Poppy had her first baby in July 2021. She's a ghostwriter and editor and lives in Enoshima, Japan with her husband and son.
When I was pregnant, breastfeeding was one thing I was really looking forward to. My mother exclusively breastfed all three of her children, and I planned on doing the same. Unfortunately, my milk supply turned out to be too low, so I had to supplement with formula.
Though it can be disappointing to find yourself in this situation if you were planning to breastfeed only, please know that your baby thrives best as long as they're fed and satisfied. If you have chosen to go with formula, don't let the trend of "breast is best" get you down. Trends with baby care come and go; the most important thing is that your baby is growing well.
Here are five benefits to formula feeding your baby and the silver lining of a low milk supply.
1. Baby Gets Used to a Bottle Right Away
One hardship that exclusively breastfeeding mothers go through is being a "human pacifier," which means their baby is unable to settle down or eat without being locked onto the breast. Though there's nothing wrong with your baby being attached to the breast to eat (it's perfectly normal), it can be difficult down the line when the baby is nearing its first birthday and still refuses a bottle.
This problem won't occur if your child has been drinking from a bottle since birth, and it's one less thing you have to ween them off.
2. Friends and Relatives Can Assist With Feeding
Although breastfeeding mothers can pump, formula is quick and easy to prepare, meaning Mom can take a break while a partner or relative takes feeding duties for a while. This is especially helpful in the early days when the baby needs to feed very frequently.
3. You Can Record How Much Milk the Baby Consumes
It isn't easy to know how much breastmilk a baby has had (if it's coming straight from the breast). When you give your child formula, it's easy to measure how much they're drinking, and you'll know if their appetite has increased or decreased.
4. You Don't Have to Watch Your Diet (As Much)
Women who've just given birth can enjoy rare steak, sashimi, and soft cheeses again, but breastfeeding mothers must still watch their caffeine and alcohol intake. If you're formula feeding, you don't have to do this. This is especially good when you need that extra cup of coffee to get through your day!
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It's important to note here that it's not recommended to drink a lot of alcohol when you're caring for a newborn, and it's best to abstain completely if you are co-sleeping.
5. You Can Feed the Baby While On the Move
Though most countries and communities accept breastfeeding in public, some mothers may still be reluctant to offer their baby a breast in a park or restaurant.
However, if all you need is warm water (which can be carried around in a flask) and formula powder or cubes, it's much easier to prepare milk while you're out and about without having to find a private place or cover yourself up (if you feel the need to).
The Silver Lining of a Low Milk Supply
It's easy to feel sad or frustrated if you aren't producing much breastmilk, especially when the advice comes to you from all directions. It makes you think you're doing something wrong. However, if there's not much you can do to increase your supply, just remember that your breasts won't become uncomfortably engorged.
You won't be out and about and feel the urge to pump or feed, nor will you wake in the morning after your baby has slept through the night for the first time with rock-hard mammaries. It's a small benefit, but it's there!
Downsides to Formula-Feeding Your Infant
Of course, there are some downsides to sticking only to formula for your baby. It's expensive, people may judge you, and there are certain antibodies and nutrients in breastmilk that can't be found in formula.
However, if you've chosen to formula-feed your baby for personal reasons or, like me, found you were unable to stick only to breastmilk, don't let that discourage you. Formula-fed babies thrive and grow just as well as their breastfed peers. The most important thing is that they're happy and healthy!
How to Bond With Your Bottle-Fed Baby
For more information about how to bond while feeding formula, read How to Bond With Your Baby While Bottle Feeding.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2022 Poppy