I’ll let you in on a little secret as I have done both: it doesn’t matter!!!
First of all, you’re going to get judged regardless. If you decide to only breastfeed, people will encourage you to give the baby a bottle to have time for yourself. Really what they want is to feed the baby, so the fact that they can’t pisses them off a little bit. If you decide to only bottle feed, you will be asked 1,000 different questions by 1,000 different people as to why. They’ll pretend they’re it judging you, but they are. Because if they really didn’t care, they wouldn’t be inquiring.
People say breastfeeding is better because the child’s immunity is better—they’re less likely to get sick. I exclusively bottle-fed Santi (Enfamil) and exclusively breastfed Joaquín (my boob) and let me tell you, they both got/get just as sick. No one has been saved from the wrath of ear infections, boogers, and colds. I’m going to tell you what I loved and hated from both experiences. If you have children, you may relate to some of my comments. If you don’t have kids, don’t listen to me. Do what’s best for you because what’s best for your baby is to have a happy and sane mom!
From the moment I gave birth to Santi, my body and mind rejected breastfeeding. He never latched on, I felt overwhelmed because I didn’t know how much he would be eating and it hurt like hell. I was so frustrated that on the day I left the hospital I decided we would be exclusively using formula. It’s not easy making that decision because of the nurses in the hospital. They are trained to make you see that “breast is best”. (It’s not, so don’t worry.)
What I loved:
- It was so easy! Anyone could feed Santi so it wasn’t all on me. My mom, aunts, husband, etc.. you name it. For every feeding, I had 100 people begging to let them do it.
- I bounced back to my normal life immediately. I didn’t have to be attached to him because he wasn’t attached to my boob. I could go out with him and not worry about his feeding schedule because I could feed him anywhere. In every way, it made perfect sense for me.
- He did really, really well on formula. I’ve been blessed with pretty healthy kids (except for the occasional ear infection and runny nose). I didn’t feel he was at a disadvantage because he didn’t have breastmilk. He was thriving and so was I. We were a dynamic duo.
What I hated:
- Formula is expensive and sometimes I’m super cheap. Santi drank a lot of milk. I’m talking 8oz bottles before 6 months of age. I was going through formula more than diapers and it starts to add up.
- Formula, once mixed with water, is only good for a certain amount of time. If I mixed it too early and he didn’t wake up from his nap, I’d have to throw it away.
- The smell. Ugh, the smell of formula when they spit it up is gross. And guess what? Babies spit up…a lot.
- When you’re trying to put the little measuring cup in the bottle and some of the powder falls out. You can’t clean up and scoop it back in, and you can’t just add some more because apparently the formula to water ratio is a science, and I’m not a scientist.
When Joaquin was born, I had a plan. I wasn’t going to breastfeed because I hadn’t done it with Santi so I bought a bunch of bottles and was ready to go at the hospital. Except, Joaquin latched on immediately in the hospital and wouldn’t stop feeding from me. When I arrived home I decided I would stop offering him breastmilk, but on my birthday, my milk supply came rushing in and there was no turning back. I was going to have to breastfeed whether I liked it or not.
What I loved:
- It was actually super easy! Once your milk supply comes in, you just feed on demand. Joaquin was an angel baby because he only requested milk in 4-5 hour intervals so I wasn’t mentally and physically drained from feeding him. He was efficient (10 minutes per boob) and was satisfied.
- I didn’t have to wash bottles or disinfect anything or worry about Santi’s bottles getting mixed with Joaquin’s. Eventually, I started pumping and this changed the dynamic a little bit but when I would go out, I would just cover myself and when he was done, no mess to clean up! It was great.
- I really did feel like I was bonding with him in a way I couldn’t with Santi. No one but me could feed him and I loved it. When he would drink, he would look at me and it was just so heartwarming. I can’t really describe it other than…we had a moment.
What I hated:
- Breastfeeding is by far the most painful thing I’ve gone through. Birth? Easy peasy, lemon squeezy. Breastfeeding? Not easy peasy. Your nipples crack, they bleed, they feel like they’ll fall off.
- They say breastfeeding helps you bounce back BUT THAT’S A LIE. My body held on to fat cells as if were the only nourishment they would ever receive again and I hated it.
- I was alone in feeding. When you bottle feed, you can hand the baby off and take a breather. Middle of the night feedings can be given to a partner, middle of the day feedings can be given to family member or friend. When you breastfeed, it’s all you because you’re the one with the boob and the milk.
Now I’m 3 months from meeting my third child and I have no idea what I’m going to do. I don’t know if I have it in me to breastfeed, or if I have it in me to not offer him what I offered Joaquin. The only thing I do know is that whatever I pick, I’m going to own it because my baby needs a happy mom.
Here is a photo of Santi after drinking a bottle of formula. He looks happy, right?
Here is a photo of Joaquin after taking the life out of me and breastfeeding. He seems just as content as his brother…(although I look significantly worse)