When it comes to feeding a little one, the decision may be an incredibly stressful one for a new mom to make. It’s unfortunate that such a personal choice can sometimes trigger anxiety for a new parent – especially when there are already so many other anxiety-ridden choices new parents may face.
A new mom must adjust to a new body, a new schedule, and the changing relationship with her significant other (this change shouldn’t be seen as a bad change – just a change nonetheless) all while learning as much as they can about their newest family member. The decision to formula-feed, breastfeed or exclusively pump (or a combination of all the options) should not be a stressful decision when a mom already has so much on her plate to begin with. However, in the chaotic world Moms currently thrive in – it has become one of those unnecessary stressors.
When a mom decides to formula-feed her little one, she makes that choice for a reason. The same goes for breastfeeding mamas. Honestly, every human being makes the decisions they make for specific reasons and those specific reasons are personal to them and their situation. Moms live in a very opinionated world and sometimes the opinions of others play an unfortunate role. However, there are often many reasons why formula is the go-to decision for new parents.
For the parents who stand by their decision 100%, they don’t care what other people think – they strictly care that the cliché statement holds true: A fed baby is a happy baby.
20 Why It's Tough: It Isn’t Always a Judgement-Free Zone
The decision to exclusively formula-feed often comes with unnecessary judgments. This may mean formula-feeding mamas receive opinionated comments and, sometimes, even detailed information from “more experienced moms” about why breastfeeding should be the way to go.
Even though breastmilk does have advantages, it simply isn’t the route all moms decide to go. Some moms experience health issues with their little one or health concerns with themselves that prevent breastfeeding to occur.
There can be latching issues or milk production issues that make formula an easier decision.
Sometimes moms of multiples immediately decide to go the formula route because they know they already will have a lot on their plate and stressing over breastfeeding could end up being just that – an additional stressor.
It’s important for formula-feeding moms to remember to be proud of their decision. If formula was an unhealthy or unsafe choice, it wouldn’t be a choice in the first place.
19 Why It's Better: Traveling Could Be Easier
All a formula-feeding mom needs to do before going on a trip is pre-prep bottles with formula and have a water bottle handy. From there, she can mix the bottle and carefully feed baby in the back seat without awkwardly trying to fit her body around the car seat for a breastfeeding session or having the driver fully stop. If mom is driving, having those bottles prepared can also make the drive easier without having to take baby completely out of the car seat for a feeding.
Safety comes first with traveling, of course, but when a baby is hungry – mama must move and think quick. Not having to worry about whipping out the girls mid-trip and being able to just sit alongside your little one and feed them can take some of that worry out of the situation.
18 Why It's Tough: The Dreaded Weight Gain May Appear Quicker
According to Very Well Family, “the hormones that your body releases when you breastfeed cause muscle contractions in your uterus.” On top of this, breastfeeding can also burn additional calories and use up fat that is stored in the body. These facts sometimes play a huge role in reasons why moms try extremely hard to breastfeed and pump (on top of knowing the health reasons behind breastfeeding).
When it comes to the huge physical and emotional changes that postpartum life throws at women, self-confidence can become an issue for formula-feeding moms.
Women often want to look good because looking good can be linked with feeling good. When the weight starts piling on simply because they chose not to pump or breastfeed, a woman can feel guilty or as if they made the wrong choice. Moms – remember that formula is not the wrong choice.
It’s hard to shake a feeling like this and it’s important to make a plan to prepare for when weight gain starts to occur.
17 Why It's Better: Mom Can Share The Feeding Experience With Others
Sometimes Dad (or whoever the significant other may be) may feel a little left out when it comes to feeding their little one if Mom exclusively breastfeeds. When a family formula-feeds, Dad, friends, and family members all can fully experience feeding. Not only is it great to be able to share this with others, it sometimes gives Mom a few minutes to relax or get a few things done.
This can make it easier for when Mom and Dad want to leave the house for a quick escape or date night. The sitter does not need to worry about handling stored breastmilk and Mom doesn’t have to worry about getting back in time to feed a hungry baby. Having the bottles prepared and ready-to-go makes it easier to share the feeding experience and allows others to get the bond that Mom gets if she is the primary caretaker.
16 Why It's Tough: Formula Is Not Cheap
If someone were to click on Walmart.com and search powdered formula brands, they may see something like this: A 12.5 oz can of Enfamil Premium Infant costs $17.08 per can; a 12 oz can of Similac Total Comfort costs $17.79; a 12 oz can of Parent’s Choice Gentle costs $9.98. For a singleton (depending on the baby’s weight and personal schedule), one of these cans can be consumed as quickly as within a couple of days.
Now think about how expensive formula-feeding multiples must be (… or don’t think about that. Just don’t).
Breastmilk is free and formula is not.
This is a truth that can make formula-feeding moms feel uneasy when they feel pressured to pump or breastfeed when they either aren’t interested, aren’t producing a lot or their little one isn’t latching well. Especially if a family already has financial strains or Mom isn’t getting paid when on maternity leave, having the added stress of paying for can-after-can of formula may make the entrance into motherhood a little less welcoming.
15 Why It's Better: WIC Is Available For Many Families
Many families financially struggle when it comes to parenthood. Even though people know that being a parent means additional expenditures, no one is ever fully prepared for the financial strains that may come with the adventure (even though every second is worth the financial stressor). However, moms who live in the low-income population, are unable to work, or have outside factors playing a part may face these struggles in a different light.
Luckily, many moms who face these struggles do have help. WIC stands for “Women, Infants and Children” and according to the United States Department of Agriculture, “WIC provides supplemental foods, healthcare referrals, nutrition education, and breastfeeding promotion and support to low-income, pregnant, breastfeeding, and postpartum women.” Asking your medical team about this option could be just what you need to feel a little more stability during the transition into motherhood.
14 Why It's Tough: Not Every Formula Works For Every Baby
Just like how sometimes babies have allergies to some of the specific nutrients found in breastmilk, babies may not hit-it-off with every formula brand out there. Some brands are easier on the little one’s stomach, but that doesn’t mean every baby’s stomach will like that kind of formula.
While some are milk-based, some are soy-based and there are also specific formulas for babies who are low-birth-weight or with severe reflux.
There are many, many different brands of formulas that are supposed to do many different things to help babies safely and easily consume the nutrients they need to. Moms often don’t know if their little one will easily take to Enfamil or Similac or Enspire or Earth’s Best and that can be frustrating if they can’t find a good fit right from the start.
13 Why It's Better: Mom Doesn’t Have To Worry About Leakage
Some moms just know that breastfeeding isn’t for them and one reason may be because they don’t want to deal with the weird bodily changes that go with breastfeeding. Not only do some of these changes feel “unnatural” (even though the rest of the world may tell mom otherwise), they come with continuous discomfort and pain that can cause stress.
When a mom decides not to pump or breastfeed, it’s only a matter of time (if any) before those leaky boobs disappear.
Some women have to fight this issue throughout their pregnancy while other women don’t leak whatsoever. One thing is usually clear for moms who choose to formula-feed: leakage will be one less stressor to deal with. This in itself can be an incredibly relieving thought. It means less bra and shirt washing and more time spent focusing on the little one (even though Mom will still have lots of laundry to do for the baby, of course).
12 Why It's Tough: Dirty Diapers May Be A Tad Worse
The lovely “number two” is talked about constantly when a new baby is in the house. New parents are always keeping track of how often baby goes and if they don’t go enough, complete panic mode is bound to occur.
On top of that, if the parents decide to formula-feed, the scent of the “number two” may be just a tiny bit worse.
This not-so-great smell gets to be this way after those first initial weeks after the terrifying meconium occurrence and transitional “numbers twos” have taken place. Baby Center explains that since breastmilk is thinner and has a sweeter scent to it, the dirty diapers won’t smell like roses, but they won’t smell horrible. Formula doesn’t always smell terrific from the start and since a newborn’s body is adapting to the different substances being fed to him or her, the outcome can sometimes be a little more intense.
11 Why It's Better: No More Being Stuck To The Wall
If a woman begins her motherhood journey testing out the waters when it comes to breastfeeding or pumping, she may realize how restricting the use of that pump can sometimes be. Though many insurances cover the cost of the pump itself, rarely do they cover a battery-operated one (though some insurances do). If they do not, Mom has to stay hooked up to the wall for ten, fifteen, sometimes thirty minutes at a time trying to pump enough milk for their little one (or enough to also freeze and save).
Though it is terrific to be able to do this for your baby, it can be exhausting if milk production (and time) is limited. Formula is sometimes the easiest choice. This may be the case for an active mom who is constantly caring for her little one, possibly caring for her other children, trying to get housework done, and maybe even working from home as well.
10 Why It's Tough: Mom May Still Have To Struggle With “Drying-Up” Pain
Once a woman’s body starts producing milk, it needs to continuously have a release or engorgement will occur. This can lead to fevers, body aches, dizziness, clogged ducts, and even mastitis (which is a very painful condition when a woman’s breasts are overly full and unable to get some sort of release).
Even if you decide from the start you do not want to breastfeed or pump, your body probably has already started lactating.
If you leak, feel additional pressure or maybe tried pumping a few times before deciding to exclusively formula-feed, you will more than likely feel the results that come with “drying up” the goods.
It’s important that you do not stop “cold turkey” and expect your body to stop producing milk. You will need to slowly suppress the milk production and care for your body appropriately. It is best to release some milk a few times a day, for a few days and then lessen the amount slowly moving forward.
9 Why It's Better: Planning Around Pumping Isn’t A Stressor
When you’re a breastfeeding and pumping mama, your day not only revolves around the newborn’s feedings, diaper changes, and sleep schedule, it also revolves around how often you pump. This could mean hooking yourself up to the pump when you’d rather spend that time cleaning up, taking a quick (very needed) nap, or getting some work done – whether it be career-based work or housework (if you’re a stay-at-home mama).
Formula feeding means saying goodbye to quality time spent with a breast pump. At first, some moms need to use it to decrease milk production comfortably. However, once those days are over – so is the breast pump. That time can be spent bonding with baby and doing what needs to get done without stressing about what time the next pumping session will be.
8 Why It's Tough: Mom May Feel Like “Less Of A Woman”
Women hear it all the time: Breastfeeding is a bonding experience; Breastfeeding is natural; Breast is best. If a woman is unable to breastfeed due to health concerns, latching issues, lack of milk production or it simply just isn’t working out – the mom may feel like “less of a woman” because of those common societal sayings.
They may feel like something is wrong with them - not only as a mom, but altogether as a woman.
Moms who have this thought pass through their minds need to find a way to replace it with as many positive thoughts as possible. Even though it is normal to think this (and many non-breastfeeding mamas do), it’s a thought that isn’t mentally or emotionally healthy. Baby needs mom to be as emotionally available as possible and with this thought process kicking around, both parties are impacted.
7 Why It's Better: Formula Is Easily Measurable
Especially for first-time-moms (and moms who struggle with some anxiety and/or OCD), a reason they may choose formula is because it is measurable. When breastfeeding, it’s near impossible to know exactly how much the baby is consuming. Bottles and formula containers have exact measurements right on them which can help if a baby needs a certain amount of food consumed a day for health purposes.
It also can help a new mama who needs this for personal satisfaction.
Some babies need to consume a certain amount daily due to weight or health issues. Being able to control the consumption can be critical for those health issues and also produce less stress for Mama. Some moms need to be organized and keeping track of their newborn’s activities and eating habits can be incredibly satisfying.
6 Why It's Tough: The “Bottle Brand Search” May Be Tiring
No baby is the same. This is a beautiful thing because, really, who wants to be the same as the person next to them?
Having unique needs and qualities make us who we are and who we will grow into, but it also means not everything out there will work for everyone the same way.
The same holds true for brands of bottles. The types of bottles available are endless: Avent. Tommee Tippee. Dr. Brown’s. Lansinoh NUK. Playtex. The terrifying thing is that these are only just a few of the options out there. Mom may put a few specific brands on her registry she hopes her newborn will like, but her newborn may not end up taking to any. It may take a lot of trial and error before a specific bottle works well for your little one – and that search can drive any new parent a tad insane.
5 Why It's Better: Formula May Keep Baby Full For Longer Periods Of Time
Since most formulas typically are thicker, it keeps baby’s belly fuller for longer. This can be a great thing (even though some moms prefer the light, thinness of breastmilk) because of one major factor: Less feedings and more sleep.
More sleep for both baby and parents.
This may not be the case for all babies, but it often can play a major role. Some parents who breastfeed or pump may decide to supplement for the nightly feeding specifically for this very reason (even though, Mom’s body may force her awake to pump if that is the case).
4 Why It's Tough: Digestive Issues May Occur For Baby
Reflux can happen to any baby – along with any digestive tract issue. Some babies are just more bound to spitting up while others rarely ever spit-up at all. Since formula does not have the same composition as breastmilk, it can sometimes be tougher on the baby’s system and that can be tough on a parent who chooses formula over breastmilk.
According to the US National Library of Medicine, “breastfeeding is associated with lower incidence of necrotizing enterocolitis and diarrhea during the early period of life with lower incidence of inflammatory bowel diseases.”
In other less medical terms, the gut-related issues formula sometimes bring forward are due to the lack of self-regulation.
Breastmilk brings an infant’s body through this self-regulating state while formula does not. Some formulas also just do not sit well with some babies and Moms have to use specific types that may work a little bit better for those itty-bitty bellies.
3 Why It's Better: No More “Pumping And Dumping” For Mom
If Mom wants a glass of wine (or several cups of highly caffeinated coffee) she no longer has to worry about whether or not what she consumes will be transferred over through breastfeeding. Even though there are many different opinions when it comes to the “Pumping and Dumping” method, if you are a cautious mama – you will worry. Not having to worry about how your own food consumption will impact the baby can be a huge relief.
Some moms will have a couple drinks and not worry about the “Pump and Dump” method while others will stray away from any substance that may negatively affect the baby. According to Very Well Family, “everyone metabolizes alcohol at a different rate, but the general rule is to wait approximately 2 hours per drink before nursing again.” Though this is specifically focused on alcohol, it can often go for caffeinated beverages and certain foods that maybe the little one doesn’t react well to as well.
2 Why It's Tough: Mom May Worry About The Lack Of Breastmilk Nutrients
New parents hear about all the nutrients that breastmilk has that formula doesn’t. They hear constantly how healthy breastfeeding is and how, if they don’t breastfeed, their little one will completely miss out on these necessary nutrients.
According to American Pregnancy, “human milk contains two types of proteins: whey and casein. These proteins have great infection-protection properties.” On top of numerous proteins, breast milk also includes essential fats, vitamins (A, C, D, E, and K), and carbohydrates – including lactose that “helps decrease a large number of unhealthy bacteria in the stomach.”
Though these nutrients are important, not receiving these nutrients directly through breast milk is okay.
Your baby is receiving many (or all) of these nutrients through their formula because, well, that’s what formula is for. Do not beat yourself up simply because you chose to formula-feed. Your baby is still getting important nutrients and vitamins to help them grow and thrive.
1 Why It's Better: It Can Be Less Stress On An Already Stressed Mama
Being a new mom means stress. As horrible as it may sound, it’s a truth that new moms come to terms with once they see the laundry, dishes, diapers, and unanswered text messages pile up. It can sometimes be seen as a special, necessary kind of stress (since motherhood truly is a remarkable time in a woman’s life), but there’s often stress nonetheless.
For a mom who initially stressed over being able to breastfeed or the choice to attempt to, once they make their decision to exclusively formula-feed – that is one stressor they no longer have to focus on. They no longer have to schedule times to pump throughout the day or worry about breastfeeding in public (if that’s something they worried about). They don’t have to worry about carrying a pump everywhere they go or the pain that sometimes comes with breastfeeding (the chafing, the soreness, the clogged ducts).
Being able to focus more on baby is truly what motherhood is all about – and in the end, it doesn’t matter how the baby is being fed as long as they are.
References: Very Well Family, Wal Mart, Consumer Reports, United States Department of Agriculture, Baby Center