Formula feeding education, or lack thereof

Reading through my Google alerts, I almost squealed with excitement when I saw a link entitled “Health Tip: Preparing Baby Formula” from none other than U.S. News and World Report. A major news outlet! Formula feeding education! Squee!

Well, turns out the article was less “squee” and more “eh”.

According to the esteemed publication, the formula-related health tip that was so vital that it necessitated being “called out” (publishing world lingo for highlighting a fact or quote) was the following:

Wash Your Hands.

The rest of the tips have to do with general hygiene- cleaning surfaces, sterilizing bottles, etc. I’m probably being unnecessarily snarky, because this is important information; it is important to keep things as clean and sterile as possible when making up an infant’s bottle. They also throw in one useful tip about keeping boiled water covered while cooling (great advice). But most of this is certainly not new information, and in many ways, I think it’s a waste of newsprint.

Why? First, I expect most parents know they are supposed to wash their hands and clean their bottles. What they may not know is why. There is no mention of the risk of bacterial infection here, so it just comes of sounding like vague, somewhat stodgy advice, like something your mother-in-law tells you in that tone. (You know the one.) The kind of advice that gets filed in the “I know I should do it, but come on, what’s the harm” portion of your conscience, alongside “floss twice a day” and “never jaywalk” (unless you are in Los Angeles. Then you probably take the jaywalking thing seriously, as the LAPD will ticket your ass for crossing where you shouldn’t). I think an acknowledgement that these precautions will help you avoid potentially deadly bacterial infections would make the advice seem a tad more topical.

But also, this is standard food prep protocol. There are other intricacies to formula feeding that may not be as intuitive- safety precautions like mixing the proper amounts of water to formula; not diluting the formula; using the right type of water; discarding formula after specific amounts of time; opting for ready-to-feed for newborns. Or what about other tips which might help avoid other formula-related health problems? Like a run down of the different types of formulas so that parents can choose the right type for their babies. Advice for understanding hunger cues. A bit of education on growth spurts; what’s normal when it comes to formula-fed babies and spit-up and elimination (both pee and poop); a quick description of how to feed a baby holding the bottle at a good angle?

I get that this was merely a half-column filler, not an 800-word feature. I understand that U.S. News & World Report isn’t in the business of imparting feeding advice to parents (and in fact, the article in question was syndicated, from Health Day) . And I seriously do appreciate the effort to give a bit of valuable info to formula feeding parents. Yet, I can’t help but wish that this half-column was put to better use. A short paragraph on when (and just as importantly, why) formula should be discarded would have been infinitely more interesting and useful.

There are a few reasons why formula feeding education is as hard to come by as a good house under half a million in the greater Los Angeles area (I’m bitter about real estate at the moment). Many people think it’s unnecessary; formula feeding is seen as the “easy way out”, and assumed to be as simple as scoop and shake. Some breastfeeding advocates believe that prenatal formula education/preparation is counterproductive to breastfeeding promotion – the theory being that if you discuss it, it will be taken as an endorsement, when formula should only be used in an all-else-has-failed scenario. (The World Health Organization’s “WHO Code” basically forbids health workers from even uttering the words “infant formula” until it becomes clear that there is no other option.)

What is puzzling to me about this situation is that breastfeeding, while definitely a lost art in our bottle-heavy society, does have an intuitive aspect to it. Or at least it is portrayed that way – something so natural, so instinctual, shouldn’t require training. Assistance, yes. Support, most definitely. Protection, you bet your bottom dollar. But instruction/education? That seems rather – well, quite literally, counterintuitive.

Formula feeding, on the other hand, is something which has always been a man-made, lab created, medically-approved (at least up until recent events) form of infant feeding. It does require instruction; you don’t see our primate cousins giving birth and popping open a can of Similac (although I am quite sure they could be trained to do so, considering how smart they are. I’ve seen Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Scared the bejesus out of me). Yet parents leave their prenatal classes and hospital stays with plenty of info on birthing and baby care and breastfeeding, but little to no instruction on how to make a damn bottle.

The vast majority of babies will have some formula in their first year. Heck, by the time they are 6 months old, it’s a safe bet to assume most of them are partially, if not exclusively, formula fed. We can’t sell infant feeding as the number one predictor of infant health and development and simultaneously ignore the primary way our nation’s babies are being fed.  It’s bogus, and irresponsible.

This is not to imply that parents are putting their babies in dire jeopardy because they leave a bottle out too long, or forget to scrub their hands like Lady MacBeth before mixing formula. Heck, I committed almost every formula feeding sin and my kids are pretty normal. (Except for Fearlette’s suspicious fear of police helicopters, but I blame that on her past life.) But until we ensure that parents are properly educated on formula feeding – something that could be done with one quality, AAP-endorsed pamphlet, or a few minutes of discussion in a hospital baby care class – we can’t possibly get a clear idea of the real risks of formula feeding (I bet we’d see an even smaller difference in breastfed versus formula fed if all formula feeding parents were doing it correctly), or feel confident that all of our babies are getting the best version of whatever feeding method their parents have chosen.

For now, I’d suggest checking out Bottle Babies – a great non-profit organization run by some friends of mine. They’ve put together some excellent, research-based information on a myriad of bottle-related issues. Or feel free to click on the link to the FFF Quick-and-Dirty Guide. And I hate to say it, but for the moment, the formula companies are probably the best resource for formula feeding parents. At least they give a crap about their customer base, even if this is rooted in a desire for customer loyalty and a fear of litigation.

And, ya know, remember to wash your hands.

FFF Friday: “My son was doomed and it was my fault for giving in.”

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 also are not political statements – this is an arena for people to share their thoughts and feelings, and I hope we can all give them the space to do so.

It’s the day after Thanksgiving here in the States, and I’ve been thinking about what I feel most thankful for. Obviously, I am thankful for my two incredible children; the roof over our heads; the ability to feed them healthy food. But that’s not all I’m grateful for: stories like the one below, by “S”, reaffirm my immense gratitude to all of you who share your most intimate thoughts with me every week, admitting ugly truths and sharing painful realities. And I know many of you do it not only for (much needed) catharsis, but also to help others in similar situations, and to change the dangerous tone of the infant feeding conversation. For that, I am eternally grateful. 

Happy Friday, fearless ones,

The FFF

***

S’s Story

I gave birth to the most beautiful baby boy in 2005. From his black locks, to his hairy butt, to his chicken legs! I just couldn’t get enough of him.

We had an uneventful first 6 weeks. Breastfeeding was surprisingly easy….. Then his father attacked me, which opened my c-section incision, and left me in a mental state I cannot explain. I was living with my dad, who offered to care for my son for a few days while I rested and rehealed. I told him no. Within a few days my stress level was through the roof. My milk was drying up, and my son was nursing constantly. Finally I gave into formula.

Within minutes of chugging a large bottle my son was happy, and talking up a storm. Something I hadn’t seen him do in days!

The “solution” quickly turned sour when my son began suffering from severe pain. He’d arch his back and freeze for several seconds. His pedi recommended a soy based formula. Which helped a lot.

About a month later my son started having trouble breathing. After several admissions to the ER he was diagnosised with severe asthma.

The pulmonary doctor asked is he breastfed or formula fed? I told him formula. The doctor shook his head in disgust and said “I see”. From that moment on I knew formula was to blame. My son was doomed and it was MY fault for giving in! I’d ruined my son’s lungs with this filth and probably lowered his IQ.

Reading about formula only made things worse. I read every bad study you could find about formula.

I followed my son like a hawk with a pad of paper noting any milestone he missed, any time he coughed….pretty much denying him….well me….

Fast forward a few years. I met a new man, who is totally in love with my son and I. He legally adopted my son when he was 6. He’s always been daddy to my son.

We decided to have a baby, but when I became pregnant I instantly went into a I will not fail this baby mode.

My daughter was born in 2010 and was the most beautiful girl I’d ever seen. From her bald head, to her precious little bubble butt, to her perfect toes.

I had a c-section again and asked to nurse right away. Just like my son she was a pro in no time.

Things fell into place perfect.

As time went on I became a hard core breastfeeding advocate. I even lied to my little boy about being bottle fed. I was just so ashamed. I felt like I’d denied him something.

When my daughter was 18ish months old, I was at the park and noticed a brand new baby with a bottle in his mouth. This baby was big and obviously healthy. I had the nerve to tell his mother to “watch out, that trash can make him sick”. I totally shocked myself. Wtf was I thinking? What if she too was a victim of domestic violence. What if she couldn’t breastfeed for medical reasons…hell what if she just didn’t want too?

At that moment I knew I had taken my inner guilt out on a brand new unsuspecting mother.

I sat down with husband and cried. He wasn’t around when my son was formula fed and I never talked about it. He thought my son was breast fed.

He laid it out like it was. “Our son is on the honor roll, he is reading, writing and doing math 2 grade levels above where he should be. We had to talk his school out of jumping him a grade. We are complimented daily on his exceptional behavior…tell me what you did wrong by feeding him formula” What about his severe asthma? “You mean the asthma that he’s grown out of?”

I truly realized that guilt was not needed. The truth is both his biological father and I had childhood asthma. It wouldn’t have mattered what I gave him. He probably still would have had asthma.

I am almost at 2 years of breastfeeding my daughter, and I’m extremely proud of myself. Yes I am proud that I’ve used my breasts to do what was best for her. However, I am far more proud that I did what was best for my son. I left an abusive relationship. I finished college. I started a career. I overcame SEVERE depression and anxiety. I did it all for him, with the help of formula.

Oh. By the way he never missed a milestone. And he has been off steroids and breathing treatments for just over a year.

***

Sharing your story won’t negate the entire pumpkin pie you just ate, but it might feel emotionally cleansing, at least. Send essays to formulafeeders@gmail.com.

FFF Friday: “Though I know breast milk is best for babies, producing it is not best for me as a mother.”

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 also are not political statements – this is an arena for people to share their thoughts and feelings, and I hope we can all give them the space to do so.

I love the vivid description of Anna’s final moments with her breast pump, detailed in her FFF Friday post below. I also have a distinct memory of returning my pump to the hospital I’d rented it from… the liberation I felt driving home, windows down, music – er, pumping. It was the first moment I felt truly free to enjoy my baby, snuggled safely in his infant seat. I glanced at him in the rear-view mirror and spoke these words aloud: I’m sorry. 

And it wasn’t because I’d returned the pump, but because I hadn’t returned it sooner.

Happy Friday, fearless ones,

The FFF

****

Anna’s Story

“Giving up breastfeeding?” the lady at the shipping store asked when I set down my breast pump.

“Yes, it was just too much,” I said, looking at my 3-month-old who was happily nestled in my front carrier. My 2-year-old was checking out the shipping supplies.

“I breastfed all of my children. If you can just get past those first few weeks, it gets easier,” she said as she packed the pump into a box.

“I gave it a month with both of my boys. It was just too much,” I responded.

“Oh well, you know what they say, even just a little bit is good. Those first few weeks are especially important,” she said as she yanked a piece of tape across the box’s flaps.

I nodded. “They both seem happy now,” I said. “I’m sending my pump to my friend Jane who is having a baby in October.”

As she weighed the package she looked at me and smiled. “It’s $39.60. It will arrive day after tomorrow.”

“Is that the cheapest option? She really doesn’t need it so soon.”

“That’s the cheapest if you use UPS or FedEx.”

“Okay.” I said as I waited for my receipt.

“That’s it. You’re all done. Anything else I can do for you?” she asked.

“Nope,” I said. “Thanks for your help.”

I picked up my wallet, took Levi’s hand and walked out the door. It chimed as we left.

I was done.

Breastfeeding is a topic that is discussed a lot if you are expecting or are a new mother. Before you deliver your doctor may ask about your plans for feeding. At the hospital the staff will ask. Friends and family ask. Even strangers ask.

When I was pregnant with Levi, my firstborn, I responded quickly that I planned to breastfeed. I knew that was the best choice. Using formula was an afterthought.

When Levi didn’t latch on after delivery I wasn’t too concerned. I tried again and again with the lactation consultants’ help to get Levi to breastfeed while at the hospital. After trying all sorts of positions, holds, and devices I still was not able to get Levi to latch on. On the morning of our discharge, one of the nurses told me Levi needed to eat. While he was fed formula I had my first experience with a breast pump. It was such a strange sensation, but it was also a wonderful feeling, knowing I was producing what my baby needed.

The next three weeks are a blur. My day was a cycle of feeding Levi, pumping, washing bottles and pump components, changing diapers, and trying to rest. While trying to pump enough milk to keep up with Levi’s appetite I experienced a variety of issues: clogged milk ducts, a yeast infection on my breast, and mastitis. The most painful was the initial engorgement. Although my husband was amazed at the size of my breasts when they swelled full of milk, I did not share his enthusiasm.

“They look like cantaloupes,” I wailed to him.

“They’re about to hit your chin,” Ashley said. To this day he still wishes he had taken a picture of how big they were. I’m glad he didn’t.

I was on an emotional rollercoaster, but I continued to pump because Levi was doing so well. When it continued to be painful, however, I started to have doubts. Both my mama and my mother-in-law began to hint maybe I should give it up. Ashley reminded me we could afford formula. And I heard that voice in my head saying I turned out fine without being breastfed.

Even still, I struggled with the decision to switch Levi to formula. After a lot of crying and soul searching, I gave up breastfeeding after almost a month. As I dealt with the pains of my milk drying up, I started to enjoy my baby more. He was beautiful, and I hadn’t realized how much I was missing while worrying about trying to pump.

Fast forward two years and I’m pregnant again. I decide to try breastfeeding again; however, I tell my midwife if it’s not working I’m switching to formula. Mason arrives after an easy delivery. He latches on immediately and nurses wonderfully. I was so proud of my son and myself. The ease didn’t last, however. When I came home, my breasts became engorged. Mason loved nursing so much that he wanted to stay attached all the time. Because of his enthusiastic sucking, my nipples started to crack. And I had a 2-year-old who needed my attention.

A lactation consultant helped me find a better position and assured me Mason was getting enough milk after weighing him before and after nursing. Everything seemed to be going okay until I started getting clogged ducts. At one point I thought I had mastitis. Again I struggled with knowing breast milk was good for Mason, but the process didn’t seem to be good for me. For some reason I couldn’t give it up. Until my mother-in-law said I should.

There are times when you need someone to step in and give you advice, and this was one of those times. Yes, I felt guilty about stopping breastfeeding while knowing there are mothers who desperately want to nurse. This time, however, instead of wrestling with my decision, I made it and moved on.

Even though I know breast milk is best for babies, producing it is not best for me as a mother. So when I paid $40 and left the pump at the shipping center I felt a sense of relief.  The chiming doorbell gave me the go-ahead to feel good about the decisions I make for my children, whether that be how I discipline them, how much television I allow them to watch, or what I feed them. I will continue to support my friends who choose to breastfeed, but I’ll also be there for my friends who feel guilty about choosing to use formula instead.

***

Feel like sharing your story for an upcoming FFF Friday? Send it on in – formulafeeders@gmail.com. 

Can formula feeding really be “fearless”?

The lovely KJ Dell’Antonia recently mentioned my book and blog in a Motherlode column she wrote about the recent onslaught of breastfeeding-pressure backlash. There was the refreshing -albeit unfortunately titled- piece by a father in the Atlantic, followed by another excellent Motherlode post by writer Marie C. Baca about “embracing” bottle feeding- these came on the heels of a number of other articles which cropped up over the summer and in the early fall, as a result of Latch On NYC and a few other initiatives that have passed in the United States and abroad. Dell’Antonia observed that in all of these writers’ submissions (including yours truly’s) to the infant feeding discourse, one thing remained consistent:

…What’s striking about Ms. Barston’s and Mr. Kornelis’s stories, and most stories of “fearless formula feeding” is still really how “fearless” they aren’t. In every narrative of not breastfeeding, there is the obligatory note of failure, as though justification were the first order of the day… for most women, not nursing, for whatever reason, remains a troubling topic. As long as women are occupied with the litany of excuses… then the conversation will stay on defending the bottle or breast, and off the more important question of how to ensure that the choice between them is dictated more by health and happiness and less by circumstance.

This struck a nerve with me. Scratch that – it pinched a nerve. Her theory was like a constant, nagging backache, reminding me that it needed attention every time I moved a bit too fast. It took me a few days to untangle what bothered me so much about these assertions; the ensuing discussion on the FFF Facebook page only served to deepen my desire for answers (or a good massage).

All of you made fantastic points about why we so often appear to be defensive about our choices. Some argued that while we may indeed give excuses, this is because we are conditioned to expect judgment. “I think our stories are tinged with defensiveness since before even sharing them we are already preparing to be attacked,” Tara mused. Lisa echoed that sentiment. “For me, it wasn’t inner guilt – it was everyone’s expectation that I SHOULD feel guilty and that I had done something wrong. Frankly, I was outright pissed off by the insinuations and outright accusations that by formula feeding my daughter, I was setting her up to be fat, stupid, and unhealthy. That’s where my defensiveness came from – the need to defend my choice.” And others thoughtfully mentioned that while we may indeed appear defensive, a lot of it may simply be our way of dealing with complex emotions over the inability to do something we wanted very badly to do:   “”I don’t believe that guilt is a simple emotion – I felt guilty because my boobs failed, I also felt guilty that I was happy that formula was working for us. I felt I was letting my daughter and others down. Guilt is often the result of being unable to change a moment in time – it’s not always about what is right or wrong,” wrote Allison.

As a few of you rightly pointed out, so much comes down to perspective. Unless you have lived through this particular kind of hell, you just can’t understand it. As Misty explained. “I think they mistake bitterness with defensiveness. Unless you’ve suffered the same societal and personal condemnation and guilt tripping that comes with the breast v bottle war, you can’t imagine what kind of damage and pain it causes to a woman’s soul. Obviously, not every woman who tried to nurse but went to formula experiences anguish about it, but many of us do, especially those who had fully embraced the ‘breast is best’ mantra. I still struggle with resentment toward the BFing friends and professionals who, in my opinion, needlessly caused me to suffer terribly as a new mother. I still have sorrow that my first year as a mother was so joyless, because others chose to reinforce my flawed views about BFing (which I’d gotten from them) instead of guiding me compassionately to a more balanced and emotionally healthier way of feeding my child.”

Perspective also plays into the issue of defensiveness in another way: the further away from it you are, the easier it is to approach the “Why I Formula Fed” question dispassionately. I guarantee that for most new mothers, ten years from now- hell, even five – this debate will bore the hell out of them. Other issues will take its place – education, bullying, puberty, safety concerns, etc. However, there are those of us for whom this isn’t just a personal tragedy, but a social problem, a cause which deserves our anger and outrage and yes, defensiveness. I don’t think it’s entirely realistic to hope that we can move away from defensiveness completely, because we are typically reacting to offensiveness.

I think you can be fearless and simultaneously feel the need to defend yourself. All “fearless” formula feeding means to me is that you feel you have made the best choice for your family, for your baby, for you. Fearless doesn’t necessarily mean regret-less, guilt-less, anger-less, resentful-less. It just means you’re not scared of your choice, because you know it is safe, and you know it was right.

But as for what KJ refers to as the “litany of excuses”… I’ve always suspected these are a necessary tool, a ticket to participate in the conversation. By explaining how much you wanted to nurse, and talking about all the struggle you went through to do it, it might help the opposition understand that this is not a matter of lack of education or drive. That it would at least start us on a level playing field, and take down the barricades at the border – I wanted to nurse, you wanted to nurse, we both believe in breastfeeding, so let’s try and discuss this rationally. I have nothing but admiration for women gutsy enough to just come out and say nursing wasn’t for them – I loved Amy Sullivan’s essay in The New Republic, and it was, indeed, the most “fearless” argument for bottle feeding I’ve seen (interestingly, Dell’Antonia felt that Baca’s piece was free from the normal guilt-ridden excuses. I thought it was an excellent piece, on every level – I mean really, really excellent, and quite fearless in a number of important ways – but the fact remains that Baca still mentioned that that she was physically unable to nurse. That gives her a “pass”, in many people’s estimation; it’s still a preemptive strike against condemnation, unconscious as it may have been). But one look at the comment section of Sullivan’s editorial, and you’ll see that it immediately erupted into a hate-fest. Breastfeeding moms took her words as an affront to their method of feeding; breastfeeding advocates told her she was misinformed; judgmental sanctimommies hurled accusations of the usual flavors- Sullivan was selfish, shouldn’t have had kids, etc.

Still, in the past few months, I’ve noticed something: no matter what the writer says, in every online piece I’ve read about formula feeding, the response thread is Exactly. The. Same. The same arguments, the same people, the same facts and studies and name-calling. So while I think we have a right to our emotions – whether these emotions are guilt or regret or anger or pride- we shouldn’t feel the need to state our case in order to create a more peaceful discourse. No matter what you tell them, haters are gonna hate, or whatever that saying is.

Ultimately, I think KJ is right: I’m not sure we can move forward in creating positive change for anyone until we can stop the vicious cycle of guilt-defensiveness-bitterness. I would argue, though, that this is not the responsibility of the women (or men) sharing their stories, but rather that the conversation at large needs to change focus and tone. This might start with media outlets allowing for more nuanced, balanced features on why breastfeeding isn’t working for so many women, rather than coping out with opinion pieces. It might continue with physicians being able to speak out against some of the newest breastfeeding promotion endeavors without risking their careers to do so. It might end with us accepting that changing our society to be more breastfeeding-friendly is far less of a public health issue than it is a question of personal freedom, women’s rights, and trusting our own instincts over what the experts deem is best.

 

 

FFF Friday: “Why is it giving up? Why isn’t it just stopping?”

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 also are not political statements – this is an arena for people to share their thoughts and feelings, and I hope we can all give them the space to do so.

FFF Sara sent me this excellent post, which was originally published on her own blog. I felt it was worth re-posting here, especially in the wake of some of the recent conversations on the Facebook page. Like recently, when I asked why so many of us felt the need to preemptively justify our choices (or lack thereof), explaining why we were bottle feeding every time the subject arose. Your responses, as always, were brilliant. And I’m working on a post about this very topic as we speak. In the meantime, though, I think Sara’s post illustrates one of the fundamental reasons we might seem defensive: if you have tried to breastfeed, and stopped, you may be feeling how Sara felt – that you are seen as a “quitter”, someone who “gives up” rather than  someone who simply tried something, found it didn’t work, and stopped. The implication that we have “given up” leads to justifications and narratives focused on how hard we tried.  

Ultimately, there will always be someone who feels they were a bigger martyr, or someone who feels because they got over something similar, you should have been able to as well. The people who will judge will judge, and if they’re not judging you, they’re using your words to judge someone else – how many times have we heard “well, it’s okay because you tried,” as if we get a free pass to the Good Mother Club? Respecting choices means we need to stand up for women who choose to formula feed for any reason, even if we don’t personally understand those reasons. Otherwise, we’re just paving the way for more drama for future generations of mom, and that- well, that just sucks donkey balls.

Happy Friday, fearless ones,

The FFF

*****

Sara’s Story

The longer I’m a mom the more perspective I get on how things went for us and the delivery and first few months. It’s no joke that your in the haze of emotion and trying so hard to do the best you can, when you really don’t have a clue what to do at all. And, one of the areas I find that I’m still most sensitive about is breastfeeding and all the “advice” I got while trying to be successful.

I wasn’t successful, but I’m okay with it because I feel like so very much of it was things I could not avoid or foresee.

Most of you know that Julia was premature. Not by a lot (in terms of prematurity), but by enough to matter. What I’m saying is I didn’t get to attend the classes I wanted to (I was actually still a patient myself) and read the books I had planned. Instead I pumped for two and a half weeks until she came home. We thought she was nursing well in the NICU, but it turns out she wasn’t. She had a tongue tie, but we didn’t know that until she was almost six weeks old.

And, all the while we supplemented (which, of course, was started in the NICU once she began eating). And, I pumped. I pumped at every feeding for two months. I pumped after nursing. I pumped when I missed a feeding. I pumped when I would be away from her during a feeding. I felt like I was strapped to the pump. Which is exhausting.

But, my point is this: It’s okay to stop nursing or to never start. Looking back, I wish I hadn’t spent so much time/ money/ effort/ emotions on the whole process. There’s so much that screams, “this is the best for your baby and you aren’t doing all you can if you give up”. Give up being key words. Why is it giving up? Why isn’t it just stopping?

I mean, doesn’t all of parenting just come down to choices we make. My husband let me make the choice about when to stop, but he was supportive of whatever I decided to do. And, don’t we all try to make the choices we feel are best? Does any parent make a choice thinking it’s harmful in any way?

I write this because I’ve had more strangers than I’m comfortable with ask about how I (we) feed her. It’s none of your business!!!

I’ll say it again just to drive the point home. It’s okay to feed your baby formula. And, I’ll be the second (my husband would be the first) to say that breastfeeding is not free like books and people would have you believe. Ha! On the contrary, we spent a lot of money trying to be successful. When you add up the pump, the supplements, the lactation consultant, the surgery, the hospital pump rentals, the creams and pads and bras, etc. it was a lot of money.

I now know in my head the reason I was so hell bent on being successful was because I felt like in some way I should have stayed pregnant longer so she would have been full term. (Like I had any control over that.) Or that pumping was the only thing I could do while she was in the hospital. But, now that I’m on the other side of it I know I just couldn’t keep up due to other circumstances. That I have no control over.

I hope that hospitals continue to be baby friendly and promote breastfeeding. But, I also hope that we’ll all be a bit more mom friendly and not make new mothers feel like they are somehow failing if they choose not to. It’s a choice. Let’s support each other in those choices. Please?

***

Share your story with the FFF community: email me at formulafeeders@gmail.com.  

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