Friday, April 01, 2005

Breast or Bottle?

Which is best, breast feeding or formula feeding? Is there actually a right answer? Obviously, doctors and nurses will tell you that breastfeeding offers babies so many benefits that can’t be found in formula, and they are right. Babies receive much needed antibodies from breast milk, and breast fed babies have been found to have less allergies. The choice should be easy then, right?

There are some other points to consider, however. Breastfeeding isn’t the easiest thing to do, and if a new mother doesn’t have a strong support system, she may feel overwhelmed in trying to nurse her baby. Does this mean she should suffer through the stress and grief over unsuccessfully, and sometimes painfully, trying to nurse her baby? Maybe not.

I’ve nursed all four of my children, so you would probably think I am very much a proponent of breastfeeding. You’d actually be right. I am. However, I am much more in favor of a happy, stress-free mother and child relationship, and sometimes that just doesn’t go hand-in-hand with breastfeeding. Simply put, breastfeeding just isn’t for everyone, and nobody should be made to feel guilty simply because she chooses to feed her baby formula!

The great thing about formulas today is that they are fortified with iron and all of the other much needed vitamins. Formulas have come a long way since we were babies, and children grow up just fine and healthy who have never had any breast milk.

The point is that this battle between breast and formula must stop. Mothers have enough pressures to deal with everyday, so why should they put additional pressure on each other to conform to their ideal of the perfect way to feed a baby? People need to learn to accept each other choices. You, and only you, know the best way to take care of your baby, and it isn’t anyone else’s business how you do that as long as you are loving him and looking after his immediate needs.

Stop feeling guilty about the choices you make! You shouldn’t have to explain your decision to anyone, not your mother-in-law or your next-door neighbor. Don’t listen to unsolicited advice, or if you do listen, let it go in one ear and out the other. If others question your choices, don’t be afraid to speak up and let them know that you are making the best decision for you and your child. Eventually, people will leave you alone.

There will probably always be the battle between breast milk and formula, but only so long as there are people who constantly want to inflict their opinions on others. Empower yourself by believing in your ability to take care of your child! You are a good mother, and your choice as to how to feed your baby doesn’t change that! Don’t let anyone make you feel less of a mother or a person because of a choice that you make!

Susie McGee

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