Feeding A Newborn Baby- The Battle of Boob and Formula

Preparing to welcome a new baby into this world can be so exciting but at the same time, nerve wrecking.Preparing for baby There is so much to consider from the type of birth you prefer, to creating the best life for this little human for at least the next 18 years. So many questions flood your mind as you try to make the right decisions. As a first time mom, one of the “right decisions” you’ll probably be trying to make surrounds feeding a newborn baby.

As simple as it sounds – breastfeeding or formula feeding or a combination- the choice isn’t always that easy (at least not for me). I’d never given it much thought. Both options were fine to me. I admittedly didn’t know much about the benefits of breastfeeding and quite frankly, I never really thought I could do it anyway. You see, I was never a well-endowed girl and at about 11 years old, I heard a comment (not meant for my ears) that stuck with me for life. How will she breastfeed her baby?”

Looking back now, it’s laughable because why was that even in someone’s mind at such a young age!? An age where puberty hasn’t even kicked in. Nevertheless, it stuck with me and I just figured my boobs probably wouldn’t be sufficient for a baby. Furthermore, I never saw anyone breastfeeding around me. The norm was to see mothers travelling with a flask of hot water and a tub of formula to keep baby’s hunger at bay. I’m pretty sure at one point I thought that that was the only way to feed a baby.

Some time in my second trimester, my breasts started leaking this yellow substance. At first, I was hysterical because I remember reading somewhere that leaking from one breast without squeezing it could be a sign of breast cancer. Thankfully, I later found out I was leaking colostrum. At that time, I then entertained the idea of at least trying to actively breastfeed. If it didn’t work out, I could switch to formula. Simple. No harm done.

However, all of that changed closer to the end of my second trimester. I started doing some research about breastfeeding and realised that it was highly recommended that it be done exclusively for at least 6 months. I attended a clinic where I was asked about my plan regarding feeding my baby. Without a thought, I said breastfeeding. The nurse asked if I knew the benefits of breastfeeding. I had skimmed over some but what captured me most was the bond it creates with your baby. To feel needed and give something that only I as her mother could give; I wanted that connection.

Apart from the bond it creates, I found some pretty good advantages to exclusively breastfeeding for at least 6 months, both to baby and to mom. Here are some that stood out to me and helped influence my choice.

Benefits To Baby

  • Breastfeeding offers complete nutrition for your baby. Everyone knows how quickly babies grow especially in the first year. Breast milk is packed with every vitamin and mineral necessary for baby to maintain healthy growth and development during that time.
  • Breast milk is a newborn’s natural vaccination. With fragile immune systems, babies are susceptible to various illnesses. Breast milk contains antibodies which work to fight off any bacteria or viruses your precious one may get.
  • Breastfed babies are more likely to have healthy weight gain and a lower chance of being overweight.
  • The chance of SIDS is reduced.

Benefits To Mom

  • It’s cheap. Well, more like free. Feeding my baby for free? Why not? Not having to spend money on formula meant extra money to use on something else.
  • Moms can lose weight quicker. Breastfeeding burns between 500 and 1000 calories per day so the gym isn’t necessary- at least not right away. Let’s not pretend as if there isn’t immense pressure to “snap back” after having a baby. So, this benefit was a plus for me! I had so many clothes I couldn’t wear during pregnancy just waiting for me to be able to fit them again. And they were the cute kind! And I was low-key excited to start taking pics of my “snap back”.
  • Breastfeeding can delay the return of the menstrual cycle for some women. When I learned this, I became overjoyed! I get pretty bad cramps with my period so anything to (naturally) delay pain, I welcomed with open arms!
  • It can lower your risk of developing breast or ovarian cancer.

My Personal Choice

By now it’s pretty clear that I have chosen to breastfeed my baby. Unfortunately, I can’t say that my choice has always been respected or understood. My journey to establishing breastfeeding with my baby was somewhat rocky in the beginning but seven months later I’m still breastfeeding my beautiful baby girl and she’s doing just fine!

Unfortunately, when my baby was born, I didn’t get to breastfeed her until about 4 hours later so I didn’t get that immediate bonding time. She was losing colour due to the room and me being so deathly cold so she had to be taken away to get warmed up. During that time I had to be stitched up since I had a 2nd degree perineal tear. That process took way longer than I expected which meant I couldn’t hold or feed my baby.

When I finally held my baby to feed her, it didn’t feel quite natural. I’d done my research about various positions, but still it felt weird and I wasn’t sure I was doing it right. I was still very happy to give breastfeeding a shot.

The next 3 1/2 days of my hospital stay were quite exhausting. Not only with recovery but breastfeeding. At that time much harder than I thought and at times I questioned my choice. Yet, I pushed through. Nurses checked me quite frequently to make sure I was producing milk. I was over the moon and would squeal in my head each time I saw milk pouring out when my breasts were checked. My prayers were answered- I was able to breastfeed my baby although I wasn’t rocking double d’s.

As time went on, I realised I started getting little comments, questions and sometimes weird looks regarding me choosing to exclusively breastfeed for at least 6 months. “Are you sure she is getting enough?” “She’s always feeding. She may not be getting enough” “You should put cereal in her milk. She will sleep longer and you will sleep better”. These comments seemed to be on repeat! I even had one person quite emphatically tell me I was starving my child by not giving her formula. According to her, I needed to give her formula because my milk was not enough. How did she know my milk wasn’t enough!? The audacity had me floored! I politely told her that my milk indeed was enough and my child was gaining weight and meeting all of her milestones which means clearly she was growing and developing nicely. I am pretty sure if there were any concerns, my pediatrician would’ve informed me.

I am not going to lie. It became quite overbearing and frustrating. Many times I just cried. I started to shut down. It’s hard having to defend YOUR choice when everyone else has their own opinion about what you should do with YOUR child and is trying to force their opinion on to you. Then they become so offended when you don’t take their “advice”. Thankfully was husband was very supportive and encouraged me to ignore the noise. Easier said than done.  I just wondered and still wonder why my personal choice mattered so much to people. It wasn’t like I was calling them up at night when my baby wanted to feed at the most inconvenient hours. It wasn’t like my child was sick and I was asking them for help with what to do. It was just pure unnecessary comments and unsolicited “advice”.

When my daughter reached about 3 months old, I started getting questions about if I wasn’t supplementing or giving her food as yet because breast milk alone isn’t food. So many times in my mind I wanted to just tell people it’s none of their business. Instead, I would just say she’s not getting anything but breast milk until 6 months. I felt as though whenever I left the house, I could almost be sure that SOMEBODY would question me about my child’s feeding habits.

Then I found a safe place:- a mommy and me group. This was probably the only place I enjoyed going because I knew I didn’t have to mentally brace myself to be bombarding with a hundred questions. We met weekly and other new moms expressed how they too were being criticized for what they chose to feed or not feed their child. Sometimes it was laughable hearing the crazy things that people would say to them. For us, it was all about respecting and supporting each other’s choices. As mamas we already have enough to deal with. We don’t need the extra burden of people’s nosiness.

Does It Really Matter?

Initially, I wasn’t really concerned about feeding my baby breast milk or formula. It really didn’t matter to me. But the more I read and researched about breastfeeding benefits, the more I wanted to try it and stick with it. When I got home from hospital, there was nothing else that felt right to me. I just knew I made a good choice. In the grand scheme of things, keeping baby well-fed is what matters but I wanted to do what I felt was right for me.

 

Quite frankly, I’m not bothered by what another mother chooses to do with her baby. We’re all just trying to nurture and care for our babies in the way we see fit. Why can’t everyone just be respectful of that? What works for one person may not work for me and what work for me may not be best for another person. So why should I preoccupy myself with something that isn’t my business?

Feed With Pride

Choosing how you’re going to feed your newborn baby does take some thought. In the grand scheme of things, once baby is fed, happy and healthy that’s all that matters. Whether you choose to exclusively breastfeed, formula feed or both, that is up to you and you alone.

I realise that people will ALWAYS have an opinion about what’s best for your child based on what they have done with theirs but guess what!? It’s YOUR CHILD and most importantly, YOUR CHOICE. Whatever decision you make, as long as you are at peace with it, stick to it with pride. Happy feeding mamas!

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11 Comments

  1. Cliff says:

    Nice article! Me and my wife did a lot of research when she was pregnant with our son. We agreed that breast milk was the way to go. I am glad we decided on it too. Just off the point you made about the amount of nutrients that is provided was the biggest decider of the decision. 

  2. Thanks, Cliff. I think sometimes the wonders of breastmilk are completely underrated! That’s great that you as a husband recognised how powerful breastmilk is and supported your wife!

  3. Robert Trevor says:

    Breastfeeding is natural, and has been the norm for untold generations.

    Its only in the last few generations, that formula feeding has been in fashion.

    What if doctors, friends and were,educated to be more encouraging,to first time,mothers about breastfeeding.

    Mothers milk, has many vitamins and minerals, in the exact  quantities needed, for the new born baby.

    A big plus of breastfeeding is that it is cost effective, in fact it costs nothing .

    The costs of formula feeding are quite a bit higher,1/ The formula itself. 2/ the cost of bottles 3/ All the equipment for cleaning and sterilising the bottles ,and warming them up, when they are required.

    Mothers who breastfeed their babies, get a boost to their self confidence, apart from several physical blessings.

  4. Breastfeeding is the best for newborn and it is mandatory to give at least for 6 months. You get more when you Feed more.. That’s what my mom said when I was breastfeeding my baby. In my opinion, breastfeeding should not be an option but as compulsory. When there is no sufficient milk, then you can go for formula.

  5. abioye olalekan says:

    This is one of the best article i have ever read in my life; Thanks for opening my eyes to the beauty and advantages of breast feeding but i found out mothers nowadays find it hard to breast feed a child especially publicly. They prefer going extra mile to get a cup of milk in order to feed their children. I would be happy if mothers would be able to see this post and make use of it effectively.This is lovely

  6. Louis says:

    I think breastfeeding is compulsory for babies at least up to 6 months and ideally, even three years. I think mother’s should breastfeed their babies rather than using milk formula.

    However, sometimes it’s beyond the capacity of the mother, milk production may be low and the mother may be working class. In this kind of cases, though not ideal, milk will suffice 

    Thanks for sharing

    Warm regards

  7. Clement says:

    Thank you for this great Article, You must have put a lot of energy coming up with this post, Breastfeeding is very essential for  little kid as  the colostrum and milk contains essential nutrients and antibodies. Is there any supplement or alternative to new born baby aside breast milk? Thank you. 

  8. Tony says:

    Hi there: Thanks for creating this educative post for mothers. Even research has shown it that breast milk is so important that it is the only food or drink a baby needs for the first 6 months of his/her life. Beginning at 6 months of age babies need a variety of foods in addition to breast milk, which continues to provide nutrition and protection for them as they grow. I know many mothers that continue to breastfeed until their babies are a year old or more As as your insightful post has detailed it here, I agree that breastmilk is awesome for babies and any amount of breastmilk is always good as long as the baby continue to feed.

    Tony

  9. Karin Nauber says:

    I did not realize all of the benefits of breastfeeding to both the baby and the mother. To me, it seems like it shouldn’t ever be a problem for a mom to breastfeed her baby. I think society gets all excited about things and then all of a sudden, it has to become a choice of whether to feed our babies the way it was originally intended or not. Since the beginning of time, our babies survived on breast milk alone. Sure, we have choices now, but I think some of the things people said to you were just ridiculous! I’m glad you stuck to your position and continued to feed your baby as you chose. As I told you in one of your previous posts, I have shared your site with my friend who is a first time mom and she has decided to breastfeed her baby girl. She has had some difficulties, but your site encourages her! Thank you!

  10. Chrissie Spurgeon says:

    I really sympathise with you about the way in which other people always assume that they know what is best for YOUR baby!!

    It is some time now since I had my four babies, and to me there was no other choice than to breastfeed. But in the hospital  with my first baby I had to turn away the bottle of formula which was delivered every four hours to the majority of the other patients, and I always got an odd look from the nurse who delivered them!

    Then I had massive criticisms from my mother and my grandmother if I fed my baby at less than four hour intervals! It seems that they had never heard of feeding on demand. And I got very severe looks from them when I breastfed in front of them.

    But I persevered, and fed all my babies until THEY were ready to stop – in my youngest child that was almost four years!

    But I am somewhat appalled to find out that these negative opinions still exist – I had hoped that by now they had been consigned to history!

    My own daughters now have their own children, and it never occurred to them not to breastfeed I’m happy to say. Needless to say, I always gave them every encouragement and as much help as I could.

    Many congratulation on your success in breastfeeding, and lets hope that these ridiculous negative opinions will soon disappear.

    Chrissie 🙂

  11. Autofreak says:

    If a mum is not feeding her baby with pride, then what else should she take pride on? Judging from the immense benefit that comes with exclusive breastfeeding, from prevention of cancer, delay of menstrual cycle, to improved health and body immune system for the child. I think it makes no sense when anyone at this age criticise people for breastfeeding, when the world health organisation prescribe exclusive breastfeeding for children. What you are doing is the best, keep doing it even when you have subsequent babies!

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