Reasons for Bottle Feeding

July 6, 2007 at 10:59 pm 18 comments


Disclaimer:  I am very much in support of breastfeeding and did so with my daughter Zannie for nearly 18 months which only came to an end when I had surgery and my milk supply went away for good.  When Zannie was born, I spent ten days with a hospital pump and a supplemental nursing system in order to get my milk to come in.  I went to La Leche meetings.  I was into it and so glad I didn’t give up during those first weeks.  So, it is with that in mind that I state the following…

Some People need to bottle feed.  OK?

I live in the land of patchouli and granola girls.  I live in a wonderful community where individuality is celebrated.  I grew up here and I love it here.  But I have to say that I keep getting this double take when people see me feeding Isabel with a bottle.  I ignored it at first, but it keeps happening.  Now it’s beginning to annoy me.  Finally, I think I’ve figured out that what people are reacting to is that Isabel is a small baby and I’m bottle feeding and people are wondering how I could possibly be giving my baby formula.  I was thinking about it and there are many reasons that people might be excluded from breast feeding and so why are we so quick to judge one another?  Is it the mommy wars? (My boobs are better than yours…)  Is it a general feeling of superiority? (Only an idiot would choose not to breast feed…) I mean, really….what is behind that knitted brow I see when you look at me feeding my beautiful baby.  I’m grateful for these bottles.  (PVC-free, natch…)  For the first time in her life, she is getting the nutrition she needs. 

It would have been wonderful if I could have breast fed Isabel.  (For that matter, it would have been wonderful if she could have been breast fed by her first mother too…) Nursing was a wonderful time I had with Zannie and we both miss it.  (She swears she remembers it…)  If Isabel had been a newborn, I might have tried what some adoptive mothers have successfully done and attempted to breast feed.  But, Isabel was 8 months when we brought her home and had only been given those wacky, Russian bottles with n.ipples that let the baby drink 8 oz in about 5 minutes.  I could never replicate that when I was nursing Zannie, let alone in an adoption scenario. 

So, here was my immediate short list of good reasons why mothers bottle feed and I think I might laminate this and hand it out to the more obvious people whose disapproval is rather evident.

Top 10 Reasons For Bottle Feeding Your Baby

(Or, give me a break ok…I’m doing what I need to do to feed my kid)

1. You’ve adopted

2. You’re babysitting

3. You take medication that is contraindicated to nursing

4. It makes your lovely breasts crack and bleed and then your baby screams

5. You had surgery and the anesthesia made your milk supply weak or go away completely. (Happened to me!)

6. Your baby weans herself on her own.  (My friend’s baby refused to nurse after 4 months)

7. Your husband or partner wishes to experience the close bonding that bottle feeding affords to him/her with the baby which is very important.

8. You’re exhausted, haven’t slept in weeks, & not getting any support for breastfeeding or even those around you are against your breastfeeding.

9. There weren’t enough community resources to help you right after giving birth.  Getting your milk to come in is difficult for many women.  Without my lactation consultant, I don’t think I would have been successful in breastfeeding.

10.  And last but not least, sometimes women just decide not to.  And while I absolutely support breastfeeding and think that all women should at least try to breastfeed, it doesn’t mean that if I walk by a mom in a restaurant or a park and I see her feeding her baby with a bottle, that I should whip my head around to make sure if I was seeing right.  Her baby will be fine and is getting proper nutrition from the formula in that bottle.

That’s what I wish would go through other people’s heads when they’re watching me feed my girl.  No, that formula isn’t full of all the incredible goodness of mother’s milk, but the whole time Isabel drinks a bottle, we are looking at each other and she is tapping her fingers on mine and she is curling into me while I’m rocking her gently.  It’s very, very sweet and intimate.  It’s wonderful. Heavenly even. 

I just had to get that out there.  Carry on.


Entry filed under: Adoption, breastfeeding, Isabel, Motherhood, support.

Some of her best friends are adopted… My little Meme

18 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Mala  |  July 7, 2007 at 5:51 am

    WOW! I got the opposite reaction because I nursed my baby! From some people’s reaction you would have thought I must have slide straight down the evolutionary chart and was some sort of uneducated cavewoman. One of my friend’s Mom was absolutely disgusted, saying breastfeeding was what “poor women do”. What?! Amazing how breastfeeding seems to illicit so many strong, and often unwanted, opinions.
    I say keep on keepin’ on.

  • 2. Mala  |  July 7, 2007 at 5:52 am

    oh I also wanted to mention… I LOVE this picture!!!!!!!!!

  • 3. Leona  |  July 7, 2007 at 7:40 am

    Oh, Tina–she is an absolutly yummily beautiful angel of a baby!! Her face couldn’t get any sweeter if you smeared her with a pound of buttercream! LOVE it!

    I’m always appalled at the assumptions people make–the leaps their brains go to immediately (e.g., she’s using a bottle+bad mommy—PUH-LEEEZE!)
    Don’t sweat the rubberneckers who goggle with disapproval (I know it’s really hard);I’m wondering why they don’t assume it could be breast milk in the bottle? (I realize if you look long enough there is a visual difference, but hey…). Maybe next time someone gives you one of “those looks”, if they are close enough, just say something like “Yes, she is a sweet baby”, “…beautiful baby”, “….healthy baby”. (insert favorite phrase here).

    OR….You want I should come up dair an’ smack sumbody fohr ya?! : )

    Smiles and hugs to all your family–we miss you!

  • 4. random opinionated english bird  |  July 7, 2007 at 1:46 pm

    In my humble opinion, you ought to go to the same shop where you buy the formula and get yourself a temporary attitude problem enabling you to confront the staring trouts OR get one of those t-shirts where you can have anything printed saying something along the lines of “this child could be my niece, or maybe even my god daughter……. in actual fact she’s my adoptive daugther from a country you’ve probably never heard of, so I’m already doing my bit – STOP STARING & FCUK OFF!!!” I bet you could get FCuk to support you too.

    **not to question you, but are you SURE they were staring at you for that reason and you didn’t actually have your skirt tucked in your pants?**

    take care x

  • 5. anonymom  |  July 8, 2007 at 8:56 am

    Another reason: galactosemia. Children with this inherited condition lack an enzyme for digesting the galactose in breastmilk. The galactose builds up in an infant’s body and becomes toxic. These children must be fed soy-based formula.

  • 6. mama2roo  |  July 8, 2007 at 3:47 pm

    No one should ever have to even explain. I’m a firm believer in “nunya!” Your daughter is absolutely beautiful.

  • 7. Anne  |  July 8, 2007 at 7:27 pm

    Can I just throw in a word about the people I have termed the “Breast Feeding Nazis.” After attending the breastfeeding class during my first pregnancy I was ready to never offer a bottle. You know, NIPPLE CONFUSION!!!! Well, long story short my son was dehydrated and spiked a fever on our first night home. He was admitted to the hospital put through a spinal tap, iv antibiotics, iv fluids, etc. It was eventally determined that it was just the dehydration. When the Nursing Nazi came to check on us after we’d been there for 2 days she said, “Oh, well. He wasn’t that dehydrated. I nearly beat her bloody with my rented hospital pump.

    I continued to nurse him and stopped when I became pregnant again. I made sure my second son was offered a bottle before my milk came in. He never took it and he went on the happily nurse for many months. I also helped more than one other person get their baby to take the breast when the rest of their families were more in favor of just giving him a bottle.

    So, I think breast feeding is great, but have some perspective people! The idea of judging someone for bottle feeding is just absurd. I think it’s better, but there are millions of successful and emotionally healthy people who are fed formula. My adopted daughter is a genius ( I swear!) and she was being fed tea and mush before we brought her home.

    You are obviously doing an awesome job parenting so forget about those crazy breast feeding nazis.

    Or you could throw a banket over your bottle, lean forward and voila!

  • 8. Shanny  |  July 9, 2007 at 7:10 pm

    Man is she gorgeous! And yeah, everyone needs to just MYOB!

  • 9. totaltransformation  |  July 16, 2007 at 10:10 am

    What a precious face!

  • 10. HeatherS  |  July 16, 2007 at 2:40 pm

    Great list. I always dreaded pulling out a bottle for my son out in public. The times people asked about the bottle (and there were an awful lot of times), I usually broke out reason #1. Then for the few who’d bring up adoptive breast feeding, I’d mention #3. But the whole time I’d be thinking that I really shouldn’t have to justify myself. Advocating for breastfeeding in general (which I do) doesn’t have to mean judging every *individual* woman who is bottle feeding.

    Your daughter, by the way, is absolutely adorable.

  • 11. Margie  |  July 16, 2007 at 3:30 pm

    Isabel is absolutely ADORABLE!!! Those wise eyes, wow!!

    We bottle fed both of our children for a variety of reasons – I had no experience breastfeeding and had no idea that I’d be able to; my crazy job would have made it a huge challenge; and since my husband was the primary care giver, it simply made more sense for us. And the kids are fine, the only yardstick by which I can judge whether we did the right thing or not.

    I was in a forum the other day and there was a thread about adoptive breast feeding, and someone referenced an article that said the health benefits of breast feeding were tied not just to breast milk, but to a child’s mother’s breast milk at a particular point in time. I’ve never heard this before and can’t confirm if it’s true, but it is an interesting concept.

  • 12. cloudscome  |  July 19, 2007 at 2:30 am

    Tina your daughter is so beautiful! I came here from Third Mom and I love your blog.

  • 13. Danelle  |  May 11, 2009 at 8:52 pm

    Thanks for this…I tried breastfeeding my son for about three weeks. I hated it. Maybe I should have tried longer, but it was so much easier switching to formula. My husband could help with late night feedings, our families enjoyed feeding the baby, and everyone loved having that bonding opportunity. I am eight and a half months pregnant and planning on trying again, but it is always nice to see someone support all mothers, not just those who breastfeed. So many out there are down right mean and vicious if you choose to bottlefeed your children! It is a bit crazy!

  • 14. Anone  |  September 7, 2011 at 10:05 am

    “I was in a forum the other day and there was a thread about adoptive breast feeding, and someone referenced an article that said the health benefits of breast feeding were tied not just to breast milk, but to a child’s mother’s breast milk at a particular point in time”

    Margie- Can you explain that more? Your talking about breast milk. “..the health benefits of breast feeding not just tied to breast milk but to a child’s mother’s breast milk at a partiular point in time.” That does not make sense to me. What is the difference? Health benefits of breast feeding always occur. A particular point in time?

    How silly to judge someone on whether they breast or bottle feed. Its a personal choice. There are many different factors to consider and personal circumstances. How to feed your child is not necessarily a black and white decision. We are not in anyone else’s shoes but our own. Perhaps if we were in someone elses shoes- we would have made the same choice.

    Its not anyone elses choice or beeswax how I feed my own child. Worry about feeding your own kids. I know many adults (some breast fed and others bottle fed). They turned out just fine, healthy and smart- whether breast or bottle fed.

    Your daughter is beautiful! Rest assured not everyone is judgemental, critical of bottle feeding!

  • 15. tokyo milk candles  |  July 30, 2012 at 10:25 pm

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  • 16. Erin  |  September 3, 2012 at 11:32 am

    That’s sad that people take the time to stare like that. I get the same stares nursing my baby, so it’s almost like you are damned if you do, and damned if you don’t. 😦
    I’ll be honest, I do stare at babies (ALL babies!) because I love babies. I hope none of their mothers think I’m being disagreeable. I’m always smiling.
    Although I do have one pet peeve, and it does happen to center around bottles. When I see a small baby with a propped bottle and an inattentive caregiver. That just makes me bonkers! I feel like feeding (whether at the breast or bottle) should be a social time. And a tiny baby should be held close and cuddled and monitored for feeding cues (or at least watched!) while they eat. I see it more often than I’d like, and it makes me sad 😦

  • 17. Lisa from Bottle Babies  |  September 3, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    I think the number 1 reason for not exclusively breastfeeding should be because bottle feeding is best for her family. There may be 101 reasons behind that (medical, physical, social, economic, choice, etc) but what is important is that baby is being fed and family is happy. No one should have to explain their choice/necessity for not exclusively best feeding cause quite frankly it’s no one’s business. I bottle feed my babies cause it is best for my family. That’s it.

    People may look at you funny when you pull out that bottle, they may even call you names. But the ONLY persons opinion of you that matters is from the one that calls you mummy.

    I am the founder of Bottle Babies – a non for profit designed to offer both practical and emotional support to bottle feeding families. Please drop by and say hi on our facebook page –

  • 18. lhs  |  May 28, 2014 at 7:47 am

    Although it’s just starting to gain recognition, there is a growing number of women who simply cannot breastfeed due to an issue known as Insufficient Glandular Tissue. Trying to breastfeed with this condition (that is woefully under taught) is akin to a man born without legs trying to run on his own two feet (which he does not possess).

    I loved the article.. especially how it took a long time to actually really get to the fact that she’s adopted. I just thought I’d add a reason to your list – the fact that for some women it’s not even medically or biologically possible to breastfeed.


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