For me the decision to formula feed my oldest daughter, Samantha, was easy. In fact, I didn’t even question it. I had been surrounded by formula feeding-my mom, my aunts, and I even knew that was how my grandmothers fed their babies. In my mind, it was a no brainer. You used formula to feed your children. Was there any other way?
When I got pregnant with my second child, I began my pregnancy expecting to formula feed again. I’d had no problems with it the first time, no regrets, and I had a healthy, beautiful baby girl who was now 18 months old and toddling all over the place. Why tempt fate and change things up?
However, as I surrounded myself with more and more breastfeeding mothers, most of whom never questioned my aversion to breastfeeding, I started to wonder about it. What did it feel like? Was the bonding between a breastfeeding mother and her baby different than that I shared with Samantha? I started to analyze why I had chosen not to breastfeed Samantha-were there reasons other than my lack of exposure to it?
The more I thought about it, the more questions I had. As a result, I researched breastfeeding. I asked more questions. I sought out the companionship of breastfeeding mothers and lactation consultants, and let the questions fly. I learned about breastfeeding and its benefits. I learned that breastfeeding really is the best milk available for newborns and infants. According to La Leche League, it has health benefits for both mother and baby, including a reduced risk of childhood illnesses for the baby and potentially reduced risks of ovarian cancer and breast cancer for mothers.
I decided to be open-minded about the possibility of breastfeeding. I didn’t do anything to prepare to breastfed. I didn’t buy a nursing bra or Lansinoh cream. I simply considered the possibility, but still went into the hospital with my entire cabinet full of bottle feeding supplies at home and the formula bought.
When Erica was born, the midwife asked if I was going to try breastfeeding. I immediately said no, and then hesitated. Suddenly my mother, with whom I’d never discussed it at all, said, “Kelly, if you want to try it, try it.” I thought about it for a moment. There was no going back to this moment. I could decide to try it, and then move to formula later. I couldn’t do it the other way around. So, I decided to give it a go.
I breastfed my second daughter for a year. She’s just as healthy and happy as her sister is, and I imagine that if I didn’t tell you which one was breastfed and which wasn’t, you wouldn’t have known.
So, I did it both ways, and learned a lot about myself and about my body in the process. Breastfeeding has definitely been a wonderful experience for me, but the truth is, formula feeding was too. I can honestly say that I wouldn’t go back and breastfeed Samantha, even if I had the chance. And I wouldn’t change things with Erica, either. No way was right, no way wrong. I wish more women would see breastfeeding and formula feeding this way.
La Leche League; What are the benefits of breastfeeding my baby?; http://www.llli.org/FAQ/advantages.html