Let’s start by saying, no one is a bad mom based solely on whether they choose breast milk or baby formula. Moms can make not-so-great choices sometimes, that is true, but let’s remember that to err is human, especially when in reference to new moms and new parents.
Now that we’ve cleared that up, we can safely say that formula feeding your baby can be the best decision in a number of cases. In fact, for some, it may be the only choice.
Yet, new mothers asking if formula feeding makes them a bad mom is not an uncommon question on Google. In part, it’s due to stigmas of bottle feeding over breastfeeding, staying on maternity leave versus going back to work, and tons of other decisions that should really be left up to mom and her partner but usually get a lot of (usually unasked for) feedback from others. But, that’s a conversation for another time.
For now, here are some supporting reasons why we say, no formula feeding does not make you a bad mom.
Being a mom means more than just breastfeeding.
In this time when everyone’s lives seem to be on full display thanks to social media, it is often easy to cast judgment on ourselves based on what others are saying. But, to be fair, being a mom is much more than breastfeeding, and so no one should self-critique about whether or not they’re a good mom based on milk supply.
- This period is only a short time in a baby’s life, and although it is critical, there is much more to come.
- In both cases, your baby will be fed from day one.
- Giving your baby love and affection matters just as much as what you put in their stomach.
- Some people become moms way after the breastfeeding stage has long passed.
- You can and will bond with your baby regardless of how you choose to feed.
Your happiness and comfort matters, too.
As a mom, it’s very important that you acknowledge the fact that your mental health and comfort matter. If you are not happy or if you feel uncomfortable, then it is possible that your relationship with your baby may be impacted.
Moms should be encouraged to care for themselves because a healthy, happy mom can only mean good things for their babies. So, do not sacrifice your happiness or comfort based on fears that are more worry than fact.
Yes, for some, “breast is best” really is true. But, what is true in one circumstance may not be true in others, and this next point will explain this.
There are medical situations and life scenarios that render exclusive breastfeeding impossible.
Impossible is a strong word, we know. However, the truth is that being a mom is not as narrow or simple as some will have us believe.
- Many moms did not and perhaps cannot “carry” their babies in the traditional sense. And, so they don’t have enough milk or sometimes no milk at all in order to breastfeed, and the formula is their best or only choice.
- Some moms may have undergone surgeries or mastectomies which makes breastfeeding no longer an option. Of course, this is unique to each individual surgery.
- Some moms may have underlying health issues (and accompanying medications) that restrict them from breastfeeding or affect their milk production.
- Let’s not forget about those moms who want to feed their baby something nutritious but they themselves have not had enough to eat. Many times, it is said that breastfeeding is free, but it’s hardly said that moms need to eat and be strong in order to pass food and energy to their babies.
The above are only a handful of situations in which breastfeeding is impossible or may not be recommended. For moms in these cases, we should salute their strength and courage.
Everyone, especially mom, needs a little help sometimes.
Breastfeeding can be a lot of work and it can sometimes make moms feel as if they are the only caretaker of the baby. But, it doesn’t have to be that way, and moms should not feel guilty about needing help. When it comes to motherhood, Bobbie believes in non-judgment and supports all moms and their uniqueness.
- For couples, formula feeding opens up the possibility of equal partnership where moms can share the responsibilities with their partner or family members. It also gives room for mom to take a break and relax or even go back to work without having to worry about a breast pump.
- For single moms, using formula will also present more opportunities for breaks and self-care. It allows grandparents or other relatives to help with caring for the baby should mom need time for herself.
Formula feeding is more common than most will admit.
In a 2018 breastfeeding study, the CDC reported that of babies born in 2015, 83.2% were breastfed within the earlier stages. However, only 46.9% were exclusively breastfed at three months. This means that over 50% of moms were formula feeders by some point, whether exclusively or in combination feeding.
By, six months, the statistics are even lower, with only 25% of moms exclusively breastfeeding. But, those are not the only statistics; it has been shown the vast majority of infants in the United States are fed substitutes for their mother’s milk past 6 months.
So, this shows that although many may tout that “breast is best,” it does not mean that breast is “only”. Supplementing with formula is a reality that many moms accept and practice. The truth is also that infant formula is nutritious, which is why so many moms are okay with feeding their baby just formula or a combination of both.
Added to this, formula feeding doesn’t necessarily expose your baby to more feeding risks than other feeding options. We asked one of our medical professionals this question:
Does formula feeding increase my baby’s chance of getting a stomach bug – be it vomiting or diarrhea?
All babies can be exposed to getting a stomach bug, whether they are solely breastfed, combination, or exclusively formula feeding. They can be exposed at daycare or contact with other children, change in diet, medications, travel, and sometimes teething due to putting everything in their mouths. Breastfed babies can be sensitive to foods in the mother’s diet, and formula fed babies can have sensitivity or allergies to certain infant formulas. There can also be contamination with infant formulas during the manufacturing process, germs in the water used to prepare, or if formula is not stored properly. There is no straight answer to a stomach bug!
The takeaway from this article should be that no two situations are alike, and what may be best for one may not be best for another. Let’s not judge others based strictly on opinions of what we believe, but instead share facts and allow others to make their own choices.
What you feed your little one matters, no doubt. But if you choose to breastfeed or formula feed, that choice is yours to make. So, does formula feeding make you a bad mom? Absolutely not. So don’t let the pressure of a new baby or first child get to you–you’re doing a great job, we promise. The most important thing is that you do what you can to make sure your baby gets the health benefits they need.
As always, don’t be shy to reach out to a lactation consultant or pediatrician if you want additional guidance on what’s best for you and your baby in particular.