Monday, March 10, 2014

The Great Boob vs. Bottle Debate

I've read hundreds [no seriously, hundreds] of articles regarding pregnancy, babies, and everything that has to do with pregnancy and babies. The information influx has slowed since having a child because your brain kind of morphs into a giant tupperware filled with tapioca pudding, but that still doesn't stop one topic from coming up whenever a parenting article surfaces: 
breastfeeding vs. formula feeding. 

It's like a bad Miley Cyrus song playing on constant repeat. 
"My mom bottle-fed me and I turned out fine."
My goal with this post is not to dog on breastfeeding. Quite the opposite, in fact. I have the utmost respect for women who choose to breastfeed their children. My sister and best friend are currently doing it and I have realized the struggle it takes is beyond what most people who have never done it can comprehend.

That is the exact reason I decided to formula feed; sheer terror. I don't handle stress well, as a rule. I knew if I was consumed with the newness of parenthood, it would be very hard for me to add on the mountain of stress it takes to feed another human body all on my own. So I decided, after months and months of weighing the pros and cons, that both me and my child would be better off with formula.

Because of the great debate that has sparked over this particular topic in the last 20 years, I wanted to share with you some of the myths associated with formula feeding. Not to defend myself - I could not give less shits what people think of my choice - but to educate you with reality. This isn't a parenting book or cheesy movie with creepy talking infants. This is a real life account from a real life formula-feeder.


myth #1: formula is bad for your baby in both body & mind
I'm not going to throw scientific facts at you, both because I'm not a scientist and because I'm too lazy to look that crap up. That's right, I'm too lazy to Google it. Blame the pudding brain.
I will say that my kid is 80th percentile in weight and 53rd in height [and we're super short, folks]. She exceeds the average on social and intellectual skills. She started rolling over at 6 weeks. She's been sick with a cold one time during this insanely cruel winter. And I am incredibly proud to say that she is sleeping 9-10 hours a night [with some help from a pacifier]. 
Formula doesn't make kids stupid. Stupid makes kids stupid. Which is what people are feeding their children when they bitch and moan at other people [mostly on the internet] for not breastfeeding. 
My kid is happy as a lark. Would she still be a happy baby if I breastfed her? Probably. But I don't know that. I don't know if my stress would've contributed to her being hungry all the time. I don't know if my resentment toward my husband for sleeping soundly beside me while I'm popping a boob out every 3 hours would be a healthy environment for her to be in. 
What I do know is that she's happy now and that's all I care about.

myth #2: formula fed babies don't get nurtured like breastfed babies
One of the first things you answer when you get to the hospital to deliver your bundle of joy is, "do you want to have skin-to-skin contact immediately?" It's assumed that this question is only relevant for breastfed babies because it gets them close to their mom and somehow they're supposed to miraculously find that food-source right away. 
But even if you've decided before-hand that you want to formula feed, they still ask you that question. Why? Because every mom wants to hold their baby close to them. It's not about food. It's about the fact that you've wondered for 9 straight months what that sweet girl is going to look like. How they're going to act. How it will feel to hold her in your arms. That's just as important to formula moms as it is to BF moms. 
And yes, my husband and I shared feeding duties in the middle of the night, so I might have lost one of those feeding sessions that I otherwise would've had if I were breastfeeding. But honestly, I see that more as a blessing than a curse. I got plenty of one-on-one time with her during the day and I was exhausted beyond words 24 hours a day, so a little relief during the middle of the night was a welcome guest. 
I kiss my child a thousand times a day. I smile every time she smiles. I relish in the fact that I somehow created a human being. That's a mom thing. And it has absolutely nothing with food. 

myth #3: you don't have anything to worry about when you formula feed
Just because I picked up formula and bottles from a store doesn't mean it's all roses from there. We have struggled since day 1 with feeding our baby girl. What type of formula to give her? Which bottle produces the least amount of gas? Is she allergic to lactose? Is soy better for her? Are we keeping it at the right temperature? Are we giving her too much? Too little? Why is she so gassy? 
After the first month of her screaming an hour after every feeding, we discovered she had reflux. We got her medicine and our lives were instantly changed for the better. She felt relief and so did we. More importantly, she was finally sleeping more. No one is happy when you're kid isn't sleeping, especially your kid. 
It seems like the easy way out to formula feed, but you have just as much to worry about as when you breastfeed. It's just a different set of worries. 

myth #4: formula moms don't need support
I was reading an article earlier about formula feeding moms getting little to no support and it was the first time it resonated with me that us FF moms do need support. If not because raising a kid is just plain hard, then because everyone makes us feel like giant asshats for choosing formula over breast. And because of the reasons in #3. And because we are new moms and we don't know what the hell we're doing. 
BF moms don't have the Le Leche league telling them that they failed as a mother for their choice. Or the annoying BF moms spouting their stupid mouths off about how their kid is going to be a rocket scientist and mine will probably work in a coal mine [hey, Zoolander did it..]. 
Luckily I have had nothing but support from my friends and family, namely my mom, and sister and best friend mentioned above, but there are ladies out there who have had just the opposite. And I feel for those moms. 
As if there isn't enough to worry about when you're a new mom.
We don't need the guilt. We don't need the lectures. We need you to leave us the eff alone and let us feed our kid. 
"MA! Get the formula!!"
At the end of the day I will tell you, without shame, that I have not regretted my decision for one second. Which is why I wanted to share my side of the story. Us formula feeders tend to catch a lot of flack for "taking the easy way out." That's taking in to account the moms who tried and weren't able to breastfeed, or the moms of preemies who had no choice but to formula feed. There are a million different reasons why people want to formula feed, and I will not accept being chastised for choosing to feed my kid the way others might not approve of. 
I could not give two flying turds if you think your kid is going to get less colds than mine and that somehow makes you a better mother. 

This "argument" comes down to one thing, and one thing only: 
It's absolutely no one else's business how I choose to nourish my child. 
You do your thing and I'll do mine. 

End of discussion.

3 comments:

  1. Amen, sister! You love your daughter as much as any mother possibly could. Continue to hold your head up high and be confident in your decisions. Ignore any hateful comments by mean mothers. We need to stick together, not harshly stick our noses in other mothers' business. Love you, sis. You're doing a phenomenal job.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Amen Mal! I dont know if you noticed my 43 in tall, 41 lb, 3 year old that can recite his abc's, count to 50, sing pretty much any song (lullaby or current radio played) and can have an intellectual conversation, or my 37in tall, 28 lb 1 1/2 year old that uses pretty much complete sentences, can count to 10, has her abc's pretty close to perfect, and can kick a soccer ball harder and straighter than most 5 year old boys...They are both formula fed babies...I made the same choice you did, for pretty much the same reasons. My babies are thriving and so is your beautiful baby girl! *Kudos!*
    <3 Megan Flynn

    ReplyDelete

Thoughts? Love to hear 'em.