It’s okay – we’ve all been there. You’ve been doing your research on the pros and cons of breastfeeding vs bottle feeding when all of a sudden you find yourself hitting a wall of shame. Who knew so many people had such a strong stance when it came to breastfeeding?! I certainly did not — that is, up until I went to breastfeed James in the hospital for the very first time.
As anyone who has delivered a baby at a hospital knows, nurses and lactation specialists can be particularly pushy when it comes to the topic of breastfeeding. And it’s perfectly understandable!
- They are just doing their jobs! And it’s a long and hard one which sees little appreciation.
- Breastfeeding has a TON of benefits, and it also helps to provide an instant bond between mom and baby.
However, at times, breastfeeding (I feel) can be pushed to the extreme.
It is no question that breastfeeding is great for your baby.
As I have mentioned above, it is a great way to immediately bond with your baby. In fact, this was something I felt instantly the moment they first handed him to me.
Bonding is not only good for your baby, but also for you, mom! Your body goes through a whirlwind of emotions after having a baby. I distinctly remember the moment my adrenaline crashed and feeling so overwhelmed, up until he latched for the first time. It’s a moment you can’t describe; the connection is so powerful.
No one will argue that you shouldn’t breastfeed your baby. The benefits speak for themselves:
- Breastmilk is easy to digest. And if you’re the one changing their diapers, you’ll appreciate how their body handles breastmilk the most, if you know what I mean. 💩
- There’s just something about that skin-to-skin contact that creates a strong connection while you’re feeding. It’s also a great way to calm a fussy baby because they typically find comfort from the warmth of your skin and the sound of your heartbeat.
- Nursing your baby releases the chemical Oxytocin, which to a postpartum mom has a ton of benefits! It helps your uterus contract, return to its normal size quicker, as well as reducing blood loss.
- Perhaps the number one most talked about benefit to breastfeeding are the antibodies and healthy enzymes passed down from mom to baby. Breast milk is known to help boost your baby’s immunity, as well as decrease the chance of allergies.
“If you introduce your baby to a bottle, they will never want to latch again”
If I could count the number of times I have heard this…
Someone once told me that it was “one of the worst things you can give your baby.” Talk about an exaggeration!
When it comes to breastfeeding vs bottle feeding, some babies have a problem with latching and it has nothing to do with bottles or nipple preference. Also, some women can never get their babies to latch and bottle feeding is their only option. Don’t let anyone shame you. You do you, mama!
Here’s what I’ve learned from personal experience and speaking to my pediatrician:
First and foremost (if you want to do both breastfeeding and bottle feeding), you’ll need to get your baby to latch a few times to get them used to your breast. Then, try to introduce a bottle in moderation. Make sure the bottle nipple is a newborn or size one, depending on the brand. Dr Brown has a newborn set of bottles that includes a slow-flow nipple.
What’s most important here is making sure that the bottle you are introducing has a slow-flow nipple that mimics the same amount of milk they receive from the breast. If they get a stronger flow from a bottle right off the bat, they may get fussy the next time you breastfeed because your milk flow will be slower.
If you find that your baby starts getting impatient from breastfeeding or suddenly has a problem latching, try to exclusively breastfeed for the next few feedings until there’s no hesitation.
Honestly, most women do not have any issues with introducing a bottle into their regime. You know your baby best; you know their mannerisms and what they want better than anyone.
Most importantly, if you do decide to exclusively bottle feed your baby, there is absolutely no shame in doing so. It does not make you less of a mother or impact your bond. My fiancé loves to bottle feed James because it gives him an opportunity to bond. Ultimately, you need to do what is best for you and not listen to anyone else.
First of all, It’s OKAY to supplement formula! 🍼
Let’s just get that out of the way.
Just like some babies will never latch, some babies cannot have breastmilk. Or maybe your little one can, but you choose to give them formula. That’s your choice, and I sincerely wish there wasn’t as much judgment and stigma in doing so.
If you’re deciding between breastfeeding vs bottle feeding, you should check out my post on free baby samples! I received lots of different formulas from Enfamil and Similac for free, which is great when your baby is in the process of deciding which one they like best. I went through three different formulas before finding one that worked best. Formula is expensive and testing this with free samples will save you A LOT of money!
James was born 6 lb 6oz and was under 6 lb at the time we left the hospital. All babies lose weight after they’re born, but in my case, it was very important to monitor the decline since he was so small already. He had no problem with latching, but he barely had the energy to stay awake to drink.
It wasn’t until a couple of days later that formula was even introduced an option. I was a first-time mom and did not know any better.
It was a life changer! Just a few drops from a syringe would perk him up enough to stay awake to breastfeed. (Pro tip: a few drops on your breast will also help with latching.)
A few weeks later, I couldn’t match my milk supply to his demand, so I began to supplement more. At the time I did not know that the more you supplement, or even supplementing at all will result in a decrease in your breastmilk supply. To counteract this you would need to pump every time you bottlefeed your baby. I recommend doing this if you are trying to build a reserve supply of breastmilk, or if you’re trying to keep your milk production high.
There are so many benefits to formula feeding your baby, (and many of those benefits are for you!)
- Babies gain weight at a steady weight when on formula, and you don’t have to wonder how many ounces they’re drinking at each feeding.
- That deep gaze your baby gives you as you’re feeding them is one you’ll never forget. I was so happy to be able to share that blessing with my fiancé and our family. Plus, it gives you an opportunity to ask for help when you need it.
- Babies like patterns and regimes. In fact, feeding a consistent amount on a schedule helps you schedule other things, such as sleep and diaper changes. There are plenty of apps out there that allow you and your partner to keep track of your baby’s schedule. I personally used and enjoyed “Baby Tracker”. It tracks both formula and breastfeedings, diapers, sleep and even pumping. It’s very useful while you’re still in the hospital for feedings.
- SLEEP. You never knew how much you needed it until it was gone. Breastfeeding may be free, but you can’t put a price tag on sleep. Allowing your partner to help with night feedings, or even whipping up a quick bottle in the middle of the night instead of struggling with breastfeeding can be a lifesaver.
Personally, supplementing with formula was the best choice for me. Finding the right balance really helped our family adjust to our new lifestyle.
Adding formula to our routine allowed for my fiancé to help with feedings, which means I got a well-deserved break. My son’s pediatrician is the one who recommended supplementing. (Note: If consulting your pediatrician, be sure to ask about both the pros and cons of adding formula and what that also means for your body and routine. You’ll want all of the facts so you can make a well-informed decision and not be surprised.)
I was able to completely fill his belly with each feeding and not wonder how many ounces he was receiving, therefore he would stay fuller longer (and less fussy!) That meant I could finally SLEEP at night. At less than 1 month, I was able to get 4 hours of sleep at night, which is unheard of with a newborn.
Lastly, some people just can’t breastfeed. My fiancé was formula fed and was quite offended at the comments that were made in the hospital. His mom was on a particular medication at the time that would not allow her to breastfeed. Again, whatever the reason, the choice is completely up to you. Ultimately, when deciding between breastfeeding vs bottle feeding, you need to do what is best for you. There is no shame. You go through A LOT in the hospital and your first few weeks home are ROUGH. Don’t be too hard on yourself. If you want to exclusively breastfeed, go for it! If you’re thinking of supplementing, don’t shame yourself. Accept the help!
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