Thursday, October 6, 2011

Choosing to Bottle-feed Does NOT Make You Evil

Choosing to Bottle-Feed Does Not Make you Evil

This is another one that I published first at Technorati

In the 1950s, bottle-feeding was very common. Lactation consultants didn’t exist and women didn't read dozens of books about lactation. Nipple shields weren’t invented yet and they certainly didn’t have high-powered breast pumps. Neither doctors nor Moms knew what we know now: that breastfeeding prevents illness and allergies and even boosts intelligence.

Breastfeeding has really taken off since the 50s and now it is far more common for women to breastfeed, at least for the first few months. The unfortunate side effect of this breastfeeding craze is that now it is almost taboo to bottle-feed. I literally heard a nurse gasp at the hospital when a woman told her she did not want to even try to breast-feed. Women today are judged harshly for making the choice to feed formula instead of breast milk.

Although I chose to breastfeed for the first 6 months, I eventually switched to bottles. My daughter had terrible acid reflux and she wasn't gaining weight and I never knew how much milk she was actually getting. I was also working and the pumping situation was creating an enormous amount of stress. My daughter was only sleeping a few hours at a time, even at six months and I felt like I was teetering on the edge of a breakdown. Something needed to give and I chose breastfeeding. Once I switched to bottles, I felt like a new woman and like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders. This may sound dramatic but it’s true. I blame the hormones.

Instead of sharing my joy with the world, I hid these feelings of relief because I felt guilty about it. Everyone from the doctor’s office to strangers I met on the street made me feel like I had given up. Like I had let my baby down by feeding her bottles. Almost like I was a bad mother because I wasn’t pumping anymore. Today, I think that a woman who chooses to feed formula, especially for the first few months, is seen by society as someone who doesn’t love their baby enough.

A study was released this week regarding the long-term effects of bottle-feeding on Reuters. The study followed kids born in Germany from 1995 to 1998. At age 10, the children were reevaluated. The study found that it didn’t make any difference to their long-term weight whether they were fed formula or breast milk. The choices their mothers made for them as infants didn’t affect their weight one way or the other.

Now that we have this new evidence that bottle-feeding might not be as bad as we think, I say we make a decision as women and as a society to stop judging others for their choices. Some women have a hard enough time transitioning to new mother-hood. New moms should spend their days watching the baby, cuddling the baby, encouraging the baby to sleep instead of worrying about what people will think of them. Some moms have easy babies who never cry, but others spend 6-8 hours a day pacing around the living room trying to get the baby to stop crying. The last thing those Moms need is to worry that their neighbor will make a snide comment when they feed their kid a bottle of formula.

Now don’t get me wrong. Breastfeeding is great and I don’t dispute any of the scientific evidence regarding the benefits. I just think we need to give new Moms a break and support and encourage instead of judge.
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  1. With my first born I longed to breastfeed. I tried so hard, but I just couldn't produce. My doctor recommended that I pump between feedings. One day, excited that I actually got a whole ounce, I spilled the milk while trying to store it. I broke down in tears and cried on the kitchen floor. My husband came in and said, "That's enough, lets just bottle feed her."

    I never even tried with my other two, because I didn't want to go through all that again. But you do have that feeling of being a failure.

    Great post, stopping by from the blog hop.

  2. Thanks Michelle that was interesting to hear your story. Glad to have you!!

  3. I agree completely. I am a breast feeding momma who also *gasp* formula fed both of my daughters almost from the very beginning. I was far too overwhelmed to even try(not mention I was suffering from severe PPD with DD #1) I made the personal decision to stick with breast feeding when I had my son because I really wanted the experience and we've been going strong for almost a year now, but I would never judge a mother who chooses to formula feed her child. Every mother does what she thinks is best for her children. All that matters is that they are loved. And I love all of my children regardless of how I feed them.

    New follower via the FNF Blog Hop.

    Meg@Mommy Needs A Time Out

  4. Love your blog, just stopping by from Finding New Friends Weekend Blog Hop, hope to see you back over at!!

  5. Following you from Finding New Friends Weekend Blog Hop. I would love it if you would follow back! Thanks!! =0)
    My Crazy Life

  6. Hi, found your blog from the New Friends Weekend Hop. :)
    I cannot agree with you more!! I love this post! I tried to breastfeed but was having so many problems with it I switched to a bottle after 3 weeks. It was so much better for my baby and me; but I felt like others (doctors, friends) viewed me as 'not a real mom' because I wasn't breastfeed my infant.
    I think each woman should what she and her baby are comfortable with. Also formula is so well made its not like you are depriving your baby of nutrients or anything!
    Love this post!! I am following your blog. :)

  7. Thank you for posting this. My first boy I breastfed for a year, however breast cancer came and went and then I got prego, which is still a miracle with all the treatment my body went through. Because of my surgeries and treatment I could not breastfeed. At first the thought killed me, but I accepted it and my little miracle is doing amazing and thriving. I did feel bad, but you are right. Moms should not feel pressure and as if they are bad people for the choices they make for their families. Well done.

  8. I have had seven children and never even tried breastfeeding any of them. I just plain didn't want to breastfeed and I don't regret it at all. Not one of my children has ever had to take antibiotics, they've never had an ear infection, they don't have even the slightest hint of allergies, and they all slept through the night from day one. My oldest is 19 and she's slim, absolutely beautiful, healthy, strong, vibrant, hilarious, has amazing common sense and is very intelligent. It's the same with my 17 year-old daughter, my 14 year-old son, my 12 year-old son, my 10 year-old daughter, my 6 year-old daughter and my 18 month old daughter.

    I have been through all of the snide comments and didn't care what they thought because I knew there wasn't anything wrong with my choice just like there wasn't anything wrong with theirs. I don't need any excuses to make formula feeding "OK" because it IS OK, just like breastfeeding is OK. People need to keep their nose to themselves and that's all there is to it. Thank you for putting the truth out there so that all mothers, whether new or experienced, can quit agonizing over what "other people" think and get on with mothering their children the way THEY see fit. Take it from a mother who's been there/done that, it's Mother Knows Best, not next door lady or busy-body nurse who knows best. Do what feels right to you and your whole family will be happy.

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