Nearly 5 years ago when I had Miss Dukes the conventional wisdom on infant feeding was that breast is best. The AAP came out with a policy statement in 2005 saying the organization formally recommended breastfeeding over formula. The benefits ranged from better gastrointestinal health to studies that indicated breastfed babies in general had higher IQs than children that were not breastfed.
In fact, many publications seemed to insinuate that by not breastfeeding you were probably hindering your child's development- and maybe even doing your child harm by not giving them the best possible nutrients! For me, breastfeeding with Miss D was pretty straightforward. We both got the hang of it right away. But many moms I know agonized over breastfeeding. Spent months and dollars trying gadgets and lactation consultants. And if in the end they were unable to breastfeed successfully, they most likely felt guilty about it. Or worse, felt that they were not good mothers because of it.
I always felt pretty good about breastfeeding Miss D for 9 months. (a bit guilty we didn't make the recommended full 12, but the decision to wean was a mutual one.) When i was asked at the hospital what I wanted to do I replied that I would be breastfeeding, of course! And all the nurses and the pediatrician we saw at the hospital mentioned that since I did fine with the first baby the second one should be a piece of cake.
BUT, it seems to me like there has been in a change in the air for healthcare providers. Apparently in the past couple of years there have been some studies showing that breastmilk does not provide enough of certain vitamins- in particular vitamin D. (Vitamin D, is apparently not actually a vitamin, was misclassified as such in the 20's or something. Anyway, it is naturally processed by human skin from sunlight. The reason breastmilk does not contain enough is due to our lifestyle change of using lots of sunblock and not spending time in the sun.) So now the recommendation is that breastfed babies should be supplemented with vitamin D to avoid rickets and other health issues.
At the hospital, when my baby was only 6-7 hours old, i commented to one of the nurses who came to take my vitals that the baby seemed to be feeding a lot. Her response was "maybe he needs formula". Which just sort of shocked me. I mean the baby was just born! And everyone knows that breastmilk doesn't come in for 3-4 days. I just feel like back in 2005 NO ONE would have recommended formula- formula was seen as a last resort. LAST RESORT. 3 days later we took baby to the pediatrician's office. The doctor was concerned at the babies weight loss (normal for babies to lose weight in first week) and immediately recommended that we start supplementing. (giving a newborn a bottle that early often causes nipple confusion and can make breastfeeding more difficult or even impossible if the baby prefers the easier bottle nipples) Even though I was unsure as to whether my milk had come in yet. I ended up checking with a lactation consultant and decided to wait another day and he ended up gaining just fine on my breastmilk. Then at our last appointment we were told about the supplementation.
A friend of mine who has a 5 month old and 2 other previously breastfed children also noticed a change at her doctor's office. When the doc asked how she was feeding the baby and she told the doc proudly she was breastfeeding exclusively- she felt sort of shut down when the doc said she would need to vitamin supplement.
I wouldn't be surprised if in a few years the new recommendation will be to feed some breastmilk and some formula, before the pendulum swings the other way completely!