Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Benefits of Formula Feeding

When I became pregnant with my first child at the tender age of twenty, I knew very little about babies, other than what I had learned when I babysat for neighbors during high school. I had changed several diapers, bottle-fed many babies, and knew about the basics of discipline and keeping children safe, but I had never spent even one entire night with a baby, let alone, a newborn. So when I found out I was going to have a blessed little one, I spent nearly the entire nine months reading everything I could find about pregnancy, childbirth, and babies. This was before the internet, so I spent all my time in libraries and bookstores, soaking up the knowledge and the varying opinions about how to be a good parent and what is best for babies.

It was during this time that I learned about how grandmothers-to-be can add an interesting dimension to the mix. My mother, having had my brother and me in the 1960s, was completely drugged during both our births, and never even thought twice about feeding us with formula in bottles. In fact, I quite remember when my younger brother was born and I was privileged to be able to feed him some of his bottles. When I became pregnant in the 1980s, breast-feeding had made a comeback. Doctors and nutritional experts had done the research and found that science, in the end, could not beat nature; mother's milk was superior to man-made formula. I read all the statistics, talked to other young moms, and knew that my only option was to breast-feed my baby. But this did not go over well with my mother. My mother was shocked and horrified that I would abuse my body in this way. She told me about all the terrible things that would happen to my breasts if I were to nurse the baby, even for a short while. She scared me a bit, but I was more concerned about the health of my baby than the condition of my breasts.

Much to the chagrin of my mother, when my darling son was born, I gladly nursed him the natural way. It was slow-going at first, as many new moms will find. I struggled with getting him on a schedule and I did not like breast feeding in public places. After the first month, my son was nursing every two hours, 24-hours a day. Everyone told me that he would probably begin to sleep through the night after the first couple of months, and I was looking longingly toward that time. I functioned on auto-pilot, stumbling blindly through each day, finding myself nursing a lot. It took my son 30-45 minutes to nurse, and then we would start the whole process over again just over an hour later. I was concerned that perhaps my body was not producing what he needed, but the doctors assured me that all was well and that he was growing as he should. By the second month, our schedule had not changed in the least. He ate every two hours on the dot, all day and all night, and I was looking toward going back to school in the fall to take a few college classes.

When classes began, I only took three and attempted the breast pump for supplements while I was at school. After the first week, I was a basket case. I had no time to study, no time to eat, no time to sleep. I spent all my waking moments either nursing or pumping. I was beginning to think my mother was right - at this rate, my breasts felt like they were going to fall off! Finally, after a week of school, I knew I either had to drop out or consider switching to formula. I chose switching to formula. I knew my son had been given precious immunities by me in those first two months, and now he could switch to the formula on which I was raised (and I turned out ok). Within only a couple of days, my son was sleeping through the night. Was it coincidence? Would he have begun to sleep through the night had I continued to breast-feed him? Perhaps. But I truly believe that he simply was not getting satisfied by me. He needed more and the formula gave him more.

Today my son is nearly nineteen-years-old and is over six-feet tall. No wonder he needed more!

No comments: