Breastfeeding vs. Bottle Feeding

I've never considered using a different pediatrician than the one my daughter has seen since birth. It's not that I always agree with him—I don't—but he treats me as an integral part of her healthcare.

I’ve never considered using a different pediatrician than the one my daughter has seen since birth. Wild horses couldn’t drag me away. It’s not that I always agree with him—I don’t—but he treats me as an integral part of her healthcare.

I’ve been his partner from the first day. He showed up in my hospital room six hours after she was born to tell me that he’d checked her out and everything looked great. Then I got The Question: Did I intend to breast or bottle feed? When I responded “bottle,” I inhaled for the incredible amount of air I’d need to defend my position. But before I could begin, he held up his hand to stop me. “It’s okay,” he told me. “She’ll be fine no matter which you choose.”

This pediatrician provided me with a safe haven from the social stigma instituted by a society that is relentlessly evangelical about breast feeding. For example, not only does the federal government tell women that their babies are “born to be breast fed,” it also goes on to state that women who breast feed have increased self-esteem and contribute to a more productive workforce (insinuating, of course, that you have decreased self-esteem and are unproductive at work if you don’t). In short, while feeding a baby seems like it ought to be simple, that first decision alone was gut wrenching.

The guilt doesn’t stop there, however. Even when mothers choose to breast feed, formula’s frequently on the menu when Mom’s milk production runs short, and unfortunately, finding a formula that a child will a) accept and b) digest well can be a challenge.

For some reason, here’s where parents tend to take matters into their own hands; instead of consulting a pediatrician, they will often turn to friends, relatives, and formula ads in parenting magazines to help them determine which formula is best for their child.

My own daughter started to colic out of the blue at five months of age, and the administrator at the daycare center suggested that I try a soy-based formula. I spent two weeks wearing second-hand formula before I gave up and tried another milk-based formula.

Yes, I knew that colic and regurgitation are common infant behaviors, but I moved to change formulas anyway. I’m a parent; it’s what we do. A recently published study of infant intolerance to standard cow-milk protein formula and partially hydrolyzed cow-milk protein formula appears to illustrate this very well.

Are parents reluctant to discuss issue of infant feeding with pediatricians because of guilt, because it’s supposed to be “natural,” or because it’s considered a simple food choice issue? I don’t know. What I do know is that I’m indebted to my daughter’s pediatrician for his understanding, and if I had it to do over again, I’d have gone to him more often for nutritional guidance.