Breast versus Bottle feeding is a long time hot topic that is sure to fire people up on both sides of the spectrum. One thing we noticed when researching for this post is how moms who decided to bottle feed largely felt and feel judged and looked down on not just occasionally but day in and day out. This is heartbreaking! Having a baby is a roller coaster of intense emotions and if this post can help spark even a little understanding and compassion in others, and allow parents to let go of some of that guilt, we will consider it a success. As parents we’ve all had those moments when we’ve felt judged for our methods, and we all agree it’s a terrible way to feel. Wouldn’t rearing children be so much more joyful if we all had the space to do it the way our intuition and stewardship dictated? A healthy and happy baby takes on many forms, just as the route it takes to bring them to your family does. Here’s what we heard from our very own readers on why they chose bottle feeding over breast.
“It is what it is. This is a phrase my mom started throwing around after she had brain surgery during my high school years. It’s become a mantra of our family. My husband and I struggled with infertility and had our little double blessings on our seventh round of IUI (shame on us–they are “unnatural”!?). I knew when we got pregnant that these boys were a gift to us–not much of our own doing. I knew that it would be a complicated pregnancy and delivery and that my visions of a calm, drug free, home birth and my reclaimed beach body were out the window. I vowed early on to just roll with it. I couldn’t control potential complications, I couldn’t control my stupid gestational diabetes, I couldn’t control my ankles swelling literally to the size of my husbands thighs, I couldn’t control my transverse trouble maker of a baby B, I couldn’t control any aspect of my C-section (which was great), I certainly couldn’t control the fact that my babies screamed incessantly for the first three months of their life. Surrendering all of this, trusting my spouse, myself, our ability to make informed decisions and, in our case, leaning into our faith might as well start now because this whole journey of parenting is a crazy uncontrollable ride. So here’s some of our dirty laundry: we never fed on demand, we bottle feed and I love it, our babies sleep with their “lovies” on their faces, we make our own baby food not cause we’re healthier than anyone, but because we can’t afford the store stuff, and sometimes my boys cry — a lot. And no, they aren’t hungry, and no, they don’t have a dirty diaper. There is a lot outside of our control, but there is more than one way to raise healthy, considerate, joy-filled and honorable little humans and while there is a lot that I don’t know, I do know for certain that they will never doubt the love we have for them — a love that is forged by much more than breastfeeding or co-sleeping or any other parenting approach or tool…” — Jessica
Find six more stories after the jump!
“I have always struggled to produce enough milk and although my milk supply has gotten better with each baby I struggled with the ridiculous guilt women are put through if they bottle feed their babies.
My first went her first three days without eating a drop because everyone told me how horrible it was to give formula. I suffered the first few months pumping only an once or two a day just to watch it disappear in a flash. When I finally called quits and gave her formula we were a much better and healthier family unit. I was a much better mom. It saved me.” — Kenni
“I’m an adoptive mom of two kids and one of the things that has struck me the most about the bottle feeding/breast feeding chatter in the breast feeding community is that there is very little recognition of how families are built differently like ours… resulting in a need to feed differently. Commercials on TV, articles in parenting magazines, pamphlets in doctors office (some of the most guilt inducing), and conversations at the park, play groups, and lunch dates with other moms that you might not know very well all completely turn a blind eye to the fact that breast feeding isn’t a viable of an option for all moms–and not just because they have a low milk supply.” — Maggie
“When my son was born I began breast feeding without knowing that I was doing it wrong. He hadn’t been latching on, but as a first time mom, I was unaware of this. The nurses in the hospital watched me feed and told me I was doing it right so I continued on. Two days later my sons body weight dropped drastically as he had not been latching properly. My midwife corrected the error and my son began to feed properly, which for him meant cluster feeding for three days straight. My son would feed for at least 1 hour at a time, take a 15 minute break, then continue. After 72 hours of continuous feeding I began to break down emotionally and physically. I was in so much pain that any type of clothing or even just air, would cause tremendous pain. After taking a few days, with doctor’s direction, I tried to begin exclusive pumping as I felt the pain might be more tolerable. I was wrong and I even developed thrush. My supply quickly diminished so my midwife prescribed the highest dosage of medication to increase my supply. I was on it for 8 weeks and wasn’t even producing enough milk for one feeding a day. I sometimes still feel guilty and selfish about not sticking it out as formula feeding, but I think whatever makes the mother happy and love her job as a mom, is all that matters. Why not support each other for all that we do. And we do A LOT.” — Lauren
“I struggled to conceive for nearly five years and when I finally did, it was thrilling. I had some reservations about breast feeding but knew I wanted to give it a go. It didn’t come easy and my son needed supplementation from the very start in the hospital. My big 9lbs 9oz baby boy needed more than I could give and we just didn’t seem to sync. After two weeks of struggling and regular visits to the lactation specialists, one of them finally realized he was ‘tongue tied‘ and that he needed to have it clipped. I thought for sure our troubles would be over soon, but that was not the case. I was ‘power pumping’ which is 10 minutes of pumping every hour, not the most glorious 48 hours. All along I was supplementing with formula and my boy was growing and developing just fine. When I went to see my OBGYN at my 6 week appointment I told him of all my struggles and nearly lost it in his office. He gave me the best advice. He told me that this was ‘causing me too much stress and that it is far more important for you to be mentally healthy for your baby than to breast feed.’ I nearly flew out of the office that day, a weight was lifted from my shoulders and I felt relief that I could close the breast feeding chapter.
I later learned that the condition (PCOS) that had caused my infertility was also one of the main contributors in my low supply of milk. It wasn’t an easy choice to make. I felt a lot of grief, experienced a lot of judgmental stares and even had some ridiculous comments from women. It is a very personal choice that each Mother needs to make on their own. I know it was right for me!” — Natalie
“I planned to nurse my first for 12 months. I wondered why anyone would ever formula feed. It truly baffled me. My son was born and feedings were a huge and unexpected challenge. The nurses offered me a nipple shield, a pump and formula. I was dead set on nursing my baby! I fed him through blood, sweat, tears, anxiety, stress, depression for 6 weeks. I hated every second of it. It was so painful and overwhelming. At my 6 week check-up I told my doctor I thought I had mastitis. She gave me an antibiotic and I pressed on with nursing. A week later I returned with worse symptoms. She said I was just engorged from trying to empty the breast. I kept on with dreading the next toe curling pain of feeding. We traveled out of town for two weeks and the mastitis got worse. I woke up every day in tears. I could barely dress. I was so engorged my clothes didn’t fit. I saw an urgent care doctor and ER doctor. I thought I was developing an abscess but both reassured me it would pass. I kept on nursing away. On our 15 hour drive home we pulled into a parking lot so I could pump and my husband could give our son a bottle. As I pumped an abscess in my infected breast burst. We called the doctor who said we could continue our drive but to go straight to the ER once home. We did so. We made it to the hospital and at age 24 I had a partial mastectomy as a result. In addition to two surgeries to make incisions so that the wound could be packed and cleaned properly. I was more heartbroken about the end of my Breastfeeding journey than anything. I spent a month going to wound care daily to have my breast unpacked, cleaned and repacked. I would lie on the table at wound care cursing my doctor for ignoring my claims. Thinking I could be a at home with my baby cuddled up nursing. I support Breastfeeding in every way. I do think it’s best. But I will always have heartache over it. It hurts to hear about it and see it. I was ashamed to shake up the bottle or formula in public. Ashamed to carry boxes of formula to the cash register. I looked like a perfectly healthy happy mom, why would I be feeding my baby that stuff? I don’t think that the pro Breastfeeding movement people understand how deeply it hurts those of us who tried so hard, but couldn’t do it.
I have two perfectly healthy, smart and beautiful babies. They never missed a meal or went without. I got extra hours of sleep and minutes to shower or play with my toddler while someone else could feed my newborn. There were so many elements of ease to bottle feeding. I saved up Enfamil checks, got coupons from mom friends that were chugging along beautifully Breastfeeding. It is such a difficult topic. It was so humbling for me to have such a disaster of an experience Breastfeeding!” — Candace
“At about 4 months old, my twin boys went on a nursing strike a few days apart from each other. A lactation specialist told me to only offer the breast and stop giving them bottles. She said they would eat if they got hungry enough. Thankfully, I did not listen to her and realized that the most important thing was that my babies were fed and healthy. I needed them to eat and if they preferred bottles, then that’s what we were going to do! I started pumping exclusively. They were eating so much better for the bottle, my husband was able to help out more and we were all happier. I tried to get them back into nursing several times, but they refused every time. I finally gave up the fight and became an exclusive pumper until the boys were about 9 months old. My supply had dropped and I just couldn’t keep up. Frankly, I was totally over pumping 8 times a day and wanted my body back! I was proud of myself for making it that long and happy to move on to formula.” — Lacey