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)
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