Why Breastfeeding Should Make Sense

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Before I was pregnant I knew nothing about babies or breastfeeding. Honestly, it was Greek to me. Well, no, because I understand some Greek. But it was a whole other world.

Since having my little girl 11 months ago, however, everything has changed. So for just a few minutes here, I want to ignore what I’ve since learned about the health benefits of breastfeeding and ignore the nutritional value of formula versus breast milk and focus on the practicalities of breastfeeding in a slightly tongue-in-cheek way.

I know some people medically cannot breastfeed and everyone has a right to make their own decisions on how to feed their children, and I’m fine with that, but it really fascinates me that anyone would choose formula feeding over breastfeeding for two simple reasons: effort and money.

Effort

The unbelievable effort involved in formula feeding is more than I would want to cope with.

Sterilising bottles, mixing bottles, carrying around bottles, powder, mixing measures, waking up in the night to mix bottles (as you’re not supposed to add formula to cooled water, nor keep bottles made up for more than 2 hours) and sitting up with a baby that needs to feed and then be burped!

It’s no wonder new mothers are so tired if that’s what the majority have to do from about six weeks on.

And some of the mothers I’ve spoken to are constantly confused by what the different brands are: which one is better, which has the best ingredients or less of the worst. One of the forums I use has questions every day regarding which number formula babies of x-y-z age should be on, plus in some places a visit to a paediatrician is recommended before you can move up to the next ‘stage’.

Then there’s follow-on milk, which is essentially the same stuff with a little iron and vitamin C added. The World Health Organisation says it’s totally unnecessary, and some even believe it was created purely to raise awareness of the brands available – since it’s allowed to be advertised, whereas newborn milk isn’t.

I have to admit, I’m a lazy mother.

I prefer just popping my boob out at any time of the day or night and having food on tap, at the right temperature, germ free, perfectly suited to my baby, with antibodies that appear when my daughter is unwell, and extra water when it’s hot outside and a hundred other things.

Breastfeeding also means I’m in no rush to wean. None of this solids at three months business for us. We truly do live by the ‘food is fun till one’ philosophy in this house. I don’t have to puree anything, mash anything and I do not spend hours spoonfeeding a refusing baby. Baby led weaning is this breastfeeding mama’s best friend.

I’m also not worried whether she’s eating enough, because being fed on demand means we both know she can eat whenever she wants to. No healthy baby starves herself willingly either.

Money

I escaped a particularly driving London rainstorm a few days ago by ducking into a local shop. Needing nothing, I browsed around and discovered the cans of formula. Well, I nearly fell over in shock. I do not know how people afford it.

I’m shooting in the dark here, as I’ve never needed to buy any, but apparently you can expect to spend between $1500 and $2000 in your babies first year on milk powder alone – none of the other accessories. Polling a few of my Twitter friends, formula feeding in the UK is considerably cheaper at roughly £400 a year, for powdered formula only, £150 of which can be subsidised if you’re on a low income. (In South Africa you can expect to spend between R7000 [roughly £600] and R8000 a year.)

A quick Google tells me your basic ‘bottle feeding essentials’ kit will cost you about £65 on top of that.

So, breastfeeding has its expenses too, I guess. I mean, my breast pump cost about £70 on sale and two months supply of milk storage bags cost me £8, so an additional £48 a year. I received a bottle and teats with my pump, so that didn’t cost any more. I microwave sterilise in a bowl of water, and use crushed vitamin C tablets which are about 100 for £20, but must admit I normally stock up when Holland and Barret have a sale, so only pay about £10 for it. Even so, if I sterilised every day, which I never have, at full price that would be another £60 a year.

(I must also admit that I haven’t spent much on any of this as my daughter refuses to accept a bottle with anything other than plain water in it, so I drink the vitamin C tablets as it passes through the breast milk, so she gets it. Vitamin C also increases the absorption of iron, so whatever she eats with iron in it is sucked up happily by her little body.)

Many people never express at all, which is fine too, but it does help when you want someone else to feed the baby from time to time.

I never bothered with breast pads past the first six weeks, but you can buy reusable pads for £5 for six. If you don’t want to wash every day, you’ll probably buy two sets, so that’s another £10. Tommee Tippee even do cooling breast pads, also for £10 for two sets. If you use disposables, it will cost probably about £10 a month.

So all in, a year’s worth of breastfeeding has cost me £190, including all accessories – the food itself has been totally free of charge. My second year will cost me nothing in equipment, and maybe £48 in freezer bags, although really, nothing is stopping me from just freezing it in the bottles.

I know some mothers are medically incapable of breastfeeding, and for them I feel sympathy and empathy, but I honestly, truly cannot understand how anyone could choose not to breastfeed. Health and nutrition aside, as I said in the beginning, just these two factors alone are enough to persuade me.

I would love to hear from those who chose to formula feed why you made that choice. Not because you have to justify it to me, but because I’m really curious.

 

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11 thoughts on “Why Breastfeeding Should Make Sense

  1. lauren

    Totally love reading ur blog I loved breastfeeding even thou I found it very difficult and gave up when he was about 14 weeks old yet continued to express for a while after that ur right I have a very hungry boy and it costs me a fortune in formula. Next time I’m gunna try harder. I miss breastfeeding soo much but had a lot of problems he wudnt latch and lost a lot of weight so he was fed on bottles then I had to use nipple sheilds and it just became a fight to feed him.

    • @lauren, I’m glad you enjoy reading the blog! Good luck ‘next time’!

  2. CJ :)

    I couldn’t breastfeed due to a medication I have to take that expresses in breastmilk. Since I couldn’t take it when I was pregnant the doctors had already planned how to get me back on it when my babies were born ASAP. 🙂

    Formula feeding really isn’t that big of a deal. Maybe the difference is between Europe and the US (differences in standard kitchen equipment, mainly), but I washed bottles and nipples in the dishwasher and made up several bottles at a time and kept them in the fridge. When I travelled there was powdered formula. I didn’t have any stress over brands of whatever, and there wasn’t any such thing as age-progressive formulations like there is now.

    I had to work, and back when my kids were born there weren’t lactation rooms at office complexes in the US. This would probably have prevented me from breastfeeding even if there wasn’t a medical problem in the way.

    I have two sons – 19 and 23 – both over 6′, strong, healthy, ambitious and talented. Oh yeah, and unbearably handsome. lol Formula didn’t hurt them at all.

  3. I have had mixed experiences with breastfeeding, but started out with the intention of breastfeeding for 6 months with each of my children. With my first baby I was very young and immensely under-supported. I didn’t have the knowledge or assistance to get breastfeeding established well, and so when I left hospital it took no less than 3 days before I decided that breastfeeding was just horrible. The sense of responsibility for nourishing my child was overwhelming, the tiredness, the poor latch and cracked nipples all contributed to turning to formula.
    With babies #2 and #3 we reached the 6 month milestone. And with baby #4 (now 4 weeks old), we’re getting there. Admittedly, breastfeeding has been tough with this little one. Being the ONLY person that can feed him, and having three other children means that I am finding it hard to juggle everything, especially in these early days.

    I’m a HUGE advocate for breastfeeding when it is in the best interests of Mother, baby and the family as a whole. Nutritionally we all know that breast is best, but the happiness of Mum has to be a considered factor too.

  4. Although I had some idea of the health benefits of breastfeeding, it was a total aversion to cleaning and preparing bottles that really prompted my choice to breastfeed. I only discovered how great breastfeeding is for mom & baby AFTER we’d already established our breastfeeding relationship. And yes, formula is shockingly expensive. Hard to imagine paying for something you can get for free.

  5. Though I agree with almost everything you said, breastfeeding is not necessarily a breeze either. I have a big baby (he was over 10 lb at birth), and he wants to be fed sometimes on an hourly basis. He sleeps for a couple of hours in the night in his crib, and then basically lives in my bed, which though endearing is not sleep-inducing for me, so I end up more tired in the morning. I guess with formula it might be easier, as the baby is not psychologically attached to mother’s breast or her smell.
    Galina’s last blog post ..She sells seashells

  6. It’s bizarre, isn’t it? It’s sooooo much easier to just whip out a boob – especially night-time feeds, like you say. And BLW is much easier, too. I have found that most of the ‘natural’ parenting choices I’ve made could well be more down to my laziness or lack of time – which explains why I use disposable nappies 🙂

    As you say, I respect everyone’s choice in the matter, but it truly baffles me how anyone could think it was easier to formula feed.
    Tasha (Coding Mamma)’s last blog post ..Recipe- Vegetable stew

  7. I agree 100%. Bottle feeding just seemed like so much work! Haha. I breast-fed my daughter until she was three years and three months and quit on her own. I don’t look down on mothers who choose formula, but I do wonder why they choose it when it just seems so costly and so much more preparation and all.
    Mary’s last blog post ..What is the best book you have ever read

  8. Hannah

    I completely agree with you, and feel quite strongly about it. Not because I think that formula feeding is wrong, but because I feel like if possible, every mum should try and have a go. If it doesn’t suit them, then fair enough, but at least they have tried. I was adamant from Day One that I was going to breastfeed my daughter, and I did so until she was one. Not only is it the most natural food for her, but, as you say, it’s cheaper and doesn’t require any extra effort at all. Not only that, but it benefits you as a mum (tones your uterus, helps burn calories to get your baby flab off etc) but it also is such a wonderful experience to feed your baby. The bonding is amazing.

    I agree with you when it comes to expressing – I think it’s wonderful for other people to feed your baby, knowing it’s your milk they are giving them. I, however, was a bit daft when it came to expressing, and didn’t do it often enough, so when it came to my daughter taking a bottle, she wouldn’t have it. In fact, she skipped right past bottles and went straight onto beakers.

    I wouldn’t have done it any differently when it comes to choosing which way to feed my child. Breast wins every time.

    Hannah x

    http://www.metalmummy.co.uk

    http://morticalzombie.blogspot.com
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