Several weeks ago, I found myself in the middle of a conversation about breastfeeding with a handful of moms. An expectant mom had reservations about breastfeeding and expressed them to the group. In the minutes that followed, the conversation went a little like this:
“How could you consider not breastfeeding? You know what they say – breast is best.”
“It’s irresponsible not to breastfeed.”
“I breastfed and my daughter was never sick.”
“You won’t be able to truly bond with the baby unless you breastfeed.”
“Give it a try. You owe it to your baby.”
And the mother of all comments:
“If you’re not going to breastfeed this one, maybe you should reconsider having more children later.”[insert enormous sigh]
Breastfeeding is one of my least favorite parenting topics. It can be incredibly controversial and talking about it can sometimes bring out a mean streak in people who are otherwise kind. I’ve found that if someone asks my opinion about breastfeeding versus formula feeding, some version of “no comment” is a wonderful (read: neutral) response!
During this conversation, I took a different approach. Instead of reserving my thoughts, I looked directly at the wide-eyed (now teary eyed) 23 year-old mother to be and said:
“I formula-fed both of my sons and I loved it. And I would do it again without a second thought and without an ounce of guilt.”
I’ll never understand why some parents work so hard to turn their personal decisions into the universal ideal. Parents who make decisions based on what is best for their family find success regardless if the decision is popular and, let’s face it, there are no true universal ideals. With any given topic, there are always at least two schools of thought.
I decided to formula-feed my babies because that was best for my family, and I ended up loving every minute of it. Here are my top reasons why:
It was less frustrating.
Breastfeeding might be natural, but it doesn’t always come naturally. It didn’t come naturally for me or for my first born. It can take a lot of patience and persistence to breastfeed, and can be extremely frustrating for both the mom and the new baby. I didn’t even attempt to breastfeed my second child.
It helped eliminate the guess work.
Parents who decide to formula-feed know exactly what the baby’s intake of milk is, which can help identify a fussy baby’s needs later. The more factors that can be eliminated when trying to determine why a baby is inconsolable the better! I liked having the ability to track when and exactly how much my baby was eating during the day/night.
It was freeing.
It is no secret that I enjoy my freedom (if you didn’t know this about me, check out why I love daycare). There were many occasions that formula-feeding was my ticket to freedom! It allowed me to enjoy some uninterrupted sleep and/or simply get away for more than a couple of hours without worrying about when my baby needed to eat again. Flexibility is also important to me so I liked not being physically tied down to a feeding schedule. Plus formula-feeding allowed my (ex) husband and other relatives or friends to share in the experience, and bond with my little one(s), which they appreciated and still cherish to this day!
It was more comfortable.
Right or wrong, the thought of breastfeeding in public or in front of friends and family made me incredibly uncomfortable so for me formula-feeding was a great, comfortable alternative.
Did you breast or formula feed your baby? What did you like about it?