Newest Review: ... choice to make. People might not agree with those reasons, but those were my reasons for my choice and even now with a baby of 10 month... more
There's no debate here.
The Breastfeeding Debate
Member Name: Mama-Q
The Breastfeeding Debate
Advantages: convince, no need to test the temp, baby takes what it needs, right level of nutrients, no guessing
Disadvantages: none that I could find.
For a start, the title is a bit iffy. For me there is no debate - breast milk is normal, anything else is substandard. This isn't to say you're evil or wrong if you make a choice NOT to breastfeed (just be honest about the choice not to do it, though!) but the facts remain that breastfeeding is the normal way for mammals to feed their young - that is something we can all agree on, I'm sure.
My experiences with breastfeeding in the pre-parenting days were normal and straight forward. Nearly every woman I'd known had breastfed their baby, then stopped after a few months. My aunt went up to 4 years with her son, giving him a feed before bed, and it worked well for them. This same aunt also fed me! My gran fed all her children with her breast up until they were toddlers - asides my uncle, who weaned off the breast when my gran went into hospital and she had to feed him formula and didn't have a clue how to make up a bottle, having never done it before. My mum also breastfed all of us (all four of us!) and she was also recovering from a Caesarean each time, as well as a bad latch with one baby, another who liked to 'bite down' and another who had a tongue tie - I was the only one she didn't have issues with, what can I say? ;).
My family (on both sides) were my biggest support during breastfeeding. I didn't think about bottle/formula feeding because to me, my norm was breastfeeding.
To the people who say 'my baby needed more than just breast milk' I have to say that's just not accurate or scientifically possible. We try and read our babies and sometimes get it wrong - for example we can spend hours cuddling, rocking, walking about with babies, feeding, changing etc all to realise that all they wanted was to be swaddled or free of their blankets and held close to our hearts. We. Get. It. Wrong.
Want to know why? Because we aren't perfect, not because we're bad parents. So this notion of 'my son/daughter need more than my milk' is inaccurate. We're reading their signals wrong and we all do it. Another thing is that our bodies actually produce the correct amount of milk for our babies - their saliva passes a message to our body and tells it what to make for the baby. Including the amount the baby needs. The more a baby feeds, the more milk you will produce. There is no magic, it's just science.
There are (very, very) rare cases in which women can't produce milk, but they usually won't get past the colostrum stage (sometimes called 'fore-milk' and is very high in calories and especially made for the purpose of feeding a newborn in the first few days) and usually don't produce hind-milk. And yes, there are also other rare conditions that might make it impossible for a woman to feed - she may have a disease a baby can contract through her milk or be a using drug addict and in these cases this is exactly why formula is necessary.
I don't hate formula, I just think it's a 'go to' option for too many people who can otherwise feed their babies, from their breast. If this is someone's choice to feed their baby with this kind of made in a lab milk, then they can be my guest but please, be honest about your choice. I think it's a mockery of those with difficulties in feeding to say 'Oh, I couldn't breastfeed because of x, y and z' rather than just saying you don't want to do it.
I understand this is a complicated arena and there are many more reasons as to why someone might not medically, culturally and emotionally want to breastfeed but I definitely think those individuals should be honest and own their choices.
I had a friend who had a baby at the same time as me and she utterly mocked my breastfeeding - saying that formula was 'better' than breast milk. That is a flat out lie. I don't think 'breast is best' I just think breast is the normal route and that anything else might not be a good idea unless totally necessary. This same friend had breastfed her previous child for 6 weeks and because he got a chest infection, she gave up.
Let me just say that breastfeeding is a PREVENTION rather than a magical cure to anything. Also it's worth pointing out that having colds and chest infections aren't going to kill the average Joe with the average health - and it's not a sign that breast milk is inferior nor that it isn't somehow 'working.' It's worth thinking about this individuals living standards (as in a mouldy or damp flat) and adding EVERYTHING up rather than blaming the breast milk on the first hurdle.
I've worked with babies who were bottle fed and it was a bit of a faff to get everything prepared - of course I got myself into a routine and didn't know anything else at this point so once I got used to it, it was straightforward...but for instance being out and about was a planned mission. Bottles couldn't be made up in advance because of the risks with tummy bugs and most of the babies who had the formula threw up huge amounts after wards - this was messy in public.
Again, I adapted to the situation but in comparison breastfeeding was so much easier. No bottles to wash, no steriliser to scrub clean, no fuss, no muss. Also there were no middle of the night bottle making sessions. It was simply undo a few buttons, pop baby on the breast and go back to sleep! Now, you can't do that with a bottle. You need to supervise them lest they choke and you also need to remove the bottle before the baby falls asleep - otherwise the milk will pool in their mouth and rot their teeth!
There is also the worry about contamination issues with formula milk. With aluminium levels being 'unacceptably high' with the Moo and Fence brand of formula being ranked at the top of that list. The companies don't add the aluminium themselves, hence the 'contamination' risk. The companies have been warned about the risks, but no action has been taken - very worrying.
With breastfeeding I did always wonder 'is my son getting enough' and the answer is: yes. Like I explained before, the science of breastfeeding is that your child suckles from you, your body tells you how much the child needs. It is that simple, really. My son had a tongue tie issue and rather than my health visitor sorting that out she made us struggle through poor attachment, weight loss and mastitis. I wouldn't stand for that these days. I'd simply say; "Okay, you can't help me, don't feel bad - is there
someone else I can speak to, who can help me?"
Formula feeding is a bit of a guessing game about how much a baby needs - and I say needs because you really have to do guess at what their needs are when they can't express them to you. I don't like the idea of over feeding but it is very easily done with formula feeding. On top of this there is the worry of childhood and adult obesity and the links with that and formula and that is specifically tied to over feeding with formula.
Yes, the packet will tell you what they 'need' but they may not take it all in one sitting or they may guzzle down two bottles at a time (although I've yet to see that happen) but I think this is about really understanding your baby when it comes to this; understand their cues for being full, for being satisfied with their feed and don't push them to have more than that. Otherwise you're over feeding for no real need or reason.
As for feeding in public, here's my opinion: you see sweaty, pale and overweight builder types with their tops off in summer, along with celebrities baring their bits and having 'wardrobe malfunctions' all the time but you do hear of the odd Norman or Nancy no mates complaining that it's 'not modest' or 'right' to feed in public. This is tosh! I've seen more at the beach than I have with a woman offering nourishment from her breasts to her child. As it stands I've never had a snigger or a smirk off anyone while feeding public.
I did have a paranoia about it at first - ducking into changing rooms to feed and one time even a toilet - but it was when I'd run over the feeding time and I didn't have time to find a changing room or toilet that I actually over came that paranoia - and learned that the public were actually not fussed with me feeding. It wasn't noticeable and I felt suitably comfortable with it.
I know this isn't for everyone but there are many ways you can still maintain your modesty and feed in public; for instance you can feed in a wrap or sling, or buy a breastfeeding cover, you can try sitting backwards more and buying appropriate nursing tops - the possibilities are numerous and I'm only mentioning the ones I know!
Summary: try it.