There is so much debate about choosing between breastfeeding and formula feeding, and because the topic directly relates to how much money a new mom will spend on her baby and there is so much out there that just pushes for what everyone else thinks is best for your baby, I thought I would take a minute to post and weigh in with my thoughts on the topic. I am not going to try to convince anyone why they should or should not do what I think is best, because there is not a single best way that works for everyone.
Pros for Breast Feeding
Cons for Breastfeeding
|Cheaper than formulaHealthiest choice for babyCan help mom lose baby weight by burning extra calories||Breast enlargement & discomfortHave to pump or be with baby for every feeding|
Pros for Formula
Cons for Formula
|Allows Daddy or other helpers to help with feedings moreFormula can travel in the diaper bag and not spoil, instead of a cooler||More expensive than breast feedingHave to keep formula in house at all times|
My experience with breastfeeding and formula
I loved the time I spent breastfeeding Autumn. I was staying at home for a little while after she was born so it was really convenient, and since I was flat broke I really had no other choice. Even if I could have afforded formula, I really enjoyed the down time of nursing, because it took me a little while to bounce back from having her.
When Autumn was 2 months old, I got a full time job working about 15 minutes away from home. I lived very close to my mother’s house, where Autumn stayed while I worked. I fed her first thing before heading in to work, always making sure I left her with a full belly so I would have to pump less. The first time my boss found a bag of breast milk in the employee lunch area I thought he would die of embarrassment, but other than that it really wasn’t an issue. My milk supply wasn’t as generous after that, but it server her needs and she definitely was not lacking in the weight department and the only health issue she had was the ear infection thing, which cleared up pretty quickly.
When she was 4 months old, her biological father beat me up pretty badly and left me unable to nurse for several days without horrible pain because of the bruising. My milk supply dropped after that and it didn’t matter how much oatmeal I ate, fenugreek I took or what I did, it just never really came back after that. So, feeling like the most horrible mother on the planet I switched her to formula, and you know what? She turned out just fine, and after I got over the emotional trauma of it, I actually liked the convenience of having food ready for her whenever, wherever with no privacy concerns.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line that helped make my choice to start off with breastfeeding was the cost of formula vs the cost of breastfeeding. I realized I could buy a brand-new top of the line breast pump, which can cost $300 to $400 with all the bells and whistles for less than the cost of three months of formula feeding, I decided it was well worth it. Luckily, I had a friend who didn’t need her breast pump anymore, so the decision was easy. Since we didn’t have the money for anything extra anyway, the decision was easy for us.
Your bottom line might be different. For a friend of mine with twins, she chose to formula feed because it was going to take so much time to feed both girls, and she had WIC to help pay for much of the cost. It also meant that their Daddy could help with midnight feedings, and family members could help babysit while mom went to work with minimum fuss.
It’s Ok Make the Best Choice for You and the Baby
A friend of mine who gave birth earlier this year and I had a very interesting conversation on the phone the other day. She, like so many other stay-at-home moms, decided to breast feed her son. She knew it was healthier and cheaper, and wanted to giver her son the very best. Fast forward two months, a very exhausted new mother with a husband who was deployed overseas found herself exhausted and felt like she could no longer handle the physical discomfort and time it takes to breast feed. So, with much guilt she decided to switch to formula. It saved her time and allowed her the freedom to accept help from friends no matter what time her son needed to eat. If she needed to run errands or take a nap, the baby could spend some time being loved on by his grandmother without having to wake up mom to eat.
The lesson I took away from this was that no matter what choice you make for your baby, as long as you are trying your best, then everything will be okay. There are plenty of babies who have been formula fed who turned out just fine, and the same for breast fed babies. Don’t let guilt or shame force you into a choice, because your baby will love you no matter what choice you make. Chances are, they won’t even know the difference!
I loved both breast feeding and doing formula. With the next baby I have, I plan to breastfeed as well, but I think that this time if I have to switch to formula for any reason then I won’t feel like a bad mom. Autumn turned out to be a happy, healthy kid who can sing and learn letters and smear purple paint in her hair just like every other toddler on the block. So here is my advice: go with your gut. Do what is best for you and the baby. When I talk to other moms who aren’t sure, I encourage them to try breastfeeding, but know that whatever you do is the right thing.
If you haven’t already, don’t forget to check out the rest of the Preparing for Baby on a Budget Series where I talk about everything I did to prepare for my little people!