I was inspired to write this blog post from a guest post I read over at The Poop Whisper. If you are a new mom or a soon-to-be mom who is looking for great advice and lively discussion from other moms you should definitely check out their blog. It's great! Anyway, their most recent post is a guest post from a blogger named Ashley, who is sharing her experience with formula feeding. I, for one, was thrilled that they decided to spotlight a mother who used formula, especially since there is such a stigma attached to formula feeding. After reading her post, I decided I would write my own post to share my own thoughts and experiences with formula feeding. Before I get started, please don't get me wrong. I ADMIRE women who breast feed. I believe with every fiber of my being that breast milk, even the smallest amount in the earliest days of life, is EXTREMELY beneficial to a child's immune system. Trust me, if you are one of the many women who was/is able to breast feed their child for up to a year, then you have my deepest respect. Kudos. I don't want to argue about what, health wise, is best for every child. It's breast milk. We know. I get it. I would just like to point out that breast feeding is not always plausible for every mother, and that if you're one of those mothers who *gasp* was/is unable to breast feed then I'm here to tell you that it's okay. You're not going to hell. You're child will not die of some terrible immune disorder just because you didn't breast feed. You're going to be okay, and most likely, so is your child. Here's my story.
My pregnancy with my daughter was a LITTLE unexpected. Never mind that I had stopped my birth control pills 3 months prior to my pregnancy, because, emotionally, it was unexpected. Nevertheless, I buckled down. I did everything I was supposed to do! I laid off the caffeine, started drinking *gasp* MILK, and eating healthier. I wasn't able to take my prenatal vitamins because they made my "morning" sickness worse, so I supplemented fresh spinach and prune juice (GAG!) to my diet in order to get Emma the iron she needed. I read every baby book I could get my hands on, subscribed to pregnancy magazines, and spent hours viagra cialis online pharmacy pharmacy researching my questions, reading how-to articles, and taking advice from mothers I didn't even know!
One of the things I researched the most was breast feeding. I had decided very early on that I was going to breast feed my daughter. I bought everything from the breast pump to the nipple cream in anticipation for the long haul. I saved every article I had EVER read about breast feeding and I consulted them many times during my pregnancy. I even took some of them to the hospital with me just in case I had questions the nurses couldn't answer (our hospital does not have a lactation consultant). I was ready. I was GOING to do this. Period.
Well, the truth is, you really don't know what kind of mom you are going to be until it happens. You can plan, and you can have all the best intentions, but its the obstacles and the hard choices that make you into the mother you are going to be...not your pregnancy. And as much as I thought I knew, and as prepared as I thought I was...I wasn't. Not at all. There I was with a brand new baby and a ton of feelings and emotions that made me feel so unsure of myself. Breast feeding was challenging from day #1. Emma just wouldn't latch right, and on top of everything else I was feeling, I was worried she wasn't getting enough to eat. I started supplementing with formula while I was in the hospital. The nurses gave me a syringe with a tube attached to it. We would fill the syringe up with formula and and the run the tube down beside my nipple. Emma would latch onto my nipple and the tube to get the formula. This allowed my breasts to still get stimulation, but also made me feel like Emma was getting enough to eat. I would also pump in between feedings. Nothing. Two weeks in and I was still waiting for my breast milk. It was frustrating, because I knew it could take a while for my milk to come in, but I just didn't have the patience to wait for it. Plus, all those feelings and emotions turned out to be postpartum depression. I was so lonely and I felt like I had no one to talk to about my struggles with motherhood. I mean, why wasn't I madly in love with motherhood like all the other mothers I knew? Why wasn't THIS everything I had dreamed it would be? Why did I feel the need to cry all the time? Why did I feel so trapped? Why wasn't I strong enough to just keep trying breast feeding? Well, the truth was I wasn't strong enough. I was in a very weak emotional state, and I knew I needed to take every step necessary to get better so I could be the mother I knew was hiding in there somewhere.
So, two weeks after my daughter was born I made a decision, not just for me, but for her. We switched completely to formula. She took to the bottle and the 4 oz. of formula with ease. She began sleeping better at night and fussing less during the day. I began to feel less and less trapped. I began to get stronger and I became more confident in my ability to mother MY child. I no longer cared what everyone thought about me breast feeding. To be honest, its not any of their business. Just because I gave my child a BOTTLE and fed her FORMULA didn't make me a bad mom, it made me willing to do anything to get myself in a better emotional state so that I could be a better mom.
Emma is now two years old! She is healthy, happy, and was hardly ever sick during her first or second year of life. The pediatrician always told me how beautiful she looked, and assured me that I was/am doing a great job. Aside from being a bit of a picky eater and still liking her milk warm, she is a wonderful little girl. She has her quirks like everyone else, but I don't attribute any of those quirks to the fact that I didn't breast feed and I never will.
I think breast feeding a choice. It's not something you have to do, and I don't think any mother should be forced to feel like she HAS to breast feed. Because more often than not, formula fed children turn out just fine. I think the pressure and the unsympathetic tone of those who push breast feeding is what makes breast feeding so hard. It's hard for anyone to function under that much pressure and expectation. So, if you are a new mother who is considering switching to formula, because your having a hard time and your tired of the pressure, then let me be the voice whispering in your ear, "It's okay. You are not a bad mom. You gave it a go, it didn't work out, and that is okay." You haven't failed. You aren't sentencing your child to a lifetime of runny noses, ear infections, or flu bugs. Your child isn't going to love you less or stand up and throw that bottle back in your face (at least, I don't think so!). You are a great mom. You should do whatever you feel is best for YOUR child. Period. End of discussion.
I really hope this post speaks to someone out there, and feel free to email me if you have questions. I would love to talk with you about formula feeding, NOT feeding your child organic baby food, or maybe even those awful feeling you may be having a hard time dealing with. I'm here for you...for all of you! I hope everyone is having a wonderful Tuesday and I look forward to your comments!