**Updated June 14, 2018:
Breastfeeding vs Formula Feeding? That was the question I debated early into my second pregnancy. I have now given birth to my second daughter and eventually made the decision to only formula feed her. This wasn’t the easiest decision to make, especially with how much society and doctors push us to breastfeed. For example, this is what the American Academy of Pediatrics states about breastfeeding:
“Breastfeeding is a natural and beneficial source of nutrition and provides the healthiest start for an infant. The AAP reaffirms its recommendation of exclusive breastfeeding for about the first six months of a baby’s life, followed by breastfeeding in combination with the introduction of complementary foods until at least 12 months of age, and continuation of breastfeeding for as long as mutually desired by mother and baby.”
This statement is then followed up with all kinds of statistics from different studies supporting their claim. (You can read the full article and policy here.)
Needless to say, the amount of information out there telling us that breastfeeding is better than formula feeding is overwhelming – and I’m not saying they are wrong.
I completely understand that breast milk does have it’s benefits over formula but, I am definitely not here to say one is better than the other. I personally agree with the phrase “fed is best,” whether that’s fed with formula or breast milk. As long as the baby is being fed enough and is healthy, then I think that’s what’s most important.
Here, I want to share with you my experience breastfeeding my first daughter and the main reasons why I am choosing to formula feed my second baby.
There was never any question with my first baby whether or not I would breastfeed her. It’s not something I had thought about too much but as her arrival approached, I just knew that I was going to breastfeed her and that was that. I knew that breastfeeding has lots of benefits and also doesn’t cost anything so why not give it a shot?
I had just been moved to a small room after my C-section and was holding my daughter when a nurse came to check on me. She suggested that I try and feed my daughter. I instantly felt scared. I had no idea what to do! Thankfully though, the nurse was there to guide me through the process.
The first few days of feeding my daughter went as well as breastfeeding can go. She seemed to know exactly what to do. There was no trouble with her latching on, she seemed to be getting enough milk and it wasn’t painful – yet.
Soon, I was discharged from the hospital and we were on our own. At home, I continued to breastfeed our daughter but it wasn’t easy. It started to become more and more painful. I produced a lot of milk so my breasts constantly felt swollen and extremely tender.
I also started to feel resentful towards my husband. The first couple of months with a baby are overwhelming and exhausting enough as it is and when you are the only one that can feed the baby, it just adds to your exhaustion. While I did buy a pump so that I could pump into bottles and let my husband feed the baby, that didn’t change the fact that I still needed to get up to pump.
However, the second time around, my husband was a huge help. I just felt that much closer to him and I also feel like it gave him more bonding time with the baby. (You can check out my sappy letter to him about how thankful I am for him this second time around, if you are interested. Just go to A Letter to My Husband, I Couldn’t Do This Without You.)
The bottom line is that I was miserable and because I felt miserable, I began to feel consumed with guilt. What was wrong with me? Why wasn’t I enjoying this process of feeding and bonding with my daughter? Did this mean I wasn’t a good mom?
I had heard stories of how bad breastfeeding could be, stories about cracked nipples, it being painful when the baby latched on, or the baby not being able to latch on at all. You hear lots of horror stories like this when researching breastfeeding. However, I wasn’t experiencing anything close to this. Yes, the process was painful sometimes but it wasn’t intolerable. So, if my experience wasn’t as bad as it could be, why was I hating it so much?
Looking back, I realize now that what it comes down to is how it made me feel and I didn’t like it. I didn’t want to resent my husband and I didn’t want to feel guilty all the time.
All of these things came to mind as I debated whether or not I was going to breastfeed my second baby. Ultimately, I decided to formula feed and below are the main reasons why I feel it was the best decision for me and my family.
1.) I will have help
Knowing that I won’t be the only one that can feed the baby takes a lot of pressure off. Not only does this give my husband a chance to participate and bond with our daughter, but it also gives other family members (such as Grandma and Grandpa) the chance to help out with feeding as well.
Many people claim that formula feeding causes you to lose the bonding experience. I personally don’t agree with this. When feeding my daughter, I hold her close and in a very similar position as if I was breastfeeding and I still get to look her in the eye. It still feels like a very special experience.
2.) More rest
What I learned in those early days with my first daughter is that sleep is CRUCIAL. Especially for me. I’ve never been able to function well without it. I seem to transform into this irritable and grumpy monster that doesn’t want anything to do with anyone. Not being the sole person that can feed my baby will allow me and my partner to take turns, therefore allowing me to get some more rest.
3.) I will be able to still spend time with my toddler
One major difference this time around is that I will also have a three year old to take care of. I remember back when I was breastfeeding her how time consuming it was! I want to make sure that she doesn’t feel left out all of a sudden once the baby arrives and by choosing to formula feed, this will allow me to still spend some time with my toddler while also giving her a chance to help and be a part of the process. She is always wanting to help Mommy and I think it will be an awesome experience for her to be able to help feed her baby sister.
4.) Less guilt
It’s funny because on one hand, society tends to make us feel guilty about choosing not to breastfeed our baby. I think we are made to feel like less of a mother somehow if we don’t breastfeed and it sucks. However, I am very comfortable with my decision to only formula feed and it has actually removed much of the guilt I felt the first time around. I won’t have to worry about whether or not I am doing it right, or if my baby is getting enough milk or wonder why I’m just not enjoying the process. I think less guilt (along with more help and sleep) will overall make me a happier mama this time around.
5.) Don’t have to worry about my diet or pain medication
My baby was born via C-section which means there was strong pain medication involved. This was also the case with my first daughter. She was delivered via C-section and I remember being so worried and paranoid about how the pain medication I was taking would affect her. It was just one more thing that added to my guilt. I also worried about every little thing I ate. I felt like I couldn’t just enjoy a meal anymore. This may seem like a selfish reason to formula feed and I guess it probably is. However, I personally believe that the happier I am and the less guilt I am feeling, than the better mom and wife I can be.
The biggest downfall to formula feeding is the cost. It is definitely the more expensive route. On average, we spend about $160 a month on formula. This is a huge extra cost that I understand many families can’t afford. It is something you should consider when deciding whether or not to breastfeed.
While the feeding route is going much smoother this time, I have to admit that two kids is much harder than one. I feel like no one can quite prepare you for how much work a second kid is. You just learn once your second one arrives and you get through it. (See more about this in What I Wish I Knew About Having a Second Child.)
Our daughter is now a very healthy eight months old and I have no regrets about my decision.
What are your thoughts? Did you breastfeed or formula feed your baby? I would love to hear your experience!