My Difficult Decision
FED IS BEST.
I am starting there because it is the truth. Whether you formula feed, breast feed, or exclusively pump, feeding your child is what is truly important. You should never be ashamed of how you feed your child, because they only care about one thing- F O O D. There are many people who make mothers feel ashamed for wanting to give formula and there are some who make others feel ashamed for being advocates for breastfeeding. I am here to tell you, no matter what you believe is best, you have the right to feel that way. It is your opinion and you are given that right to think freely. However, we should support all mothers choosing to feed their child. I also want to share that I support all types of feeding! I had my own personal difficulties, which made me a stronger mother and showed me that there is no right way to feed. I can’t say I was so at ease with doing both at the beginning. I I was lying to myself. I grew as an individual during those first few weeks. I learned what was truly important in this entire process.
To be honest with you, feeding was the toughest thing about motherhood for me. I struggled on deciding how to feed my child. The lack of sleep, hormonal pregnancy blues, and just not knowing what I was doing made the choice that much more difficult for me. I even tried to search the internet for answers, but that was definitely not the solution for a topic like this.
When I was pregnant, I would always tell people “I am going to breastfeed, but if it doesn’t work then I am going to formula feed.” I wish I was this nonchalant once the time came. The first week at home I was breastfeeding. It was practical, free, and my body was producing so why not do it. Little did I know that this natural, organic way to feed your child was HARD. It was no walk in the park, especially because Marleigh had jaundice and was always tired. I second guessed myself all the time. Was I giving her enough food or was she falling asleep to fast? Was she latching correctly? Honestly, I lacked confidence when it came to feeding. I also feared feeding in public and it was clouding my mind. I was simply a mess.
I literally laid on my staircase one day, crying in my husband’s arms about how I couldn’t breastfeed. It was consuming my every thought and I just didn’t think I was doing it right. I would go to support groups and they would say I was doing great, but I would go home and feel like I was doing it all wrong. We sat there as I just cried over this dilemma. Finally, Glen said “Ok no more doing this to yourself, go buy formula.” When he said that my stomach was in knots. I felt sick. How could I give her formula? Yet a week ago, I was saying that it would be no problem. It was tough for me and I didn’t want to admit it. He was right though; my mental health was more important for me so I could focus on my child and less on feeding.
I did tons of research on both types of feeding and messaged a lot of friends of mine who formula fed and breastfeed thinking they had the answers. By the end of it and my head spinning from all the information. I went to the store to purchase formula. I came home and made a bottle at her next feeding. I felt so relieved as she drank an entire bottle and not at all ashamed of what I was doing. She was eating and I was able to see how much she had. A missed feeding later though, my chest was sore from not being drained and I was back to doubting myself. Did I do the right thing? Am I making the biggest mistake? I was back to rock bottom, overthinking and doubting. Why was I doing this to myself? Looking back, I can definitely say the post partum blues hit me. I was not confident and had limited knowledge on feeding, I was exhausted, and I was so overwhelmed. I just wanted to do what was best for my daughter but I could not think straight. I didn’t have the answers and it took a lot out of me.
THE TURNING POINT . . .
With all this going through my mind, I called a local lactation consultant and made an appointment. I did a weighted feeding and she told me all the things I wanted to hear. “You are doing so well breastfeeding. She ate almost 3 oz. in one feeding! You are doing awesome! Your supply is very high!” It went well and I gained back my confidence but I still also remembered the relief I felt after her formula feeding. I told all of this to my consultant and she understood. She said “However you feed her, it doesn’t matter. If you feel relieved and calm with formula feeding, I can tell you how to diminish your supply. If you continue to breastfeed, then keep doing exactly what you are doing.” Hearing someone whose job was focused on breastfeeding tell me that its okay to formula feed made me realize how crazy I was making myself.
I was being a hypocrite saying fed was best, but I couldn’t accept going to formula feeding. She made me realize that there is no right way to feed her. I went home and made a pro-con list . After sitting with my husband and going over the list, I made the decision to continue breastfeeding. Yet, I kept the formula just in case I needed it. I was no longer hesitant about giving her formula if I found myself continuing to doubt my breastfeeding ability.
I think it is important to tell new mothers that it’s okay to support both types of feeding. Heck, it is ok for you to exclusively pump. (That is a whole other story filled with time dedication and strength. I also applaud those mamas that can stick with it!). It is okay to be anxious about ending your journey breastfeeding and questioning if you are making the right decision. It is okay to never start one and go straight to formula. Feeding is tough and how you decide to feed is not an easy decision. It was not just the type of feeding that was overwhelming, I was honestly just scared to not make the best decision for my child. I was caring too much and overwhelmed that I was not thinking clearly. I let it get the best of me.
The best part of this hardship is that I had mothers supporting me to formula feed and those same mothers were cheering me on when I decided to keep breastfeeding. I never felt more love from the motherhood community. Do not feel bad if you want to end your breastfeeding journey. Do not feel ashamed if you choose to feed your child breastmilk in public. Do not worry what others think if you are formula feeding. Do not feel bad about being upset if you have to end your journey breastfeeding to formula feed. We all have different emotions when it comes to feeding and yours are justified. We all have our opinions and undergo different feelings when it comes to our personal journey. As long as your child is fed, you are doing it right mama. Stop worrying so much because at the end of the day it takes away from your focus of your child. My first week was spent crying about feeding and not soaking in all the newborn goodness. Although it was a major time of growth for me as a mother, it also was a lot of tears that I was trying to hold in and stress building up.
If you are struggling with the decision to pursue formula feeding or breastfeeding, I am going to share my pro-con list. It may be a little different for you, but this helped me decide which one was the best fit for me. You can do this mama, no matter what you decide!
There are so many things you can add to your lists, but this was the basics for me. You might not be scared to feed in public or you might have subsidies to help pay the costs of formula. Everyone’s circumstances are different. I know it is easier said than done, but try not to stress. If you choose to breastfeed, find a local support group. They will do weekly weigh in’s and will provide support. I love my breastfeeding group and still go even though she is 4 months old. Be confident in your decision, be happy, and enjoy it.
Jeana is a lifestyle and motherhood blogger from the site Winsomely Chic. She writes about fashion and motherhood along with her 2 sisters: Jenna and Jessica.