Breastfeeding vs Formula – My Experience
Blog #73: Everyone has a different experience breastfeeding and formula feeding their baby. You have to do what is best for you and your baby. That is what’s important. I have bottle fed and breastfed my children and so here is my experience!
When I first gave birth to my son, I was over the moon. Motherhood set in immediately. However, at the time I was 23 years old and was working as a paralegal with no benefits. I was able to take a month off and then had to go back to work.
I gave breastfeeding a shot but did not know much about it and everyone who explained it made it seem very simple. It hurt so bad and I gave up after two weeks! I felt I did not have the time anyway since I had to go back to work so soon.
Within a month of giving birth to my son, I was pregnant with my second son! It was quite the rollercoaster for sure. When I gave birth I had already decided I would formula feed. I had 2 babies under a year old! It was like having twins in a sense.
Fast Forward 8 Years
When my husband and I finally decided to have another baby I knew immediately I wanted to breastfeed this time around. My older two are now in elementary school and I would have the time to breastfeed.
The first 2 days of breastfeeding my third son at the hospital was easy. No pain. But after that the pain kicked in. The little guy was born 5.11 lbs. My smallest baby. You could imagine how tiny he was and his little mouth! For 6 weeks it was beyond painful. I had sore, cracked nipples. I was determined to continue as everyone said it would get better. What made it worse was the cluster feedings. Could you imagine getting your nipples sucked on for hours at a time! I couldn’t even let the water hit my nipples in the shower, let alone wear a bra without pain. It was that sensitive.
- Breastfeeding class, prior to having baby
- Nipple cream
- Breastfeeding support group
- Nipple shield
I was set on breastfeeding. Therefore I needed to prepare myself by taking a breastfeeding class. Some hospitals offer the class for free if you are planning to deliver at their hospital.
At the hospital, ask as many questions as possible. The nurses were super helpful. Even when I was discharged I had questions. I called the maternity ward and got answers. They even remembered who I was! I was surprised since they have so many new moms they see.
Schedule an appointment with a lactationist. I scheduled one shortly after I came home. I knew I did not want to give up breastfeeding and I was super sore. In order to succeed I needed help and tips to continue with this journey. You can get recommendations from the hospital on who to see or call your baby’s pediatriacian’s office. Most offices have lactationists.
Nipple cream is a must. For the first 6 weeks I wore nipple cream after each feeding. Especially at night time.
What helped me the most was attending a breastfeeding support group. Every Friday morning I attended a free class recommended by the hospital. You get to speak with other moms and get their experience and what they did. Some moms cried, some came back with positive stories. I remember a mom who exclusively pumped because her son would not take the nipple. Well one day at support group and her son was feeding from breast!
It truly is an amazing group of moms. In the group there is a lactationist and a nurse. Each mom introduces themselves and their baby and say what they need help with and what is and isn’t working. For me it was the painful latches. The lactationist at the support recommended a nipple shield. I was a little against it at first because I was afraid my little guy would get used to the nipple shield and then refuse my nipple. I gave in and used it until my nipples healed. I continued to use it for those cluster feeding nights. It was a life saver! My son did not mind the switch between my breast and the nipple shield.
After 6 weeks, breastfeeding started to become so much easier. My son is now 8 months and it has been an awesome experience so far.
Pros and Cons
There are pros and cons to everything.
- No need to worry about nipple pain
- Your partner can help and take turns feeding baby, especially at night!
- No cluster feeding
- You know how many ounces your baby drinks
- Messy when milk spills from bottle (milk drips to baby’s neck)
- Smelly poops
- First few weeks, nipple pain
- Cluster feeding
- Only you can feed baby the first few weeks
- Breast milk has many health benefits; ex. less ear infections
- Special Bond with baby (so AMAZING)
- Mess free!
- Poopy diapers, I swear don’t have a horrible smell
- Pumping is no fun!
I wish I would have breastfed my first two sons. I am having an awesome experience with my youngest. The bond is like no other. It is truly an amazing experience. Just watching your baby grow off of your breast milk is WOW. Of course, having 2 young babies at the time was super difficult and bottle feeding was just a lot easier. In the end, I am glad I got to experience both.
Remember, do what is best for you and your baby!