"It's formula, not rat poison."
That was the signature one of the posters used at the "What to Expect When You're Expecting" forums that I used to read when I was pregnant. I never really thought using formula was a big deal (almost everyone I knew had formula-fed their infant at least for a few months), but when I got pregnant and did the research, I just knew there was no way I could, in good conscience, feed my baby formula. Yes, he's had to have the occasional supplement, but it was always under the most dire circumstances.
Now that I am back to work and pumping, he's had to have more formula than I care to think about. I am one of those women who just has extreme difficulty letting down for a pump and I've tried everything that lactation consultants recommend to increase my output to no avail. I had finally resigned myself to the notion that I would just stop pumping, feed my son formula during the day and breastfeed when we're together. He'd been getting the ready-to-serve stuff that they give you when you leave the hospital. I tasted it and tasted like those Carnation instant breakfasts I used to drink when I was in college. A little off and powdery, but not bad.
So I went ahead and bought a canister of the powder formula (hey, it's cheaper and lasts longer) and made my son's bottles last night. I tried to convince myself that at least if I was preparing his bottles, I could still be the one providing him nutrition. I took a swig of the milk to taste it and make sure I had prepared it correctly and I almost gagged. I have never tasted anything so vile in my entire life. It literally tasted like what you would assume poison tastes like! I felt like I was drinking liquefied metal or gasoline. I made another bottle, this time using cold filtered water from my fridge. Same thing! I threw it all out. There was no way I was feeding that to my child!
Why do people choose to formula feed? I understand some women don't get the help and information they need and end up giving their babies formula, but what about the folks who say they have no desire to even attempt breastfeeding? Have they smelled formula? Tasted it? We already know it's subpar food that poses serious potential hazards to babies. I can't imagine anything that tastes like METAL can be good for an infant to consume.
I did some digging online to see if this was normal or if there was any way that I got a bad batch, but nope, it's pretty universally accepted that formula from the can tastes terrible (apparently the "specialty" formulas like soy, hypoallergenic, lactose-free, etc. are even worse!) I found a quote from a doctor that said that while it doesn't taste that great to adults (understatement of the year), babies don't seem to mind it (guess she's never seen the reaction of many a breastfed baby to formula).
I've decided I'm going to keep up with my rigorous pumping schedule. My baby will probably still need to be supplemented, but we'll only do it with the ready-to-feed stuff. I still feel a bit guilty, but at least I'm using the infant formula in the way it was intended: as a pharmaceutical product, not for routine use.
Oh, and can I rescind my judgments on cross-nursing? What I wouldn't give for a friend with an abundant milk supply right about now!