Sunday, November 21, 2010

Breastfeeding Vs Formula - The Great Debate of the Century

I recently read a blog advocating breastfeeding, almost to an extreme. It has me annoyed as I so often am by some blogs. I can be highly opinionated and stubborn myself but I usually fall in the middle of a debate. That said I'm no advocate for formula but it's not the devil -see I’m stuck in the middle. So this is my rant, it’s been a while I know. I only hope that it’s not just a rant but will really help a mom to make her own informed decisions because there are a lot of moms out there who think they know how to raise your child.

Always remember bloggers are not doctors. Sure you can learn a lot from bloggers but with the whole breast milk vs. formula debate you will find a lot of people that are very opinionated. I was unable to breastfeed my first so I pumped for 12 weeks and slowly introduced formula. You know what's weird is that he was sick a lot those first three months, we dealt with colds, eye infections, lung infection, and even a stomach bug. That's when I started introducing formula (when he fully recovered) because I was losing my milk due to lack of natural stimulation and I too had the stomach bug (that I refuse to call the flu). Sure you can bounce back from that but I had done it too many times before and it was emotionally and physically draining. Sometimes you have to do what's best for the both of you. Ashton is rarely sick anymore and he received formula for nine months and was healthy during that nine months. So how does that saying go? Take everything with a grain of salt? Make sure you have a doctor you like and trust. Some doctors will give you bad advice as well. And when you are in the hospital you don't really have to worry about them taking your baby to the nursery and feeding them formula. That's a thing of the past, at least around here it is. You have your baby at all times except when they take them to do their tests, which you can go along too if you wish. In the ‘70s breastfeeding was considered unnatural and was advised against, so I’ve been told by my mother who had children in the ‘70s.

Eli is 6 months now. He has been breastfed and supplemented with formula on the days I go out for a mommy break. He is happy and healthy-go figure. What a lot of mothers don't understand is when you supplement with formula that doesn't mean you give them a big bottle of formula. You must start out slow like you do with everything else you feed your baby. If your baby eats 4 oz bottles for example you start with 3oz breast milk and 1oz formula and see how he does. Eli was even in NICU where I wasn't able to be with him 24/7 and they asked my permission before giving him formula or sugar water, which they only gave if I didn't have anymore milk stored in the fridge. I had to pump while he was in NICU because the reason he was in there in the first place was for aspirating meconium. Since breastfeeding is a learning experience for both mom and baby they had to take precaution .If he were to aspirate breast milk, with my heavy let down, while still fighting to breath it could be dangerous.

I hate how guilty I felt that I didn't try harder to breastfeed Ashton. It took me a long time to realize it was a website I frequented that made me feel so shitty along side getting no sleep and probably a little PPD. On any website where high hormone pregnant and new mothers frequent, this debate gets heated fast and the nastiest women are usually the ones who insist bottle feeding is sinful. So let me ask you this, does it count if I fed my first breast milk from a bottle or are there strict breastfeeding rules?

So now I try to strongly encourage breastfeeding because it’s about more than just feeding your baby, it’s about bonding, it’s easy, it’s cheap and it’s perfectly healthy. But at the same time I also try not to make people feel like it's the end of the world if they can't or if they don't do it for the whole 1-2 recommended years. Hey I sure as hell don't plan on doing this for 2 years. Right now we're working on getting past teething.

Supplementing formula is a decision only you can make don't let people bully you and if you have people in your life that will judge you one way or another just don't tell them what's in the bottle. If you have enough milk pumped for when you want to leave the house whether it's to get groceries or a mommy night out and you don't want to touch formula, that's fine. But if you hate pumping like I do formula is a nice fall back. I buy the ready to feed formula because then I only have to worry about 8oz at a time. For the first few months you might stay away from formula because the baby won't eat 8oz of formula (32oz when mixed if you mix it with milk the way I do) while you are gone or because you don't want to introduce formula just yet or at all.

Some of the arguments on the formula side just don’t make sense. You might hear it’s “unnatural” to breastfeed, well really how long had formula been around and how do you think every baby that survived was fed before formula. Why do you think hospitals used wet nurses.

I don’t by any means consider myself a breastfeeding expert, a baby expert or a doctor of any kind, but I have two boys that are so different, were fed different and sleep different, that if they didn’t look so alike I’d swear they weren’t related and that one of them got mixed up in the hospital. So I like to think that gives me enough experience to at least share it with you and let you decide for yourself.

If you’re wondering which baby sleeps better, it’s the breastfed one :)