Before becoming a mom, many women hope they will be able to breastfeed their little baby boy or girl. There are many benefits that come with breastfeeding and, in addition, a lot of myths surrounding formula. Many moms make breastfeeding seem like a walk in the park - like it is an effortless thing to do.
When I was pregnant with my daughter, my OBGYN encouraged me to breastfeed her which I had intended to do. However, after she was born and reality hit me hard, I really was not able to breastfeed her and I was incredibly devastated. I was not producing much milk and had no other option but to formula feed her.
I have polycycstic ovarian syndrome, and that is likely why I was not able to produce much milk. I did feel like a failure because I was not able to provide the best for my daughter- which was breast milk. However, over time, I realized that she would not have turned out any differently if I was able to continue breastfeeding her. She is very smart and extremely healthy.
And, I was devastated about not being able to breastfeed her because I fell for so many formula-feeding myths. So let's go over 15 of those myths, and bust those suckers- while I talk about five truths about formula feeding backed up by doctors.
20 Myth: Formula-Fed Babies Don’t Bond With Their Moms
It was believed for so long that only breastfed babies can bond properly with their mothers because of having skin to skin contact. However, according to Fatherly, that is a myth that has been busted a while back. Formula fed babies can bond just as much with their parents, and did you notice that I did not say, mothers?
Formula fed babies can also have skin to skin contact, and the same source even shared a joke! Parents can formula feed their babies topless! Actually, that isn't necessary either. However, if you sing to your baby, and gently stroke your baby, and hold the infant's hand with your other hand that is not being used to feed during feedings- you will bond with your baby just fine!
19 Myth: Baby Formula Is Not As Healthy As Breastmilk
Even though there are differences between baby formula and breast milk, it has nothing to do with lack of nutrition. According to Fatherly, the vitamin, mineral, energy and protein content in baby formula has been regulated since the 1980's. That means that any formula that is sold in the drug stores and in supermarkets must the same nutritional requirements that would meet the need of babies in order for them to grow properly.
This does suggest that at one time, infant formula was inferior in regards to nutrition to breastmilk. That also means since I was a formula-fed baby born in the 1970's, I may not have gotten the right amount of nutrition. Then again, I still did fine and I am here to write about this, right? So it may have been fine even back then.
18 Myth: Organic Formula Is The Best Option
All types of baby formula are regulated by federal law quite tightly which means it must meet specific nutritional requirements. According to Fatherly, different formula brands have had to differentiate their products. Additionally, some have made it known that their GMO-free and organic formulas are the best types. They also state that the brain-boosting DHA has been added as well.
And guess what ends up happening when it comes to these so-called superior formulas being on the market? They are insanely expensive. They are really also not any better off than traditional formula that is cheaper. Remember, all baby formula must meet specific nutritional requirements, and the cheaper brand will not be any worse than the organic one. Save your money.
17 Myth: Formula Can Lead To Bigger Babies
The only truth that there is to the statement about formula feeding leading to obesity is that parents could be unintentionally overfeeding their babies, according to Fatherly. That is the only grain of truth to this myth. However, other than that, there is absolutely no evidence that formula feeding can cause a child to become overweight.
Remember that baby formula has specific nutritional requirements to meet. The only things that lead to childhood obesity are inactivity, eating too much junk food and unfortunately, genetics can be a culprit too. Occasionally, medications that the child may need could cause weight gain due to slowing down their metabolism could be to blame as well. But that is more of an exceptional situation. And, none of it has to do with whether the child was breastfed or formula fed.
16 Myth: Formula Is Not A Good Idea
Even though in an ideal world, every mom could breastfeed their baby if they choose to do so. However, in some cases, moms cannot breastfeed their babies. Some moms don't produce enough milk like I couldn't. And, according to Fatherly, some moms really cannot breastfeed, especially if they had difficult surgeries or if they have inverted nipples.
If a mom has any kind of infectious disease or has to go on a certain medication for her health that could be bad for the baby, then the only option is for these moms to formula feed. Therefore, in situations like that, how is formula feeding a bad idea?
15 Myth: Preparing Formula Is Easier Than Breastmilk
If you listen to a lactation consultant talk about how to effectively breastfeed your child, it sounds quite overwhelming because often times the baby doesn't latch properly. And, it requires a lot more effort and time than it appears. That means you can't just get your baby to start sucking on your breasts in just seconds.
However, according to Psychology Today, even though formula feeding seems like the easier option (and in some cases, it really is the best and only option for many parents), there are still many steps that you have to take in order to formula feed your baby. You have to sterilize the nipples and bottles with boiling water.
Then you have to measure the right amount of formula for the amount of water. Then, you have to heat the bottle evenly and not in the microwave. Finally, you have to sterilize the bottles and nipples again. Both ways of feeding require time and effort, it's just different.
14 Myth: You Can’t Breastfeed And Use Formula
Many moms talk about all or nothing when it comes to breastfeeding or formula feeding. They rarely talk about doing both! However, according to a blog on the Enfamil site, formula feeding and breastfeeding can most definitely go hand in hand.
In fact, many times pediatricians suggest that many breastfeeding moms should do both, especially if their babies are not gaining enough weight by being only breastfed in the earlier months. Another benefit to doing both is that moms can also breastfeed longer. Therefore, if you are pregnant and you are unsure about whether you want to breastfeed or bottle feed, keep in mind that you can actually do both! Therefore, it is not an all or nothing choice you have to make.
13 Myth: Confusion Causes Breastfeeding Problems
Many breastfeeding moms are hesitant to even pump their milk and use bottles because they are afraid that their babies will end up having nipple confusion. That means, they don't end up allowing other family members or caregivers to feed their babies since these moms refuse to pump.
That said, this is also why these breastfeeding moms would not want to ever consider formula feeding. Not because of it being formula- but they are afraid their babies will not know what to do with a new nipple.
According to a blog on the Enfamil site, babies don't really end up with nipple confusion. What they do have are nipple preferences. The only thing that can be done to find out which nipple your baby will take to is by experimenting. There are many types of nipples around and there is bound to be at least one that your baby will like.
12 Myth: Milk Supply Will Decrease If Formula Is Used
Because it is a known fact that the more breastmilk that the baby drinks, the more breastmilk the body produces- breastfeeding moms are afraid to formula feed their babies because they fear their milk will dry up. They are terrified their milk will dry up completely.
However, according to a blog post on the Enfamil site, that will not at all happen. If you add baby formula into the baby's diet after your milk supply has come in, it won't dry up. All that will happen is that the milk production will adjust itself accordingly. If you are still breastfeeding, even if it is less often, your milk supply will still be there!
11 Myth: Formula-Fed Babies Aren’t As Smart As Breastfed Babies
Even though breast milk has many benefits that formula does not have, and the Enfamil site supports this statement, formula fed babies are never lacking.
There are DHA fatty acids that are important for brain development, as well as ARA for eye development in all types of baby formula. It is the law for these essential nutrients to be in any baby formula that is being sold as it is part of the nutritional requirements that must be met- according to the same source.
Therefore, no one can predict a child's IQ based on whether they were breastfed or formula fed.
10 Myth: Formula-Fed Babies Are Less Healthy Than Breastfed Babies
Even though once again it is true that nothing beats mom's milk, just because a baby is formula fed does not mean that they are less healthy. And, according to the Enfamil site, every formula maker must add immune boosting properties or prebiotics into all types of baby formula- just like the properties that are in breastmilk.
And, I was formula fed before the time when nutritional requirements had to be met. I have caught bugs, infections, and viruses throughout my life like anyone else- but not all that often! The same goes for my kids that were also formula fed. A formula fed baby will not become any sicker during their life than a breastfed baby for that reason!
9 Myth: Formula-Feeders Are Selfish
Unfortunately, this particular myth is one of the worst ones out there about formula feeding. The fact of the matter is, not every mom is able to breastfeed, and not every mom wants to breastfeed. I couldn't breastfeed as I did want to, and I felt bad about the fact that I couldn't. However, today I have no regrets. It had no lasting impact on their lives.
According to Fearless Formula Feeder, there have been formula companies that used insidious manipulative marketing tactics in the past which is partially how this myth became a thing in the first place. Add to the fact that nurses, doctors, your Lamaze teacher and your mom friends have all recommended breastfeeding and breastfeeding only.
What will happen if you don't want to breastfeed or you can't? You will formula feed your baby because your baby needs to be fed, right? That does not make you a selfish mom, at all! And never allow anyone to make you feel that way if you are in a situation where formula feeding is your only option by necessity or by choice.
8 Myth: Formula Can Be Fatal
This myth is even worse than the one above this because it is downright scary and completely false beyond belief. Again, there is a law that requires formula makers to meet the nutritional requirements, and the safety requirements as well. Baby formula is nutritious and safe!
According to Fearless Formula Feeder, the only time that formula is a conduit to anything deadly is if it is mixed with unsafe water! And unfortunately, this happens in many third world countries where there are no safety and nutritional requirement laws.
By the way, according to Very Well Family, there are many times and many situations where women should not be breastfeeding because it can be dangerous. If mom has a thyroid condition, isn't able to produce enough milk, or has to be on certain medications, then breastfeeding is not an option as it can put the baby in danger due to the lack of nutrients and other unsafe substances being passed down. This is a situation when formula feeding is the only safe and nutritious option.
7 Myth: Formula Should Be Low In Iron
This myth is a terrible one to believe! And, according to a blog post written on Pregistry, the reason this myth exists in the first place is that iron in baby formula means that the baby could be constipated. That is not only untrue, but very low levels of iron will cause anemia which is even more so dangerous for a baby.
In fact, according to the same source, in the 1970's, iron was added to baby formula due to the fact that many babies in the past were anemic for this reason. That said, no, the amount of iron that is in any baby formula will not cause constipation.
6 Myth: Changing Formula Will Make The Baby Less Fussy
Some babies may have a milk allergy, reflux or are maybe lactose intolerant. Therefore, in those situations, a change in baby formula is necessary in order to fit the baby's needs. A pediatrician will guide the parents to the best type of formula for babies with those issues.
However, according to Pregistry, some babies are fussier than others. Some infants spit up more than others, and some babies do have bowel movement issues. A change in baby formula is not going to solve those problems. And, by the time parents figure that one out, the baby will already be a year old while they have a cabinet full of 12 different types of baby formula.
5 The Doctor Says: Moms That Formula-Feed Are Less Protected From Cancer
Babies that are formula fed are just as healthy as babies that are breastfed, which has already been covered. However, moms that are able to breastfeed are able to reduce their chances of getting different types of cancer, ranging from ovarian to breast cancer. According to Psychology Today, doctors really agree that this is a huge benefit of breastfeeding.
Moms that strictly formula feed end up getting their cycles going again. Moms that breastfeed have fewer cycles in their lifetime which means they are not exposed to estrogen as much. According to Fit Pregnancy, studies have indicated that too much exposure to estrogen has been known to increase the chances of cancer.
However, more than anything, genetics alone can raise your odds of developing cancer more so than not being able or not choosing to breastfeed.
4 The Doctor Says: Moms That Formula-Feed Are More Likely To Become Diabetic
One thing that doctors do believe about women who cannot or choose not to breastfeed is that they are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than moms who do breastfeed. According to The New York Times, studies have indicated that women that are lactating have less glucose in their system circulating.
Additionally, lactation may help insulin-producing cells do their job properly. However, if you are strictly formula feeding by choice or necessity, if you adopt a healthy lifestyle by eating well and getting in daily activity, you will also reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes as well. So, don't think you are completely doomed in that regard if you are not breastfeeding.
3 The Doctor Says: Moms That Formula-Feed Are More Likely To Suffer From Certain Symptoms
Many moms end up with postpartum depression whether they formula feed or breastfeed. I had it, and doctors don't say that breastfeeding can necessarily reduce the risk of that from happening. However, according to Psychology Today, doctors believe that breastfeeding has a long-term benefit by reducing the chances of depression.
That is because lactation releases serotonin which stays in your system. However, personally, I am not sure how much I do agree with this statement. I have known many moms of older kids who suffer from depression and they did breastfeed. I think the environment, genetics, and extremely stressful situations are more likely to be depression causes than formula feeding alone.
2 The Doctor Says: Moms That Formula-Feed Will Take Longer To Lose The Pounds
I admit this is one of the reasons I wanted to breastfeed, and it was devastating to me when I simply was unable to because of not being able to produce much milk. However, according to Psychology Today, doctors do believe that moms that can and choose to breastfeed will burn 500 more calories a day than moms that strictly formula feed their babies.
Lactating uses up a lot of energy, and this is why moms can lose their pregnancy pounds faster than moms that only formula feed instead. I do believe there is truth to it. Even after eating well and getting in some exercise, the weight loss was slow.
1 The Doctor Says: Formula Is Not Identical To Breastmilk
The fact of the matter is, even though formula-fed babies still end up perfectly fine in every way at the end of the day- formula and breastmilk are not the same. This is even stated on all formula company websites as well. According to an article on the Pregistry site, formula makers do everything they can to make formula as close to breast milk as possible.
However, it just is not possible to duplicate something that is completely natural. Therefore, if anyone believes that baby formula is the same as breast milk, they are wrong, and doctors will be the first ones to make that statement.