The Great Breast vs Bottle Debate

breastmilk formula debateHeather, the creative mastermind behind our web design sent me a link. It shows the ingredients in both breast milk and formula.

That link can be found here.

I don’t think that anyone could possibly look at the chart depicted on that website and attest that formula is as nourishing as breast milk. It’s just not possible. The nutrients found in breast milk are unfathomably greater than those found in formula.

So what gives?

Can we have an open, honest discussion about this?

I only ask this: We leave our judgments of each other at the door while we discuss this heated topic. Let’s for once, not let the formula verses breast milk debate get heated.  I’m not saying this out of politeness. I say it, because that might be part of the problem.

When I ran my natural parenting store, I noticed the less passionate I came across, the more palatable people were to new or conflicting ideas. If I didn’t push the topic of cloth diapering or breastfeeding, people were more inclined to at least entertain the idea.

If a woman is uncomfortable with breastfeeding, that doesn’t mean she’s a crappy mom. Maybe she wasn’t as exposed to it. Maybe it was portrayed in a way that was shameful. Maybe her husband’s or parent’s feelings are overwhelming her. There are a myriad of reasons why a woman may be uncomfortable with breastfeeding.

When women who advocate for breastfeeding push their beliefs on women who are uncomfortable with it, it’s just not going to result in breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding is personal, so it seems likely that an effective strategy would be passive activism.  Or maybe less activism, and more education. More patience. More understanding. More support.

I challenge each of us who are passionate about breastfeeding to look at how we portray breastfeeding. Do we act as though it’s natural or do we act like it’s something that makes us awesome?

The fact is: Breastfeeding is natural.

Breastfeeding provides our children with the most nutrients and health benefits possible. That’s undisputable. It is disputable whether breastfeeding makes a woman more awesome than the formula feeding mother. So, let’s stop disputing.

Maybe it’s the fight that separates us so much. Maybe it’s all the debating that makes breastfeeding seem so unattainable, so uncomfortable, and so different.

Many new moms, uneasy about breastfeeding, attempt it only to give up saying:

  • My milk won’t let down
  • My baby won’t latch
  • I can’t supply enough milk

Maybe it doesn’t work out for them because they hear passionate activists, “Super Moms,” in their head saying how imperative it is to breastfeed or how proud they are of their breastfeeding careers. Maybe they hear these concepts and get insecure or they become overwhelmed with all the debating and inevitably resolve just to bottle feed. It’s impossible to breastfeed with all that internal conflict. You have to be relaxed. It has to be between you and your baby. It can’t be between you, your baby and the rest of the world. The rest of the world just ends up being wedged in between you and your baby. The rest of the world has to stay out of breastfeeding for it to work right.

So, let’s have a new kind of talk.

Let’s help new moms see beyond the debating and competing.

Did you bottle feed or breastfeed? Why?

Before you start typing, relax for a minute and genuinely reflect on your answers. I’m not asking for “Breast is best” comments or “Breastfeeding is gross.”  I’m asking for genuine reflection.

Did you bottle feed or breastfeed? Why?

I’ll start.

I chose to breastfeed for a couple of reasons. My mother breastfed. I didn’t give breastfeeding much thought when I was first pregnant. In fact, when I did think about it, I got a kind of uneasy, icky feeling in my stomach. I felt I was supposed to breastfeed, and so I decided I would. That baby was stillborn, through no fault of my own. The only real comfort I felt in her death was knowing that  I didn’t cause it. The next time I was pregnant, I was determined to do absolutely everything perfect. I was scared something would eventually happen to my son and I wanted to ensure that if I somehow lost him too that I could again walk away with the knowledge that there was nothing I could have done differently. I breast fed him until he was almost two and weaned himself. With my daughter, I breastfed her for six months, until I was hospitalized. I pumped each day I was in the hospital at all the regular times. When I finally got home, she would not go back to my breast. She was hooked on the bottle. I could have pumped, but I was emotionally drained, and I gave up in a fit of anger.

Who’s next?

42 Comments

  1. I breastfeed. I did it because my mom did and because of a nutrition class I took in college. At the time, I wasn’t even in a child bearing stage of life but our teacher (and textbook) made such a strong case for it, I was convinced it was the route I wanted to take for my child. I miscarried with my first pregnancy and my second I had a daughter and am still nursing her currently. She will be 2 next week.

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  3. I am currently (actually as I even type this) nursing my 4th child. She is 1 and I am already getting pressure to wean her. Well, that is another story–she will wean on her own, whenever she decides!

    So, I never really gave breast or bottle 2 seconds of my time for debate. We took our prenatal birthing classes when we were pregnant with our oldest (who is almost 10 now) and we took the freebie “breastfeeding” supplemental class. My husband and I said “whoa, that sounds good” and he said “with that savings in money…more golf! ” So, that is how we started breastfeeding. Adam, our oldest, was pretty easy…and thankfully so, because you always fear that easy one is just the calm before the storm.
    Baby #2 (Samantha ) was NOT easy…and I am thankful that while nursing my oldest, I got set in my ways so strongly that when her high pallet caused multiple times with thrush and ensuing mastitis, we pushed through. Finally, after those 2 agonizing months in the beginning, she nursed the longest (to date) of all 4.

    I would have tandem nursed #3 when I was pregnant with #4, but was advised against it because I am extremely high risk. He did nurse over a year and for a little while during my pregnancy with his sister.

    So, I will go as long as possible now. She is baby led weaning with her solids. She can’t stand table food (even with much exposure) but we thank goodness she has breastmilk to fall back on for her nutrients and calories. We will also practice child led weaning when she deems the time is right.

  4. Danielle

    I’m breastfeeding my daughter. No one in my family breast fed. My mother’s osteopath told her she couldn’t breast feed because she was too young when she had me. Then my stepdad didn’t want her to breastfeed my siblings. He wanted to help feed the babies he said. When my daughter was born my mother really wanted me to formula feed but pretended she agreed with “breast is best.” she did things to try to turn my husband against breastfeeding– she showed up with a baby scale and false research saying my baby was “failure to thrive” because I needed to give formula. My baby was born in the 18% for weight and was in the 93% for weight by 4 weeks by the way.

    I breastfeed because it is part of our organic and sustainable lifestyle. Even though our families are not natural minded and don’t even recycle, we believe strongly that humans thrive when we are closer to the earth. We don’t eat processed food and we don’t feed our baby processed food. We grow a lot of our own food. Making milk myself for my daughter is as homegrown as it gets.

  5. Elizabeth Hosier

    With DS I had no intentions of using formula just honestly never even occurred to me even though I grew up in a strict formula fed environment. I had seen maybe a handful of nursing moms in my time and well one in which I knew the rest were strangers but they just seemed to be enough. However after pumping religiously for my son while he was in the NICU and hospital for 3 months a final diagnosis of glactosemia (sorry if it is mispelled) ended our nursing relationship which broke my heart the one thing I could do for my son the one thing that I was told helped him survive and prevail through his birth defect, his surgeries, the infections was my breast milk. Sadly this was a rushed diagnosis and ended up being a wrong one at that with forced my son on special formula Pregistimil in which his first year was absolute hell with. Sometimes we dont have a choice.

    With DD my determination to nurse her was fierce, I would not fail again and I would not let family pressure do me in either! I nursed my beautiful daughter for 29 months and we have finally weaned due to me being 23 weeks pregnant and my supply has disappeared but although bittersweet the end I am so proud to have made to so far with her and plan to make it through with our 3rd too.

    I have become extremely educated and passionate about BFing because living my life with Crohns has been very hard and with recent information that formula is a contributing factor to bowel diseases such as Colitis and Crohns IBS etc I truly do not want my children to live with what I go through on a daily basis and over the past 3 years this has been the biggest impact on my decisions to BF.

  6. Susan

    I breastfed, and sort of fell into it. I had planned to. I grew up with breastfeeding women. But I thought I would try it and somehow, I thought I would only nurse 6 weeks. Well, that first baby needed his mama 24/7, so I quit my job and stayed home. That 6 weeks turned into 2 years….and I nursed continuously for the next 6 years as younger siblings came along.

    Then, in January, our fourth baby was born with a cleft palate and lip. I tried and tried to nurse him, but he can’t get enough out to thrive or to maintain my supply. So now, I’m in a weird world of breastfeeding and yet not. And I hate it. It’s much harder for me than nursing at the breast. I keep going because breast milk is what is best for him, so I put up with the sore nipples, the broken sleep and being unable to go anywhere where I can’t pump. And I do not like the assumption that because I am using a device to feed my baby (Haberman) that it’s filled with formula. But that is what our society thinks.

    • Jennifer Sanford

      I understand…I am also bottle feeding my 4th after nursing my first 3 kids over the last 7 years. My heart is just broken and I feel so disconnected from my baby. She had nipple confussion with a pumped bottle and refused the breast after that one bottle….I was so determined, but she lost 2 lbs and she was dehydrated. In those 3 weeks I didn’t realize my milk was dissapearing, so now it is gone (after having too much milk with the last baby!). So consider it a blessing that you can pump at least….God Bless.

  7. Heather

    I breastfed my daughter for nearly three years for many reasons. What comes to the top of the list is my mom regrets not nursing me and my brother. My mom not nurse mainly because of my grandmother. and my grandmother nursed and was a wet nurse as well for extra money as she has a huge milk supply. My grandmother told my mom not to nurse because she always has to go into a dirty bathrooms to nurse. This was in the 40s. I chose to nurse because I educated myself about the benefits for me and my baby. I wanted her to have the best opportunity to have a strong immune system, gut and bond with me. The first six weeks were a challenge and I was determined to succeed. I had the womanly art of breastfeeding which i reas all the time for encouragement. My parents were very supportive. For me it was helpful plus I am strong willed. After I got through the initial soreness I was home free and love it. I went back to work full time at six months and pumped. I coslept with my baby to help with bonding and milk production. Pumping was a labor of love. However I was determined to let my daughter self wean because I thought that was the most natural. It took a lot on me physically and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. It wasn’t always easy but for me but worth it.

  8. Erin K

    I breastfeed because it feels natural for me. I, too, felt uneasy about breastfeeding while I was pregnant. I had worries of breastfeeding around my friends and family much less in public. My mother tried to breastfeed, but her milk dried up, so I was also worried that it might happen to me. But I was determined to give it a try because it felt right to me. Before I left the hospital with my baby, I got to speak with a lactation consultant. Although I only had a quick 30 minutes with her, she gave me a LOT of information about proper breastfeeding techniques. I felt very empowered and wasn’t afraid of anything that might come up.

    He’s now almost 5 months, and although I’ve gone back to work, I still breastfeed at home and pump at work with no supply problems. Thankfully he’s easy because he doesn’t mind bottles while I’m away and breast while I’m with him. I also have no qualms about breastfeeding in public. After my baby was born, my mindset changed, and now I just do whatever I have to do.

    I plan on introducing solids by baby led weaning after 6 months, but I’ll nurse as long as he wants to. I enjoy breastfeeding much more than I thought I would, and little man definitely loves the boob.

  9. jami

    Got cut off.I had planned to nurse, I went to lol before birth and read mutiple nursing books. I threw out formula samples and exfoliated my nipples! My son spent his first week in the nicu. After my emergency c-section I wheeled myvself to the nicu and tried to nurse. But he was too weak. Everyday I trued, baby grew stronger but would not latch, I met with the hospital each day. My Breastfeeding friends trashed the hospital lcs and when we were dischared frm the hospital we went back to lol. Their advice? Hire a lc! So I pumped, every 3 hours for 30 minutes. I never got more than an ounce. I took fenugreek and ate oats. For 6 weeks I never got more than an hour and a half of sleep. I began to resent my bf friends, I hated the sound of the pump and worse. I regretted having my baby, what kind of mother could I be if I coulndt figure out how to breastfeed? Then one day I quit. Just like that. And everything got better. I slept for 3 hours at a time. My baby began to thrive and grow. Parenting is about making the best descision for your baby and yourself and for me that decision was formula.

    • dawn

      I tried to pump, just for the breastmilk when Ayla refused the breast after the hospital fiasco. I didn’t have it in me. I was too stressed and upset. I really don’t know how you moms find the strength for as long as you do. What you attempted was more than I could have done. 😉

    • Heather

      I had a similar story, I planned to breastfeed…my mother didn’t breastfeed me but I wanted to provide my daughter with the most natural, organic form of nutrition. I took a breastfeeding class, bought all the necessary items to be a success including “Breastfeeding for Dummies”. My labor went well but my delivery didn’t, my daughter’s heartbeat was too fast, they told me I would more than likely wind up with a C-section but they let me try to push but the pushing made her heartbeat worse so off to surgery we went. I had a paperwork the hospital made me fill out with explicit instructions saying I wanted to breastfeed and didn’t want her to receive a bottle however they fed her several while I was in recovery because I lost a ton of blood and had to be kept in recovery longer than a normal C-section patient. I worked with a student nurse, two in hospital lactation consultants, my pediatrician, the student nurse again at home, a lactation consultant at home, took supplements, tried skin to skin contact, tried a small drip tube thing that a doctor at my peds office came up with, pumped….nothing worked. I was severely anemic after delivery, not getting any sleep from having a newborn, not getting any sleep from being uncomfortable from the surgery, not getting any sleep trying to pump, feeling physically challenged from the anemia….after two months of trying I quit. No matter what I did I couldn’t get more than three or four ounces a day. I hated quitting, it broke my heart more than I ever knew it would. I beat myself up, I got sick to my stomach when I would hear the benefits of breastfeeding on commercials, seems like they were always on the radio, I cried when I sold my breastpump, but I felt strangely free and stopped stressing and my daughter and I were ultimately happier when I was happier, so I accepted the situation for what it was and moved forward. I still wish I had breastfed but my daughter is a happy, healthy beautiful girl and I know lots of children who are happy and healthy who were formula fed. I would still try it again in if I had another child but I also feel the pressure to breastfeed can make you feel like a failure if you can’t or choose not to.

  10. Helen S

    When I was pregnant I wanted so badly to breasfeed my daughter. After years of infertility, I felt like my body had already failed me enough and I was determined to beastfeed. When she was born, I tried breastfeeding excusively, even though there were signs that I had no supply, thinking that supply and demand would eventually increase my supply… unfortunately for us, it didn’t. It was only after my daughter started losing weight rapidly that one of the lcs I was working with finally mentioned that a medical condition I have meant that I only had a 1 in 3 chance of having a normal supply. I continued breastfeeding excusively (or to be more accurate, starving my daughter) until I had a chance to speak with her ped (who is very supportive of breastfeeding) and he agreed that I would need to supplement. I started feeding her formula, continued pumping, and tried prescription meds that were supposed to increase my supply, but my supply never increased and the meds made me miserable. My daughter got the very little bit of breastmilk that I pumped for a month. One day near the end of her first month, I was pumping during her nap and she woke up crying and hungry… I didn’t know what to do… I felt like I had to choose between soothing and feeding my crying baby or being able to give her a little breastmilk that day. That was the day I quit pumping. I knew that in our case, breast just wasn’t best. Feeding my baby the only milk for infants that was actually available (formula) is what was best for her.

    • dawn

      You’re absolutely welcome to keep your reasons private. I wanted to open up a discussion, instead of a debate. One where people who DID want to discuss it could feel safe. ;

  11. Jennifer Sanford

    My mother breastfeed me for 2 years as well as 2 of 3 of my siblings. My older sister was a month premature and formula fed, so she was determined with me as the second child. That was in the 70’s when bfeeding was not “normal” anymore…so I applaud her for that. I have now breastfed all 4 of my children in 7 years. However, my last bfeeding experience has been less than ideal. I would almost consider myself to be a bfeeding advocate, setting up nursing rooms in our church and encouraging young mothers to do what God designed their bodies to do. So, I have been humbled in this situation to see that EVERY baby is different and nipple confusion does really exist.

    I began nursing my 4th baby without any problems and she gained 2 lbs in 4 weeks. Then around the 6th week, I pumped one time to provide a bottle for her “just in case” she needed one while I was teaching piano (I was in the same house as she was). She took 4 oz. of bmilk that day and for 2 weeks after that I nursed as usual and did not pump any. During that time she started to loose weight….and looked really skinny and was fussy. Little did I know she was not getting much milk out of me and was starving. When she got under her birth weight 3 weeks later, I knew something was wrong. Then I tried to start pumping and got only 1 oz. at a time, so my milk was almost gone. WOW, so shocking all of this could happen in a 3 week period. I started giving her formula so that she wouldn’t starve to death and tried to increase my milk, nursing her at night and pumping during the day. But eventually I had nothing left…I was REALLy depressed about this for a while and was ashamed that people were seeing the “bfeeding” lady give her baby formula. She is super chubby now and “healthy” but I am still very uncomfortable with the situation and feel guilty. I know that at least she nursed exclusively for the first 2 months, but I will not be surprised if she has more health problems than my other children. My husband was formula fed and suffers from severe Chron’s Disease and colitis and I can’t help but think that might be connected (after some research I did) and will eventually happen to her. My first 3 kids are SO healthy, my 5 year old has NEVER been to the DR other than for well child visits.

    I have accepted that all babies are different and you should never assume every situation will be the same. However, formula is VERY expensive (we make just too much to get WIC etc…) and bottle feeding is a bit more time consuming than nursing. Because of this I can see why parents that formula feed would only have one or two babies. It is easier to leave her with people, but at the same time it is easier to feel disconnected to her. I am really missing that bond… I am still very emotional about this…. I can’t say that I would have a 5th baby if I knew I would have this same experience?

  12. TIffany Monroe

    I bottle feed (after 2 months of breastfeeding). It took me forever to be able to freely discuss this since most breastfeeding advocates chastise those who willingly bottle feed, or at least create a uncomfortable environment. I prefer natural living and have usually felt embarrassed or discouraged at my choice to bottle feed… but here’s why I did it: convenience with little adverse effects. Even with formula my daughter eats every 2-3 hours… imagine what she was like on the breast haha! I don’t have the luxury of staying at home all day with her and pumping was too difficult to fit in.

    At first I was worried about her health since I hear all the time how breastfeeding is healthier than bottle feeding. So far there is nothing indicating that she’s less healthy than her BF counterparts. She’s 97th percentile in height and 50th for weight, developing ahead of schedule, and NEVER gets sick. We have yet to have an ear infection, cold, etc. SO all I’m saying is that I enjoy the convenience factor and we are already supplementing healthy baby foods for her to make up any deficiencies in formula. Her favorite food right now is avocado 😀

    • dawn

      I agree that it is difficult to discuss bottle feeding. After years advocating breastfeeding, I finally found myself in a place where I just had to give up.

      In retrospect, the ease of bottle feeding (like being able to hand it to her in her carseat) actually made what came next doable. Not long after I gave up nursing, my family started handling closing my store to deal with our family issues. For example, my step son’s fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. I wouldn’t have been able to do all of this nursing. As sad as it is to say, we were constantly on the go…

  13. Anne

    I have bottle fed and breastfed, and the reasons are all across the spectrum!

    1. With my first baby, I breastfed for 2 months but was in terrible pain most of the time because of a stubborn candida/thrush infection on my breasts. For 2 months my lactation consultant and I worked on fighting it, but made no progress. Meanwhile, my son’s weight gain was very poor and I was a wreck from the 24/7 pain and anxiety and side effects from the medication I was taking. At 2 months, I slowly weaned my son and switched him to formula. It was like night and day for us both. My son gained weight and stopped being fussy and inconsolable. My infection quickly responded to the medication since I was no longer making milk and the conditions favorable to yeast disappeared. No more pain, no more worries. To me, having formula as an alternative was a godsend. The lady above who said you have to do what’s best for you and baby given your particular situation is so right.

    2. With my second baby, I breastfed a week and was disappointed that once again it was cut short. This time I was hospitalized a few days postpartum with a massive uterine infection AND a terrible case of mastitis. I was sooooo sick and unfortunately the military hospital would not allow me to “room in” with my daughter. After two days of constant pumping and my husband coming back and forth from home to the hospital to pick up my milk (which I wasn’t making enough of to keep my daughter satisfied) we both decided to use formula again.

    3. With my third baby, I was hopeful of making breastfeeding long-term a success. God had other plans for us, however. Our daughter was born with Charge Syndrome and had multiple severe heart defects. She simply could not nurse, and this was with much coaching and patience on my part and that of La Leche League. After just 30 or 60 seconds my baby girl would completely tire out or choke on the milk and could hardly get any nutrition. Soon after, she was admitted to Children’s Mercy Hospital for surgery, where we stayed for the next 2 months. During that time I pumped for her, but because of her disorder and need for extra nutrition it was medically necessary to add a special high calorie formula along with the breastmilk. When we were discharged, we stuck with this regimen. I pumped until my daughter was 6 months old. Then God called her home when she developed pneumonia and died quietly one night in her bassinet. May she rest in peace!

    4. With my fourth baby, breastfeeding was finally a long-term success! Although I had a minor infection in the beginning, we got over that hurdle and he nursed until 14 months.

    5. With my fifth child, I breastfed for 10 months. I had no choice but to wean because I was surprised by pregnancy (currently I’m 20 weeks along) and my milk totally disappeared when my son was 10 months old! This time around I’ve been able to avoid spending a lot of money on formula b/c he’s so close to a year we’re giving goat milk.

    As you can see, my experiences have been so varied. All along, I’ve done what my husband and I deemed was best for our children at the time and we’ve never looked back or second-guessed our decisions. All of our little ones are happy and healthy and each has a special bond with mama and daddy.

    • Karin

      I am so sorry to hear your miltary hospital was so behind the times. My oldest two were born at NNMC in Bethesda, MD, and they were so supportive of nursing mothers that they did away with their “healthy baby nursury” about ten years ago. They also kept lactation consultants on staff 24/7, and they would come in a couple times daily to check on your progress. To be honst, if it weren’t for the LC, I would have quit on day one, despite being steadfast in my desire to nurse. I couldn’t get my oldest to latch because I was doing it wrong, and I was nearly in tears! I hope you have had btter experiences since then, and wish you great luck with your current pregnancy! (PS, I am uber sorry for any massive typos, I am doing this from my phone and can only se half of the screen lol).

  14. Anne

    To the lady (Jennifer) who feels guilty and worries that her child will have health problems because of formula, I would strongly encourage her to try and let this go! Of course, breast milk is nutritionally better, but that does not automatically make formula “bad” for a baby. In fact, in some cases (like our family’s) having that alternative could improve a child’s health and possibly even save his life.

    My oldest son, who had mostly formula, has the healthiest constitution of all my children. He hardly ever gets sick and when he does bounces back extremely quickly. He’s never had any stomach problems.

    And yet my second youngest son, who breastfed the longest of ANY of my children, is prone to stomach problems AND gets sicker more often and longer than all my others. He’s had multiple colds, ear infections, cases of croup and is showing signs of developing asthma/allergies.

    You just never know. Every child is different. Breastfeeding is nutritionally best, but it is no guarantee of lifelong health.

  15. I breastfeed.

    Why? Because it’s more convenient. It’s just plain easier for me. That’s part of it. And probably the biggest part. The health reasons are a big factor in my choosing to pump when at work. My mother breastfed and so it’s totally natural to me to do it. God created woman to nurse her children, so I am using my breasts as God intended. Lastly … IT’S FREE!! I’m cheap. And if the healthier and mostly more convenient choice is cheaper too, to me it’s a no-brainer.

    I was adamant to not supplement with formula with my first. Other than pride, I’m not sure why I was so adamant. Well, money too. I just didn’t want to pay for formula. I’m a little less stubborn this time around, but I still desperately want her to not have any formula if possible.

    I do not believe formula is evil. I believe it’s existence is imperative for those who genuinely cannot breastfeed. For adoptive parents. For baby’s whose mother died. But for me, breast is easiest, cheapest, and most convenient.

  16. Caitlin Greetis

    I chose to breastfeed, and I still am breast feeding my 28–month-old. Before I researched and learned all about how many benefits breastfeeding has, I really didn’t think there was a big difference either way. I’m glad that I tried breastfeeding, and although we had our rough patches, my son was a pretty good nurser from the start. I also have seen that formula-fed children are smart, and healthy, too. My oldest son (step) was formula fed, and he is very intelligent, strong, and healthy. With the information that breastfeeding is the most nutritious and beneficial thing to give to our children, as mothers we all owe them at least trying it. If it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out. It’s not the end of the world because formula, and breast milk banks are also good choices.

  17. Bethany Hoeflich

    I am currently breastfeeding a 23 month old son. We had all sorts of trouble in the beginning which stemmed from bad decisions during labor and in the hospital. I was given Nubane and an epidural for the pain, which are known saboteurs of breastfeeding. Thankfully, I was able to breastfeed within the first hour, but my son wouldn’t latch. We were separated for routine weighing and measuring, and the nurses took him into the nursery so I could “rest”. For the next several days, my son would not latch and I began to supplement with formula. My supply began to drop, my son was not gaining enough weight and my pediatrician urged me to continue supplementing with formula or to wean altogether. Stubborn as I am, I sought the help of an IBCLC, which turned out to be the best decision I have made. She took the time to teach my to breastfeed. After two months of hell, a thousand tons of oats and a weird craving for pancakes thanks to the fenugreek (I smelled like maple syrup), we finally got it! He was still growing slower than the average, which we learned was because the weight charts are based on formula-fed infants, but we were exclusively breastfeeding! Our goal kept growing from 3 months to 6 months to a year and now, we plan on child-led weaning. My MIL was a huge issue when it came to breastfeeding. She kept urging me to wean and even gave us money to buy formula. Very few people in my family breastfed (MIL and my mother didn’t), so I had issues of where to turn for help. I am now working on training to become an IBCLC myself so I can help more mothers succeed.

    To the women who had to wean early, and perhaps others who are thinking about weaning. You do not have to turn to formula. It is not poison, but it is not the biological norm. I would encourage you to find a milk donor through an informed milk sharing network like Human Milk 4 Human Babies.

  18. I mixed breast feeding and formula feeding with my first and I plan to the same with this one. I had a emergency c-section with my daughter and in the 5 days I was in the hospital my milk still hadn’t let down. I didn’t know how things would go for pumping when I went back to work so we thought it’d be best if she was accustomed to both the breast and the bottle. Which was great because if someone called out and I had to pick up the slack somewhere I didn’t always get a solid break to pump. Plus my husband wanted to pitch in with some of the feedings. But she still nursed until she was 1 1/2. When I lost that job I nursed exclusively. Then my next job waiting tables didn’t have any time/space to pump at all. As I’m only working part-time now, I’m hoping to breast feed again more steadily but but since I don’t know what job may lie around the bend I’m planning to supplement with one bottle a day again.

  19. I am currently breastfeeding my 6-month old. I have always leaned towards the “crunchy” side, so breastfeeding was the logical choice for me. 😛 I am very, VERY blessed to have had no problems with BFing *crosses fingers*, which is pretty miraculous, considering the circumstances of his birth. Due to the onset of toxemia, my planned homebirth turned into an induction at the hospital and then a C-section. Then, my little boy was held in the NICU for twelve days under dubious circumstances (there was another botched-homebirth couple there who had the EXACT same thing happen– same amount of days and everything. Coincidence… or not?). In spite of all the complications and nurses pushing bottles and feeding tubes into my baby- I didn’t even get to see him for about twelve hours after he was born 🙁 – he never developed nipple confusion and latched on perfectly, right from the start. With all the stress and failure going on, our breastfeeding relationship was a lifeline I held onto, the ONE thing was was going right. I’m really happy in advance that I decided to breastfeed, for that reason alone.

  20. Genevieve

    I am currently bottle feeding. I attempted breast feeding for 2 weeks and then pumped for two weeks. I really wanted to breast feed, but had been told 7 years ago that my breast reduction might have affected my milk production. After several weeks of a fussy baby who quieted down only when supplemented with formula and my finding that I was only producing about 2 oz. of milk a day, I was devastated. I felt like a quitter for giving up and a bad mom for choosing to get a breast reduction so young. What I hated most were the guilt trips I got from other people when I told them I was formula feeding. They judged me as one who did it simply for her own convenience and did not even ask if I had tried. I was automatically labeled a lazy parent.

    I hate this debate because some of us are stuck on the other side and no one bothers to take that into account before judging. Why does there have to be a debate anyway? We do what we believe is best for the baby and ourselves. Even if the choice to bottle feed is for only the mom’s benefit, wouldn’t you prefer to be a happy mommy who enjoys spending time with her baby as opposed to a stressed out, sad, or resentful mommy for having to do something you don’t want to simply because someone says you should? I’m tired of feeling guilty. My baby is happy, healthy and her mommy is happy, well slept and enjoying every moment with her. I’m tired of feeling guilty and defensive when I shouldn’t have to.

    • Tiffany Monroe

      I agree with the fact that there shouldn’t be this debate. All parenting styles are different and we are blessed with a mother’s intuition for our own children. Plus did you know that a woman’s brain physically changes after giving birth??! It’s amazing how well equipped we are for our jobs and we shouldn’t let anyone make us feel inadequate because of certain choices 🙂

      • Karin

        And for my worst joke of the day…

        Women’s brains DO physically change after birth! 50% comes out with the placenta! So after my three, I’m down to 12.5% of my orignal capacity…Which totally explains why they often make me feel like a drooling idiot often! lol

        Sorry, I’ve been saying that for years, I thought all of the moms out there who “lose” things they’re holding, or the sunglasss on the top of their heads would giggle. 🙂

  21. Sierra

    I have been breastfeeding my daughter for 3 weeks and 1 day. I am breastfeeding her because my mom always showed pride in the fact that she breastfed me and my siblings (and her friends baby for that matter, after her friend had to have surgery) and i’ve always wanted to have that special bond when it was my turn. Breastfeeding is still challenging for me, but I am really determined. I have had the help of an LC which i also highly recommend!

  22. leanne

    I think that what is “best” for a baby is different for every baby because every baby lives within different circumstances and doesn’t exist in a vacuum. In a vacuum, it is easy to determine EVERYTHING that is best. Luckily, babies does live in vacuums. The truth is, every single variable can only be considered in the context of every other variable. I do agree and believe that as a “whole” and for social education, the “Breast is Best” campaign is important for helping EVERYONE (not just mothers, but their mothers who may not have and may not support it, and for fathers who may not immediately be comfortable and support it); but it is the “general rule” and not the “specific rule”. For example, tomatoes are one of the 10 Miracles Foods, and HIGHLY recommended for regular consumption… except not me, because I’m highly allergic to it! Although there are “Truths”, and here is where Dawn and I have passionately disagreed before, *I* believe that all Truths are mitigated by relativity. Breast is Best *is* true; but whether it’s True for any particular child is mitigated by all kinds of other variables – so the degree to which it is True is actually Relative (imho). Along with MANY truths. Facts like that list of components of breastmilk and formula demonstrate the “Truth” that Breast is Best… but only as a general rule.

    Many of you may no agree with this either, but i ALSO hold relativity up against the assertion that “Moms know best”. Yes, as a general rule, this is True. But when held up against each specific situation, we know this is actually NOT universally true.

    Most things (if not all) are NOT universally True! So goes “Breast is Best”.

    • dawn

      Oh my dear friend, you and I no longer disagree on that fact. 😉 And my awareness of the fact that tomatoes are not good for everyone was made abundantly clear by my choice to give up on the pumping when I was no longer emotionally capable of doing it. When I gave up, you actually helped me, if you recall… as you did when I expressed my sorrow that the normal attachment parenting did not work for my FASD child.

      Leanne, though I’ve only met you online, you are perhaps the single most influential person in my ability to forgive myself for the fact that my youngest children seem to be “allergic to tomatoes” and that I would have to realize that Truths do have exceptions.

      I fully believe these things happened to me so that I could see life less judgmentally. So that I could be in THIS perspective and help explain to the women who are like who I WAS, that the women who are like who I am forced to be now, might just be doing the best they can. FOR REAL.

      In truth though, had it not been for your introduction to the tomato allergy concept, I would still be crippled with guilt. I posted this blog, to try to open discussion so that all of us could see what diverse aspects ACTUALLY go into this feeding choice and the fact that judgement needs to be just left to fall away.

  23. Tameka

    I breastfed (mostly) my girls. My eldest had 5 bottles of formula at 4 months. She had colic so I was getting around 1-2 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period those first few months. I also ended up with PND. I had my in-laws always telling me (they were just proud parents) that their daughter was such a super mum who had it all together and breastfed, used cloth nappies, got her babies sleeping through the night by the time they were a couple of months old (she used Babywise but I won’t go there). I felt I had really big shoes to fill. My stress levels were ridiculously high and my milk supply low. It was so low that my daughter would breastfeed but scream from hunger after a few minutes. At my wits end I agreed to let my mother in law (my father in law and his second wife were always telling me about my husband’s sister) get a can of formula at 11:30pm. She drank 2 full bottles and finally went to sleep. The following day I saw my GP who turned out to be so caring and supportive. He put me on meds to boost my supply and called me every day for a month during his lunch break ‘just to see how you are’. My eldest then continued to breastfeed until almost 14 months where she weaned herself.

    My second I have had no problems. Apart from when I needed surgery when she was a couple of months old. So being the good mummy I am I pumped to have 8 bottles in the freezer to give her while I waited for the anaesthetic to wear off. She hates bottles. She starved herself because it was either me or nothing. She went almost 16 hours with next to no food. I was panicking! I tried spoon feeding, putting it in a cup, an eye dropper, you name it. In that time I think she maybe got around 20mLs. Wouldn’t matter if it was formula or not… Was she relieved when I first breastfed her again! She stayed latched on for over an hour. When I changed sides she screamed as if someone stuck her with a hot barb. She’s my booby baby! At fourteen months she has decided that she wants booby only when tired. And sometimes during the night when she gets upset. 😀

  24. i nursed my first child, until 15 months when she was ready to give up. Now my son, at 6 months decided he was done nursing. he went about 4 days had was hardly eating at all. so i started pumping, and he started eating better. and now i have to have surgery so i have to switch to formula. surgery is on my shoulder and i won’t be able to move it for 6 weeks. not what i want to do at all. i have been in tears over it, but i have to do what is best for me and y son.

  25. Karin

    Wow ladies, if I wasn’t done having children, you’d all be super inspirational for my next! I have three kids, and I breast fed them all. Truthfully I did it because I’m cheap. I have developed most of my “socially responsible” habits out of cheapness really. Unfortunately all of my children decided to wean themselves between 8 and 10 months. Luckily this was before BFing was recommended up to two years, or I really would have beat myself up for it. I felt guilty enough for stopping before a year! But they all decided once they could walk that mommy was a waste of their time, and they just wanted solid food. I couldn’t even get them to take all of the formula they “should” have gotten when they weaned. So I gave them calories in the best ways I could, adding formula to cereal to “fool” them. And while I feel I could have done better for them, or tried harder to nurse longer, I did the best I could. And really, that’s what being a parent is all about. If you did the best you could with the tools you had, you did it right. (And none of my children have been terribly sick, so I guess I did okay?).

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