Welcome to Fearless Formula Feeder Fridays, a weekly guest post feature that strives to build a supportive community of parents united through our common experiences, open minds, and frustration with the breast-vs-bottle bullying and bullcrap.
Please note, these stories are for the most part unedited, and do not necessarily represent the FFF’s opinions. They are also not political statements – this is an arena for people to share their thoughts, and I hope we can all give them the space to do so.
This FFF Friday contributor asked to remain anonymous, for understandable reasons. Her story highlights the fact that you NEVER know what is behind someone’s decision not to breastfeed. This woman’s reasons for choosing formula were deeply personal and specific, and in my opinion (not that my opinion, or anyone’s opinion, should matter) emotional discomfort with breastfeeding is equivalent to physical pain.
Both are hard. Both happen. And neither should be ignored.
Happy Friday, fearless ones…
I have always known I would not breastfeed, not because I couldn’t, because I didn’t want to.
I have always had problems with my breasts. When I was going through puberty, I had some borderline molestation/fondling issues with a family female. She would feel my chest when she thought I was sleeping, it made me deeply self conscious about my chest. That was coupled with the fact that I was a late bloomer, so I would get nasty comments from boys about having no chest, then all of a sudden, boom! I inherited my family’s “blessing” of large chests and boys made gross comments about them, so I always tried to cover up and I developed terrible posture from trying to hide them. For a very long time I was ashamed of my breasts.
Before I even got married or got pregnant, I knew I didn’t want to breastfeed. The idea of it gave me the heebie jeebies. I know the research behind breast being best, but when I got pregnant I knew I still didn’t even want to try to breastfeed and I started preparing myself for all the naysayers who I thought would attack me for choosing formula.
I come from a family who strongly supports breastfeeding and my mom breastfed all five of her kids. Surprisingly, my mom never made any comments about my decision not to breastfeed. My father tried to convince me once, to at least try breastfeeding for a few weeks, but after I told him I was not going to do it, he never brought it up again. I was so surprised with how kind everyone else was when they heard about my decision. My OB asked at my first appointment if I planned to breastfeed to which I responded no and began awkwardly trying to explain. She immediately stopped me and said, you don’t need to explain at all. At that moment, I dropped all my defenses about it and decided to be confident when people asked the typical question perfect strangers think it is okay to ask a pregnant woman, “what is your plan with your private anatomy?” I only came up against one holier than thou woman who was vocal about the “fact” that formula is poison and how it will give my child diabetes and leukemia.
After I had my baby, I was a little worried because I had heard that the hospital I delivered at was notorious for their lactation consultants guilting new moms. Again, I was happily surprised that no one ever made a comment about my decision to not try breastfeeding. I loved formula feeding. My husband was able to jump right in with feedings and he loved feeding our daughter. She was small for gestational age so we had to closely monitor her consumption which was simple with formula, plus we used a high calorie formula to help. Night feedings we wonderful since my husband and I could switch off.
Around 8 weeks postpartum, I went into my OB for postpartum depression. It was one of the most difficult times of my life. During that time, I began doubting my decision to formula feed. If I had breastfed would I have gotten PPD? Whenever I sought out support for myself as a formula feeder, the web was full of support…… support for those who tried their hardest to breastfeed, tried until they cried and bled. Staunch proponents of breastfeeding made comments along the lines of formula is okay, if you gave it your all and you biologically can not breastfeed. It felt like formula was okay as long as you tried your best, but not fine if you chose it outright. With medication and therapy I got past my PPD and became more confident again.
I have loved the freedom that came with formula feeding. My husband bonded with our daughter and was truly a 50/50 parent because he was able to feed her so we were able to split parenting responsibilities. She was able to get a boost on weight gain with the higher calorie formula. I am so happy with my decision, I will definitely formula feed my next child. My daughter is a smart, healthy 14 month old and she actually gets sick much less often than friends’ children who were breastfed. I believe feeding your child is a deeply personal decision. I try not to ask pregnant mothers what their feeding plan is. If it comes up, I never ask them to justify their decision and I will never justify mine to anyone who asks me.
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