I am curious to hear from women who made the decision from the get-go that they would formula feed their babies.
There is tons of information and testimonials online and in books about breastfeeding, but very little about formula feeding. I am hoping that maybe there are some women who will be brave enough to write about why they chose to formula feed from the start, their experiences, the pros and cons of formula feeding, etc.
This is NOT a debate post about the pros and cons of breastfeeding versus formula feeding. Any comments about why breastfeeding is better, breastfeeding experiences, non-breastfeeding moms being selfish and lazy, etc. will be deleted. I’ve found tons of info about “breast is best”, but almost no one will talk about formula feeding their babies, probably out of fear of being attacked.
So that’s my curious mom-to-be question for today! Thanks to any formula feeding moms who would care to jump in and share their experiences with us!
I nursed my oldest until she was five and a half months old, at which point she would literally have nothing to do with mommy.
We made the decision to use formula with our youngest from the start months before she was born. Prior to her pregnancy I’d been taking medications for Fibromyalgia/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome which could not be taken while nursing. We decided the benefits to our family of my being able to function as these medications allowed me to function outweighed the benefits of nursing. Without the medications there were many days I could barely get out of bed, let alone care for the girls.
Because I had suffered from Post Partum Depression and Anxiety almost to the point of psychosis and was already suffering from antepartum depression, this also allowed me to begin taking an antidepressant as soon as our youngest was born without worrying about its effect on her.
I admit that having nursed my oldest, I missed nursing the youngest. I kind of had to mourn that for myself – not because of what anyone else said, but because though nursing was not always the most pleasant experience for me (I had painful letdown every time), there was something very special about that time with her and I was sad not to have it with the little one.
But, with my youngest going on five now, looking back I would not have done things differently.
In Christ alone,
Healed Waters, homeschoolblogger.com/addmama
blog team, ChristianWomenOnline.net
I breastfed my children, but several of my friends have formula fed from birth – one because severe childhood sexual abuse left her unable to handle the thought of it. Another friend needed to go back on her anti-depressants, and they weren’t breastfeeding compatible.
I breastfed my first for 9 months. I planned on the same strategy with my second, but for various reasons, things didn’t work out. He only breastfed for about a week.
It is good for you to think about formula up front because even if you want to breastfeed, it may not work out. Some people can get themselves so set against something that when they have to do that thing b/c there is no other choice, it can be very upsetting (c-sections fall in that category also).
Anyway, I actually pumped for about 4 more weeks b/c I was scared of formula (my first had some issues with formula tolerance – another story) but finally couldn’t keep up pumping full-time. Luckily my son had no problems with formula.
I think the biggest issue with formula is that there seems to be alot of babies who either are allergic or cannot tolerate it (at least among people I have known). Then you end up switching formulas and may ultimately end up on hypoallergenic which is very expensive.
Since I tried both the breast and formula, I can tell you that in the long run the breast is easiest. It is tough getting started and can be draining, but once the baby is older, it is much easier to just go wherever you want and not worry about making and heating bottles. On the flip side, with formula feeding, anyone can feed the baby. That means your husband can no some nightfeedings and you can actually leave the baby for a few hours without worrying about getting back for the next feeding (although you can eventually do the same with pumping unless the baby rejects the bottle).
Hopefully that helps a little. You know the obvious benefits of breastfeeding the baby, I would just be sure you look into formula allergy/tolerances problems if you want to consider formula. And I know you are frugal, so you may want to price out a year’s worth of formula. Those are the less obvious downfalls.
I nursed my first for 6weeks and supplemented with formula (had to go to a lactose free formula) he was just hungry constantly (would nurse for 45 mins straight and then have a wet or dirty diaper and want to nurse for another hour or more!) I supplemented him with formula (mommy was too sore from nursing and c-section) withthe formual he was content longer and a lot less fussy and gassy (once we went to the lactose free version on it). Formula made my life easier and at that point in my life I need less stress. With number 2 I nursed for 6 weeks too supplemented her from the beginning with formula (she was always hungry). After 6 weeks, I made the conscious decision to switch her to formula because I was constantly feeding her, I was not getting time to play with her or my oldest or my dh and the house was falling apart. It was more work to wash bottles, mix formula, etc but a good dishwasher is a big help! I felt I was making the best decision for all involved at that point, would I change my choice if I had the chance NO (but I probably would use coth diapers disposables are sooo expensive!) Good luck there wil be those who will second guess your choices (as they do with everything!) but make your decision and stick to it!
I had to bottle feed my second son after 3 weeks because he was so hugry all the time. By the time he was 11 weeks he was on a modified baby milk as he was hungry and he just had a very few teeny tastes of solids too. The first time he had this new milk formula he slept for 5 hours – I thought he’d died, the longest he would normaly sleep was 3 hours.
Poor lad he was starving all the time.
There is no way I could have breast fed him and I am glad that there was the formula for him to have.
He’s now 20 ~ years that is! And still he’s a big eater, though now he’s over 6 foot tall!
As one who has always breastfed I’ll be curious to see the responses to your question.
Just for the record, I have never considered formula feeders to be lazy because of their decision – it sounds like much more work. I think part of the reason I enjoy breastfeeding is because *I* am lazy. 🙂
I breastfed my first for his first year. I tried breastfeeding my second but because of slow weight gain we had to start supplimenting and then she had a super sensitive stomache and she would spit up so much worse on breastmilk. It seemed like I couldn’t remove enough foods from my diet to make her happy. We went with soy formula because that was when she was happiest.
For us it was the best decision we ever made. Since I dealt with PPD and lack of sleep makes it worse, my husband would do the middle of the night feeding with my daughter. He could get up, feed her and go back to bed and fall instantly asleep – the whole thing taking 30 minutes at most. I on the other hand would be up for 2 to 3 hours after feeding her because I just couldn’t go to sleep. I think it helped bond my husband and daughter quicker than it happened with my son who was just breastfed. Also my daughter got on a schedule more quickly once we only bottlefed her. My son never slept through the night, while my daughter started around 4 months. I was the human pacifier with my son and my daughter is much more pacified with other things and doesn’t “need me” constantly.
As far as easier – I think it’s about even, yes when you go out you don’t have to take bottles and all the stuff to make them, but I also fed her anyplace or anyone could feed her and I didn’t have to find a private place or cover up to feed her.
ahhh, I am curious to see what gets said here.
1. I breast fed my firstborn out of sheer GUILT (you know the constant “breast is best” slogan you hear everywhere) for 9 months. I loved her to pieces, loved being a mother, but I absolutely hated breastfeeding. I don’t know why. I’ve never been abused but every single time she would go to latch on I would cringe. I just never had that “bonding thing” everyone talks about. Finally at 9 months old my husband said “If you need someone to give you permission to quit, then I give you permission.” So I quit! She did fine.
2. Baby #2 was in the NICU and I couldn’t even touch her or hold her. I planned on nursing only because I had done #1 and I wanted everything to be equal and fair. Then, the NICU staff came to me to start pumping for her. I detested pumping more than nursing, so I said no. She was blissfully formula fed and we were both so much happier. By the way, even with her health needs she thrived on formula. I have had people who have flat out accused me of being selfish by not giving my special needs child breastmilk. She is fine.
3. Baby # 3, after having the 2 experiences above I just started out with formula and we were fine. In fact, out of my 3 kids he’s probably one of the healthiest babies.
I don’t regret my choices, even when well-meaning Christian ladies make me feel guilty for not loving my kids enough to sacrifice and nurse. I just could not do it. It was not for me at all.
Until they start having a blank on a college application that says: “nutrition as a baby…breastmilk or formula?” I am not going to beat myself up over it.
Breast really is best and I am in no way downing it….for most of my friends they have had WONDERFUL experiences. I didn’t. I feel sad that I didn’t. But my kids are a little older now, they are SMART, HEALTHY, thriving and doing great.
Then people say, Oh the bottles! It is so much work, it is so expensive. Expensive YES. I will agree with that. But making a bottle is no different than changing a diaper for me. It was not a huge stress at all.
I do breast feeding and formula because I have been plagued with an insufficient milk supply. But here are reasons of women I know for doing formula from the get-go:
(1)Child was to be born with cleft palate, and pumping full-time just didn’t fit into the schedule of taking care of an older child and going to numerous doctor appointments.
(2)Mother had never seen anyone actually breastfeed and felt like it was “gross.” She loves her child, but her exposure had only been to bottles.
(3)Mother knew she would be returning to work, and that pumping at work would be too much for her, so she decided not to even start a process she was sure she couldn’t finish.
(4)Mother (like me) has a history of insufficient milk supply, and plans to supplement after the colostrum runs out to ensure that the baby gets enough.
(5)Daddy finds breastfeeding completely distasteful, and wife decides on formula out of respect for her husband.
Anyhow, these are the stories of people I have met who really put thought into their decisions. For others, formual just sort of “happened,” but I don’t think that was what you were looking for. 🙂
This isn’t exactly what you are looking for, but may be interesting nonetheless, as there are other options BESIDES breast and formula.
When my 3rd daughter was just a month old we discovered I was pregnant with our fourth! I have difficult pregnancies and LOOSE weight instead of gaining, so we felt that my continuing to nurse while pregnant would further deplete my body. (A special decision based on my unique health. I know many moms nurse through pregnancy fine!) I continued nursing her for another 2 months, but finally had to quit.
After much research, we concluded that clean, raw, goat milk with a little cod-liver oil (for vitamin D) and folic acid added in was the next best to breast milk. Most sites comparing the goat milk to formula rant about it not having the D and the folic, so we decided that rather than have all the food value be processed (formula), we’d just add the missing things into the wholesome and time-tested goat milk. After consulting with pediatricians who agreed that this was a sensible option, we went with it.
It also allowed my other children and husband to assist. Breast really is pretty easy, but it was nice while I was so very sick in early pregnancy, that even my 4 year old daughter could help give baby sister her bottle.
I’ll understand if you delete this as irrelevant, but thought I’d through mention goat milk as an option.
Praying for a healthy pregnancy for you! A friend of mine says that people often get so caught up in the methods and particulars they forget the main principle. The main principle is nourish that baby! Sure there are likely good, better, and best ways to accomplish it in general, but there are exceptions to every rule. The main principle regardless of how it is done is: Feed and love that baby. 🙂
I breastfed both of my sons. My first for only 6 months. He was going to work with me at my dh’s office, and it became too stressful trying to feed him in my husband’s x-ray room while patients were waiting to get checked out. We did formula, and he did fine.
I breastfed the 2nd to 17 months, weaned due to medications I was starting for hypothyroidism. He always refused bottles so we went straight to sippy cups and never used formula. He is much healthier than the first, but who says that’s necessarily due to formula?
That being said, Lord willing I will be having more children (we’ve been trying over 5 years to conceive again), and I’d love to breastfeed. But being a diabetic and being hypothyroid, I have to weigh it’s benefits to me and my child to my health (I had many, many mastitis infections with my 2nd round). If I had to do formula, I would consider using this forumula, vs. the store bought, but would have to decide if it’s worth my time. This site has many interesting articles about formula and is worth your time, in my opinion, to make an informed decision. The article on making your own is at http://www.mercola.com/2000/oct/22/infant_formula.htm.
That being said, I believe our Lord is a Lord of mercy and grace and if a decision is made in prayer and the blessing of our husband, He can bless it.
I will be honest and say that during my pregnancy, I had every intention of breastfeeding our son. But, after a period of trying to nurse, my son simply would not have anything to do with it. Because of breast infections, I had to pump for about 6 weeks. After that, I started supplementing with formula, and when the stored breastmilk ran out, our son got all formula. And…I loved formula :). He slept longer at night, I always knew how much he was getting at each feeding and adjusted accordingly based on his eating needs, anyone could feed him, and I could leave him for more than a few hours at a crack. It was great. I did not find fixing bottles a hassle at all. I knew when we went out what I needed to bring with me to make his bottle and to keep it cold if he didn’t finish it all. I adjusted to the situation and made it work. Looking back, I wish I would have just started with formula right out of the gate. Like some of the other ladies, I knew early on breastfeeding just wasn’t my thing.
Formula is more expensive, but with a whole sale club membership the cost does go down some.
Sometimes, nursing just doesn’t work out for whatever reason, and thank goodness there is formula out there to feed our babies.
I’ve really enjoyed reading these. I’m still bfing my 2nd, and I have to agree with the comment that you cannot call someone who uses formula lazy! There’s so much more involved in washing and sterilizing and preparing bottles! As long as a person makes an informed decision it’s up to them. I had a very hard time nursing my first… chronic plugged ducts(I had a week where I was getting up to 6 a day), mastitis, thrush, and wondering if my baby was getting enough. I have to say that I’m glad that I didn’t give up, although I really, really wanted to sometimes. Part of what makes nursing so difficult (in my experience) for moms is that they think it should be easy (I did), and it honestly takes a bit of work. And it takes a lot of time! I think a lot of times new moms don’t realize how much time it takes to nurse at first… you will literally feel like after you’re done nursing it’s time to start all over again 15 minutes later (and sometimes it is!). And I had to remember to trust that God had made my body to do what it needed to to support a baby even when in my head I wasn’t sure how to tell (although if you’re getting wet and dirty diapers coming out, you know it’s going in!). I’ve untimately enjoyed bfing my two kids, but I also know that there’s nothing wrong with formula. I’ve used a little here and there to suppliment or fill in when I wasn’t around and didn’t have any pumped. As long as you and your husband are satisfied with the choice you’ll be fine. There’s WAY more important influential decisions you’ll make for your child in life other than breast vs. formula.
Now I forgot to add one more thing…I keep seeing the comment about how hard/time consuming it is for making bottles.
Maybe I’m just weird, but it wasn’t for us. We sterilized them in the dishwasher (I made sure and had about 30 bottles so if I didnt’ run the dishwasher that day, life didn’t end). I used powdered formula. I mixed a pitcher full that would last for 1-2 days, depending on how old the baby was and how much they would eat. Then I would pour the formula into the bottles, cap, and fridge. When we were ready for a feeding I’d warm up a bottle and viola! Eating time.
Making bottles is no less/more stressful than pouring yourself a drink, making a sippy cup, putting laundry in the wash, giving a baby a bath, changing a diaper. It is just part of motherhood for those of us who don’t nurse.
I find that half the nursing community uses this as a “scare tactic” to keep moms from trying formula.
Again, not downing the nursing community, I was one of em for 9 months with baby #1, but honestly, breast/formula is such a small part of raising a child I wouldn’t get myself all worked up over it.
You worry about that when they are little, and the whole diaper thing. Then they get older and you worry about which preschool to choose, if any. Then you worry about what you’re gonna do for school: public, private, homeschool….then you worry about sports teams and if that is a good thing or not, then high school, college entrance exams and so on.
I’ve found that whatever stage you find yourself in, you will gravitate to that being the “most important” thing. 🙂 Molly from ChoosingHome and her blog Adventures in Mercy wrote an excellent post lately about all these things we mothers must choose. In the end, we have to ask ourselves, what is most important?
I also breastfed my little peanut (now a monkey) for 6 months. I wanted to make it to 6 months so much that I took Domperidone to do it (used often in Canada). I just couldn’t make enough milk for my child. So we went to powdered brand-name formula and then to a cheaper Walmart brand. Then she got constipated all the time and we switched to the canned Walmart brand as well. It is $1.88 a can where we live and the can lasts for about 1.5 days at a time. Sometimes canned milk is what you need. But the price difference from formula types is still FAR below the cost of one trip to the Pediatrician for constipation problems.
I also have a Sister in law who couldn’t produce enough milk either. Her younger sister was pumnping milk like Dairy Queen and she gave part of it to my sister in law for her baby. Worked great and everyone was pretty happy with it. Both kids are just fine and very healthy and well adjusted.
Good point, Lindsey. How often we major on the minors. 🙂
There is actually a book that addresses this issue- it’s called “Bottlefeeding Without Guilt” by Peggy Robin. Out of print, I think, but I thought it was very interesting when I read several years ago. Anyway, I breastfed and bottlefed all three and thought both had advantages. My youngest was bottlefed the most- a big reason was that everyone wanted to feed her- her older sibs, my husband, my parents. Some people might not think that is a very good reason, but it was important to us. I was also a lot more relaxed about the whole thing by the time she came around. And I have to second the comment that bottlefeeding was not particularly time consuming or troublesome.
I breastfed my own for the first couple of weeks and then went to the bottle. I chose that for several reasons: I was a bottle baby myself as was my sister and that was my experience. I needed/wanted the ease of letting someone else feed when I needed sleep or whatnot. While I didn’t mind the nursing I could NOT stand the thought of pumping and I was going back to work so something had to be done.
We have already decided to bottlefeed number four when they arrive. My first daughter thrived on breast-feeding until about a year. The past two babies had problems because my milk supply was practically non existent. In fact my last daughter was seriously ill because she wasn’t getting what she needed. I also hated breastfeeding the last time – she was a dreadful feeder, and as soon as she finally took a bottle of formula, she was an angel and so much happier. Never mind the bother of sterilizing etc. It was just so much better to have contented baby and mama. Mind you, apart from the boiled water, I’m not 100% convinced about sterilizing as long as you scrupulously clean things in hot soapy water. I never sterilized my chest.
So this time round we’re going to do it from the get-go, and I don’t feel the slightest bit guilty, because my job is to give my baby what they need, and it just so happens that won’t come from me physically.
I tried to breast feed each time with my 4, but was only successful with my first and that was only til the 5th month. With my others I had various problems…infections, bleeding, and with my last, she slept SO much (up to 20 hours per day) that my milk dried up. Oh well….I really did the best I could.
And you know what? All of them are equally as healthy, did as well bonding and as few allergies and food problems as any breastfed child. None of mine have any food intolerance or allergies. In fact, they are all healthier than my sister’s child who she breastfed religiously for a year and a half and is very rigid with nutrition, etc.
Mine all had bad reflux…even while nursing…so I found Carnation formula to work best for digestion.
Now go rest!
Such good thoughts.
There is no ‘one size fits all’.
Has someone mentioned this already? If you do choose to breastfeed, it is wise to start supplimenting a bottle feeding right from the start. I know some people frown on this but as a mom who became extremely ill while nursing my youngest, it was a real life saver that he didn’t have to get used to bottle feeding.
Why is it that at the time in a woman’s life when she needs support and encouragement the most, she is most likely to get judgement?
I find this story to be funny. When my mom, who is now 79 had my oldest sister, the nurses at Butterworth Hospital prepped all of the new mom’s for nursing. This included scrubbing down the breasts, and leaving all the mom’s in the ward with their arms in the air. Then, the nurses came marching in with the babies. Well, my dear mother sneezed. A nurse yelled “UNCLEAN!” and my mom choose to NEVER nurse any of us!
My first born was three weeks early, so he was a very sleepy baby and wouldn’t nurse so my milk supply was very low. He lost a lot of weight so I had to pump and force feed him. Finally, when he got the hang of it he would get frustrated because I was not making enough and give up and cry. He was used to the ease of the bottle. I could’ve kept pumping to increase the supply, but I just couldn’t keep up with what he needed. The first few weeks were horrible. I felt like such a failure. Finally I gave up and started formula. He is fine and rarely sick.
Now number two boy was a very aggressive nurser. He latched on right away and after the soreness and bleeding nipples stopped, it actually was quite nice. I usually just nurse him, but I do supplement. At 6 mos I feel that I am drying up and he would rather have a bottle. I breastfeed him about three times a day.
A nurse told me that the success of breastfeeding really depends on the baby, not the mom.
I used formula to supplement both my first and second born and will willing use it again with our third. Our oldest was not gaining weight and we endured much stress from the pediatrician and family over her weight and our personally decision to help her with more of a routine to sleep and regulate her metabolism to eat better and longer (thus getting a “full” meal including the hind milk, and not just snacking all day receiving foremilk which is similar to skim milk).
So, right from the get go, we used supplementing with our second, which was smart since it took him and I about 10 days to work together to breastfeed successfully. After those first 10 days, he was exclusively breastfed, and really detested bottles.
By the way, we decided, based on the ease of feeding from a bottle and the frustration it produced in our first born, to use a catheter tube in an open container of formula/pumped breastmilk, which we would slide in through the corner of his mouth while he was nursing. It worked great! And he was healthy and gained weight just fine, which was of utmost importance to us, as opposed to breastfeeding only.
Hope my comments help!
In response to the person who recommended feeding an infant raw goat milk:
Human milk is designed by God to nourish baby humans. Goat milk is designed by God to nourish baby goats.
Commercially prepared infant formulas are an acceptable alternative to human milk because they are prepared to most closely approximate the nutrient composition of human milk.
I am shocked that any physician who had actually researched this issue would permit the practice of feeding unpasteurized, raw milk. I doubt they would ever have cared for infants who suffered permanent brain damage from meningitis caused by Listeria, for instance.
While I would certainly agree that Americans in general eat a diet which incorporates too many refined starches and other ingredients not found in nature, all processing is not inherently bad. The USDA and the American Veterinary Medical Association have stated that it is virtually impossible to eliminate several types of dangerous bacteria from dairy animal populations, and these organizations advise strongly against the consumption of unpasteurized milk. I would add that the risks from this practice are increased in the elderly, the young, and pregnant women.
Sincerely, your friendly neighborhood pediatrician.
Though our last several children I have completely breastfed, we did supplement with formula with our first several. When our 7th child was born with severe heart defects, and we were continually told to also use formula with her, we ened up buying goats, and using goat milk, adding in oil and folic acid. Goat’s milk is suppose to be the closest to mother’s milk. The store bought type though, tastes GROSS. If you need to go this route, you might be able to find someone who has goats or get a goat or two like us!