Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Is breast or bottle better?

I found the best chart for deciding whether to breastfeed or bottle feed your baby. Witness the wisdom:
Breast or bottle…which is better? That all depends on you and your baby. Here's a list of some of the pros and cons of each:
Breast- versus Bottle-Feeding, a Comparison
Breast-feeding Pros Bottle-feeding Pros
Very convenient—no preparation or cleanup required Also convenient, especially if you use formula and disposable bottles

No need to use medication to dry up the milk you naturally produce

No need to deal with breast-milk leakage if you're away from baby during feeding times
Nursing provides a time of close personal and physical bonding between Mom and baby

Both Mom and Dad can bottle-feed the baby with equal ease
Nursing induces mild uterine contractions, helping the new mom regain her prepregnancy shape No need to deal with the breast pump
The rest of the article continues the theme. First, it extols the benefits of bottle feeding, since that of course deserves the most attention. Breastfeeding, after all, is so much the default in our culture that bottle feeding really could use some cheerleaders.

Bottle feeding, it tells you, has gotten so easy these days. Everything is easily sterilized, unlike those dirty, dirty breasts, you nursing hussy -- a valid point, I'll grant, since I think it's been four days since my last shower. Parenting a newborn is hard on hygiene.

One very important benefit of bottle feeding (and I'm surprised this didn't make it into the chart) is that you can get bottles decorated with your favorite cartoon characters. "Your newborn probably hasn't had time to pick her favorites yet," the article joshes in an aside.
There are bottles with special grips so baby has an easier time holding them when he is old enough to grab. There are bottles that almost seem capable of feeding baby without benefit of a grown up.
Awesome! Self-feeding baby! That's so perfect, because of course babies don't want or need to be close to their caregivers. Feeding an infant is an exchange of calories, nothing more, so much better to prop them up somewhere with some high-density formula so they can really go at it.
"Bottle-feeding can mean both convenience and mobility and is a perfectly viable choice," the article insists. No, really, it's a great choice. Don't let anyone guilt you into thinking breastfeeding is the biological norm and perhaps worth a few "sacrifices."

You'd think that bottle feeding meant just the method of feeding, not what's put inside, but you'd be wrong. Witness this: "[Women who bottle feed] also like the freedom it gives them to share feeding responsibilities with their partners without having to fill bottles of expressed breast milk" (emphasis mine). And see above, in the chart where it says breastfeeding carries the onerous duty of learning to operate a breast pump, a difficult mechanical device that requires a special license and years of training to operate. Oh, wait, no it doesn't. But the article is nice enough to warn you, with a sidebar titled "Mom-ism," which implies the acquired wisdom of all mothers, "The pump does work, but many women find it painful and bothersome to use."

But it doesn't answer a more basic question: Since when does breastfeeding require pumping? That's basically implying breastfeeding requires bottle feeding, which means you get the worst of both worlds with breastfeeding. As the next section of the article will attest:

"Momma's Own Milk?" it asks with a question mark. And then it hits you with the negatives right off the bat: "For some, breast-feeding is like a religion. They can be as dogmatic as any sidewalk evangelist handing out pamphlets about salvation can be." Those damn breastfeeders! They're always shoving your boobs into your child's mouth!

"One reason commonly cited in favor of nursing" ("commonly cited"? This sounds like this stupid reason is going to be refuted -- bring it on!) "is that breast-feeding a baby, at least for the first year, provides increased immunity." Oh, that stupid reason. Well, what are Clorox wipes for if not compensating for my formula-fed baby's decreased immunity? And there are always antibiotics if that fails!

"There is no food so perfectly designed for the human infant." Yeah, blah, blah, blah -- you're just phoning it in here. Formula I'm sure is just as good, since it was actually designed for the human infant -- by scientists! They're experts!

"Another reason to consider nursing your newborn is that it allows for a special type of bonding. Mother and baby are closely connected in a way that will soon be replaced by baby's need for independence." And I do mean "soon," because it's a weird type of bonding. You're attaching your baby to your boob, come on!

That's all right, though -- "Of course there are many ways to bond with your baby." So that reason wasn't a real reason after all. OK, breastfeeding has increased immunity and so far no other benefits.

"A final reason for nursing is one that is purely mom-centered, but that doesn't make it any less valid a reason than any of the baby-centered ones." Yes, pretty much the only one who's rooting for breastfeeding is that stupid baby -- what about ME?

Well, the article reassures us, breastfeeding makes us feel superior. We're the only ones with the breasts, after all! Plus, it's a handy reason to diss your relatives: "When your mother or mother-in-law is being too pushy about the right way to fold a diaper or to dress the baby you can just say, 'Excuse me, I have to nurse my baby now.'” Because of course you wouldn't just nurse in front of them (icky!), and you couldn't just say, "Thanks for your advice. Want some bean dip?"

So, two reasons to breastfeed -- wow, that's a lot. We'd better find some reasons it sucks.

Not to worry! Here we go: "But nursing is not for everybody." (Just for women and their babies.) "It hurts at first." (Well, not for me it didn't, but maybe I wasn't doing it wrong.) It goes on to assure you that it will probably never get better feeling, either, when actually it feels pretty darn good. But I guess that's too icky to contemplate as well. Because:

"In addition, some women are uncomfortable with their bodies and feel self-conscious or inhibited about nursing. This is no crime." This is no crime! Yes, feeling prudish and refusing to breastfeed because of that discomfort is not against the law. Phew! Because parenting requests no sacrifices, growth, or selflessness of parents. "Some women literally feel like cows when they try nursing." Moo. This is because real milk is cow's milk, and human milk is just...grody. "If you have a negative image of yourself you will not be able to relax with it and nursing will be uncomfortable." Don't bother doing anything that makes you uncomfortable, even if the alternative for your child is crappy food. It's just not worth the agony of enduring a possible nip slip.

So, to sum up, here are the real advantages and disadvantages of bottle feeding:

Pros -- convenience (this is mentioned several times over), no embarrassing leaking, no pumping (again, this article apparently assumes bottle feeding = formula feeding), sterile bottles, pretty bottles (can't decorate boobs with cartoon characters unless you've got some tats), mobility (because breasts are chained to the home), lets Dad do the work so you don't need the mother to feed the baby -- heck, you don't need anyone at all to feed the baby

Cons -- right, what were those again? There are none! Woohoo! I think we've found our winner already.

But, let's review the breastfeeding list just to be fair:

Pros -- convenience (but not much of an edge, what with dishwashers and disposable bottles and all! Breasts are just as complicated as that to take care of -- oh, wait, they're as difficult as an elbow to take care of), no need to use medication to dry up that pesky milk (what a pro! Note that this is a slyly masked con of bottle feeding, but it didn't make it into that discussion), "special" bonding (but regular bonding over a bottle is good enough), helps Mom regain prepregnancy shape faster, immunity, perfect food yada yada yada, and most important of all -- excuse to ignore pesky relatives

Cons -- inconvenient (yes, I know this seems to be contradicting its own pro, but come on, it is! You have to wash your breasts and...um...wear a bra and put on a shirt...and...um...wait, why is bottle feeding convenient?), impractical, embarrassing leaking, must pump (apparently) and pumps are soooo hard (ouch, my thinker hurts), breasts not as cute as bottles, BUT breasts are super sexualized so are TOO cute to be intended for a baby, your nipples will bleed and fall off, immobility (can't bring those breasts just anywhere -- there are laws, you know!), lets Dad slack off and go to strip clubs to view non-lactating breasts (as God intended), and, sadly, the mother must feed baby in close proximity to said baby (oh, the disgust of being cuddled with a warm, cute infant)

Well, I'm convinced. I hope we know now what's best, but don't worry that the article is evangelizing bottle feeding like one of those dogmatic breastfeeders. As it says, what choice you make "depends on you and your baby."

Wait -- on my baby? My baby gets a say in this? I thought this was all about me. What's convenient for me? What will help me get my body back in shape? What will mar my perfect silk blouse? What will allow me more sleep and to make sexy time with my husband? What makes me comfortable and works for me? And, very importantly, what cartoon characters do I want to look at every time my baby eats?

Nope, I don't see room in there for baby's unreasonable demands for that "perfect food." Sorry, chump.

I've been inspired to apply this logic to all sorts of health issues. I made my own smoking pros & cons chart to make the tough choice about whether or not it would be a good idea to start the habit. Take a look:

Smoking or not…which is better? That all depends on you and your lungs. Here's a list of some of the pros and cons of each:
Smoking versus Non-smoking, a Comparison
Smoking Pros Non-smoking Pros
Makes you look cool
Have to work harder to look cool, such as by killing people, which is frowned on by authorities whereas smoking is still legal

Blowing smoke rings gives you a hobby AND a skill

Could blow bubbles instead (but again with the coolness factor)
Get that sweet bulge of a box in your rolled-up t-shirt sleeve

Probably you're not wearing t-shirts anyway, as there's no place there to put your pocket protector, loser

Get to enjoy the outdoors while taking numerous work breaks and can make lots of like-minded friends while standing around the butt receptacle

Won't have to feel that sweet nicotine high so can concentrate on other drugs, such as alcohol or smack

Have something readily available to trade while in prison

Have your mouth free to overeat and pack on the pounds

Get lots of attention from those cute nurses and sexy doctors when in iron lung

Won't have to pay full deductible on health insurance -- but also won't get to take advantage of all the benefits offered


Well, my choice is made. Smoking and bottle feeding are the way to go. They're what's good for me, so they're by extension what's good for my baby.

If you scroll down the page, you'll see that the quoted article is excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Motherhood -- ahhhh...now I get it.

1 comments:

Victoria Marshal said...

You've convinced me! My baby don't need no fancy boob milk, OR clean lungs.

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