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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Thoughts on Feedings: Formula, Breast milk and Solids

Not too long ago, I was talking to a soon to be pastor's wife about formula feeding our babies and how we both felt that in Christian circles, it is almost considered "Christian" to breast feed. We have sometimes felt that other Christian moms looked down on our decision not to breast feed. Below are the questions that Aaron and I thought through when deciding not to breast feed our babies.

1) Does the Bible call this thing I'm considering a sin? If yes, then my decision stops here. I must choose not to engage in that thing that nailed Jesus to the cross.

2) Can this be done to God's glory? Would I be able to lovingly acknowledge my Savior and give Him credit in this?

3) Can we financially afford this?

4) Do we simply want to do this?

Once we established that we weren't sinning, would be able to glorify God in caring for our children through their feedings, we moved onto the other questions that you obviously know our answer to.

Abel and Belle have never had a drop of breast milk. While in the NICU, they had what their nurse called a "cotton swab" dab of colostrum for a few days...that was it. And by God's grace alone, they have thrived. At their 9 month well visit in March, they had both caught up in weight with their birth age and not adjusted age. Belle was in the 48th percentile weighing in at over 19 lbs and Abel was in the 50th percentile weighing in at over 20 lbs. Again, by God's grace alone, they have been generally healthy even after being born at 31 weeks (although Abel did have an infection while in the NICU that was treated with antibiotics - breast milk antibodies wouldn't have cured this infection). They have each had a mild cold and the occasional runny nose, like most babies and children. But, that is it - no other illnesses at all (not even the common stomach bug). They have also been in various church childcare settings (Sunday morning worship, small group meetings in homes, special classes, etc) with other children on a weekly basis since around 6 months old. While breast milk does provide great antibodies, there are other factors that determine your baby's health and immune system's strength. I was breast fed for 6 weeks (not in day care) and my sister never had a drop of breast milk or colostrum (attended daycare) and my mom says she was far healthier than I was as a baby. As a pediatrician told me, formula has been improved over the years and all that is missing out of today's formula are the antibodies.

We also started solids at 4 months old, mainly because I thought the weight of solids would stay down better than their formula due to their acid reflux. Unfortunately, solids didn't make a difference in their reflux but they liked their solids, so I just continued feeding them increasing solids.

Again, my heart in this post is to be humble and encourage a mom who may be struggling to breast feed or simply doesn't want to but feels guilty for considering formula. It is not a sin, so be encouraged that you can choose not to breast feed to the glory of God. I think breast feeding does have some awesome benefits and if God ever blesses us with another baby, I might breast feed. However, with the twins, breast feeding just didn't interest me. Most mothers long for the bonding that nursing can bring between a mother and baby, but for some reason, I didn't have that desire (I know I'm weird - Ha!). When I was considering breast feeding, it was more because I thought that as a Christian mommy, others expected that of me and I was cowering to fear of man. I have had a great time picking out fun colored bottles and mixing powered milk and water to the glory of God! And kudos to my breast feeding mommies out there - I have heard that nursing is hard so way to go! You have more drive in this area than I did with Abel and Belle. :)

"So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." - 1 Corinthians 10:31 (ESV)


Crystal said...

I've followed your blog for awhile. We actually were at the NEDC at the same time twice. Anyway, I had to comment on this post. When we had our biological son 10 years ago I did not breastfeed. I had absolutely no interest in doing it. A lot of people told me I was awful for not doing it. My thoughts were I knew I would not enjoy it, it would stress me out, and I had no desire. I had to decide what was best for my him breastmilk but resenting it because I didn't want to do it or using formula and keeping my sanity. I think breastfeeding is just wasn't for me and no one should ever feel guilty for not doing it. I never have!

Kristine said...

Great post Jennifer! I think you could substitute breastfeeding with a lot of other subjects - such as homeschooling, home birth, cloth diapers, organic food, skirts only, etc. Those of us in the body of Christ must be careful when we judge others for their choices. We can only call those things a sin that the Bible calls a sin. I have bottle-fed 3 and breastfed 1. My circumstances were different with each child, and I would go back and make the very same feeding choices again. Thank you for your humble spirit and for sharing your thoughts!

Aaron and Jennifer said...

Thanks for your comments. And yes, Kristine - I thought that this was also applicable to other issues that you listed and I agree. God has given a lot of diversity in the church which should be encouraged so as long as sin isn't an issue.

Ashley said...

Great post! I've heard several negative comments on formula feeding from the "Christian" community and it always irritates me. Some of us didn't have the opportunity to choose breast vs. bottle feeding and even if we had, like you said, it's not a sin.

Britney said...

you are a great mama. don't let anyone tell you or make you feel any different.

Krisa said...

I've breast fed both of my girls, but I've not found the common wisdom of breast feeding to be true. F instance, Gracie had five ear infections before turning one, and it took me more than a year to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight, etc. I'm glad I've had the experience, but I definitely don't think that I've achieved some higher status of motherhood because I breast fed. It hurts my heart to hear some women grieve because they are unable for whatever reason to nurse or give birth naturally etc. The goal in my mind should be healthy baby, healthy mommy. Healthy in all areas for mommy- physically, emotionally. I am certain that if I had not quit working full time, I would not have been able to continue to nurse Karis. It was, pardon the pun...waaaaay too draining!

kdactyl said...

I was fortunate to breast feed both my babies...but I also supplemented with formula whenever I needed it. I did love the bonding and the ease of it (after the initial struggles to figure it all out)...but I also felt very trapped by it and "obligated" to go as long as possible. I was never breast fed and have been extremely healthy my whole life. Both my kids got breast milk and one has Celiac disease and the other has chronic ear infections and a mild siezure disorder! So I don't really believe all the hype about breast milk even though I know there are studies out there touting you MUST do it. Yes...there are some definite benefits...but when compared to formula babies I think you will find they are all healthy and have adequate nutrition. I think the guilt needs to be a thing of the past. Although I am a Christian woman, I am not closely tied to a christian community so I have not personally experienced this phenomenon...but I hear about it all the time. What is funny is taht I also cloth diaper...but it has nothing to do with my has a ton to do with saving money, not poluting the earth and just plain liking it. I think they are cute and love my baby's fluffy butt!!!! But I don't look down on people using disposables at all..CDing is a commitment just like breast feeding is and everyone has different lifestyles and sometimes those things don't fit. To each his own. It is not my place to judge as that would be the least Christianlike thing of all.

sarahepm said...

I am a veteran of both methods, formula fed Derek, and have breastfeed Owen. I have mixed feelings about formula feeding Derek. I feel sad sometimes that I didn't try harder to keep breastfeeding him past 6 weeks. Especially now that I have nearly successfully completed nursing Owen. I could have and should have done it for Derek. I am proud that I have done it for Owen. It was so incredibly hard at first, but now there's a tremendous sense of accomplishment. God created my body to produce milk to feed my babies. I am so happy that I was able to use this awesome part of Gods design for women's bodies. Maybe that's where the disconnect happens in Christian circles. Maybe people think that because God created us able to do this, we are sinning if we don't. Someone once told me that because I could play the piano, if I quit lessons I was sinning because I would be wasting the gift God gave me. Same concept maybe. It's not right. No, formula feeding is not a sin. There are so many things in Christian circles like this. I really feel bad when I see my friends falling into this trap of thinking they must homeschool, breastfeed, cloth diaper, stay at home ect. And they are really unhappy. I know one mom who hates homeschooling and dreads doing it each day, but all the people she hangs out with at church homeschool and have told her that she must too. It makes me sad to see people bullied in the name of Jesus. Terrible. Keep loving those babies Jenn!