Nowadays, the world seems to be taking a turn in the ‘green’ direction. Meaning people are leaning towards more natural foods and products and going away from the man-made realm, and in my opinion this is great! However, with this movement, comes controversy. More specifically the rising debate of formula feeding vs. breastfeeding.
In fact, the internet is littered with opinions regarding breastfeeding or formula feeding your baby. I’ve seen arguments promoting the benefits of breast milk, shaming mothers who choose to breastfeed; and I’ve seen retaliating arguments supporting formula-fed babies, denying any adverse effects on development.
So in a world full of claims supporting each side, how is a momma to know which is best for her baby? Well, if you’re asking me, I say you do you, momma. Personally, I have tried both breastfeeding and formula feeding, and by sharing my experience I hope to help any mommas in their battle of deciding whether to breastfeed or formula feed.
When I was pregnant with Hayvn, I was dead set on breastfeeding. In fact, although I cringe at the thought of admitting this, I was one of those who shamed the idea of formula feeding.
My husband and I are very health conscious people. We love nutrition, and fitness, so of course, we wanted to implement this lifestyle in raising our kids.
I had read up on all the benefits of breast milk and how important it was for a baby to breastfeed. My mind was made up. My daughter would be breastfed, no exception. I would later come to see that this stubborn way of thinking, would cause me an unnecessary amount of guilt. This is another way new moms think about formula feeding vs. breastfeeding.
Before I had my daughter, Hayvn, I thought breastfeeding would be a walk in the park. I figured it’s the natural way to feed a baby so it should come as second nature, right? Wrong. Oh, I was so wrong. Hayvn and I struggled hard when it came to breastfeeding.
At first, she latched on great, she was a natural! My supply was good and everything seemed perfect. That was until we left the hospital, and things went south. Turns out, although Hayvn had a good latch, she wasn’t the best at sucking or swallowing.
When it comes to formula feeding vs. breastfeeding, as a new mom we had a problem. We would later come to find out she had what was called a tongue thrust. This meant that every time I breastfed, Hayvn would appear to be eating, however, she wasn’t actually getting any milk. This, in turn, left her very hungry and would cause her to cry almost constantly.
I had no idea this was happening, and after a couple of days, I found that the only way to console her was to latch her on and breastfeed. It got to the point where I had her latched on to me for 2 hours at a time because that was the only way to console her crying. After about a week of this, I knew something was wrong. Just before we left the hospital, the doctor told me Hayvn should only feed for about 10-15 minutes on each breast.
So, long story short, I took her to a lactation specialist, where Hayvn was diagnosed with a tongue thrust and low blood sugar. I was told to exclusively pump and supplement feed her with formula to help her start gaining weight.
Mommas, upon hearing all this, I was a wreck. My hopes and dreams of breastfeeding my baby had not only been shattered but, my anti-formula attitude had caused my baby to have low blood sugar and weight loss.
I felt an immense sense of guilt knowing that my stubbornness had resulted in this. I was so adamant on exclusively feeding my child breast milk, that I unknowingly put her health at risk. That day the doctor told me something I will never forget.
She said, “I know that you want what’s best for your child, every mother does. What’s best for your child doesn’t depend on breast milk or formula, what’s best for her, is that she’s getting food.”
That stopped me dead in my tracks. If only I had had that perspective from the beginning I wouldn’t be in this mess.
After that, I had changed my mindset and focused on getting my baby food. I could no longer feed her while she was latched on to me, however, I could still feed her breast milk if I used a breast pump. So, that’s what I did.
For about a month I sat in a chair for about 15 minutes every hour in order to feed my baby breast milk. I’m not completely sure as to why, but eventually, my supply started to diminish.
By the time Hayvn was two months old, she was an exclusively formula fed baby. Prior to having her, I would have been mortified to hear that my baby was only eating formula. However, now I hold a completely different mindset. Instead of formula feeding vs. breastfeeding, I now see them as a pair working together to ensure my baby is getting the nutrients she needs.
When it comes to breast milk or formula, if you were to ask me what I want to do for my next baby, I would say this. I will at least try to breastfeed my babies, simply because I believe there are awesome benefits, BUT I will never hesitate to give my baby formula if they need it.
In my eyes, formula nursed my baby back to good health and for that I am grateful. My experience changed my attitude, and I don’t see anything wrong with feeding her formula. In fact, I feel so blessed to live in a time when we are lucky enough to have a supplement for feeding our little ones.
So mommas, like I said, you do you. I don’t think there is a right or wrong way. Like my wise doctor told me, “what’s best for her, is that she’s getting food.”
You Do You, Momma
Still stuck when it comes to deciding which is the better choice?
It all comes down to your preference and if the pros outweigh the cons. Based on my experience, this is my personal list of pros and cons to both breastfeeding and formula feeding.
- Extremely inexpensive
- It’s a great bonding experience
- Breast milk is specific to your body and can benefit your baby through unique antibodies not found in formula
- Colostrum* known as liquid gold, has been found to protect and strengthen your babies immune system
*Colostrum is released before breast milk comes in and is rich in antibodies to help boost your baby’s immune system
Cons to Breastfeeding:
- I’m a modest person, so breastfeeding in public was highly uncomfortable for me
- It can be very painful
- For me, breastfeeding was hard to learn and master, therefore very frustrating
- Harder to figure out food intolerance in babies (you have to eliminate foods from your diet and figure it out through trial and error)
- Bottles make it so it can easily/comfortably be done in public
- My husband was able to help with feedings
- When my daughter had an intolerance to a formula it was easier to pinpoint an ingredient rather than eliminate foods from my diet
Cons to Formula Feeding:
- More expensive than breastfeeding
- Babies don’t get all the nutrients found in breast milk
“What’s best for your child doesn’t depend on breast milk or formula, what’s best for her, is that she’s getting food.”
Like I said, I’m not proud of it, but I was once a formula shamer. But, after having my daughter, and all the trouble we went through, I have seen the light. We are so lucky to live in a time with all the medical technology and resources available to us.
Although I still believe breast milk has awesome health benefits, I will never hate on formula again. It is such a privilege to have access to a food supplement for our precious little ones. Formula was the thing that helped my daughter gain weight and helped restore her blood sugar levels when she wasn’t able to get it from my breast milk.
As far as I’m concerned there is no right or wrong way to feed your babies, as long as they are getting the nutrition they need. We are all in this crazy journey together mommas, let’s make it a journey full of love!
I can’t be the only momma who had a hard time mastering the art of breastfeeding, right? I would love to hear about your experience! Leave any comments, feedback, stories or personal tips in the comments below!