For the past three months, Noah has been exclusively fed breast milk. Either from me or from a bottle of expressed milk, but he has never had formula. We have a good nursing relationship--it's easy, he's quick, and I suppose we both enjoy it. I'll admit that I don't have that super special bond-y feeling when we nurse. At least I don't think so. And lately, the idea of nursing him when we are "out and about" away from the house is provoking major anxiety in me. I have a nursing cover, which is handy, but I have not really gotten the hang of wrangling Noah while making sure the cover doesn't fly up and expose my girls to the world. It seems so simple but for some reason I just can't get it together. So instead, for the past three months, when I know we are going to be out of the house for a feeding, I pump and take a bottle with me.
Herein lies my problem: when I bring a bottle of expressed milk I have to keep it cold, so I pack it in a little soft sided cooler with an ice pack. Ok, I can do that, it's a bit bulky but whatever. But then, when he needs to eat, I have to find a way to heat that bottle to a temperature deemed appropriate by Mr. Must Be 98.6 Degrees Exactly. At a restaurant it's pretty easy to ask the waitstaff for a mug of hot water. But how about when we're out for a long walk and Noah decides he must eat immediately, not later, but rightnowthisveryminutesohelpyouwoman? And he'll do that even if he was nursed right before we left the house. He's wild like that. And very demanding. That's when I find myself on the nearest park bench fighting with a arm waving maniacal baby and trying to keep from flashing the poor kids walking home from school. It's just a lot for this new mama to handle successfully. Not to mention the extra pumping session I have to throw in there to make sure we have milk on hand.
I broke down and bought formula today. I have been thinking and thinking and thinking about buying it for weeks. I've talked about it with Tim, my mother, my mama and non-mama friends alike. I've spent more time than I care to admit on the internet looking for advice. Should I or shouldn't I? Will a random formula feeding here or there hurt my milk supply? What if Noah prefers formula to my milk? (That is secretly my worst fear with this whole thing which I guess goes to show you that I am far more attached to breastfeeding than I care to admit).
I suppose I always saw formula as a back-up to breastmilk when breastfeeding didn't come easily or your situation didn't allow for breastfeeding. But if I can breastfeed easily, which I can, then why would I turn to formula as a method of feeding my child? What I have to give him is free while formula is ridiculously expensive. My answer is that at times it is going to be far more convenient for us, for me. If I am happy and relaxed then so is Noah. If not battling with nursing in public makes me happy and relaxed then there you have it.
He will not suffer if fed with formula here and there. He will not stop breastfeeding. He will continue to grow strong and healthy regardless of where he gets his nutrients. My boobs have given him three whole months of immunities and antibodies and nutrition. And now they are going to share that job from time to time with Similac. We'll just consider it a special treat for Noah and a mental health break for me.
Brain dump concluded. Carry on.