Everyone has heard that breast is best for baby. While that may be true, I’d like to point out that it’s not always what’s best for mom. It is extremely important for moms to be healthy. Whether a new mom or a mom for the 4th time. Babies are precious, but they are a lot of work. The first few weeks of their little lives are intense. Trying to figure out their patters and trying to adjust to having a new little person in the home can be quite challenging. So why is society concerned with how a mother chooses to nourish her baby? I say that mom knows best!
I have three kids and each feeding experience has been different. What I have learned is that in the end it does not matter whether the baby is breast fed or formula fed. Is the baby happy and healthy? Is mom happy and healthy? Is the baby meeting his milestones? That should be the focus.
I was so thrilled to breastfeed my first baby. I was happy that only I could offer him the nourishment that he needed. I really enjoyed bonding with him during those times. It felt so great. I was only able to breastfeed him for a few weeks when we found out he was ill. I’ll spare all the details of his diagnosis and perhaps one day talk about that, but eventually my son had to be fed intravenously and through a g-tube that was surgically inserted in his stomach. My breastmilk or formula for that matter was not important. We were concerned with simply getting food into his body. Throughout it all, I continued to pump and store the milk for a later time. When he was 6 months old, my milk just dried up. I could no longer produce milk, I’m sure that stress had a lot to do with it. I was devastated. I felt so hopeless. I cried. This was a very hard thing for me to deal with. Thankfully we all go through it. However, this made me determined more than ever to exclusively breastfeed my next child if given the chance.
The second baby came about 4 years later and I was ready. I nursed my second son until he was 13 months old and I did not like it at all. The second time around, I not only had an infant that I had to care for but I now had a toddler as well and the demands of both were just overwhelming. The first few weeks of bringing him home I was depressed (which at the time I didn’t realize because I didn’t have time to stop and think about me). I was the only one who could feed him which meant that whenever he cried my husband would call me. I always had to stop doing what I was doing to rush to the baby and feed him. It didn’t matter if I was trying to cook or heaven forbid have a moment to myself in the bathroom. The baby’s needs came before mine, EVERY time.
Because I opted to listen to the lactation nurses and not introduce a bottle to my second son for the first 6 weeks or so, I was stuck. By the time I did introduce a bottle to him, he didn’t want it!! He only wanted me. I even tried to buy a fancy bottle with a human like nipple so that he would take it but I couldn’t trick him. This child just wanted to nurse. This took a toll on me. It made me resent my husband because there was nothing he could do. He never had to engage in feedings. It made me a mean person. I was tired all the time. I became lazy. I remember sitting in front of the television and binge watching shows while breastfeeding my son. I was not motivated.
When the time came to introduce solids to my son, he was not interested. My second son is now 4 years old and we still have a hard time feeding him. I cannot say that there is a correlation between breastfeeding and future feedings because I know other kids who were breastfed and went on to have very healthy appetites. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t wonder. If I had done things differently in the beginning, would we have ended up with a different result?
When we found out we were pregnant with our third son, I made the decision that I was not going to breastfeed at all. I agreed to pump and bottle feed him. I told my husband that there was no way that I would be the only one to feed this kid. He was certainly going to participate and that’s what we did. I didn’t attach the 3rd son to my breast once we came home from the hospital. He had a hard latching anyway which made this decision easier for me. He took the bottles just fine. And guess what? My milk flow was just fine with pumping. In fact, I’m certain that I had more supply the last time around then the prior two times. Now, pumping in the middle of the night is hard so I did get lazy and after two months, I decided to introduce the breast to the baby. He took it. He latched and had no problems nursing. The baby is now almost 9 months old and he takes the breast and I give him formula in a bottle. After a while I stopped pumping because it was too time consuming and just didn’t feel great. My 3rd son is happy and healthy and actually he is the biggest of all three. He is open to trying solid foods and I am hoping that he continues on to have a great appetite.
I have had very different experiences but if I could do it all over again, I would follow the third approach every time. With the first two, I relied too heavily on the advice of others without tweaking things according to my circumstances. I wish I were better with rolling with the punches instead of trying the one size fits all approach.
Listen, no matter what you decide to do with your baby there will always be naysayers. Someone will always feel the need to educate you on the “right way.” I say, hear their stories, heed sound advice (as it pertains to your circumstances) and then do what works best for your family. Take care of yourself momma. Your health is important for the family. When you’re happy and healthy then I guarantee you, your baby will be as well. Best of luck!