Yeah, so we’re two gay dudes; as such, breastfeeding is pretty much out. Very briefly after they were born, both our boys’ biological mothers tried to breast feed. Both women dried up pretty quickly however, for which I was quite thankful – both women were heavy smokers, and the one-and-only time that breast milk was sent home to us by our eldest son’s birth mother, I nearly gagged and had to pour it down the drain. “Poured out breast milk?! But think of the poor children,” you poo-poo’ers out there are saying! Well, please remember: I’m gay, and I find breasts and/or the fluids they leak mildly revolting. Best interests of the child or not, there ain’t no way I’m handling a sticky, warm cup full of chunky orange slurpy from some random lady’s boob. NO WAY.
(ugh, ok – clearing my cache of mental images and moving on…)
Breast milk is undeniably the first choice for a baby, since it is created by humans, for humans. So, if it is available for your baby (and you can handle it without being physically ill), then by all means use breast milk. The nice ladies at www.maternalinstinct.ca have thoughtfully come up with a top-10 list of the benefits of breastfeeding, just to make those of us who don’t/can’t do it feel even more like bad parents:
10 Benefits of Breastfeeding
1. Boosts immune function and may prevent a variety of illnesses
2. May prevent allergies
3. May prevent SIDS
4. Is easier to digest
5. Is made specifically for your baby
6. Is always available, sterile and the correct temperature
7. Is free!
8. May prevent certain types of cancer in the mother
9. May prevent postpartum depression
10. Helps moms get more sleep!
(*Notice the number of may’s in that list [5 of them], as well as the (accidental, I’m sure) absence of the word dads in #10.)
Health Canada reported that while about 87% of mothers try breastfeeding, only about 26% are still plugging away at it six months later. The numbers for the United States are a bit different, but the general trend holds. Everyone else? Well, we’re mixing drinks like madmen, for our tubby little buggers => between six and eight times per day for the first 4-6 months or so.
I was bottle fed when I was a babe, as was my hubby. Our three-year old was bottle-fed, and now our youngest is being too. What harm did our mothers do to us by bottle feeding us, and what damage are we now doing to our sons? Arguably, I would say none. I have no allergies, no asthma, no ADHD, and I didn’t die of SIDS as a kid. Ditto for hubby. In fact, I would go so far as to say (in my non-medical opinion) that bottle feeding is superior to breast feeding, except for fact that we evolved to be fed on the stuff until we grew teeth (pshaw! minor details!). And so, in recognition of all the dads, moms, or other parental units out there who bottle feed their children for whatever reason, here is MY top-1o list of the benefits of bottle feeding:
Top-10 Benefits of Bottle Feeding
10. You don’t need to give your baby vitamin-D or iron supplements, like some breastfed babies (baby formula already has enough of both added in);
9. Your baby should drink from a sterilized source for the first few months of life – I know my dishwasher’s ‘sanitize’ cycle cleans my bottles properly… but who knows where that breast has been?!?
8. You can eat and drink what you like, or take any medications you need, and know that your baby is still getting the nutrients and vitamins that she needs from her bottle;
7. Bottles allow you to monitor how much your baby is drinking (short of weighing a mother to the exact ounce before and after breast feeding, there is very little way to keep track of what your little breast-drinking tyke is sucking in);
6. Baby formula can be used as coffee whitener in a pinch – try asking any woman if she’d mind a pinch for some coffee cream!
5. Anyone can feed the baby (your parents, your friends, Jehovah’s Witnesses who come to the door [that’ll be the last time they bug you, I can guarantee], etc.), which ultimately allows your baby to bond with other adults, other than just the boob-donor;
4. When your baby starts to eat infant cereal that calls for breast milk or formula, it’s much easier to just add a scoop of formula than to… squirt in (?) some breast milk (honestly, I don’t even know how that would work!);
3. When your baby has developed enough manual dexterity, he can drink all by himself (around 5-7 months, each of our boys were able to grasp and lift their bottle by themselves. This allowed us to place them in their doughnut or their rocking chair somewhere close to us and let them do all the work by themselves while we chatted with them, but continued to do whatever we were doing);
2. Bottle-fed babies typically eat less-frequently than their breast-fed buddies. This means that they can go for longer stretches through the night, sooner than said buddies (ie: you get to sleep through the night MUCH SOONER than your breastfeeding friends!);
and the top benefit to bottle feeding your baby:
1. no breasts to deal with (Yay!).
And with that, it’s time for me to get a good (FULL) night’s sleep!