Deciding whether or not to breastfeed your baby is a big, very personal choice. There are medical, cultural, and all kinds of other factors that go into a decision whether or not to nurse your baby. Unfortunately, most of the information out there is very fraught, one way or the other – both sides can be very defensive of their position, and no one wants to feel judged or looked down on one way or the other. The good thing is, YOU GET TO DECIDE. No one can force you to choose, and really, either way you will be able to find lots of supporters. You know about the medical benefits to both you and the baby, but here are a few reasons you may not have thought of, that can help you decide whether or not you want to give it a try. Just to keep you on the edge of your seat, I am going to post one at a time 🙂
It’s hard in the beginning – but so is bottle feeding!
You may have heard stories or even witnessed firsthand someone struggling to initiate breastfeeding with their baby, and thought, I don’t want to go through that! But really, the first few weeks with a new baby are HARD, no matter how you feed them. Working on breastfeeding gives you an excuse to spend lots of time holed up with your baby, resting, relaxing, and recovering. After you get it down pat within a few weeks, you are good to go – no bottles to wash, sterilize, and lug around, no formula to mix and worry about how warm or cool it is. When the baby is hungry, you are set, easy peasy.
I saw a great graph a few years ago, that of course I cannot find anywhere, but I will try my best to duplicate it. It showed the ease of breastfeeding and formula feeding over time. While breastfeeding starts out more challenging, by 6 weeks, it is much easier. Bottles stay the same the whole time, somewhere in the middle.
I have seen it time and again with clients – the initial struggle to latch, feeding around the clock, it improves dramatically around 4-6 weeks. Then, you’re at the mall, the baby’s hungry, you just sit down on a bench and pop him on (or “plug him in” as a client of mine used to call it).
I was at a bridal shower once, and another bridesmaid was there with her 2 week old baby. He was mellow in the stroller, until he got hungry. Then, he started crying. She pulled out the empty bottle, the formula powder container, the mixing cup, the bottle of water, and asked the waitress for some hot water to warm it up. I watched her put the powder and water in the mixing cup, shake it, pour it into the bottle, warm the bottle (after waiting for the waitress to come back with the hot cup), all while her baby cried and cried. I’m sure things got easier for her, too – maybe she started mixing the formula IN the bottle, or her baby learned to like it room temp, but still – looking around at all the dishes she was going to have to wash when she got home, I was like, “no thank you!”
Also: formula is expensive.
Sure, it’s free at the hospital and you will get samples in the mail at first, but once you’re paying for it, it adds up quickly! The average baby drinks close to $2,000 worth in the first year – way more if she has an allergy or tummy issue and needs the expensive stuff. Not to mention the bottles, several levels of nipples, increased energy costs from washing, and more! Think about what you could buy with $2,000 (you could get a Major TLC package and still have plenty left over)! Even if you need to bring in a lactation consultant for help, it’s still significantly cheaper than formula.
And don’t make me pull out my portable soapbox on formula marketing. (Sigh).
What made you decide to breastfeed (or not)? Did you find it got much easier over time?