How you feed your baby often determines things like your sleep pattern (or lack of), how long you feel comfortable being away from your baby, your feelings about your body, your bond with your baby, and whether you and your baby seem to enjoy your chosen feeding method.
Let’s start with exclusive breastfeeding. Everyone has a unique experience, but most mothers who breastfeed long term say that it feels great to have that close contact and physical connection, to know that their body is providing what their baby needs, and to feel some agency over the development of their baby’s immune system. It can take six weeks, however, to feel like you’ve gotten the hang of breastfeeding enough to enjoy it.
Mothers who are not enjoying breastfeeding, or feel like their babies are not thriving, can choose to find help if desired, choose to wean, or to feed a combination of breastmilk (direct from the breast or pumped) and formula. Mothers who bottle-feed partially or fully say that they appreciate that others can help out with feeding, and that they also feel a strong bond with their babies. In fact, if breastfeeding is not going well despite help, mothers often say that stopping the struggle helped them bond with their babies more than they were while breastfeeding, because feedings became less stressful and more enjoyable.
Some mothers say they are glad they pushed through breastfeeding problems, because it got easier and was worth weathering the difficulties; whereas others say they wish they had not spent so much time stressing over their milk supply and their baby’s latch rather than just enjoying and bonding with their babies.
Choosing a feeding method is not quite as simple as picking a product, because it affects your whole life, especially in those first few months. Whether you need an exclusive breastfeeding plan, a combo-feeding plan, or drying-up information, you deserve support and respect for the hard work you are doing as a mother.