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Breastfeeding vs. Formula: How to Know Which is Right For You

The whole “Breast vs Bottle” debate has become really muddled in the past 10 years.

Instead of a rational discussion between peers, it’s crumbled into a shouting match.

BAD PARENT!

HIPPIE!

Why do I feel like sending people to their rooms? 

Let’s all chillax and remember:  we’re supposed to be adults.

*feet shuffling*

*ceiling staring*

*nose picking*

That’s better…sort of.

As the reigning “Friendliest Employee” in this single-person rodeo of a website, I am bequeathing upon myself the solemn duties of MODERATOR. (If that’s a problem, feel free to complain to my boss.  See how friendly I am?)

Let’s reach across the changing table, shall we?

Breast vs Bottle:
Go Boobies!

Sorry.

I can’t tell you formula is just as healthy for your baby as breast milk.  It just isn’t.  When you get down to molecules, there are just many things breast milk has that formula can’t copy.

Infant formulas are getting more advanced every year…but they still fall short of the nutritional mega-punches your breasts can produce.

There’s a reason God made those two bumpy things. (A reason that goes beyond what your husband thinks…)

  • Breast milk is nature’s laxative.
  • Breastfeeding can help with teeth placement, preventing braces later on.  (cha-ching!)
  • Babies breastfed for six months have  three times fewer ear infections and seven times fewer allergic reactions.
  • Baby girls who were breastfed have a 25% less chance of having breast cancer later in life.
  • Children who were breastfed are less likely to develop diabetes.
  • Breastfeeding for just a little while can help prevent a mother’s chance of getting breast cancer.

That’s the Cliff Note’s version of the benefit list.  There are other reasons I’m not going to list but will happily link to.

Obviously, benefits are nice. I’d like the benefits of a 3,000 square foot home, but it just ain’t going to happen.

In the same way, benefits won’t help you if you never actually master the art of breastfeeding in the first place…which isn’t always easy. Some of my babies were easy to nurse.  One (the middle one, of course) was not.  There was crackage.  Tears.

Although we did make it to my nursing goal (9 months) , it wasn’t “benefits” that got me there.  It was pure, unadulterated, stubbornness that pushed us over the finish line.

Pregnant and Thinking about Breastfeeding?

Are you in the “thinking about breastfeeding” stage of your last trimester?  Prepare for the unknown.

Your infant could be a Kermit nurser: a lounging self-soother, a Champion breastfeeder.  Or, she could be your worst nightmare.  A fussy, colicky, high-needs little ball of exhaustion. (Yours and his.)

Already Breastfeeding?

If you’re already wading through the waters of breastfeeding, set yourself a goal (3 more weeks…1 more week…thru tomorrow…) and just focus on that little step.

Try a new position or adjust your latch to keep the hope-of-a-better-breastfeeding-tomorrow alive.

Oh yeah.  There is one big PRO towards trying to breastfeed that many forget to mention: There’s an expiration date.

A Crossing the Rubicon moment of “before” and “after”.

The breastfeeding door is not revolving.  It CLANGS shut like a heavy iron door.  Never to open again (at least until your next baby).

Once you stop, you’ve stopped.  You only have one chance to jump into the pool before it all dries up (literally). If you stop, you can’t go back and try again.  So, take the time to really think about your decision.  This isn’t one for impulse!

Breast vs Bottle:
Go Bottles!

Let me offer some friendly Internet-Parenting advice.

If you start reading a blog post and the author starts ranting about how failing to breastfeed equals neglect…click on, my friend.  Don’t waste your time reading such dribble.  

Trust me.  It’s just a big giant party pooper to the parenting groove you’re rockin’ right now. Every mother’s milk flow, situation, and baby is different.  To lump them all together in one giant pile is, frankly, mean.

Here are some reasons why some parents take the bottle’s side in the Great Breast vs. Bottle Debate. These aren’t necessarily reasons NOT to breastfeed (minus the medical issues), they are just common reasons many choose not to.

  • Their infant is allergic to breast milk.
  • Mom works outside the home.
  • Breastfeeding has been a continual, painful struggle that has led to feelings of failure and depression that are affecting the whole family.
  • Mom is on daily medications for chronic health issues.
  • Mom and Dad are overwhelmed with a full bushel of other children to care for.
  • Mom is HIV Positive.
  • Mom feels like she’s always on the brink of exhaustion, resentful, short-tempered, and is having trouble balancing this new life.  Breastfeeding is contributing to those feelings.

A Simple Test for a Not-Simple Answer

So, with those two ‘Breast vs Bottle” groups of people in mind (those thinking of starting and those thinking of giving up), I’ve created a little pros/cons grading test with the breast vs bottle arguments. 

It’s designed to pump you full of parenting confidence.

By the end of this simple test, you’ll know EXACTLY which side of the aisle in The Great Breast vs Bottle Debate you should belong on.

Take our little quiz to see which is right for you!

 

Remember What Really Matters

No matter where you end up on that quiz, don’t forget something very important.

Your mom-esteem doesn’t lie in what’s inside that bottle. Your baby needs three things:

  1. Your baby needs to be held, kissed, cuddled, and loved.
  2. Your baby needs to be fed, so he can grow strong.
  3. Your baby needs to sleep, so she can grow strong.

You see that #2? As long as your doctor has approved what you’re feeding him, you’ve met that requirement. As long as your baby is growing at a healthy rate, you have made the right decision.  If your baby is struggling to put on weight, it just means you need to have another conversation with your doctor.

You see? Breastfeeders and formula feeders really can get along! We’re all doing the same thing: loving our babies the best way we can.  

Now, come on you guys…hug it out. 🙂

Related Articles

We
Citations

  • Complete Book of Pregnancy, and Baby’s First Year, Mayo Clinic.
  • Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5, The American Academy of Pediatrics
  • Beyond Birth, Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare
  • A Woman’s Guide to Breastfeeding, The American Academy of Pediatrics

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