It kills me that FFF Shane still feels “slightly guilty” about her choice to formula feed, even though her son is thriving, happy, and healthy. Today, Fearless Husband and I were talking about some very dear friends who are going through their own 3-days-postpartum struggle with feeding. I confided that while I wanted to give this new mother the support she needed to switch to formula, I also worried that in the long run, she’d have an easier time breastfeeding – because the guilt you have to live with as a formula feeder (especially if you decide to stop when your body and baby are still allowing breastfeeding to be a possibility) cancels out the relative “ease” of it in the beginning. Fearless Husband thinks I’m nuts… what do you guys think? If a friend of yours was struggling with breastfeeding and wanted to switch to formula, would you encourage her to “persevere”, or throw in the nursing cover? How do you meet a woman where she is at, if you can’t really know where she is at due to the enormous pressure put on mothers these days, coupled with those postpartum hormones and the transition to new motherhood? I think these questions matter, because Shane’s point about the sisterhood of women being mucked up by the breast/bottle war is excellent, and maybe we should start thinking about how best to support our friends and fellow moms. Start the revolution that way, rather than just railing against the powers that be.
Regardless – I hope Shane’s guilt will fade… she made a decision which put an end to a great deal of stress for her and her family, and all three members of that family are happy, fed, and loved. Full stop, as they say in her neck of the woods…
I have 3 sisters who all have children – and who have all breast fed successfully. My mum had five kids and she breast fed too (apart from my little brother – she gave up after two weeks as ‘he was a greedy bugger and I couldn’t keep up with him’.) I naturally assumed that breastfeeding was the way forward for me – hell if all my sisters could do it why couldn’t I?
Throughout my pregnancy I was bombarded with breast feeding info from the NHS and Bounty packs which I read up on, I attended a breastfeeding class, read books, the internet and quite frankly I thought I had it sussed.
So when the happy day arrived (when England was rioting – I was in labour when all hell was kicking off 5 minutes down the road..) I ended up having an emergency c-section which I think may have played a part in why I really struggled to feed him,(As an aside – could
emotional stress affect the production of milk? I was still grieving for my dad who had passed away a couple of months earlier from a sudden illness).
Everytime I voiced my concern to the midwives I was told to keep persevering. I had midwives shoving my boobs into his mouth and pulling me into different positions. When I got home my delicious son was starving. After the 2nd sleepless night my husband and I bought formula with heavy hearts. It felt like I had failed at parenting at the first hurdle.
But the joy of knowing our son was eating overwhelmed us – but I was still ridden with guilt and desperately tried to feed him – I tried pumping (by hand and electronically). I was still encouraged by the home visiting midwives to persevere (and not one piece of advice about
alternatives!) which I tried to do but I was producing so very little after two hours it really wasn’t worth it. So after a week of struggling my husband and I switched onto formula. It did help that I had my mum visiting from Scotland at the time who was an excellent
voice of reason.
I went through periods of feeling fine about the formula (My husband could feed him! We could go out and about! I wouldn’t have to wear maternity bras! I could have that extra cup of coffee/bar of chocolate/glass of wine!) and then an overwhelming sense of guilt burbled up from my stomach to my heart (Is he going to be plagued with illnesses throughout his childhood? Is he going to be the dunce of the class? Will he be a mutant?).
I’ve talked to my friends about it and they have all been very supportive – some even admitted that they wished that they had gone onto formula sooner after they spent months struggling with breastfeeding.
3 months down the line I still feel slightly guilty about it but my beautiful baby boy is healthy and content. He sleeps well, he eats well and is a happy and healthy boy.
My concern is at a time when mums and mums-to-be should be supporting and understanding each other, there is this one-up womanship regarding feeding our children – surely we should all be a bit more understanding?
Thanksgiving may have come and gone, but you can still give thanks to all the brave women who’ve shared their stories by sharing yours (and if you aren’t American and therefore could care less about Tofurky Day, well, you get the point) – email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.