Saturday, August 9, 2014

Formula Feeding vs. Breastfeeding

For World Breastfeeding Week, I thought I would share my experience.

I've done both.

Or rather I'm in the process of having experienced both.  Jonah is three and a half months old, and so far, has been exclusively breastfed, along with the occasional bottle of pumped breast-milk when I've had the chance to get away.

With Noelle, my plan was always to breastfeed her, but that did not end up happening.  She was jaundiced when she was born, so the hospital had me supplementing with formula from day one.  The lactation consultant provided a way so that it could still be done through a nipple shield over the breast and using a syringe and tube, with the intent of her sucking still bringing in the milk.  It was a two person job, it didn't seem like her suck was strong enough to bring in any kind of milk supply, and she was mostly getting formula anyhow, so after about three weeks, we made the decision to not breastfeed.

 how Noelle would fall asleep in my lap after her bottle

It was such a hard decision, and I was an emotional wreck.  I knew that breastfeeding was best, and I felt like in Noelle's first weeks of life, that I was already failing her as a mother.  I cried many tears, and spent a lot of time feeling down, but as my pediatrician reminded me, Noelle would still go to college someday (if she wants to!).

Noelle chilling with her bottle and the remote

I decided that the next time we got pregnant, I would be more determined to make it work and I would take a breastfeeding class to boost my confidence. By the time Jonah was born, the hospital had become very pro-breastfeeding, changing certain policies like rooming-in every night and no nursery, and not handing out formula to everyone "just in case".

That being said, I've had some time to see the benefits of both types of nourishment.

Formula Feeding Positives
* Other people can feed the baby.  Luke could take a middle of the night feeding (though I usually only requested his help on weekends since I was only working part-time during the week).  Whenever we went to visit family, others could feed her.  This allowed me to interact with everyone and not worry about being covered up or going into another room, and it gave them time to bond with her.  I could go out for some me-time.  I remember the day Noelle turned 1 month old, I went out for a girls night with some friends and Luke got to take care of her.  It felt amazing to be out of the house and being able to catch up with friends.

* Going out and about.  To me it was easy just to make sure we had the formula powder, a bottle, and a bottle of water in the diaper bag.  And it was great not having to worry about covering up or going somewhere private to feed her.

* No dietary changes.  When she seemed to be having trouble with tummy issues, we switched to a formula that was meant to ease fussiness and gas.  I didn't have to play around with eliminating things from my diet, or figuring out what foods even contained whatever I was eliminating.

* Not being engorged or having to pump when away from the baby.  We went to a wedding and left the littles with my parents for about 8 hours.  I wasn't exactly sure how much Jonah would need to drink, but I left them with about 13 ounces of breast-milk.  I ended up sitting in the car pumping between the ceremony and reception, and then left the reception part way through to pump in the car again.  Then of course making sure our little cooler was cold enough for the stored milk.

* It's not painful.  The first month of breastfeeding Jonah was very rough for me.  I was in so much pain, and basically started to dread feeding my baby.  It felt like I was doing it ALL the time, and it meant I couldn't do other things, like play with my toddler.

*It's easier to exercise.  I'm a runner, and with nursing, I have to try to time my workout to be right after a feeding so that I'm not too full.  With formula, having that discomfort isn't a factor, and someone else can feed the baby so I could get that precious workout time in.

breastfeeding selfie

Breastfeeding Positives
* Food is always available.  If Jonah is hungry, I sit down wherever I am and feed him.  I've fed him while waiting for a doctor's appointment, and in the car while running errands. And I never have to worry about checking the diaper bag for formula.

* It's what everyone supports.  No one bats an eye when I talk about nursing the baby, whereas with formula, I felt like I was being judged (even if I really wasn't!)

* It's just right.  Breast-milk will always be just the right temperature, and will be just the amount baby needs, even increasing as baby demands more during a growth spurt.

*Bonding.  I think you can bond just as well while formula feeding, but with nursing, I truly am the sole provider for my baby in the first 6 months. I love my children, and I love that I can provide for Jonah in this way.

* It's free.  We spent quite a bit of money buying formula in Noelle's first year of life.  My mom always called it "liquid gold" because it is so pricey.  At this point, our only added expense with Jonah is buying him diapers, and even so, we've mostly been using ones that were gifted at his baby shower.

These probably aren't all the benefits of both, and I still haven't come to love breastfeeding, but I'm glad that we're doing it.  I always hear moms say they get sad about weaning their littles off, so maybe I'll get to that point someday as well.  And then be ready to breastfeed the next one!

passed out after eating

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