Many people debate whether it is better to breastfeed or bottle feed your baby.
I want to start off by saying that I think that breastfeeding is a wonderful thing to do and I have read that it is very healthy for babies. I am writing this article not to persuade you one way or the other, but to explain why I choose to exclusively bottle feed and examine the child development principles that helped me make this decision.
Is it OK to switch back and forth between baby formula and breastfeeding?
According to the research: babies need consistency and predictability. Where I used to work, my office was located in a daycare and I saw many babies who were breastfed and struggled to take the bottle even when it was breastmilk that the mom had pumped. If you breastfeed and also give your child a bottle and it works for you, great! But in my experience, babies often struggle with this inconsistency. I knew that I did not want to be the only one who could feed my baby and I knew that sometimes I might want a break and I wanted my baby to not feel confused by having a bottle instead of the breast.
Feeling guilty about formula feeding:
Research supported idea: Culture plays a large role in the choices we make. I think that many women feel like if they do not breastfeed or they try and it doesn’t work that they are less of a woman or less of a mother. I think that this stigma is important to be aware of and should not influence someone on whether or not they should breastfeed. I knew that I was going to make an informed decision for myself and I was not going to let what others would think of me sway my decision. Also, I think some men or husbands try to influence a wife to breastfeed and I think that it should definitely be a woman’s choice (considering it is her body).
Are formula fed babies healthy:
Research supported idea: Breastmilk has all the nutrients the baby needs. If….the mom has good nutrition and this is not my strong suit. I spent 9 months feeding my kid crap (woops) and I figured formula had to be better than that. But in all seriousness, if you are a nurse or doctor I’m sure you could could school me on how breastmilk is nutritionally better for your child, but I decided the pros of formula feeding outweighed the cons.
Formula feeding can actually increase bonding between the mom and the baby:
Research supported idea: The mother’s mental state will directly impact the babies mental state by way of the “Mirror Neurons”. A short explanation of this complicated brain process is that if a mom is stressed the baby will feel the stress. I have had many moms and clients tell me about their struggle with breastfeeding. Some moms even explained to me that at times they felt so stressed by breastfeeding they actually felt disconnected from their child due to the pain, discomfort, and difficulty they were having with the process. I felt like I would be able to be more emotionally present and happy if I did not have to deal with the stress of breastfeeding and that this would be a positive thing for my baby.
How to stop your milk from coming in:
I choose to not breastfeed right from the beginning and was hoping that I could prevent my milk from coming in. My doctor told me to bind myself to try and help the milk from not coming in or coming in less. WELP that didn’t work. The milk did come in but I took pseudepherine and it went away pretty quickly after that. The cabbage did nothing for me FYI. Over the past 7 months there have been a couple of times that I felt a little sad that I did not breastfeed and that I was having FOMO (fear of missing out) of breastfeeding haha. BUT overall I can confidently say that I believe I made the right decision for myself and my baby.
There are so many benefits of formula feeding:
- There have been so many times that I have been able to hand my baby to a relative or friend while I am feeding my baby so I can do something like go to the bathroom, get some food, take a warm bath, take a nap, etc. and those times have made it SO worth it. On other occasions, people have wanted to feed my baby and I had to politely decline the offer because I wanted to feed him myself. Just because I was bottle feeding didn’t mean that I did not want to take an opportunity to bond with my child. BUT, overall there have been MORE times that I was happy to have some help.
- When deciding to bottle feed I liked the idea that I would not have to “pump and dump” if I drank alcohol and I also liked the idea of being able to drink alcohol when I wanted. (I think I was feeling deprived after the whole 9 months of having none—not one sip-I could go on a soap box about moms who think its okay to have any alcohol during pregnancy but that’s for a different post-sorry if you are one of them). BUT what I soon realized after having my baby was that THE LAST thing I wanted was something that would make me more tired. I realized alcohol was not as appealing as I thought it would be. HOWEVER, on a rare occasion there have been times that I wanted a drink and I did not have to plan it around breastfeeding or pumping, which has been nice!
- I have been able to eat WHATEVER I want and take whatever medicine I need without having to worry about it affecting the breastmilk. Right after giving birth I was able to take some serious pain meds and my after birth pain was very tolerable.
- At the beginning when my baby was not sleeping through the night at all, I was able to have my husband do the night shift occasionally and I was able to get some sleep. I was able to get naps during the day while relatives watched him. Sleep deprivation is real and any extra sleep I have been able to get has been so helpful. I have wanted to be emotionally positive for my baby and playful with him and when you are at your wits end because you have had no sleep this is so hard to do.
Overall: I am happy with my decision and I feel like my baby has gotten what he needs emotionally without breastfeeding. If you are breastfeeding or have breastfed or deciding to in the future- my hat goes off to you, you are a rockstar and I admire your hardwork and dedication! If you are contemplating exclusive bottle feeding however, I hope you feel more informed and hopeful about this option!