Monday, February 24, 2014

Breastfeeding Vs. Formula

I am not really sure why I have never blogged about this, but breastfeeding is a topic that is very intriguing to me. It fascinates me how passionate and defensive moms can be. I have read countless articles on why “Breast is Best!” Then the article lists several reasons on how your baby will be smarter and better bonded to you if you choose to breastfeed. These same articles argue how many moms give up too early and don’t try hard enough. If moms tried a little harder than they could do it.  It makes me angry. I am one of those moms! I didn’t breastfeed my oldest son after his first month; I must be a failure!

People often group moms into two different categories; breastfeeding moms and formula-feeding moms. While some moms argue that breastfeeding is the only way, formula moms try to defend their reasons for using formula. The problem with these two categories is there is another four groups of moms. Yes, I said four more. I will do the math for you, six categories of feeding moms!

The thing is, breastfeeding is not so black and white. It is complicated and full of surprises and many different challenges. I have been apart of four of these groups, and I feel this is a subject that can be very sensitive to many moms. No matter how your baby is fed, there is no wrong or right way. What matters most is your baby being loved and taken care of.

Breastfeeding is incredibly healthy and can provide many benefits to both mom and baby. But before you start judging the mom shaking a bottle filled with water and formula, you need to understand why. Let me start with the six categories, and then I will share my personal feelings and experience with breastfeeding.

1. Strictly Breastfeeding

This is the first category and is when an infant is breastfed until at least one year and given no formula or bottles.

2. Strictly Formula

This is when an infant is strictly given formula and never any amount of breast milk from day one.

3. Pumping breast milk

This is for moms who struggle to get their baby to latch or work away from home. Unable to breastfeed, they pump milk several times throughout the day. In my opinion it is the most exhausting of them all as it is double the work.

4. Breastfeeding with formula supplements

Some women for many unknown reasons cannot produce enough milk to feed their babies efficiently. While nursing their child, they also use formula to make sure baby is getting the nutrients to grow and develop safely.

5. Breastfeeding and then Formula

Many moms begin breastfeeding for a couple of months, but switch to formula sometime between the first month and the first year. It may be for work, convenience, latching struggles, or emotional reasons.

6. Moms who can’t breastfeed but want to

This is the last and the hardest category. This is the category that often gets overlooked. Some moms want so badly to be in category #1, but for whatever reason, they cannot breastfeed.

If you read through these categories you might find yourself in one that you never thought of before. Or maybe you are in another one not listed, or maybe in several categories. I have been in  #1, #3, #6, and shortly in #5.

I strongly support breastfeeding and believe that it holds more nutrients for an infant. Actually I don’t just believe it is more nutritious, I know that it is. Natural food is always healthier, but it is not always better. Those two statements might seem contradictory, but it is this confliction that separates us from animals and makes us human. While looking at breastfeeding factually, it would always be the better option. If you add in human mental, physical, environmental, or emotional health then it really depends.

Some women cannot breastfeed because of medications they are on that can be absorbed into their breast milk. Some women cannot breastfeed because the baby cannot latch. Some women cannot emotionally deal with the stress or pain that often accompanies breastfeeding in the first month. Some women work and the struggle to pump milk can physically exhaust them. Some women don’t have a choice. Before you make any judgments about a women’s decision to breastfeed or not breastfeed, you must remember that all good moms only want what is best for their child.

Before I had my first son, I was 100% for breastfeeding. It was what I would do, and mom’s who couldn’t do it were failures. I am more than thankful that I got to experience what it feels like to attempt breastfeeding and completely fail. It was this failure that made me a more open and understanding woman. It was formula feeding my son for a complete 11 months that made me realize that in the end, it doesn’t really matter. My son is incredibly smart. He is four and can read at a first grade level. He is social and has many friends. We have an amazing relationship and bonded quickly when I decided to quit breastfeeding. Yes, it was when I quit breastfeeding that we could bond. The frustration of trying to get him to latch accompanied by a feeling of being a bad mom, made it very hard to bond. When I stopped worrying about doing what the world told me was best and started doing what was best for us, I was able to relax and take care of my son. The most important thing to a child is to have a loving parent who cares for them. My second son I was able to breastfeed for ten months, and it was a wonderful experience that was completely different than with my first. Whatever you choose to do, it is always important to do what is mentally and emotionally healthy for both baby and mom.

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