Although breastfeeding is a natural process, the joys it brings are divine. Breastmilk provides all the nutrients and vitamins newborns need, it helps babies fight off any health issues, and helps them develop perfectly.
Breastfeeding is emotional, it's soothing, and it strengthens the bond between a mother and her little one. It’s no surprise that governments and lactation consultants recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life. Oh, and let’s not forget that breastmilk is for free! In simple words, breastfed is best…
Wait a minute! Can we start again? While breastfeeding is special, we can’t ignore the fact that some women can’t, shouldn’t or don’t want to breastfeed. Before we start bombarding them with accusations, let’s not forget that some health conditions may affect breastfeeding. In fact, some things may be passed onto the baby through breastmilk. Stress, lack of support, and exhaustion can result in low production of breastmilk. What’s more breastfeeding and pumping may result in emotional issues. So, here are 20 reasons why some moms choose formula, breaking the social stigma associated with breastfeeding.
20 Some Health Conditions Make Breastfeeding Harder Or Impossible
Although the WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life, there are many medical reasons to choose formula. For instance, HTLV and HIV-positive women should not breastfeed as they may pass on the virus to their babies. Note that recent data shows that more than 1.5 million women live with these health issues. In addition, moms undergoing antiretroviral therapy should not breastfeed as there are various toxicities associated with the treatment.
Although some health conditions and treatments might force women to stop breastfeeding, there's nothing to be embarrassed about, mama. Health comes first! What's more, love is what your little one needs the most.
19 Some Moms Deal With Body Image Issues
While some mothers can’t or shouldn’t breastfeed, there are women who formula feed by choice. Well, it's not a secret that many women struggle with body image issues after birth, including their post-breastfeeding chest. According to vogue.com, women describe the girls as "Tube socks filled with a stack of quarters", "deflated water balloons", and "egg yolks dripping down a wall".
Low self-esteem can explain why some new moms choose to formula feed. In the end, though, mothers who choose formula also need love, social support, and understanding.
18 Some Women Find It Too Stressful
Stress and breastfeeding go hand in hand. Often lactation consultants, charities and mommy friends bombard new moms with advice on breastfeeding. As a result, many women experience high levels of stress, which can cause breastmilk to dry up. According to babycenter.com, though, if a mother continues to nurse, her milk production won’t necessarily stop. At the same time, stress leads to the release of cortisol, which may pass on the baby and affect their behavior.
Thus, some women simply choose formula. Instead of stressing over breastfeeding, mothers prefer to invest their emotional energy into other vital aspects, such as intellectual stimulation, emotional support, and social interactions.
17 Some Women Get Too Fatigued
It’s not a secret that breastfeeding comes with fatigue and insomnia all at the same time. Interestingly, breastfeeding has also been associated with exhaustion. Studies showed that stress and fatigue lead to low levels of oxytocin, which may affect breastmilk production. On top of that, breastfed babies eat more often than formula-fed babies which becomes an additional burden.
Sleep is crucial for the whole family, so it’s no surprise that some families formula feed by choice. Mom and writer Adrienne Stortz told medium.com, "My Body Was Over It: I did not want this process to be tied to my body anymore, and once he was out, I actually had a choice in this."
16 PPD Can Affect Breastfeeding
Pregnancy and birth may lead to numerous emotional problems, such as depression and anxiety. Sadly, data shows that more than 15% of new mothers get postpartum depression, often within the first year after birth. The impact of maternal depression can affect kids. Researchers reveal that PPD increases the risk of emotional and behavioral issues later in life.
Emotional pain may lead to questionable parenting decisions, so there are mothers who choose to formula feed by choice and invest in their emotional well-being instead. In addition, although studies suggest that breastfeeding reduces the risk of baby blues, babies can feel when mothers are upset, which may impact their attachment.
15 Some Women Don't Want To Go Through The Physical Changes To The Girls
Societies force women to believe that breastfeeding is wonderful. Breastfeeding is precious but we have to admit that discomfort, leaking milk, and body issues are difficult and may ruin people's relationships. Author Anne Semans told parents.com, "Breastfeeding brings out all sorts of insecurities, control issues, and excuses not to be [close] for both mothers and fathers."
Angelica Farnham adds, "I had always thought of my [chest] as an aesthetically pleasing part of my body. But when I started nursing… [it] seemed less like a source of [pride] than a huge pair of faucets that needed constant maintenance." To avoid complications and insecurities, some women simply choose formula.
14 Some Working Moms Just Can't Fit It In Their Schedules
While some countries have incredible parental leave policies, the US is notorious with its poor family policies. In fact, for working moms, breastfeeding and pumping may become a challenge. So many women just choose formula. In case you want to pump, though, your employer must allow time for regular pumping.
Another reason to choose formula is one's own value. Mom Stortz says, "I heard often that people can’t justify the expense of formula when breastfeeding is 'free', but breastfeeding is only cheaper if you believe that a woman’s time has no value. $50 a week to get more sleep, improve my mental health, and save 14+ hours felt like a bargain."
13 Some Women Feel Pressured Into It
Surrounded by tech gadgets, people are slowly becoming obsessed with something they’ve already lost: their connection with Mother Earth. As a result, many people preach against pain relief options, formula, and hospitals. However, social pressure should stop being a factor in people’s decisions.
If a mother wants to use formula, she has the right to stay away from pressure to breastfeed. In fact, Monica Sakala told babble.com, "There is so much pressure to breastfeed and so much talk in the media about how [breastfeeding] is best for baby and there is so little talk about what it means for the mom… Where along the way did we forget that formula [is not bad for] babies?"
12 Sometimes The Baby Can't Do It
Breastmilk or formula? It doesn’t matter - mothers and babies always bond for life. However, some moms choose formula because of their babies. In fact, some rare issues in infants make breastfeeding impossible. Galactosemia is a rare metabolic disorder, which may lead to many health issues. Stats show that it affects 1 in 7000 newborns. (Note that lactose-free formula is a must.) Reflux can also impact breastfeeding.
Interestingly, breastfeeding confusion may also affect breastfeeding. It happens when a baby finds it easier to suck on a bottle and can’t suck from the source. This may occur in the first few weeks.
11 Some Health Reasons Affect Mom's Decision
Although breastfeeding can improve the baby’s immune system, some moms choose to formula feed. There are many emotional and health reasons that may affect their decision. A common cold is enough to stop moms from breastfeeding. In fact, if left untreated, a cold may lead to illnesses, such as pneumonia.
So relax, mama, health comes first. And as mom Ellen said in a post, "I had to use formula because of medical issues that occurred after giving birth. It was great because everyone in the family got to experience 'feeding' the baby. So Nate bonded not only with me, but with his Dad and Grandparents too."
10 Sometimes Mom Shouldn't Breastfeed to protect the baby
Health conditions are reason Number One to choose to formula feed. Believe it or not, HSV can force women to choose formula. Note that there are two types of infections. Breastfeeding with HSV is okay as the risk of passing the virus onto the baby is low. However, the baby can still get HSV by skin-to-skin contact, so it might be better to avoid breastfeeding.
Pumping or formula won’t harm your baby, mama, so just choose what works the best for you and your family.
9 Women That Are Recovering Simply can't breastfeed
Mothers with cancer may also choose to formula feed their little ones. Sadly, the medication these patients take may affect the baby. Nevertheless, a mother’s health is vital. As survivor Meghan Koziel said, "To all the mommies like me facing complicated health histories or facing social media trolls for how you’re raising your child, I would say … keep on being you!"
At the same time, we should mention an interesting fact. Research shows that breastfeeding can reduce the risk. Also, figures reveal that in 5-10% of cases, breast cancer is a result of gene abnormalities inherited from one’s parent.
8 Logistic Problems Can Get In The Way
It's not a secret that millennial moms travel the world. Many families travel with their newborns, which makes breastfeeding difficult. Well, parents don’t do it only for selfish reasons - children, including infants, benefit from new stimuli and environments.
It’s not only about leisure travel, though. Some working moms can’t escape from all the business meetings they have to attend. Working mom Stortz says, "When imagining myself back to work, I did not want to schedule meetings all day around pumping alone in a dingy room or shipping milk across the country while at conferences." Oh, and let’s not forget that formula doesn’t kill babies.
7 Some Women Are Worried About How Society Views Breastfeeding
Motherhood is surrounded by lots of discomfort, guilt, and social pressure. As a matter of fact, one can even witness mothers being shamed for public breastfeeding.
For some women, breastfeeding is simply unfair. As feminist Stortz explains, "The only federal law in place allows a new parent to take 12 weeks off unpaid, which leaves women to manage the logistics of pumping and working for 9 months after parental leave ends. The system and expectations set women up for guilt and failure before they even start… The stigma we have in this country about formula feeding is cultural and is at a peak in current trends."
6 Sometimes It Is Too Uncomfortable
Although breastfeeding is a natural process, it can be an unpleasant physical experience. From sore skin to mastitis, breastfeeding can hurt, which might be a sign of other health problems. As lactation expert Yates says, "Decreased milk production, and yeast infection are some of the causes of sudden and unbearable pain." This kind of physical discomfort can lead to numerous emotional problems and depression. As explained above, depression has a negative impact on children later in life.
Therefore, some mothers choose to formula feed in order to avoid pain and embrace happiness. Whatever you choose, mama, love is the only thing your baby truly needs.
5 Pumping Makes Things Difficult Sometimes
While breastfeeding and bonding with your little one can be miraculous, pumping can be a real nightmare – you spend more time with your pump instead of your family. Personally, despite all the pros and cons of pumping, I still think that pumping is one of the most annoying and meaningless tolls of motherhood.
As Kate Sluiter of Sluiter Nation says, "And I didn’t want to pump. At all. I suppose it sounds harsh. I suppose the reasons are all selfish. But in the end, I knew if I was not comfortable, it would come through in my relationship with my baby."
4 Across The Globe Breastfeeding Is Seen Differently
Although beliefs and rituals vary between countries and regions, breastfeeding is still seen as the best way to feed a baby. Nevertheless, many moms are forced to choose formula due to cultural differences and religious beliefs.
In India, for example, breastfeeding in public is acceptable but society advocates modesty for women, which makes breastfeeding a controversial topic. Interestingly, in some countries formula is distributed at no cost. In South Africa, for instance, due to the country's high HIV prevalence, women receive formula from the government. Mom-shaming is another global problem that affects breastfeeding and parenting in general.
3 If Daddy Isn't Supportive, Breastfeeding is tough
Lack of support is another reason for moms to choose formula. Breastfeeding leads to exhaustion, pain, and stress, so we can’t blame moms who prefer to formula feed their children. In the end, Daddy matters - he has to be involved in newborn care.
Although biological differences can't be erased, men must get involved in newborn care and feeding. As mom Stortz shared, "We wanted to be 50/50 partners in raising our child, and that started with sharing every feeding from day one. I would not be the 'primary parent.' We would do this as a team."
2 The Choice Belongs to Each woman
Breastfeeding is essential for child development. It helps moms bond with their kids and enjoy the joys of motherhood. Note that during your baby’s first month, you might have to breastfeed 8-12 times a day, often on demand.
At the same, formula can help women who can’t, shouldn’t or don’t want to breastfeed. As mom Michele said, "Had a [bad] time nursing my first … I wanted to enjoy my second son’s infancy, so I formula fed right off and it worked out great. My husband helped with feedings, I slept much more and I actually have good memories of his babyhood since I wasn’t half asleep, anxious and really crabby all the time!"
1 To Formula Feed Or Not To Formula Feed?
Formula has its pros and cons. Formula can help women with health and emotional problems. Yet, experts claim that breastfeeding is the best. Well, instead of listing benefits and detriments, we should agree that love is the only food that children need.
To all moms who chose formula, just like me, we won’t judge you. As mom Higginson said, "Breastfeeding just never came organically to me. I never tried even once… And the strangest thing happened over a bottle mixed from a can: we bonded, we loved each other, they played with the whiskers on their Daddy’s face when he gave them their nighttime bottles, they grew healthy and smart, and I rest assured that there will not be a check box on their university applications asking how they were fed."