Parenting Thoughts of the Day: The Great Debate- Breast or Bottle?
Every mother wants the best for their baby, and there is a lot of debate when it comes to their first food. Which is better formula feeding or breastfeeding? We all know breast milk is the absolute best food for an infant. However, there is a stigma with breastfeeding child in public, which is ridiculous.
When my 5th child was tiny, I was breastfeeding her inside a Target Starbucks. I was completely covered, which I don’t think is even necessary, when a little boy asked his mother what I was doing. She told him that it was “disgusting” and I was horrified! I was so embarrassed, but was even worse, was this little boy would grow up thinking that nursing a baby was abnormal. I would never tell my children that a woman making a bottle with formula for their baby was disgusting (because it’s not), so why would anyone say that giving a baby milk that was designed especially for her was “disgusting”?
That being said, there is also a stigma with formula feeding. Many breastfeeding mothers unfairly judge women who choose to formula feed their babies. Why do we do this to each other? As mothers, we should be united and support each other, no matter how we feed our children. No matter if we breastfeed or formula feed, our children have the capability of growing up to be well adjusted, decent human beings. We should haven’t to stress out about the first choice we have to make for our children.
Why Are We Judged For This Choice?
I have felt pressure from both sides. There was the woman, who obviously formula fed her children, who thought breastfeeding was disgusting, and then I see the looks I get from breastfeeding mothers when I make my daughter a bottle. Formula feeding my daughter doesn’t make me a bad mother! I guess we just can’t win, no matter how we choose to feed our babies.
I have loved breastfeeding my children. With 6 kids, I have gone through many challenges. With my 1st, I exclusively breastfed him for 6 months, then when I got a job. I breastfed him, but when I was at work, his babysitters (my mother and grandmother) would give him formula when I couldn’t pump enough. I was able to breastfeed him for 15 months. My second child was basically the same way, but by 9 months, I wasn’t able to breastfeed her anymore. Number 3 with difficult. We battled thrush for awhile, in his mouth and on my nipples, and after a few rounds of dangerous antifungal medications, I chose to formula feed him at 3 months. I was devastated. Then, my 5th came along, and I was able to exclusively breastfeed him for 12 months. In fact, he wouldn’t take a bottle, ever! Next, my 5th baby, a beautiful little girl, came along and that girl wouldn’t take a bottle either. I breastfed her for over 3 years! In fact, it wasn’t until it hurt too much while I was pregnant with number 6, that I had to stop. I just couldn’t take it. Now that I have my 6th, I have been diagnosed with so many autoimmune diseases, it is hard to breastfeed her because of my medication schedule. I really only have enough milk to breastfeed her at night, so we formula feed during the day, and I’m ok with that. She’s happy, healthy, and I don’t feel like I’ve bonded with her any less than my other children.
Now, I could have pumped and pumped, tried to save up all the milk I could so that she could have more breast milk, but my life is hectic enough as it is. Is it wrong to let this one thing be easier? Not in my opinion. I love her just as much as I love all of my other children. I am just as close to the kids I exclusively breastfed for longer periods of time, than the ones I did not. In fact, I am much closer to my 3rd child (2nd son) than my 1st child (1st son). Why? Because they have completely different personalities! I wish I was as close to all of my kids, but some can only tolerate my gregarious nature in small increments.
Either way, It’s Going to Be OK
I adore my precious baby girl, and want the best for her. She is absolutely perfect, and hit most of her milestones way before the others. She is barely 5 months and crawling; definitely a go-getter, and sometimes I wish she’d slow down for my benefit, but this is her world. She is on her own time schedule, not mine. I just want to make sure I enjoy as much of it as possible, because it is flying by. That sweet little angel is definitely my last child, for reasons I have already mentioned, and I want to treasure every moment. I am content with my decision to formula feed her.
It doesn’t matter what you choose, because the best person possible is making her decisions—you. Your child isn’t going to be a serial killer or drug addict because you didn’t breastfeed your baby. You child isn’t going to be unemployed and living in your basement because you breastfed them until they were 4 years old. This is one of those choices where, whichever choice you make, everything will be fine. Stop stressing and stop judging other mothers for their choices. We need to love and support our fellow moms. There are enough hard decisions that you will faced as a parent, and this one isn’t the one that will make or break your child. The most important thing is that they are eating and growing. I can tell by my baby’s chunky little thighs, she’s going to just be fine.
What are your thoughts? I would love to hear them! Have you ever felt judged for breast or bottle feeding?