I am not so sure that breastfeeding is best for everyone

Apr 12, 2000 (Updated May 22, 2002)

The Bottom Line It's a mother's choice!

Edited on May 22, 2002 because I have since had a second child and did give breastfeeding a try this time and wanted to share my experience. I am going to start out leaving the original review as it is and then will talk about my experience with breastfeeding as well. So please be sure to read on and not just stop because you disagree with my opinion on this matter, or my reasoning for doing things.

My decision to bottlefeed my oldest daughter

I decided early on that I was not going to breastfeed my baby. It was my choice to make and to this day (three years and one month later) I have never once regretted my decision.

The reasons why I decided not to breastfeed

1.) I was not breastfed as a baby and neither was my brother. So I really did not see why I had to breastfeed my daughter. After all for the most part my brother and I turned out okay. We were always very healthy babies and children.

2.) I wanted my husband to be able to share in the experience of feeding our child. Yes, he could have fed our daughter if I had expressed my milk, but sometimes babies donít like switching from breast to bottle. I didnít think that it would be fair of me to deny my husband the opportunity to feed his own child.

3.) I had every intention of going back to work after my six weeks postpartum. There was no way that I would have been able to express my milk where I worked. It just did not seem like a very feasible idea for me to try and even start breastfeeding if I was only going to be able to do it for six weeks. After all it is recommended that it be done for the first year of life.

The reaction I got when I told people I was not going to be breastfeeding

During my pregnancy many people would ask me if I would be breastfeeding. When my reply was no I got dirty looks from people. Most people did not seem to approve of my decision to not breastfeed. I was not making an uninformed decision here. I knew exactly what I was doing. I had read many things about breastfeeding and what its benefits are. It was my decision, however, to feed my baby formula.

The day that I went into labor and I was at the hospital, numerous nurses asked me if I was going to bottle or breastfeed. When I told them that I was going to bottle-feed I got a lecture. Now is this something I really need when I am about to give birth? I donít think so. I stuck to my guns though and did not let those doctors and nurses boss me around. This was my decision, and I do deserve to be respected for it.

My experience

My daughter is three years old now and drinks milk from a cup. She is a very healthy baby. She has been above average for her height and weight all of her life. They say that breastfed babies develop less ear infections than babies who use a bottle do. Well, my daughter did not get an ear infection until she was nine months old and she hasnít had one since then. Now perhaps this has to do with genetics, or just because I was blessed with a very healthy baby, but my daughter is still healthier than some breastfed babies I have seen.

My cousin breastfed her son. He is four months younger than my daughter is and he has been sick many more times than my little girl has. He has gotten numerous ear infections. It seemed like whenever I would talk to my cousin or my mom would talk to her that she was telling us how her son was just getting over a cold or had a really bad cold. Now of course there is no way of telling if he would have been healthier if he had not been breastfed and my cousin did what she believed was best for her and her family. I donít condemn her for it. I am proud of her for breastfeeding, especially after all the horror stories she told me about her nipples cracking and bleeding and all the pain she went through. I am sure it was a wonderful experience for her, once she got over all those problems, but it just wasnít something for me.

It has also been said that breastfed babies have a lower chance of dying from SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). Again, I did not have any problems with this for my daughter. She never stopped breathing when she was asleep, and there were never any complications with her that could be described as a symptom of SIDS.

No one knows what the cause of SIDS actually is. So I suppose a few statistics showed that babyís who were breastfed died less due to this. And perhaps that is true, but the fact still remains that babies who are breastfed can still die from SIDS. There was a woman I used to baby-sit for. She had two beautiful little children that were both breastfed, but she had lost her oldest son, who was also breastfed, to SIDS. SIDS is a very tragic condition and I do hope that someday they figure out what causes it and how to prevent it from happening. There is no guarantee that if you breastfeed your child that he will not die from SIDS. And you must know that there is also a possibility that even if you bottle feed your baby that he will die from SIDS. This is why you have to decide what is the best thing for you and your family.

Looking at my daughter right now, also a bottle-fed baby, I have to say that she is also very intelligent. She achieved all of her milestones (except talking) either on or before the recommended age. She is three years old and takes directions very well. We tell her to give mommy a hug and she does it. Give mommy a kiss, she does that too. She will pick up her toys when told to and even throw things in the garbage. When she plays with her educational toys such as the, shape sorter, she can usually get the right shape in the right hole without any help from mommy. She climbs onto and off of everything and can run rather quickly and is always jumping. She knows how to count to ten and knows all of her colors. She is also able to draw a face when asked to. Would she have been better off if she were breastfed? I donít know that, but I really donít think she would have.

Now remember this is my opinion on breastfeeding. I took in all the facts about breastfeeding and then I took a look at other peopleís experiences with breastfeeding and a look at my lifestyle. I was a rather young mother who was going to be going back to work after my six weeks postpartum. My child was going to be staying with my sister in law while my husband and I worked and she also had her own newborn to take care of plus three other children of her own. So I tried to picture my sister in law tending to her own newbornís needs and the needs of her three other children. Doing all this and still manage to give my daughter breast milk every two hours or so, probably more often than that since my daughter was a big girl at birth. By the time she was six weeks old she was drinking anywhere from four ounces of formula to six ounces of formula at a time, every three hours. I couldnít imagine how much breast milk I would have had to express in order to satisfy her while I was away.

Then I also started thinking about where I worked. I worked serving the public, waiting on customers. I would get one ten-minute break in a six-hour shift if I were lucky. Now can you imagine me waiting on you and having my shirt being all wet because I had leaked uncontrollably. Do the customers want to see that, especially if you are serving them food? Do customers want to have to wait for you while you make a quick run to the bathroom to clean yourself up or express your milk? I donít think so.

So while all these reasons I have given throughout this review to not breastfeed may seem like excuses to you they are not. Throughout my pregnancy I discussed my options with my husband and we came to the conclusion that while breast milk might be healthier and more natural for our baby our best option was to bottle-feed. I havenít regretted my choice to do that for a second either.

That being said, I will now go onto my reasoning and experience with breastfeeding my second daughter.

My decision to breastfeed my youngest child

My youngest daughter is only six weeks old. I chose to give breastfeeding a try this time and I have to say part of me regrets this decision.

Why I chose to breastfeed

This time around I chose to breastfeed because since having my oldest daughter I have become a stay at home mom. So since there are so many benefits to breastfeeding health wise for mother and child I gave it a go. I liked the idea of loosing weight more quickly and having my uterus contract more quickly after birth. I also wanted to see for myself if there would be any difference in my two children if I had breastfed one and bottlefed the other. Of course it's really too early to tell if breastfeeding was more beneficial to my daughter than bottlefeeding. I really was determined to give it a go though.

My experience with breastfeeding

I did not have a great experience with breastfeeding. At four days old my daughter stopped latching on completely. And let me tell you, those four days of breastfeeding were not easy at all. My daughter would not eat while we were in the hospital. When she was born she apparently opened her mouth and ended up with a lot of mucous in her stomach so she wasn't too interested in eating. I had my daughter at 2 in the morning and I couldn't get her to eat anything until about noon the next day. That was also the day we were going home.

Our first night home was awful. She would not latch on at night for some reason no matter how much I tried to get her to latch on. She would try for a few seconds and then stop. I spoke to a lactation consultant about it and she told me that she's probably just really hungry at night and will do better once my milk actually comes in. Well, she was right. My daughter did do better once my milk started coming in. Unfortunately that was short lived. On day four I could not get my daughter to eat all day long. I tried pumping, but apparently I got a lousy pump because it would take me fifteen minutes to get a drop of milk out. It was very aggravating for me. Finally, after having a child that wouldn't eat all day I gave in and gave her a bottle. She drank the bottle down pretty quickly. I continued to try giving her the breast, but she didn't want it. Of course since my pump was worthless I was getting pretty engorged. I tried for one more day though and couldn't get her to eat and she had already lost so much of her birth weight I was worried that she would starve herself. So I kept giving her a bottle instead. Things got much happier in our house at this point too. I felt bad that I didn't continue, but I keep telling myself she did get the colostrum which is full of lots of vitamins and nutrients.

My husband really hated that he couldn't feed our daughter. For the entire time I was breastfeeding he hardly held her. I kept urging him to hold her, but he just woudn't do it. As soon as we started bottlefeeding her though he started forming a relationship with her. He just never seemed to be able to bond with her until he was actually doing some of the feedings. They have a really nice relationship now and I don't think they would have that if I had been able to continue breastfeeding.

Waiting for my milk to dry up now has been the most painful and uncomfortable experience I have ever had. Here it is six weeks later and my breasts are still leaking milk sometimes.

I have decided that breastfeeding is just not for me. I gave it a try and was unsuccessful at it. Part of me wishes I could have gone longer, but then when I think about how difficult it would be for me to go out and breastfeed in public (I'm not very big on exposing myself for even a second to total strangers) and how much my husband would have missed out on I am happy that I am bottlefeeding. So far my daughter is doing great on the bottle as well. In the beginning when I was breastfeeding she had lost 11 ounces of her birth weight, but now she weighs over a pound and a half more than her birth weight. This makes me feel so much better knowing that she is finally gaining weight and gaining it well.

In conclusion

Breastfeeding versus bottle-feeding, it is the motherís choice. Women should not criticize another woman because she sees her feeding her baby with a bottle. Some mothers just canít breastfeed. So why make them feel guilty for not doing something that to her isnít a natural way of doing things? And finally, you do not know what someoneís circumstances are. Perhaps a woman adopted her baby and therefore can not breastfeed. Or perhaps a woman is like me and either decided to do what was best for her and her family, or had a child that just stopped breastfeeding on her own. My point is that it is a womanís choice and we do live in a free country. We should be able to freely make a decision like breastfeeding or bottle feeding our child without receiving dirty looks or malicious words. And this last statement goes for both sides of the fence.

I bottle-fed my three year old daughter and I am proud of it!
I breastfed my six week old daughter for four days and switched to the bottle and am proud of that decision as well!

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About Me: A wife and a SAHM to 4 with one angel in heaven.