Bottle-feeding Not as Evil as People Think
In the 1950s, bottle-feeding was very common. Lactation consultants didn’t exist and women couldn’t find books about lactation. Nipple shields weren’t invented yet and they certainly didn’t have high-powered breast pumps. Neither doctors nor Moms knew what we know now: that breastfeeding prevents illness and allergies and even boosts intelligence.
Breastfeeding has really taken off since the 50s and now it is far more common for women to breastfeed, at least for the first few months. The unfortunate side effect of this breastfeeding craze is that now it is almost taboo to bottle-feed. I literally heard a nurse gasp at the hospital when a woman told her she did not want to even try to breast-feed. Women today are judged harshly for making the choice to feed formula instead of breast milk.
Although I chose to breastfeed for the first 6 months, I eventually switched to bottles. My daughter had terrible acid reflux and she was having a hard time gaining weight and I never knew how much milk she was actually getting. I was also working and the pumping situation was creating an enormous amount of stress. My daughter also wasn’t sleeping more than a few hours at a time, even at six months and I felt like I was teetering on the edge of a breakdown. Something needed to give and I chose breastfeeding. Once I switched to bottles, I felt like a new woman and like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders. This may sound dramatic but it’s true. I blame the hormones.
Instead of sharing my joy with the world, I hid these feelings of relief because I felt guilty about it. Everyone from the doctor’s office to strangers I met on the street made me feel like I had given up. Like I had let my baby down by feeding her bottles. Almost like I was a bad mother because I wasn’t pumping anymore. Today, I think that a woman who chooses to feed formula, especially for the first few months, is seen by society as someone who doesn’t love their baby enough.
A study was released this week regarding the long-term effects of bottle-feeding. The study followed kids born in Germany from 1995 to 1998. At age 10, the children were reevaluated. The study found that it didn’t make any difference to their long-term weight whether they were fed formula or breast milk. The choices their mothers made for them as infants didn’t affect their weight one way or the other.