Please note that I didn't title this post, "Breastfeeding VS Formula Feeding."
Just as there are specifically defined "camps" on the stay-at-home-mom VS working mom issue, there are stern camps regarding how babies "should" be fed.
At six months post birth, I feel like I can actually write about this topic with some clarity.
The women in my family (mother, sister-in-laws, aunts, cousins etc) have all been avid breastfeeding mothers. When I was pregnant with Gabe, I assumed I would have no issues breastfeeding and as such, would join the ranks of happy breastfeeding mothers, both past and present.
I've posted before about Gabe and his LOVE of eating. Even now, as he has started baby food, he cries when the food is gone. The kid likes to eat. He has the cheeks to prove it.
When I began breastfeeding, I did so every two hours, round the clock. Literally, Gabe could have camped out on my chest and been happy. For the first month or two, that was fine. I wasn't really needing to do anything else besides care for him, (and occasionally shower), so boob-camping was totally fine. But then, I got really, really tired of doing it myself.
No one else can "help" you breastfeed. It is nothing that Chris can step up and do at 3 AM. Yes, there were moments were I felt so at peace, with my baby, peacefully eating in my arms. But then, there were other moments, where he frantically sucked away, acting like he hadn't been fed in four days.
There is nothing worse, as a new mom, than feeling like you can't FEED YOUR BABY and SATISFY him.
We used a pacifier between feedings to "trick" him into sucking on something other than me. He figured out quickly that the pacifier did not fill up his ever-groaning stomach.
I tried to keep up to his demand by pumping on top of the every two to three hour feedings. Literally, my boobs were either occupied by Gabe or a pump 24-7.
This, friends, was not sustainable for me. "They" (meaning all the books/websites I read) said that the more that is demanded from your breasts, the more they produce. I think that might be true for some, but it wasn't for me. I just always felt like Gabe wasn't satisfied or getting enough.
At one early visit to our pediatrician, I explained this. I explained that Gabe literally was an additional appendage growing from my chest, sucking the life out of me. Breastfeeding bliss? Yeah right.
My pediatrician looked at me with sweet, non-judgmental eyes. "Have you ever considered supplementing with formula? You could take "off" a feeding. Have Chris give the baby a bottle of formula and you and your breasts, take a breather."
Oh my gosh. Why had I not even entrained this idea? Because I am a perfectionist. I didn't want my family/friends/random stranger mothers to think I was not doing EVERYTHING "right."
Guess what? I found out that taking a break from breastfeeding and supplementing with formula every night around the dinner hour was a necessity for my sanity. Chris could come home and feed Gabe while I chilled out and enjoyed some time AWAY from a sucking baby.
The other aspect of supplementing with a formula bottle occasionally was that it gave me peace of mind. Perhaps I wouldn't have extra breastmilk on hand or perhaps we would be traveling and I couldn't produce enough to satisfy Gabe. Bringing some formula in the diaper bag gave me PEACE of mind, something that I have now found to be PRICELESS.
There are other times when I breastfeed Gabe and I think he just needs to be "topped off," so I give him an additional few ounces of formula. This happens most often at bedtime, when my milk supply is at its lowest. The formula "topper" eases my mind and fills up Gabe's belly a bedtime.
I could count on more than two hands the number of times I've been asked if I breastfeed or formula feed. Why do people care so much? On multiple occasions, Chris's grandmother has asked me, "Is that (referring to a bottle) YOURS or is it formula? Why does it matter!?!
If someone has the answer to that question, please let me know.
Sometimes, PEACE and a baby with a FULL tummy is more highly desired than worrying about the judgement that may come from women whom have nothing else to do but evaluate your milk production or lack thereof.
Even now, at six moths, I still supplement with formula, about one feeding per day. It gives me a break and it allows other people to feed Gabe. It is a win-win for everyone!
Whatever your choice, do what is best AND MOST PRACTICAL for you. Don't worry about women onlookers, who in all seriousness, need to get a life.
Be confident in your choice. You're doing a GREAT job caring for your baby!
**If you were wondering about my specific formula choice, the recommendation of my pediatrician, here it is: