FFF Friday: “I sincerely doubt that not being breastfed has affected our bond.”

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.


This week’s FFF Friday is a bit different. Anna’s not a mom yet, but has some strong feelings about the pressure to breastfeed from a different perspective- that of a formula-fed child. She writes: “I feel like so many women have palpable guilt about not being able to breastfeed, that I just wanted to write a reminder that formula fed babies grow up to be okay… I won’t be having kids for a few years, but the pressure to BF is so palpable.  In fact, I’m already getting pressure from my boyfriend’s mother (she breastfed both of her kids).  I have a few issues with my breasts that may interfere with future breastfeeding, and knowing that there’s a place to find honest discussion of the facts and support for whatever decision I have to make is so empowering. “

It should go without saying that babies don’t measure their bond with their parents by how they were fed (because that would mean none of us had a strong bond with our fathers), but it’s easy to lose faith in that due to the current atmosphere. So I hope you guys will find Anna’s point of view both refreshing and reassuring, even if it bothers me to no end that this even needs to be said.

Happy Friday, fearless ones,



Anna’s Story
Prior to my conception, the OB-GYN had told my mother that she probably wouldn’t be able to deliver naturally.  Due to lack of insurance, my mother took part in the hospital’s pre-payment plan for natural births and hoped things would work out.  When my mom was 7 months pregnant, the OB-GYN says there was no way I’d be born naturally without severe brain damage due to my size.
My mom went into labor one week past my due date.  Because of the insurance issue, the hospital wouldn’t perform a c-section until I went into fetal distress.  I was fine, but my mother had a severe reaction to the epidural.  We are separated for several hours until she stabilized, during which time I’m fed a bottle of sugar water by dad.  At almost 10 lbs, I was a big, hungry baby.  During our stay in the hospital, my mom tried to breastfeed, but I refused to latch.  Due to a nursing shortage, I wasn’t taken to the nursery our second night, and mom spent an entire sleepless night with a screaming, hungry infant who refused to breastfeed.  By day 2, I had lost more than 15% of my body weight and my mother hadn’t slept in 36 hours. The pediatrician ordered a bottle of formula.  I drank the entire 4 oz bottle in under 2 minutes.  The nurses called mom to tell her because they didn’t believe a newborn could eat that fast.  My mother hung the phone up on them and went to sleep.

My mother only had one week of maternity leave.  Given that we were already having such a rough start, and the fact that my grandmother would be watching me nine hours out of the day, I was exclusively formula fed from that point on.

You’ll be happy to know that, contrary to what hardcore natural child birth advocates and lactivists might tell you, I’m not a fat, stupid, detached sociopath (ok, I might be a bit chunky, but let’s try to be body positive).  In fact, I’m applying to medical school to pursue a career in psychiatry.  At 24, I can tell my mom anything and everything, and I still go to her for advice.  Now that I’m grown, my mother has become one of my best friends.  I sincerely doubt that not breastfeeding has affected our bond.  See, I don’t remember being born or being formula fed.  What I do remember is how my mom was always there when it counted.  I could share countless stories about how wonderful she was, but it would take several blogposts to truly capture my mom’s awesomeness.  Suffice to say, our bond is strong due of the relationship we’ve shared over the years.

In 1989, my mother wasn’t aware that she was supposed to feel guilty for not breastfeeding.  In 2013, not only am I already getting pressured to breastfeed my future children–never mind that I’m at least five years away from having them–but I have people tell me they’re sorry for me when they hear I was formula fed and born via c-section!  I don’t feel like I was deprived.  I have a mother who loves me, and that’s all that matters, then and now.

Ready to share your thoughts and experiences regarding infant feeding? E-mail me at formulafeeders@gmail.com.

Suzanne Barston is a blogger and author of BOTTLED UP. Fearless Formula Feeder is a blog – and community – dedicated to infant feeding choice, and committed to providing non-judgmental support for all new parents. It exists to protect women from misleading or misrepresented “facts”; essentialist ideals about what mothers should think, feel, or do; government and health authorities who form policy statements based on ambivalent research; and the insidious beast known as Internetus Trolliamus, Mommy Blog Varietal.

Suzanne Barston – who has written posts on Fearless Formula Feeder.

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