It’s been a long time since I’ve had an infant, and even though I hope for a miracle to overcome medical intervention and grant me that coveted 5th baby, I probably won’t be dealing with midnight feedings and burp cloths again for quite some time. But I have many friends who are either currently pregnant or have just given birth, some of them first time moms, and I figure just because I’m no longer in baby mode doesn’t mean I shouldn’t continue to share my experiences (dare I say expertise?) for the benefit of those still in the trenches. After all, sometimes it’s nice to know that someone has been where you are (four times!) and come out the other side.
We’ve all heard about the mommy wars- if you are at all involved in procreation and child rearing you’ve probably been a part of at least one heated discussion about the best way to go about raising children. And you’d be hard pressed to find a topic more fraught with tension than the issue of formula vs breastfeeding.
If you are a woman with a child (or even her partner), chances are good you’ve come across at least one person who has been vocal with their opinion about breastfeeding. These fonts of advice can range from well-meaning relatives, to nosy strangers, and they can be downright rude if not insulting about how you choose to feed your child. You might be insulted for breastfeeding in public, or you might be criticized for bottle feeding. Either way, unwelcome judgement has probably found its way to you.
This is a particularly important topic for me, because all of my children were formula fed. And I have seen argument after argument denouncing women who choose to bottle feed rather than breastfeed, calling them selfish or terrible parents. What I don’t see is any enlightened discussion into the circumstances that might have gone into the decision to formula feed a child.It’s possible I have mentioned it before on this blog, but I really struggled with breastfeeding. Isabelle refused to breastfeed at all, and while I diligently pumped at every feeding for the first month, my output was close to nothing- my biggest day earned me 2 ounces of milk. TOTAL. When Jack was born, I suffered through bruised and bleeding nipples, breastfeeding him for hours, only to follow up with a bottle because he wasn’t getting enough sustenance. Again, I maintained this pattern for the first month, but I was forced to abandon it when my mom went home and I was left with an infant and an 18mo, and spending an hour every two hours feeding the baby was no longer possible. When Sophie was born, I didn’t even try. My husband lived in another state, I was alone with 3 children under 3 in the middle of a Colorado winter, and I couldn’t afford to spend precious time struggling with an ineffective feeding system. The pediatrician and I discussed it before I even gave birth, and she advised me that avoiding unnecessary stress and anxiety during the baby’s first weeks of life far outweighed the benefits of whatever breast milk I could provide. Unfortunately, my nurse for the delivery was the head lactation consultant at the hospital, and she made her disapproval very well known. During a birth in which my husband wasn’t there and my epidural didn’t work, my biggest regret is not telling her to shove her judgement where the sun don’t shine and requesting another nurse! When Beatrice was born, I was lucky to have a much more accepting staff. They took me at my word that I am unable to produce milk, and Bebe was peacefully drinking a bottle before she even had a name. It is amazing what a difference it made to my birth experience to have doctors and nurses who supported my decision. After all, at that point I had been successfully taking care of babies for some time – I think I can be trusted to know what’s best for my family! All of my children are healthy, smart, and formula fed. I have never regretted my inability to breastfeed them, and in fact I am grateful that I live in an era where other feeding options exist. And new moms today have more options than ever. Whether you plan to breastfeed or formula feed, the Honest Company has the feeding resources you need to nourish your baby the best way you know how.
Please note: this is NOT a sponsored post. I just feel there should be more open, accepting discussion about the different paths we take as mothers. Click here to read more Honest feeding stories