As I sat in the (very nice) women's lounge inside the restroom at Nordstrom breast feeding Natalie I had a thought: breast feeding is hard work. I had the same thought many times all last week when Natalie was in the middle of a major growth spurt. As I fed her every hour or hour and a half I figured out creative ways to feed myself sandwich after sandwich as I attempted to keep my stomach from growling. Even constantly feeding myself did little to keep my belly full.
When you are pregnant one topic lots of people like to ask you about is whether you plan to breast feed or bottle feed. I guess this is because this is one of the few times you are actually given a choice in terms of newborn care. It's not like someone can ask you, "Do you plan to let your child sleep?" or "Will you change dirty diapers?" (though I guess the Elimination Communication movement does mean this could, for some people, be a legitimate question...).
And, as you're probably aware, people have some really militant feelings about how other people choose to feed their babies. Before anyone gets their nursing bras in a bunch, let me say that I am still breast feeding happily and plan to continue for some yet-to-be-determined period of time. (I am not about to declare how long I will breast feed because that just seems like a recipe for setting myself up for disappointment.) I don't need to tell you all the benefits of breast feeding because I would be beating a dead horse, but I've been thinking a lot about all the positive aspects of bottle feeding and how they are rarely discussed. So I wanted to give a shout out to all the bottle feeding mommas out there and show support for your choice because, hey, there are a lot of good reasons to choose bottle. Here's how I see it:
Bottle feeding gets more people involved.
This is by far the greatest benefit I see to bottle feeding. Your husband/partner/friend, whoever, can split feeding duties with you 50/50 when you're bottle feeding. Yes, when you're breast feeding you can pump and give bottles, which is something we do occasionally with Natalie, but pure bottle feeding takes the pressure off the mom and evenly distributes feeding responsibilities.
Bottle feeding makes babies more mobile.
Yes, it is legal to breast feed anywhere you'd like, but that doesn't mean it's easy. It's much more convenient (and socially acceptable) to whip out a bottle than whip out a boob. Plus, some outfits (see #5) and situations are just not conducive to feeding.
Bottle feeding is more conducive to the schedules of working moms.
This ties in with point 2 above, but I'll add that pumping at work sounds like one of the most undesirable tasks on the planet.
Bottle feeding makes it clear exactly how much your baby is eating.
A random mom (who also breast feeds, apparently, because she was doing it in front of me) asked me how much my daughter eats in a feeding. She was looking for ounces. The best I could say was, "20 minutes' worth?" I really couldn't tell you. I can't speak to this next one myself, so I won't make it a full-fledged reason, but I have heard that bottle fed babies tend to sleep better than breast fed babies because they stay full longer, likely because they're eating more at a time.
Bottle feeding does not limit the mother's wardrobe choices.
A friend who was breast feeding said to me a couple years ago how much she's seen her wardrobe choices limited by breast feeding. I didn't really understand what she meant at the time, but now I completely get it. You either wear a button-down or a nursing tank under a cardigan or you battle too much clothing in the way (or you just resign yourself to taking your shirt off 8-12 times a day). And then if you choose to wear something else -- something, dare I say, mildly sexy -- your nursing pads and/or nursing bras/tanks will show through your shirt or dress, killing whatever look you were going for.
In the end the nutritional benefits and bonding experiences of breast feeding outweigh for me all the inconvenient elements of it, but I totally get why some moms choose bottle over breast.