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For some moms, nursing is second nature. For others it can be a struggle. Suzanne Barston, author of Bottled Up, joins Away We Go host Diane Mizota to discuss how the way babies are fed has come to define motherhood-and why she believes it shouldn't.
"There is so much more to being a mom than whether you feed a child from your breast or a bottle," says Barston. "It's really limiting to bring it down to a biological function." She shares that she had personal struggles with breastfeeding with her son. "I really wanted to breastfeed, but we sort of met with every single natural disaster with breastfeeding that we could meet with," she says.
Related: Formula feeding vs. breastfeeding: The pros and cons from a mom who's done both
"Ultimately when I switched to formula," says Barston, "I just felt a colossal failure. I felt like I'd done enough, but everything I read made me feel like there was more I could have done. And I just found that there was so little support for formula-feeding parents."
Related: Baby formula guide: Must-know dos and don'ts
Barston's personal story was her inspiration for writing her book, Bottled Up. "I really wanted there to be a book for parents like me," she explains, "because I went to the bookstore and I saw row upon row of breastfeeding books, and there was absolutely nothing for bottle-feeding parents." Barston adds that she wanted to create a book that explained, in layman's terms, the different issues that come into play in the decisions made by mothers.
There are those who say that bottle-feeding mothers miss out on a unique bonding experience, but Barston disagrees. "To me, that's the benefit that is the least backed up in the research," she says. "First of all, it's a really subjective thing, what makes for a good bond." And, she notes, "Everything that you can do breastfeeding, you can do bottle feeding. If it's skin-to-skin that matters, you can take off your shirt and bottlefeed naked. You can hold your baby close."
One thing Barston recommends to bottle-feeding mothers is to "emulate breastfeeding with the bottle." She says that this way, mothers and babies will still get the benefits of closeness and eye contact.
As for the phrase "breast is best," Barston says, "What I always say is breast is best until it's not." In the end, she says, "if your baby is being fed and you are both are healthy and happy, you've succeeded as a parent."
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