So my kiddo nursed. Forever. wait...that's inaccurate. She nursed until she was 13 months old and I cut her off because I was done.
I read too many blogs to have missed the Mommy Wars about formula versus nursing (oh keep your breasts on, ok, call it breastfeeding if you like. I don't. Get over it.) and all the grief both camps give each other. Here's my take and how I decided what was best for the wee kiddo when she was a baby. Your mileage may vary.
1. Laziness. I am an inherently lazy person, and it's a lot less work to whip out the boob and feed a howling baby than it is to find the water and measure formula and shake the bottle, all that jazz. Do not confuse lazy with inept or unwilling to work, and work very hard, to take care of my patients in my profession. I just don't like to do extra work if I don't have to do it. Like I don't roll my socks into pairs when (ok, if) I fold the laundry. Why go to that effort when it has no benefit and takes extra time?
2. Cheapness. We were incredibly broke when the kid was born because both of us were in school for a big chunk of the year before she was born and the expected post-graduation job opportunities for the spouse were just not there. It costs nothing extra (except an absurd amount of time, probably equal to or exceeding feeding formula even with prep and cleaning of bottles) to nurse a baby, so that's what we did. The crappy student insurance did pay a big chunk toward a proper breast pump so I could continue nursing while attending school full time. So I didn't even save money by not buying bottles! Shucks! Everyone deserves that level of support for nursing if they want to do it.
3. Hypochondriac tendencies. I have a zillion food allergies/sensitivities and not knowing exactly what was in my kiddo's formula made me really nervous, so I decided she would have none of it. In retrospect, this was a moronic decision and I should have just let it slide sometimes so I wasn't running around in the middle of my school day to go over to her daycare so she could nurse when I hadn't managed to pump enough.
If I had it to do again, I'd try to hang out with nursing moms more often to see other ways it could be done. Reading a book and having the labor and delivery nurses help you figure it out (and then the lactation consultant, thank G-d that was free and readily available at our hospital) is not the same as actually watching moms of various sizes and shapes with babies/kids of a variety of ages and temperaments nurse.
What do I think about nursing versus formula?
Well, I think a few things. I think that every mom ought to be able to feed her child anywhere and any time she wants or needs to. I think that no mom should be told to "go somewhere else" or "cover up" if she's nursing. My kid nearly died choking because I was being all discrete and covered her too much so I missed that she was choking at first.
I also think that if you want to feed a baby formula, more power to you. Do what's right for your family. I loathed nursing the kid for the most part, although I'd do it again given the chance because I am stubborn and continue to experience the above cited 3 reasons we nursed the first time around. Beautiful bonding relationship blah [caveat: IN MY EXPERIENCE. lots of people have great things to say about it, I'm not one of them, that's life, try it yourself and see if you just love it]. I would have enjoyed giving the kiddo bottles too, and she would have gooed at me and whatever. Nursing hurts (and it hurt A LOT for the first 2-3 months), it took forever, and when I was in school (starting when she was 3 months old) pumping was no fun at all. I did it, but to get a day's feedings at daycare it took me about an hour and a half of pumping.
Realistically, unless child #2 turns up while I'm still in pharmacy school, odds are low that I'd be able to nurse again. Pharmacists don't get to eat lunch sitting down some days (unless you work somewhere awesome that closes for lunch break ::drool::) and there's no way as the pharmacist I could sneak off to pump twice in an 8 hour shift (for hopefully less than that 45 minutes it took me as a student hiking across campus for a space to pump besides my car). BUT the cool thing about living here is that I'm entitled legally to get to take that time to go pump. Every state/province ought to have laws that say any employee is entitled to unpaid breaks to go pump and a private place to do it (besides a bathroom stall). We need to support parents if we expect to have happy and capable children growing up to be happy, healthy, capable adults.
So I support you taking good care of your baby/small child (please don't nurse past kindergarten, it weirds me out, sorry long-term lactivists). Use formula properly (don't water it down cuz you're broke. Babies die that way and it's sad) or nurse and have a good time. OR mix it up, do some nursing, some formula, call it good. A happy baby and a happy mom are the key features in my view. Although I didn't love nursing, it worked for us and I have a happy and healthy almost 4 year old now.