An open letter from a mom whose kid has only ever had breastmilk.
I don’t know why you are giving your kid formula. I don’t know if you struggle with your supply. I don’t know if your little one battles to take milk from the breast. I don’t know if you had a traumatic birth that left your body riddled with infections and you are supplementing with formula. I don’t know if you are taking some medication that contra-indicates breastmilk. I don’t know if you just want to give your baby formula. Quite frankly, I don’t care either.
The reason why boy has only had breastmilk is because it has been the most convenient for us, he got the feeding thing down pat pretty immediately. (Having said that, Riaan and I did say we wanted to aim for six months of exclusive breastfeeding, which we managed). On the odd occasion that I have sorted out a bottle (of expressed milk) for him I have found it to be a schlepp.
So now I am going to slaughter some sacred cows and give my opinion on some of the most common arguments that I hear against formula feeding.
- Formula feeding can help you bond with your baby just as well as breastfeeding (and in some cases better). I do know a couple of moms who struggled with breastfeeding and once they started giving their baby’s formula they were able to relax. This relaxation allowed them to connect with their babies and in my eyes, the less stressed version of themselves became better moms.
What matters is that you are able to connect with your child not how you are giving them sustenance.
- Formula feeding can be dangerous. Yes, this is true. If you do not have access to potable water giving your baby formula can be problematic. But a lack of access to clean consumable water is a problem for everyone not just little babies. (If you don’t have access to drinkable water chances are you will have problems with milk supply if you are breastfeeding in any case).
- Breast is best. All things being equal, maybe this is true. But in my experience as a mom things are not equal. They are in a constant flux even while in routine. So while it is true formula does not replicate the exact composition of breastmilk, it is far from the dangerous substance it is made out to be.) Interestingly enough, formula fed babies are not at risk for a vitamin D deficiency due to the composition of formula unlike their breastfed compatriots.
- Breastfed babies are smarter, healthier and more developmentally advanced. Once again based on personal observations (which is actually all that we have when it comes down to distinctions between children since there are too many uncontrollable variables) I am calling bullshit. From what I have seen the babies who are formula fed are just as healthy, intelligent and at the same developmental stages as their cohort.
So I guess the point of my rambling rant is this. The only thing that matters is that you feed your kid with love, and you have at least one breast feeding mom in your corner. (And I am sorry you have to put up with nonsense like this)
Love and venting,