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Breastfeed, Pump or Formula, which is the best way to feed your baby?

Updated: Mar 4, 2020

When it comes to feeding your baby, there are SO MANY different opinions out there, and it is normally a sensitive subject. So that is why I want to talk about it. This is actually a follow-up post from The Milk Cow on the 12th Floor. Having gone through all the three options myself for 7 months now, I can honestly say there is NO RIGHT WAY to feed your baby.

Breastfeeding is all the rage right now, and many mums feel pressured to do so even if it doesn't suit them. Is breastfeeding a good way to feed your baby? Of course, it is a beautiful thing to be able to breastfeed, and a great way to bond and the most natural way to feed your baby. But is it the only way? Definitely not.

I know some mums who simply do not enjoy breastfeeding, and it is important to remember it is okay to feed your baby formula if breastfeeding isn't for you. You are still giving your baby nutritious food and not depriving them of anything. The important thing is to remember, A Happy mama = A Happy baby.

My Personal Experience

When I was pregnant, I was determined that breastfeeding was the ONLY WAY TO GO. I didn't want to buy formula as back up. I didn't even want to buy bottles because my mind was so made up that I only want to breastfeed. However, once the baby was born, Ha! Reality hits home, and I do need the formula and the bottles, after all.

If you have been following my story, my breastfeeding experience WAS NOT EASY. In fact, it was unbelievably frustrating at the beginning that I use to get angry with Joshua for not breastfeeding properly. (My poor boy.) Looking back, it was so silly of me to get so worked up about it because of this idealistic image of how I should be feeding my baby.

The Pros and Cons of Breastfeeding

Yes, you read correctly, there are cons sides too. As we all know (or have been told repeatedly), breastfeeding is the BEST way to feed your baby, it is the most natural and it is tailor-made food for your baby, which is true. However, there are other factors to consider, as well.

Let's talk about the Cons first...

  • The Mother's Diet - A mummy friend of mine stopped feeding her baby breastmilk quite early on, and I asked her why. Her answer was simple. "I am not sure how nutritious my breastmilk is when my diet consists mainly of fried chicken and chips. So I think formula will be better for my baby." Which is a fair point, and I respect that. It is true that whatever you eat, your baby eats when you are breastfeeding. So if you do not have the healthiest diet, then formula might be a better choice.

  • It is Effecting Your Mental Health - This point is so important, yet many mothers are asham to discuss it. Some women do feel depress or do not enjoy the breastfeeding process at all. If it is getting you down and making you angry when dealing with your baby, take a step back and stop. Then maybe breastfeeding is not for you. It is okay; breastfeeding can be frustrating; you are not alone.

  • Feed on Demand - Okay, depending on the type of mother you are this can be a Pro or a Con. I personally prefer a schedule, so there is less second-guessing what my baby wants. If you are primarily breastfeeding, chances are you will be feeding on demand, just because there is no way of telling how much your baby eats each meal. So if they cry, chances are they are hungry. The good thing about feed on demand is, if your baby is fussy, you just need to whip your boob out, and that normally calms your baby down. You also don't have to faff around with the bottle when your baby is crying because of hunger. The downside is, you are basically a walking buffet for your baby so you don't have a lot of free time. (Or any me-time at all.)

  • Your baby refuses the Bottle - When you are The one thing IOne of the most convenient thing about breastfeeding is, all you need to bring out with you is you. If your baby breastfeeds well, your diaper bag will be pretty lighter. All you need to bring is diapers, wet wipes, and tissues. (And a changing mat if you like to use your own.)nts breasts.

Now let's talk about the Pros (Which I am sure most of you know already.)

  • It does Boost your baby's Immune System - Personally, the best part about breastfeeding is that you are passing your antibodies to your baby, so they have a better immune system. That was my main motivation to breastfeed.

  • It is Free - It was only after I stopped breastfeeding that I realised how much money I was saving when I was purely pumping and breastfeeding. Formula can get expensive, especially when your baby pretty much finishes a can in a week or so.

  • It is the easiest way to settle your baby - The one thing I do love about breastfeeding is that it was my favourite tool to use to calm my baby. It has a 99.9% success rate, and it is by far the easiest thing to do to settle an upset baby. (But this was only after the third month when he knows how to latch on properly and can breastfeed without problem. Before that, breastfeeding was part of the reason of his tantrums.)

  • You don't have to carry so much stuff with you on the go - One of the most convenient thing about breastfeeding is, all you need to bring out with you is you. If your baby breastfeeds well, your diaper bag will be pretty light. All you need(But this was only after the third month when he knows how to latch on properly and can breastfeed without problem. Before that, breastfeeding was part of the reason for his tantrums.)

The Pros and Cons with Pumping

I was mainly a pump mum because Joshua didn't breastfeed well. He has tongue-tie, and breastfeeding was stressful for both of us. So the first three months, I mainly pumped. It was only after the third month that he miraculously manages to breastfeed with ease. (So sometimes, all they need is a little bit of time to learn how to breastfeed.)

Let's talk about the Pros

  • I had more Milk - When I was pumping, I had more milk. When I switched to mainly breastfeeding, my milk production dropped. (Yes, it can happen.) I guess it is because I didn't empty my breast after each feed. So it was a signal to my body that I was producing enough when I was not. So when I was purely breastfeeding, I still needed to pump after each feed to keep my milk production up, which was a pain!

  • I had better control over my time - When I was pumping, Joshua was on a schedule, so it was a lot easier for me to plan and find time to work or do my blog. My pump time became my time to do my work, or watch a TV series. Which was actually quite nice.

  • Other people can help me feed - The best thing about pumping is that your baby is still getting breastmilk while other people can help you feed. It is also a great way for Daddy to bond with the baby too so he doesn't feel so left out.

The Cons

  • Getting block ducts - When you are pumping, your boobs are like clockwork, so if you are late or missed a pump, there is a high chance of getting block ducts. Block ducts are one of the most painful things you can experience in early motherhood. I cannot even describe the pain, there are times I want to cry because it is so painful.

  • Finding a place to pump -I know some women are fine pumping in public, but I am just not one of them. Maybe because when I pump, I have to massage my boobs to get the milk out better, so it is a bit awkward when I am sitting in a restaurant or cafe while having to manhandle my breasts. Even with a breastfeeding cover, I just don't feel very comfortable doing it in public. So I always had to go find a breastfeeding room or a toilet to pump when I am out and about.

  • Bulky and Heavy Bags - When you are out and about, even without the baby, you have to carry your pump with you, unless you can get home before your scheduled pump time. So it can be quite bulky and heavy.

  • More washing up - The one thing I do not like about pumping is there are more to wash up. When you are sleep deprived and don't have time to eat, shower or do anything else the last thing you want to do is to wash up bottles and your pump kit.

Pros and Cons with Formula

As I have weaned off breastfeeding, I am purely on formula now. Which I have to be honest, am loving it! (I will be sharing my weaning story in another blog post later.)

Let's talk about the Pros

  • No more engorged breasts - By far, my favorite part of no longer breastfeeding or pumping. I do not miss engorge breasts. My boobs finally feel like my own again, and it is so much more comfortable. I can finally wear my old bras again. Hurray!

  • My schedule is no longer dictated by my boobs - All of a sudden, I have so much more time on my hands. I am still busy (as all mums are), but not having to pump every four hours or have a baby attached to me every two hours, is amazing! I think you will always be busy when you are a mum, but not having to pump or breastfeed does free up a lot more of your time because other people can help if you choose to have help.

  • Other people can feed - When your baby is formula-fed, anyone can feed him, which is super helpful when you need to go back to work.

  • You are less precious about wasting milk - I am a lot more relaxed with formula when Joshua doesn't finish a bottle. I remember when Joshua was purely on breastmilk whenever he didn't finish his bottle I use to get so upset because all my hard work will be going down the drain - literally.

The Cons

  • It is expensive - Formula can get expensive, especially if you want to go organic. We are spending over HK$2000 a month on formula alone. Of course, the price varies depending on the brand you use.

  • Finding the right formula - There might be some wastage at the beginning when you are finding the right formula to suit your baby. Some babies have more sensitive stomachs, so they might not react well with some brands. So there might be some trial and error at the beginning.

  • You have more stuff to carry around - Like pumping, when your baby is purely on formula you do have to carry more stuff. Formula, bottles, along with all the other stuff in your diaper bag. The good news is, you are carrying less stuff than when you pump.

At the end of the day, how you feed your baby is a very personal choice and there is no right or wrong answer. Just do what is most comfortable for you. So if you ever feel judged by other people, just brush it off. You are a great mum, and you know what is best for you and your baby.

Having experienced all three, it really doesn't no matter if you breastfeed, pump or formula feed your baby, as long as your baby is getting plenty of love, they don't care which one you feed them. Joshua doesn't seem to care, as long as he gets fed, has a clean diaper, get plenty of hugs and kisses, then he is a happy baby.

Sending you love & positive thoughts,

Christine xxx

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