Breast or Bottle?

 Why such heated debates between breast or bottle feeding? No matter what you believe, there's no reason to equate formula with risking your baby's life.

While I was pregnant with Owen, I wasn’t exactly sure if I wanted to do breast or bottle feeding. Breastfeeding seemed like the right thing to do, but for some reason I had my hangups. I can’t even tell you right now what they were. Jason was the big proponent of breastfeeding. He really, REALLY wanted me to do it, so I agreed I would try for as long as I could.

After delivery, Owen latched on and never got off. Now, four months later, I’m (or he is) still going strong. It was difficult in the beginning, sure. There were growth spurt days where Owen nursed non-stop for hours on end. Even now, as I work and pump four, five, six times a day to keep up with how much he eats at daycare, I can’t say it’s gotten easier. But I do cherish the nursing experience.

I don’t think you’ll meet many mothers who don’t know breastfeeding is good for their child.

Heck, even formula companies tell you breast is best. But not everyone can breastfeed–some babies don’t latch on properly, some women have milk supply issues, others head back to work fairly quickly and can’t keep up with their child’s needs. That’s why the semi-recent Ad Council TV ads for the National Breastfeeding Campaign piss me off.

Likening riding a mechanical bull while pregnant to feeding your baby formula? I don’t think so. Giving your baby a bottle of formula doesn’t directly put her in harm’s way.

All these ads do is make moms who can’t, or don’t want to, breastfeed feel guilty.

Again. And they spark another potential mom war. Instead of working versus stay-at-home moms, now it’s breastfeeding against bottle moms.

In an MSNBC piece from correspondent Rehema Ellis , Ellis writes that “The latest government figures show more than 70 percent of moms try breastfeeding when their babies are born, but that six months later, only 36 percent are still breastfeeding. One reason, doctors say, is that more than 60 percent of mothers go back to work.”

So why doesn’t the government stick to the issues they can control, such as creating a sensible, national maternity leave program, and leave the personal issues of how women feed their babies up to the moms? Maybe then they’ll get more breastfeeding moms.

9 thoughts on “Breast or Bottle?

  1. I do like the print ads, they’re clever. But, I agree with you on the TV spots. They’re ridiculous!

    I think the next TV spot should show a pregnant woman blind-folded and being spun around by a friend before hitting a pinata. 😉

    Great post, Tela!

  2. Good point, Cara. I do mean the TV spots. I tried to edit that up in there, but blogger is not my friend today.

    Oh man… how much you learn in just a short year or so. Lol.

  3. Ugh – don’t get me started on the whole breast vs. bottle debate. I’ve encountered so many holier than thou people where this is concerned. I think it’s WONDERFUL that you are still breast feeding, Tela. I also think it’s wonderful that you recognize not all women can…

  4. One thing I’ve had to learn is that I had to do what was (and is) right for Aidan, and forget what everyone else was telling me. Because to listen to every piece of advice out there–moms NEVER get it right. And when I see my son’s face light up when he seem me, when he jumps into my arms and kisses my cheek, that’s all the vindication I need to know that I’m a good enough mommy, hang what everyone else has to say about it.

    I felt a LOT of guilt when I quit breastfeeding–but that next feeding was SO MUCH better for both of us. I didn’t have to dread feeding time anymore, and I didn’t worry about tears (mine and his), frustrations, and just feeling horrible for putting us both through it. It doesn’t work for all moms and that’s okay–I had to teach myself that.

    Sometimes I still do, when it comes to him.

  5. Great timing on this topic of the day. My mother-in-law has been making subtle hints that she thinks it’s time I stopped breast feeding. In fact, she mentioned that this weekend away with my husband would be the best time to quit, “why bother bringing your pump”, she said. When I think back to all of the work trips I lugged my breast pump around, only to pump an ounce or two, when now that I stay at home, I really feel I can put in a whole year of breast feeding without an issue. I had such guilt after quiting with my other two at 6 and 9 months- I could never keep up with the daycare demands after returning to work for a few weeks- so impressive tela, that is a lot of pumping!

  6. Hey, Ronni!! (I don’t know how to reply to actual comments here, so I hope she comes back to read this.) Everybody, meet Ronni, one of my writer buddies from LiveJournal. I’m so glad you’re here. (Gonna go email you a “hello” right now.)

  7. I like the ads. I like it that the government is teaching people what is healthy. 90% of infant illnesses could be avoided by mothers breastfeeding. Mothers can feel guilty about anything. Really. Even stay at home, breastfeeding moms can find something to feel guilt about! If you can’t do what’s best, it’s up to you to have a good reason for it, so you don’t feel guilty. That doesn’t mean that the government shouldn’t warn people about how bottle feeding really does cause problems! I have about 20 friends that breastfed their babies up to 1 year. Ask them if their kids had colic, or any other health problem and the answer is almost 100% NO. Ask 20 bottle fed moms that and you’ll hear a hundred stories about gas, crying, colic, changing formula types, not to mention the *cost* of bottle feeding, and the cost to our national economy as more illnesses tax the healthcare system. The ad is great.

  8. “Even formula companies tell you breast is best.” That tells me something about how meaningless that message is! Many mothers believe that breastfeeding is good, but that it doesn’t really matter that much. The ads are not designed to create “guilt” but to instill the concept of consequences. Formula is not as healthy as breastfeeding. What that means there is for most children there’s a risk of health consequences as a result of not breastfeeding. Moms need to know about those risks in order to make the best decision for their families. Moms who make feeding decisions based on formula ads and conventional wisdom will conclude that there are no consequences because formula is fine.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I saw that bullriding ad – and it was like a slap in the face. I really wanted to breastfeed but my first child would not latch on and my second one latched on ok but never got enough milk. I tried pumping but could only squeeze out a few drops after about an hour of trying. My children are now in school and are healthy and happy. Please remember even in you have 100 friends who breastfeed with no problem that it does not work for all of us- even if we really want it to.

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