To breastfeed or not to breastfeed… I never wrestled with that choice because I always knew I was going to *cue dramatic music* BOTTLE-FEED. My whole family used the bottle, therefore I assumed for probably way too long that everyone used a bottle instead of “the old-fashioned way”. As my baby miracle was coming to fruition, other incidents strengthened my choice. I developed depression during my pregnancy. Because of the overwhelming feelings that came with my depression (and already present severe anxiety) I felt it would be best for me to not add the extra stress of attempting to breastfeed and having to be the only one responsible for getting nourishment into my bubba. No thank you.
I am lucky I wasn’t ever shamed for my choice. Sure, some people asked me why I chose to use a bottle. In some cases, (I’m looking at you crunchy neighbor) they would let me know the pros to breastfeeding (as if I didn’t know them already), but no one made me feel shame. My heart hurts for those that were made to feel like a bad mother for not breastfeeding and that’s why I wrote this for you. I want you to know that, in the end, it doesn’t matter whether or not you breastfed your baby.
Bottle feeding doesn’t make your baby dumber, it doesn’t make them less healthy, it doesn’t make them prone to illnesses, and CERTAINLY doesn’t make you a bad mother. You know what it DOES do? It feeds your baby. It gives your baby nourishment they need to thrive, just like breastmilk. This leads me to share with you my three reasons bottle-feeders shouldn’t feel shame for choosing not to breastfeed.
Tons of people have been bottle feeding for decades
Bottle-feeding began in 1867 when Justus von Liebig began commercially producing formula. To give you some context, this is when we still had horse drawn buggies as cars (first automobile was invented in 1886). So bottle-feeding is not some new experimentation we are trying out on our babies. Bottle-feeding was actually the more popular choice for feeding babies in the 1950’s.
Formula has come quite a long way since it’s humble beginnings. On many occasions I have been forced to subject myself to looking up photos of baby poop. You may be asking yourself, “Where is this going?”. Let me enlighten you. Something I didn’t know before having my boy was that formula fed baby poo and breastfed baby poo is very different. The smell, consistency, and color are all different. When I was looking up what “normal formula fed baby poop” is supposed to look like (because I am paranoid) I realized the description didn’t match. However, it DID match the description for breastfed babies doodie. So what’s my point? Modern formula is SO advanced that it is extremely similar to breastmilk.
There are many pros to bottle-feeding
Back when it was originally invented, formula was LITERALLY a life-saver. Before formula, if mommies were unable to breastfeed there were very few options for them. Wealthier families could do diluted cow’s or goat’s milk. Poorer families often just lost their baby, not only facing the grief of the passing of their child but also the feeling of guilt and inadequacy of being unable to feed their baby. Obviously we don’t face these dire circumstances here in America anymore. Nevertheless, there are still pros to formula-feeding.
One of the reasons I chose to bottle-feed instead of breastfeed that I touched on before is because I can pass some of the responsibility onto my husband. He can help me out in the middle of the night. Hubby would normally get up once for the first couple months which was amazing because I would get 4-5 straight hours of sleep instead of 2 or (if I was lucky) 3. Huge plus. He was also able to bond with Kenai during feeding. Another plus!
I am a very self-conscious, private individual. The thought of having to whip em’ out to feed my boy terrified me, even if I had a cover. Breastfeeders, you are much braver than I. I hate feeling that everyone is looking at me, especially if it is at my chest. I would never leave the house if I breastfed (okay… that’s an exaggeration. But because of my depression at the time I already didn’t want to go out so breastfeeding would have made that feeling a lot worse).
Discomfort and pain may come with breastfeeding as well. The discomfort can be as small as cracked, dry nipples or it can be as painful as getting mastitis. And when those tiny teeth come in? Biting is inevitable. Not to mention the discomfort of engorged breasts if a feeding is missed (which means pumping) and leaky nipples (which means wearing boob pads). Some women (such as myself) have made the decision that all that pain isn’t worth it when formula is perfectly fine.
Every mommy is choosing the best option for THEM
I’ve seen lots of articles empowering fellow bottle-feeders. Even though it is a perfectly healthy option for feeding your baby, many feel shame for their decision to bottle-feed. For some, it is the only option… some tried their darndest to breastfeed but were just unable.
Mommies that have too work too much.
Mommies that had a baby that wouldn’t latch.
Mommies that couldn’t make enough milk.
Or, in my case, mommies that suffer depression and feel that it would be too overwhelming.
Every mommy has a story that led them to their decision to breastfeed or not to breastfeed. Don’t get the wrong idea that bottle-feeding is the “right” choice and every mom should bottle feed. There is no “right” choice that works for everyone. That’s why it doesn’t matter if you breastfeed. It doesn’t matter if your mom, your coworker, your neighbor, or your mailman’s wife breastfed or not. It’s all up to you, your husband, and, ultimately, your baby. I figured it would be better that my baby has a happy mommy than a tired, angry, sad ogre of a mommy.
Peace be with you,