Formula Feeding Sucks

Let me be the first to say, I use formula to top up. Due to a massive breast reduction and birth trauma, my child has had at least a little formula with my tiny boob output every single day of his life. So I am not yelling at people who choose to formula feed/have to formula feed. This rant is more for people who may be considering formula as an option versus a neccessity.

If you can manage it, for the love of Thor, don’t.

I’m not trying to dissuade you because I hate formula. Sure, it isn’t as organically good as breastmilk, but I feed my kid it, so I don’t see them as OMGTEHEVILZ. And I am not trying to dissuade you becauseI love breastfeeding, because frankly, I don’t. I am telling you this so you can walk in perfectly wide eyed to what the day to day life is like with formula feeding.

Let me take you through a typical day. Baby cries, awake and hungry. My husband or I drag ourselves out of bed, and to the kitchen. No, not to the baby – to the kitchen. See, I have to get the kettle going to boil the water for the formula. Because powdered formula is not sterile, bacteria can be rife in the canisters, and so you have to add scalding water to the feed to kill said bacteria. Adding hot tap water won’t do the trick – it has to be boiled and slightly cooled. So while your child is screaming their hungry head off, you have to boil, slightly cool, measure water, measure formula, mix thoroughly, bottle, and get the nipple on. All half awake. YAY!

Nutritonal side note: If your baby is lactose intolerant, whoooooo boy are you in for some fun, as formula is derived from cow’s milk. So, you can go for even more expensive low lactose formula, or soy, or if that doesn’t work, hypoallergenic formula, which costs well, Google ‘Hypoallergenic formula cost’ yourself. Bear in mind, your young baby will go through 1/2 to 1 container of feed a week. Enjoy!

Now baby needs to eat bottle – while on the boob baby can relax, lay down, and slowly feed, when he is upright it’s like license to INHALE his food. And while the exceedingly expensive silicone teats on our very expensive bottles try their best to imitate the human nipple, it’s not the same, and baby takes in huge gulps of air with feed. Huge gulps of air equals gassy, angry baby. You will need to stop feeding several times to burp, which baby hates as he is OMGHUNGRYNOW. To be fair, breastfeeding causes a little gas as well, but not nearly as much as bottle if my mummy group is anything to go by. The breastfed babies have small calm burps, and the bottle feds have a helluva time getting all that gas out by the time it is all said and done.

Oh, and on bottles – they are wicked expensive. Their accessories (bottle warmers, canisters, sterilizers) are wicked expensive. Formula is wicked expensive (or rather is a minor expensive which adds up). See, you *can* get bottles for cheap, but they often have design flaws which create many other problems (such as massive gas from inflexible teats, bottles with plastic that cracks after a few sterilizations, etc). So to keep your baby (and your sanity) going strong, you have to shell out serious bucks on things which require (per manufacturer’s instructions) replacement every few months or so. And as a quick reminder: Newborns feed 8 -12 times a day. Even formula fed newborns feed at least 6 times a day, which means lots and lots of expensive bottles, and lots and lots of special cleaning and sterilization. All that cleaning and sterilization takes time, time you may find yourself short of with a new little one to look after.

You know how new parents are all sleep deprived and tend to forget their own heads if they weren’t attached? God help you if you forget to bring formula/mix/spare bottle when you go out. While you can buy emergency supplies at some stores (single serving liquid formula), most convienence stores don’t carry quality stuff, so you now get to play the game of ‘Do I go home and get stuff, try to find something decent on the road, or drive pencils in my ears to stop the wailing from my kid who is starving right now?’. My my my, it is a fun game.

So if you *can* breastfeed, honest to goodness try. Try as hard as you can, and don’t give up. And if you have given up before, try to get that supply back. Contact your hospital’s Lactation Consultant. Call your local LLL group. Find breastfeeding groups that meet in your area. Because believe you me, formula is not an easy way out – it is a pain in the altogether.