Friday, June 26, 2009

The Mommy Wars Round 1: Bottle vs. Breast

Posted by Angiefairbanks at 3:02 PM

I am involved with a close knit group of girls that are all moms. Each of us come from different backgrounds and have different life experiences. More than once the topic of breastfeeding or formula feeding has been brought during our little get togethers and it started me thinking. I realized that us moms really have strong opinions on how we raise our kids, so much so that we know we are right no matter what. I also realized that this also takes place in other areas of motherhood. I call this phenomenon, "The Mommy Wars."

I feel I have a unique perspective on this topic because I have two children. My oldest was exclusively breastfeed for one year exactly and my youngest was breastfeed for about 4 months exclusively and then we made the switch over to formula at 6 months.

My son, who was breastfed was the best baby the world has ever seen. I can say that because he's my boy, I know I'm biased. He had no problems nursing, content, happy, the list goes on and on. My daughter, whom I love just as much as my son, is completely the opposite. She hated nursing, I mean hated it. I tried, I really did. I nursed her and fought with her for 2 months trying to get her to nurse. I knew that it was medically the best for her and I wanted it for her. I figured that if we worked hard enough on it we would eventually get it down and things would be OK. After about 2 months of fighting and stress I decided I would start pumping and just give her a bottle. She liked that so much more. At the moment I really liked the situation because a)she was getting the healthy breast milk b)she wasn't screaming all the time while I was trying to get her to nurse c)breast milk is free and d) I have a really good breast pump and I was able to pump in a really short amount of time and throw the pump parts in the dishwasher.

This went on for about 2 months. During this time I started to realize how much of a pain in the butt it was to go anywhere like this. I couldn't be gone too long because I needed to stay on a pumping schedule, yes I had a great pump but to me finding a place to pump while running errands with a 3 month old and a 2 1/2 year old was a little crazy. Also, it was hard because if she got hungry while we were away we had to find a place to warm her bottle up because I was unable to find a good car bottle warmer. Not to mention the fact that I had to lug around a cooler of some sort to keep the breast milk cold before she was ready to take her bottle.

During this time my daughter was still nursing at night. If I could catch her before she woke up entirely we could make it work. I think she was just to tired to care, to be honest with you.
One day she stopped nursing at night and I said to heck with it. I started giving her formula when we would go out, just because it was easier than taking breast milk with us, and she would also have formula at night.

We kept this habit up until she was 6 months old and I was placed on medication that I could no longer "nurse" her. She made it to 6 months and I figured that it was better than nothing. Even knowing this I still had some guilt over the issue. I think we as mothers want so desperately to do the best for our kids that we can. We battle with ourselves over everything we do for them because we have this fear that we are going to screw them up somehow. Well, at least that is the way I feel sometimes.

When I thought about "The Mommy Wars" I did a little research and came up with some pros and cons of breastfeeding and formula feeding.

Pros of Breastfeeding

    breastfeeding Pictures, Images and Photos

  • Mothers that breastfeed usually loose weight faster than non breastfeeding mothers. Breastfeeding requires about 500 calories a day to produce the milk for the baby.

  • Easy and convenient - nothing to buy or prepare, no bottles to wash

  • Free- need I say more
  • The mother can sleep during the 2 a.m. feedings
  • There is a very special bond between mother and baby that some will argue that is stronger in breastfeed babies and moms

  • Less spit-up, no stains, no smelly poop

  • Protects against some breast and ovarian cancers
  • May delay you're menstrual cycle from starting up again.

  • Contains natural immunity strengtheners for babies

  • Helps babies brain to grow and develop

  • Less learning and behavior problems

  • Less diaper rash and other skin problems

  • Less Colic

  • Easy to digest, less constipation and diarrhea

  • Protects against SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

Cons of Breastfeeding

  • Time consuming
  • Mom has to pump if she want to leave baby or have someone else feed her.

  • Breastfeeding takes a lot of energy, mom can feel more fatigued than usual.

  • Possible anxiety/frustration while mom and baby are learning

  • Some moms can develop physical problems like clogged milk ducts that can cause pain and infections

  • Can be challenging for working mothers

Pros of Formula Feeding

  • Tastes remains consistent and is not dependant on mom's diet or activities

  • Mom's can eat or drink what they want with no worry about it effecting the quality of the milk

  • Formula is digested slower than breast milk so babies are satisfied longer while on formula
  • Mothers are able to take medications
  • Easy feeding for traveling

  • Wonderful for moms that for medical reasons or supply issues cannot breastfeed

  • Anybody can feed baby, good for dads that desperately want to be more involved

Cons of Formula Feeding

  • Expensive!!!

  • Bottles, nipples, bottle washer, bottle dryer, etc are all additional items that need to be purchased and don't forget cleaned

  • Not as good, nutritionally, as breast milk
  • Doesn't supply natural antibodies for baby
  • Formula fed babies have a higher chance of becoming constipated

After doing the research and having two DIFFERENT children I have realized that breast milk is best for babies. I read a quote that I think sums up my thoughts, "Breastfeeding isn't for every mother but it is for every baby."

I realize that medically speaking breast milk is best for babies. There have been studies and there really is no disputing this fact. Sometimes it isn't always as cut and dry as medical thinking may be. My baby wanted immediate gratification and did not want to nurse. I fought and fought with her, I wanted her to nurse. She was unhappy constantly, I was stressed and the tension level in our home was raised. Who knows, maybe I could of made it work but at the moment it was more important to me to help her to be happy. Her and I gave it our best shot and she received breast milk for 6 months, that's better than nothing. If we have another child I am definitely going to breastfeed our next but only time will tell.

I know girls that want to breastfeed but will not make enough milk to satisfy the baby and end up drying up within a matter of weeks. They wish they could breastfeed and they can't, they truly suffer from mommy guilt. Some moms chose not to breastfeed at all because it was better for them in their specific circumstance.

Bottle feeding blinkie Pictures, Images and Photos

Whether you take the stance of "breast is best," bottle feeding mommy or somewhere in between, love your kids and make sure they know that.

breast and bottle feeding Pictures, Images and Photos

Check back soon for the next round of "The Mommy Wars," working moms, vs. stay at home moms.


Megan Tea on June 27, 2009 at 5:39 PM said...

I love breastfeeding my babies. But I recognize what a blessing it is that formula exists... otherwise, we might have to take up the 'wet nurse' concept in our culture... and I'd rather not. ;) I think the main thing I've learned in parenting is how important it is to be willing to adapt to the needs of your family. Whatever works!

Amanda Johnston on July 1, 2009 at 7:49 AM said...

I know exactly how you feel. I nursed Landin with no problems but the other three I struggled with. Some kids just don't want to nurse no matter how hard you try.

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