little sister, for that matter).  She eventually switched to bottle feeding, after my 1 month appointment, when she learned that I hadn’t gained any weight.  After that, not only did I gain weight, but I also stopped crying so much.

Both my boyfriend and I had kept an open mind about feeding.  I told him that I wanted to try nursing, but not at any cost.  I did not want to put any pressure on myself.  I wasn’t going to start supplementing with a feeding tube whilst I hoped for my milk to come in.  I wasn’t going to cut down my rest and sleep hours even more than they would be because my child was perpetually hungry.  My boyfriend, of course, fully supported my decision.  I think he was even relieved by it; he wouldn’t have to worry about me potentially getting depressed by the thought that I am a failure as a mother because I can’t breastfeed.

I’m happy I made up my mind about this matter quickly, that I decided that I wouldn’t put any pressure on myself, because there was a whole lot of outside pressure.

It’s actually rather troubling, that one of the first questions you are asked by the people around you and the random people you meet is if you are going to breastfeed.  I mean, what do they care?  They are certainly not the ones that are going to be getting up during the night.  They are certainly not the ones whose body is going to change to adapt to its new function.  And they sure as heck are not the ones who will be drinking the milk!  So what do they care?

I was bottle-fed, so were my sister and brother as well as my boyfriend and his sister.  We are all very well adapted to the world and healthy.  Drinking formula sure doesn’t seem to have had a negative impact.  Of course, some might argue that we can’t know how breast milk could have effected us, but who cares!

Though I find it fine to inform a new or expecting mother on the benefits of nursing versus bottle-feeding, it is ultimately the mother’s decision.  Once her decision is made, I believe that no one has the right to put extra pressure on her or judge her.

Would love to hear your thoughts on the matter.

My son, right after a nursing session.
My son, right after a nursing session.

Author:

Thirty-something year old discovering the joys and bumps of motherhood.

10 thoughts on “The Breast is Mightier than the Bottle

  1. That is wonderful that you are enjoying breastfeeding and it’s going so well for you both! That picture is priceless. I’ve heard it called a “milk coma” and getting “drunk” with milk. 😉 Yes, women who work their best to breastfeed but are unable to, should not feel bad nor should anyone try to make them feel that way. 🙂
    I have a breastfeeding page with info and resources, if you’re interested: http://atlantamomofthree.wordpress.com/breastfeeding-rocks/

  2. I loved reading this, mostly because it sits so close to home for me.
    I had difficulty breastfeeding. I still feel it started when my daughter was first born and in the hospital. She was quite jaundiced, and had to be under the lights for nearly a week. Because of such, we didn’t have as much skin to skin contact as I would have liked – and which is necessary to stimulate milk coming in so the nurses and doctors tell me.

    Because of the jaundice I was told I had no choice but to supplement my breastfeeding with formula (as she had dropped quite a bit from birth weight).

    I managed to breastfeed for six months – but she was never 100% breastmilk from that point on. I often needed to top off with formula because I simply couldn`t keep up with her demand. I tried EVERY recommendation from nurses, lactation specialists and my family doctor. I tried natural herbs (fenugreek) and prescription drugs (domperidome) to try to increase my supply, to no avail.

    So at the six month mark, when I had to switch completely to formula, I felt like I had failed her. That stuck with me for a while.

    Until I realized, that I really had done all I could have, and she was still healthy, happy and thriving.

    We are all too hard on ourselves and each other. It`s time, as mother`s, that we stop judging each other`s choices and support what we have decided to do. Often times, a lot of thought has gone into it, and other times, it is out of necessity. The harsh judgement just instills guilt that people may already be trying to deal with.

    1. I totally agree. We put so much pressure on ourselves as mothers that we don’t need to listen to those whose comments make us feel guilty (whether their intention or not).

      I’m sorry you had such a hard time with breastfeeding, but applaud you for your dedication is keeping with it for six months despite problems. In the end though, it’s not whether your breastfed, formula fed or did both that’s important, it’s that you don’t burn yourself out and your baby is happy and thriving.

  3. I am glad to hear you had such a postive experience breastfeeding. I really wish more people thought the way you did when it comes to allowing mom’s to make their own choices. As a formula feeding mom (I didn’t try to breastfeed, I researched it, thought about it and decided it wasn’t for me, although I did find out later, I likely wouldn’t have been able to) I am constantly under scrutiny and after the birth of my first son felt as though I was constantly justifying my choices to people. Now that my third child is here, when people start criticizing my choices, I am a lot more confident and don’t feel that I need to justify myself to people. People really shouldn’t care HOW you feed your baby. As long as you are feeding him/her and they are happy and healthy!

    1. Motherhood is hard enough as it is without having to be judged by others constantly for our decisions (I find that we are our own best critics anyways). Good for you for standing up for your choices. As you say, what’s important is raising healthy, happy, well-adjusted children, no matter the means.

  4. Great post. I breastfed my twins and I hate how a lot of moms of multiples automatically assume the can’t do it and go for bottles. There is nothing wrong with bottles, and now one twin takes more formula but I don’t think women should sell themselves short without even trying. I love nursing, it’s so much cheaper and I love snuggling my babies. Only downfall is crew necks are out! Heck when I was tandem nursing I often wondered why I bothered putting a shirt on at all!

    1. I have a lot of admiration for you! If I had had twins, I probably wouldn’t have even tried to breastfeed. However, now that I’ve had a successful experience, if I were to have twins next time around, I would definitely go for it!

      1. You never know until you try. I had the advantage of nursing my son first so I already had experience. I just to joke about how I didn’t really like nursing and now my wish was to just nurse one baby. Ha ha (it was non stop the first two months).

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