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breastfeeding vs. formula feeding

February 7, 2014

Let’s talk about breast-feeding for a minute. Excited? Wait, Wait don’t leave. Hear me out.

Before I got pregnant I believed two things to be true:

  1. I would breastfeed Trey for at least 6 months-1 year
  2. I thought the whole judgement to breast feed vs. formula feed I heard about from other mothers was a little over dramatic.

Let’s just say those were two big assumptions that made a big old ASS OUT OF ME! Trey was not into the boob. He ┬ájust could not figure out what to do, bless his heart. I ended up having to pump in the hospital so he could eat. I met with a lactation consultant several times and Trey and I both cried a lot of tears of over trying to get him to latch. I’m really not sure who cried more: me or him? So I settled into the routine of exclusively pumping and giving Trey bottles.

THAT WAS TORTURE. I hated it more than anything I have ever had to do in my life. I felt like I was missing out on bonding time with Trey, it hurt, it was time consuming and it required a lot of cleaning of parts, bottles, nipples, etc. and did I mention time consuming? I cried a lot and started resenting the fact that Trey had to eat!

Keith started talking about switching to formula and my first knee jerk reaction was NO! I felt like people would judge me and I also felt guilty. I felt guilty because I had a HUGE milk supply and was freezing milk by the bagful in addition to feeding Trey everyday. I felt like I would be quitting out of convenience and not giving the best to my son. Plus everyone and I mean EVERYONE asked me if I was breast feeding…which I quickly decided was a personal question that you don’t really have the right to ask.

Finally when Trey was 9 weeks old I couldn’t take it anymore. I started weaning. I was able to use half breast milk half formula for 2 weeks (thanks to what I had frozen) and then when he was 11 weeks old he went to straight formula. We’ve had to change formulas three times. We started on Similac Organic but that gave him a rash, we then switched to Earth’s Best Organic but that made him super constipated, and we are currently using Baby’s Only Organic (please cross your fingers this works for us!)

Trey has been trooper. He never once fussed about the change. He has always just willingly eaten whatever we’ve given him and I love him for being so easy and malleable with formula. I know that isn’t always the case. And me? I am so much better. I had to stop feeling guilty because I am a much better mom now that Trey’s on formula. My hormones don’t seem as out of whack and I am not resenting his need to eat and feeding Trey is no longer a stressful event. Switching to formula was the best and right decision for my family. 100%.

Should Keith and I have more children then I will absolutely try nursing first but if for some reason it doesn’t work out then I will make the switch to formula with much less anguish than I did this time.

So here’s my advice: Don’t ask a woman if she is breastfeeding because really it isn’t any of your business. That’s a personal family decision that is between a woman, her child, and her family. That’s it. I feel like there is so much judgement out there from moms and really it doesn’t matter what another mom does or doesn’t do because everyone’s journey is their own.

So regardless if you are breast feeding or formula feeding it doesn’t really matter. We are all just trying to do our best and be the greatest moms we can be.

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. Kim permalink
    February 7, 2014 9:09 am

    Back when I had Bella (12 yrs ago in March)..breastfeeding was really not pushed nor were women educated about breastfeeding. I really did not know what to do. Bella was a preemie, 32.5 weeks. They did not even ask what I was doing, they started her on formula and let me recover from my c section. The question was never brought up by anyone at the hospital.

    Now, I had one very naive person say “YOU are not BREASTFEEDING?” Mind you, she was 19, a child really, not a parent. I ignored her, obviously. However, Bella was born with an allergy to casein. This meant either a feeding tube ( umm,no) or special prescription formula (our insurance did not cover, $1200 a month!). I was also still working full time and traveling 3/5 days a week. The formula worked. Breastfeeding may have been the better option looking back. Again, the awareness was not there, at all.

    Long story, long, she turned out just fine. Did not grow a tail from formula, skipped 2nd grade and is as “normal” as any 12 yr old can be. Like I have said before, as parents, we all just do the best we can :)

  2. February 7, 2014 10:07 am

    The only thing that would have made this post better is if you would have had a new picture of Trey at the bottom :) That kid is SO cute!

  3. February 7, 2014 11:26 am

    I had both of the same assumptions with Alexander. Not only would he not latch, but I produced very little milk when I pumped. (Max would be like 5-10ml) It was a huge struggle and left me with a lot of tears. I finally decided to give up and though I feel some guilt about it, it’s much better for both of us.

  4. February 7, 2014 12:34 pm

    well said!

  5. February 10, 2014 3:53 pm

    My son was 6 weeks early and was in the NICU so my intentions of breastfeeding were thrown out the window. While I wanted to BF, my son just wanted no part of it. I started pumping and lasted as long as I could which turned out to be 3 1/2 months. It was likely 2 months longer than I should have gone. I started to get resentful for having to pump and a dozen other things as well. It probably also didn’t help that I was doing this all alone while my husband was deployed. I would talk to him and he was so against formula. But it was how he was raised. My MIL was even more overbearing and intrusive about BF to the point where is was brought up well over 20+ times a day while she was here. I know her intentions were pure but her delivery killed it. Overall it was a horrible experience for me. I try to remember that something is better than nothing. My kid is no worse off for having formula despite what my MIL says. I am undecided about what I will do with any future kids we have.

    Obviously this is late now but have you tried similac supplementation formula? It contains an extremely mild laxative that makes it more like breastmilk. When I switched from pumping to formula it was easier on him and I didn’t have to worry about him getting constipated. Even now at 7mo he’s still on that formula. As he gets closer to 12mo and more solids than formula I may move him to the regular formula. It’s worth looking into if you ever need to switch from BF to formula.

  6. February 10, 2014 8:18 pm

    All I can say is a verrrry emphatic “YES”. My experience was so similar to yours (I actually produced a comedy short about it, because the only way I knew to handle the extreme pain and frustration was to laugh about it…) but the bottom line is that my daughter was 100% formula fed from 5 months of age, and she is now a bright, healthy, wonderful 7-year-old. All the guilt I felt about not being able to breastfeed was SUCH a lot of wasted energy.

  7. February 10, 2014 8:18 pm

    ps: the 4 min(isn) video, if you’re interested: http://www.mothereffed.com/2013/01/episode-5-spoilt-milk.html

  8. Jennifer permalink
    February 24, 2014 8:47 am

    I’m seriously so thankful for this post. My daughter is 6 months old but we had the EXACT same story. I felt like such a failure and that I was the only one who couldn’t make breast feeding work. It was something that was honestly so important to me and instill struggle with the thoughts that I failed. Thank you for the refreshing truth.

    • February 24, 2014 10:11 am

      I am so glad this post helped. I know I really struggled with the mom guilt of not breast feeding but I 100% believe that I am a better mom right now for switching to formula. My husband was completely formula fed and I was only breast fed for 4 weeks and we both turned out just fine! I know there is so much pressure to breast feed and sometimes it can really cause undue stress on mama which I think the baby feels. I know Trey is much happier because his mama is much happier and I really believe they can sense it.

  9. March 2, 2014 8:08 am

    I’m so proud of you for figuring out what worked/works for you. Good for you, Kelly. You know that breastfeeding didn’t work out for me either– it’s so tough! That being said, formula worked great for us– and Lila seems to be turning out just fine. ;-)

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