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I have four children and each have had their own unique feeding experience.
With my first I was very unsure about nursing but did it because everything I read talked about how important it was and because my husband was pretty hardcore about it. It was SO HARD. I had every issue imaginable. Bleeding nipples, mastitis multiple times, constant yeast issues, hyper lactation, pain every session, clogged ducts, inverted nipples, etc, etc. I would literally be crying out in pain while I nursed my baby. I didn’t enjoy it. It didn’t come natural. It was HARD and I would dread when it was time to nurse him again.
I made small goals for my nursing timeline and made it 9 months before weaning to formula while also using up the major stash of breastmilk I had saved up as well.
My second baby I went into it knowing it’d be hard. And it was. She took ages to eat and was a biter and when she teethed her saliva caused me so many issues. I had all the same struggles as the first time around but this time I was better prepared for them.
I nursed her past her first birthday and still had all that stash yet again of milk to give her beyond that!
My third nursing experience was my reward for all the pain and struggles I had the first two times around. Finally it all just clicked. We had that bond that I had always heard about. I didn’t have near as many struggles, my body even produced just the right amount of milk for her. It was awesome. We connected in a special way and I never wanted to stop nursing her. She loved it as much as I did and totally and completely refused to ever take a bottle.
I went well beyond a year with nursing her and cried very, very hard at our last nursing session.
With our fourth child we decided to adopt. A big decision was on my plate: Do I try to stimulate my body to produce milk again? Do I attempt to breastfeed this child?
I knew the right call for ME was to bottle feed. I knew the emotional challenges of adoption would be a lot on my plate and trying to breastfeed on top of all of that would have been overwhelming. I loved nursing my third child so much that it felt like the perfect note to end on. I was content in being done with that phase of life. While I loved my nursing experience with my third baby, I also struggled with postpartum depression and I didn’t want to introduce foreign hormones into my body that could cause me to battle that again either.
Even though I knew bottle feeding was the right path for myself, and for our family (this being the 4th kid I couldn’t fathom managing our full home and the stresses of breastfeeding too) I still had a lot of guilt about not at least trying to breastfeed.
Then our new son was born and that experience was so tender and delicate and I was SO thankful in that moment that I’d chosen to bottle feed over attempting to breastfeed. I simply can’t fathom how I would have possibly nursed him on top of everything else going on AND how my attempting to nurse him would have affected his birth mother during such an already painful time in her life.
We are now three months into my first exclusively bottle fed experience and it’s been so interesting to me to compare this path with my exclusively breastfeeding ones. I wanted to share some of my thoughts on the pros and cons of both feeding options:
- I felt pride knowing I was giving my child the best nutrition.
- I had two free hands while feeding so I could multitask.
- Middle of the night feedings were easier because no bottles to prepare or clean.
- It’s FREE.
- There wasn’t any stress on how much to feed my babies because I knew they were getting however much they needed, baby was in control (no measuring required).
- Those sweet moments feeling my baby’s body against my skin, their hands on me, feeling their breathing.
- The bond with the third baby especially was so awesome.
- My boobs looked amazing during the times of breastfeeding!
- There was never a worry about being out and not having the ability to feed my baby. If we ran late or ran into an issue, I could always nurse somewhere!
- It was SO HARD
- It was a lot of pressure. I was the ONLY one who could feed my baby.
- It was draining physically and emotionally.
- The early days in the hospital and even once home can be hard to adjust and learn each other.
- I didn’t lose any weight while nursing, instead I held onto it.
- I was never super comfortable nursing in public so pumping in order to take bottles on the go was a pain.
- Pumping when away from baby was also a pain.
- My body didn’t feel like MINE again until I fully weaned my babies.
- Traveling was tough, having to always pump on EST to keep my body regulated.
- My babies were all “happy spitters” due to my oversupply so breastmilk stains were on everything.
- Bottle rejection is the real deal and a real struggle!
Bottle Feeding Pros:
- It is SO EASY
- My body is mine. I feel like ME.
- Anyone can feed my baby, anytime!
- Siblings and Daddy have especially benefited as they have the opportunity to bond while feeding the baby.
- Feeding on the go requires so much less planning.
- Trading off middle of the night feedings in the early days meant I was able to get a LOT more sleep.
- Extended family is better able to bond with and enjoy the baby because they are able to feed him.
- Formula spit up comes out in the laundry easier than breastmilk!
- We have been blessed with donated milk so we’re still able to give our baby some breastmilk each day.
- Traveling without baby is easier, no worries about bottle rejection.
- I can sleep on my belly and don’t ever have to worry about leak stains on my tops.
Bottle Feeding Cons:
- It is not as much of a bonding experience for me with my baby.
- One hand has to hold the bottle so I’m not able to do much multitasking while feeding.
- It can be stressful knowing the amount in the bottle and feeling like they have to “eat it all.” (This is my experience but I know it can also be a comfort to other moms to know how much baby is drinking)
- It’s tricky in the early days knowing how much to feed the baby.
- It’s stressful deciding on types of bottles, nipples, water, formula.
- Formula is EXPENSIVE.
- Guilt over not breastfeeding.
- Concerns about judgements from others.
I’m thankful I’ve been able to experience the full range of feeding options for babies as it’s truly opened my eyes to understand and appreciate moms who choose one path or the other. There is not just one right path, there are many. The most important “pro” is that you find the best choice for YOU and YOUR family!