Nearly three months into it, I’m a big fan of breastfeeding. I wasn’t able to do it successfully with my older daughter Petunia. But the second go-around — with 12-week-old Peony — has been delightful. I love knowing that she’s getting the health benefits of my milk, and I giggle constantly when she starts snoring after falling asleep during a feeding.
There’s just one glitch to the system that I’m starting to notice. Whereas when I bottle-fed Petunia and we made lots of lovey-dovey eye contact, Peony mostly closes her eyes or stares lovingly at my nipple while she’s eating. And while my husband used to give Petunia lots of her bottles, and then I could play with her afterward, with Peony, I find most of my time with her is spent nursing and not much else.
Which makes me wonder if babies who get most of their nourishment through bottles don’t bond a bit better with their moms?
I only nursed Petunia for two weeks before throwing in the towel. After that I pumped for four months while also supplementing with formula, and then finished out her first year exclusively with formula.
This time around I was determined to nurse exclusively (although I didn’t put a time limit on it, just a hopeful goal of around 4 months up to a year), and so far that’s been the case.
Despite the fact that I didn’t give Petunia only my milk and she didn’t eat from my breast, we bonded spectacularly. And while Peony seems to be developing in a lovely fashion, I feel like I hardly get any time with her that doesn’t involve her milking me dry. Most of my time seems to be with her attached to my nipple.
I asked my husband the other night only half-jokingly if she even recognizes me with my shirt on. I know she does, of course, but I worry a little that our time is more quantity than quality. When I’m done nursing her, I usually need to rush around to get done what I couldn’t do while she was eating (the downside of being a work-at-home mom). While I do some pumping, it won’t really replace what I think I’m missing out on since I would actually not get the time with her when I’m doing the pumping.
At this age, I feel like I remember Petunia getting more of my attention because I was able to get stuff done while others gave her the bottles a few times a day. The difference may be slight, but I’m starting to think it’s hardly imperceptible.
Maybe it’ll all even out in the end, but I wonder if there’s something to be said for taking a break from the breast and hitting the bottle.
Do you think breastfed babies and formula-fed babies bond equally with their moms?
Image: Meredith Carroll