Nov 20, 2009

The breast/bottle debate continues...

I read this post over at Penny Pinching Parent in response to a question that was put out there - is Bottlefeeding the new taboo for motherhood?

Before I had kids I definitely missed the beauty of a breastfeeding mom. Nursing in public didn't weird me out, but I never saw what the big whoop was. Then I nursed my older boy, and it made sense :) There is definintely something uniquely magical about the process of breastfeeding, and I applaud every woman that makes the choice to nurse and is able.

I actually posted about my adventure in babyfeeding after the birth of our youngest son. The long and short? I would have loved to breastfeed, but it simply wasn't in the cards this time.

I never really thought about whether I'd be viewed differently for formula feeding until I got "the look" from women who knew I had nursed my older boy - that look that either says "oh, I'm so sorry", or "wow, I'd never have expected that from YOU..." It was a little strange to feel the need to EXPLAIN myself when it came to feeding my baby - you want your kids to grow and be healthy, and as a good mom you do that by any means possible, 'nuff said. But it did strike me that because I nursed my older boy, it might seem weird that my next child would be fed out of a can.

The post at PPP also got me thinking about the relationship I was building with my child in each feeding situation. I ABSOLUTELY loved the process of breastfeeding, the closeness with my child, the admitted pride I took in knowing his healthy baby body was directly due to what my body was making for him. And I know breastmilk is the best of all options for most babies. It's why I fought so hard through so many issues with both kids, one with a successful outcome, the other with an alternate plan (notice I don't say failure here?). But is my bond with my formula baby any different?

Every time his face lights up when he hears my voice, I'd say no. Each time he's inconsolable until he is in my arms and buries his face in my shoulder to get my scent and then falls asleep, I say no. Each time his little contented feeding sighs make my heart skip, I'd say no! Having kids close together affords me a good memory of the great bond I had with my now 2 1/2 year old...and it's the same bond I feel with my new baby boy. Formula feeding has a few added benefits too - he has great bonds with his dad and other family members that help with childcare, who he trusts at mealtime as much as he trusts me! Not that my breastfed baby wasn't bonded with others early on too, but it definitely took him a little longer before he'd really take a bottle from other family members. And knowing that I don't have to shoulder the ENTIRE load of feeding, either because of nursing or pumping, has been liberating in the midst of balancing a newly expanded family.

So yes, I applaud moms who choose to nurse their kids - but in the same way that I cheer on every mom who carries her bottle bag and formula can with pride...if healthy babies are the end result, does it really matter which road you take?


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Keely said...

I think you get judged either way, really. You can't win these days. You just have to make the right decision for yourself and your family, and it sounds like you did :)

Marianne said...

What a beautiful post, it's bringing back memories of my now 2 year old as an infant...staring down at that beautiful little face with a BOTTLE in hand! I had trouble nursing, and I remember being questioned many many times by family, friends, and many people who didn't even know us! It is so incredibly rude for anyone to ask about such a personal choice!