Motherhood

Breastfeeding vs. Formula: The Good, The Bad And Everything In Between

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I realize that this is a loaded topic. Not everyone will see eye to eye with me. And that is ok. But this is a post filled with care and consideration. It’s from the heart of a mama who understands both sides of the “coin”. For each of my babies, I made a decision according to what was best at the time. Did I experience guilt when I chose to formula feed? Yes! Did I sometimes doubt my choice to breastfeed and want to give up? Yes, yes and more yes. It’s not easy, being a mother. Making decisions that are hard…especially with so many voices around you trying to tell you what is best. What you need to do.

This post tells the story of my feeding experiences with each of my children. A window veiw of the subject. Because there is much to say and much I could say, but I’ve chosen to narrow it down.

My journey with each child was unique. One was breastfed, then had supplementation, then was exclusively formula fed. The other child was exclusively breastfed, then made the transition to pumped breastmilk.

I hope to encourage both the moms who have chosen formula and the ones that have chosen to breastfeed. This post also goes out to the mothers who supplement and who pump exclusively or partially. You are all important and loved!

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The Baby Stories

J was my first baby. My pregnancy with him was remarkably easy. I was active and young(er) and fairly carefree. I thought that breastfeeding would be easy and natural. Though I was somewhat educated on the topic, but it was perhaps not enough for me. There were many factors that influenced my feeding choice. His birth was somewhat difficult. Adding the task of breastfeeding to my recovery was very hard for me. So when he was a few days old, I began supplementing. When he was about 1 week old, I quit breastfeeding entirely. I felt like a failure but there were 2 people at the hospital whose words stuck with me. Breastfeeding was pushed but these people, they told me not to feel bad. Not to feel guilty. I had done enough and I was not a bad mother for choosing this.

My daughter L was a different story entirely. My pregnancy with her had its challenges. I had the adventurous task of raising a toddler…think walrus chasing after a butterfly. Then I got diagnised with SPD (also called Pelvic Girdle Pain). The pain was thankfully made bearable with the aid of a pregnancy girdle. However…her birth was so different. It was not a difficult birth. And I was incredibly suprised that it happed the way it did. Because of this, my decision to breastfeed got some positive reinforcement. This along with my research, advice, prior experience and good support system made it easier for us to continue breastfeeding.

Positive Aspects

(In my experience, these are all things that I found to be true.)

With formula, there is…

  • more personal space
  • less emotional issues
  • more freedom with diet
  • the ability to feed baby anywhere
  • the fact that the husband/significant other can help
  • no issues related to breast tenderness and leakage

With breastfeeding, there is…

  • more opportunities for bonding
  • more time for downtime and rest
  • the option to feed baby while lying down, half asleep!
  • the assurance that milk will be warm, sterile and fresh.
  • the beauty that your milk is tailor-made for your baby (and changes daily and hourly too!)

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This and That

With formula there was no biting…but with BF, the biting wasn’t often (thankfully).

With formula, I could eat whatever I wanted…but with BF I became more conscious of my diet and ate healthier.

With formula, my husband could help feed…but with BF he could still help by bringing me things I needed and by helping me with J.

With formula, I experienced much less soreness, engorgement, and leakage…but with BF I still dealt with these issues, yet they lessened over time.

With BF I had lots of beneficial down time when L nursed…but with formula I felt I had greater freedom to feed J wherever I needed to.

With BF there was no “gear” I had to carry around (aside from my breast pump on occasion)…but with formula at least I knew J would be fed, even if I was away from him.

With BF we saved money in a few ways…less gear, yes, but also less milk was wasted. There were times when I misjudged J’s hunger or a bottle got left out, etc.)

And I wonder…would it have been any easier to get up and chase down my toddler if L was bottle fed? Any insight to add? I just remember how hard it was to do anything but just sit while I nursed. Ask me about the time I changed J’s diaper with one foot and one hand. Haha…oh the fun.

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So in the end, you can rest in the fact that your baby will thrive on whatever you have and whatever you are comfortable with. Because breastmilk may be good, but formula is good too. Because babies are hungry. And either option is nourishing. Do not feel bad about your decision.

Either way, either decision, method, or combination thereof you make, you have still proven to be a good mom.

These are my observations and experiences with formula and breastfeeding. So many factors go into the choice that is made. People may give you flak and judge you for your choice. But you are the only one who can decide what the best choice is. It may be breastmilk. Or pumped breastmilk. Formula. Or supplementation. Or any combination of these. But whichever you choose, be it born of necessity or preference, remember that it is enough. You are enough. You are nurturing your child and that is all that matters!

~Rachel

 

13 thoughts on “Breastfeeding vs. Formula: The Good, The Bad And Everything In Between”

  1. Rachel – this was extremely encouraging! I wish I could’ve read this back when I was starting my breastfeeding journey with my daughter. I so relate with your first pregnancy experience, except I pushed through to about the 4th week and had to supplement. From there things were rocky. I was able to EBF until she was about 4.5 months, but a week long hospital stay forced me to pump exclusively for that week, and supplementation began again as my supply decreased during that time. From then until about a week ago, she increasingly became disinterested in nursing, so I made the decision to go exclusively to formula. I think I could’ve saved my supply with an aggressive pumping schedule, but I was so tired of struggling. So I gave up. I struggled with wanting to quit BF from about the 4th day my daughter was alive. Even though I’m a firm believer that fed is best, I suffered such guilt at the thought of stopping. It’s a strange thing – I know she’s thriving and happy, and I know I did the best I could, but it makes me feel so bad to admit that it was hard since I wanted it so so badly.

    I’m so glad you listened to God’s promoting and wrote this. I needed to read it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dessie, I am honored! Thank-you for sharing your story with me. I am so very thankful that God could reach out to you through my post. He crafts the words to say and I just write them. This was a post born from my own trials and difficulties in the area if feeding. It is never easy what we do, but we do it anyway 🙂 I greatly admire your determination to press through with bf even though it was hard. Your daughter loves you so much and you’ve proved to be an awesome mom by doing what is best for her. I know the decision can be so hard. Thank-you so much Dessie your comment was truly a blessing❤☺

      Like

      1. It’s ok I notice typos in my stuff all the time 🙂 I do aim to keep my posts balanced. This is a post that I feel God impressed upon my heart and I hope it is a post that can encourage women who have been or are in this stage of life. I wish someone would have told me some of these things.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Thank-you for your encouraging words! Yes there are really a lot of resources out there. Just takes a bit of hunting. Maybe this will help point people in the right direction. Who knows? I hope so 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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