When you are expecting your first baby, you are given a certain set of expectations to follow.
Limit your caffeine intake.
Don’t gain too much weight.
Take all the baby classes.
Stock up on baby gear.
And, most importantly, figure out how you’re going to feed your baby.
Choosing How to Feed Your Baby
In my experience, breastfeeding was really the only option discussed for expectant moms. And I know the benefits of breastfeeding. I know many women want to breastfeed, and there is support out there for them.
If you believe breastfeeding is best for you and your baby, then that’s great! I want to support you. But I also want to support moms who make a different choice — because it is a choice.
When my daughter was born in 2017, after 24 hours of labor and four excruciating hours of pushing, I was shell-shocked. I figured I would be able to breastfeed, because my mom had no issues with it, so that’s what I tried.
When Breastfeeding Doesn’t Work
It absolutely did not work, for me or my daughter. I saw all the lactation nurses and was given a diagnosis of “insufficient ability to breastfeed,” after my daughter went from a chunky 8 pounds 4 ounces to barely 7 pounds.
I tried everything and I felt like I was failing. And it really impacted my ability to bond with my daughter.
Wasn’t this supposed to be natural? Shouldn’t I be good at this? All I wanted was for someone to tell me, “You don’t have to do this.” But it felt like the only support out there was for breastfeeding mothers.
I know breastfeeding’s not easy for everyone. And that I could have continued, using the nipple shield, the breast pump, the lactation cookies (which are delicious).
The truth is, I was exhausted.
So, after six weeks of trying to pump five times a day, I stopped. I did not have to wean off the pump at all, which I figured was my body’s way of telling me, “Thank you.”
And my daughter thrived off of formula, as many babies do.
I Didn’t Breastfeed My Second Born
While pregnant with my son three years later, the one thing I said from the beginning of my pregnancy was that I was not going to even attempt to breastfeed. Again, I knew the health benefits of breastfeeding, but I also knew what it did to me the last time, and I wanted to attempt to enjoy this postpartum period.
I was a little nervous that I would be judged by the nurses or doctors at the hospital for this choice, but I was not. When asked if I was going to breastfeed, my answer was simply, “No.” I didn’t justify it and didn’t explain it. I was confident in my decision, and that was that.
No one should have to justify a perfectly healthy decision they are making for their own child.
Do What Works for You and Your Baby
If you are like me, and feel like you need permission to switch to formula or to not even attempt to breastfeed, here it is.
Do what is right for you.
And just for some peace of mind— my two children are perfectly healthy. My daughter is now three and a half years old, and I can count on one hand the number of times she has been sick. My son is still little, but he is perfectly healthy as well. Formula will not ruin your baby.
As a parent, you are faced with so many choices for your child. How you feed your baby is a choice, and there is no right or wrong answer.
Breastfeeding does not make you a good mother. Formula feeding does not make you a bad mother. If we really do believe “fed is best,” it’s time to make a conscious decision to support all mothers, regardless of how they choose to feed their child.