Breastfeeding vs. formula feeding. Boy, what a topic for mommies.
I don't know why it is, but there seems to be an unfair amount of judgment that comes with this topic. Formula moms judging breastfeeding moms by assuming they think they're better and their babies are healthier, and breastfeeding moms assuming formula moms aren't giving their babies what is best for them. I have been on both sides of the spectrum and have felt the weight of both types of judgments.
The truth is though, what our babies need the most is to be loved. Oh, and their basic needs (eat, sleep, changed). But, in the end, no one walks around in adulthood asking if you were a formula baby or a breastfed baby. No one looks at the CEO of a company and says "oh, he had to have been breastfed."
Are there benefits to breastfeeding your child? Of course. 100%. The nutrients and antibodies that your baby can get, especially in those first few weeks are undeniable. The bond when you breastfeed is also one that is indescribable. However, feeding your baby formula gives them exactly what they need too and you can bond with your baby just as easily!
I guess the point I want to make here is that you have no idea what a mom's story might be, so please try to resist passing judgment. There are about a million scenarios that could have taken place: a mom's milk didn't come in, breastfeeding was too painful, the baby couldn't latch, the mom's job requires lots of travel and little ability to pump and store milk, or the mom's milk stopped coming in, or maybe the family decided not to breastfeed from the beginning simply to allow the dad to partake in the feedings and the experience. In the end, we don't need to know the why in the choice mom's have made to breastfeed or formula feed.
As I mentioned above, I breastfed and formula fed/feed both of my girls and wanted to share just a little bit about my personal story in hopes that you might understand there is so much that goes into deciding how to feed your baby. I also wanted to share my story to pump up those formula mommies out there! You are doing awesome and giving your baby just what he or she needs!
My feeding story with Emma Grace:
When Emma Grace was born, my husband and I decided to breastfeed Emma. We had done a lot of research and felt that breastfeeding was the best option for us. Emma had no trouble latching in the hospital, and I did not experience any pain or difficulty with breastfeeding. Things went smoothly for the first couple of months. She was a fast eater and I was over-producing milk like crazy, so we had a bunch stored up. Then, at 3 months I went back to work part-time and everything changed.
It was the perfect storm looking back. I only had three 20-minute breaks to pump at work, which meant I was stressed about pumping enough in such a short amount of time, which led to a decrease in my flow. At this point, Emma Grace also stopped working for the milk as hard when I would fed her, so she wasn't getting full feedings and began to drop weight. The result of this was that my milk stopped coming in just a few weeks after returning to work.
I wish I could say I handled this process gracefully, but the truth is, I was a huge stress ball. I had about a million questions running through my head: was I not consuming enough calories? was I not drinking enough? should I have been playing soothing music while I was pumping? was I working out too hard? The list goes on.
I felt like I failed Emma Grace. I felt like I wasn't going to be able to give her what was best for her. Then, my pediatrician (the best out there I believe) told me it was time to start making the switch over to formula full-time because EG was losing too much weight.
I was nervous because I had already felt the judgmental stares at malls, public places, and even at church when I would pull out a formula bottle instead of my nursing cover. I didn't want other moms to think I was lazy or failing my daughter. I thought these thoughts would consume me. But, God had another plan in mind...
What I couldn't predict would happen is how much I would love feeding her formula, too. I loved that it gave my husband the ability to bond with her and help me out. I loved the ease of simply mixing a bottle instead of finding a place to nurse. Most of all, I loved that my baby was still healthy. Emma Grace was still hitting all her milestones and growing!
When I realized that this was the best decision for Emma Grace and her health, nothing else mattered. I didn't mind the stares I got when I fed her a bottle of formula, and I didn't mind sharing my story with other moms to help them understand that things aren't always what they seem.
My feeding story with Abby:
We approached breastfeeding with Abby much differently. We wanted to try breastfeeding and so we decided to make short-term goals like: "let's see if we can make it two weeks." Then if we hit that goal we'd try for another two. We took off all pressure from society and decided to just take baby steps. In the end, we would do what benefitted Abby the most - breast milk or not.
I don't know why this happened with Abby, too, but the first day I went back to work (6 weeks after she was born), my milk stopped coming in. But, this time I wasn't upset. I knew the benefits of formula and that the end goal would be just to love my baby well and feed her the proper nutrition. So, we eased into formula and here we are today just chugging away with formula!
Favorite Products for Formula Mommies:
I guess it can be said that I am now a formula mommy, and over the past couple of years, I have developed some product favorites that make feeding go smoother. I do want it to be known that I give major props to mommies that breastfeed, and especially those mommies that pump at work to keep up their supply - you guys are warriors! But, formula mommies are warriors too, and there are products out there just for you!
- Mixie Bottle: Oh, mamas, this bottle is the best. My friend, Andi, of Andi Daily introduced me to this bottle with Emma Grace. It's amazing. You simply fill an inner compartment with formula, then pour water into the bottle, and then it stays separated until you're ready to mix. When you want to feed your baby all you have to do is push the bottom and the formula disperses into the water and mixes! It's genius because this way your milk won't go bad! We use this when we know Abby will need a bottle at church or if we're heading out to eat. This way we don't have to bother with bringing a separate container of formula to mix.
2. Baby Breeza Formula Pro One Step Food Maker: Okay, so we don't have this yet, but are about to get it. We have several friends that have this and rave about it. Moms - this is essentially a keurig for formula. You simply add water in the side compartment, add formula to the top compartment, then press the amount of ounces you want for your bottle and poof - it mixes your bottle for you at the perfect temperature. This seems like it would be so perfect for those late night feedings!
xx - anna, emma grace, & abby
PS - are there any formula products you mommies use that you love? I'd love to hear!