Monday, July 15, 2013

Breastfeeding vs Bottes

Do you remember this scandalous picture?

When it came out almost a year ago, there was a lot of outrage from moms that did breastfeed and moms that didn't breastfeed.  It stirred up a LOT of controversy.  But my reaction surprised me.  I was like, "Eh."

When Olivia was born (in March 2011) I planned to nurse her, but one week after her birth she still wasn't gaining weight, in fact she continued to lose it.  I went to a lactation specialist who helped me get her latched correctly and gave me some tips on increasing my milk supply.  After taking fenugreek for a week I had doubled my milk supply but it still wasn't enough to support Olivia.  My lactation specialist told me I had done all I could do (in so many words) and that I should just enjoy nursing as bonding time.  Each feeding I would nurse first, and then give her a bottle.  After ten weeks I couldn't take it any more.  I quit nursing and it was if Olivia didn't even notice.

I was crushed.

I became very vocal for women who couldn't nurse.  Which is why I was surpirsed that the Time magazine cover didn't stir me up.  Are You Mom Enough????  Are you mom enough to give your baby formula and feel like a failure when you know it's best for them?  But at the time (May 2012) Olivia was just a couple weeks shy of being weaned off bottles completely, and so it was really in my past.

Then Axel was born.

Now, let me tell you, we are pretty poor.  I didn't want to work away from my children any more, so living on less income was a sacrifice I was willing to make.  And that was my driving motivation behind breastfeeding Axel.  Olivia cost us about 80-100 dollars a month in formula.  I was scared it wouldn't work, but looking back I noticed a LOT of mistakes I made when trying to nurse Olivia.  I learned from them, educated myself and went forward hoping for the best. 

Nursing Axel was a totally different ball game.  Soon it was going great!  And I hated it. When I took Axel for his two week check, I seriously almost hoped I would be told to supplement.  Nursing was HARD.  But I stuck with it, and now, four months later, I'm glad I did.  There are things I love about both nursing and bottles, and loooooong story long, I decided to share.

-You know how much your baby is getting.  Babies need 24-32 ounces of milk each day.  I have no idea how much Axel is getting, I just know that he's happy.  The problem comes with trying to get him to night wean.  I worry he's getting a good portion of his milk during the night and I'm not totally sure how to make sure he's getting a full amount of calories during the day.

-I know how to sleep train a formula drinking baby.  This goes along with the first one.  It's easy to control how much a baby eats during the day and slowly reduce the amount they're getting at night until they no longer need calories during the night.

-More independence from your child.  We went on an over night trip when Olivia was three months old.  I missed her like crazy, but it was just what I needed to feel like myself again.  I couldn't do that with Axel.

-What I eat doesn't matter when I bottle feed.  Nursing I have had to stop eating dairy and soy (which are probably not that good for you anyway, but still hard because ice cream)

-Easier weight loss.  Some people would put this under the breastfeeding pros.  Not me.  Any time I try to lose weight my body clings to calories even more and I gain, OR my milk supply drops.  So it would be much easier to be bottle feeding and just worrying about my body all by myself. 

-Free.  Seriously the biggest factor for me sticking with nursing this time.

-No need to pack bottles.  I have loved packing the diaper bag and simply throwing my nursing cover in.  No need to measure out formula, fill bottles with water and worry that we will be gone longer than planned and run out. 

-No mixing formula in the middle of the night.  It's easier for me to kind of stay asleep when I don't have to walk out to the kitchen to mix and heat a bottle.

-No washing bottles.  I feel like a huge portion of my life was spent doing this when Olivia was a baby.

-No concern about reactions to formula ingredients.  Olivia spit up constantly until she was 9 months.  When I say constantly I don't think many people fully grasp it.  I mean like every five or ten minutes she was spitting up.  I tried a lot of different formulas trying to find one that helped.  With nursing I'm less concerned that my babies will have a reaction to something (although I do have to stop eating dairy and soy)

-Only you can do it. No big deal now that I stay at home, but when Olivia was in daycare I was always so sad when someone else fed her a bottle on the weekend because that was precious time.  Once I even demanded my mother-in-law let me feed her because I missed her.  I may not have been completely mentally stable. . . :) 

-A patient baby.  I looked everyone on the internet for evidence to support this, but I feel like nursing has helped Axel be more patient than Olivia was.  I notice this because of the way they ate/eat solid foods in their infancy.  Olivia would wimper in between bites of food because she was used to a constant flow of milk.  With Axel I can pause his dinner for a minute to take Olivia to the bathroom and he never minds.  I attribute this to the way milk flows when nursing.  It comes and goes as the baby sucks and "requests" more.  Or maybe none of this is true and it's just my children's individual personalities :)


  1. I love this! And I'm so stinkin' proud of you for trying to nurse with your second baby - good job! Yeah...I'm one of those annoying "BREASTFEEDING MOMS".

    1. I still love the advice you gave me: When ever the baby cries, stick 'em on your boob! Hahaha. Thanks for the support friend!

  2. I agree with some of these. I stuck with breastfeeding for six months (not exclusively because Lincoln didn't gain enough weight) and I hated every second of it. Lincoln eats REALLY aggressively, and even with just gums, I bled a lot because he would PULL. I screamed once, and he laughed (which seemed like a bad sign to me).

    I'm pretty independent by nature, so being the only source of Lincoln's nutrition was frustrating for me. It meant I couldn't go out by myself for longer than an hour, and I did not like that. McKay also helped with bottle feeding in the night so I got more sleep, which is also super important to me. I'm basically just incredibly selfish, haha, but I think supplementing really helped me keep my sanity.

    1. Ouch! Axel started biting me recently but I softly flick his face when he does it and he has stopped. I'm glad because I know it would kill if he had teeth!

      Yes, I'm selfish too! And I think to admit your own needs is better than being a depressed or stressed out mom, so sleep training and teaching him how to use a bottle have been very important to me (although he'll take a bottle just to quench his thirst, he wont really take enough to fill up which makes it hard for anyone to watch him for long)

  3. Thanks for this post. I'm a firm believer that every woman is different (and every baby) and only the mom and the baby can decide what's best for them. We breastfed exclusively until my sister's wedding, when we introduced the occasional bottle of formula. About a month ago, my supply started drying up, so now we supplement with 1 bottle of formula per day (though now that Guinevere is 1, we'll start introducing milk). It was hard on me realizing that we needed to supplement, but I had to remind myself that we made it almost a full year with only a handful of bottles of formula, and that was an accomplishment! And yes, cost was the #1 factor in me wanting to breastfeed!

    1. Yes, every baby is so different! I learned from my experiences with Olivia, but when it comes down to it Axel was just a way quicker learner.

      I bet a lot of people start with the cost as the biggest factor and then learn to really enjoy that time with their babe. Good job making it a whole year!


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