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

  1. My mom breastfed me for about 6 months. We are not that close now because of a lot of issues with the way she raised me. Apparently receiving breastmilk was not the be-all and the end-all of a great relationship.

    A professional colleague of mine chose to formula-feed so she wouldn’t have to deal with pumping milk at work in a stressful work environment. She herself was formula-fed as well. She countered the naysayers–formula-fed babies aren’t as smart? She has a doctorate. They aren’t as healthy? She has no allergies or health issues. She thinks she turned out okay.

  2. Lets say this applies not just to Anna, but to all of us, because it does. C-sections are never a good thing, but that aside even if it had been a vaginal delivery, problems still happen and nobody should dictate your choice, or bully you for making a choice.
    Thankyou Anna.

    • Why are C-sections never a good thing? They save lives. I could agree if you are saying “emergency/crash c-sections are never a good thing” in the context of nobody wants that to happen.

      • Yes, that is right nobody really wants them, perhaps I should have worded that as “they are never the best thing” they are afterall a surgery, and a lesser of two evils if there is a genuine complication, but if you can have a vaginal by choice that is usually better because the body is designed for it and usually heals quicker, some people just ask for sections just because they think it is convenient, but ofc they have their own set of possible problems to. But I really do feel for any woman that HAS to have one against her choice, and I hope I never have to go through one myself either.

        P.s. Thanks for checking context, sometimes I misword a comment and people just blow up at me for things I didn’t even mean.

        • Kayli I beg to differ. There are many women out there who prefer a c-section to vaginal delivery. Blanket statements are never accurate regardless of what the statement pertains to. Vaginal delivery carries its own set of risks and it’s up to the mother’s health care provider to explain both sets of risks to her and then help her make an informed choice. And by informed choice, I don’t mean researching on Google.

    • I went in to be induced after my son was a week overdue and they told me he was breach. We don’t know how this happened because I was told he was head down and ready at 40 weeks so I’m thinking he decided he didn’t want to leave mama’s womb and must have switched that last week in my sleep or something… can’t explain it. Anyway I tried to have them move him into position over and over again. It’s one of the most painful things I have ever lived through. They warned me I might bruise from the process of trying to turn him and I broke out into a sweat from the pain right away but had them keep trying over and over again until I worried about him becoming distressed and couldn’t take it anymore. I ended up having a C-Section. Looking back I can see it was the best thing for my situation. You see I was 20 years old at the time and placing my child for adoption instead of choosing abortion. I wanted to have a vaginal birth because the birth was the only thing I got to experience and felt it would give me a bond I could hold onto as a memory of my first born child. Looking back though I realized that with a C-section his head was perfect in all the pictures and I still have a scar of where he came from me which is more precious to me. Your right that I didn’t want a C-Section but now looking back I wouldn’t trade it and actually think it was the better option. I’ve been married now for 3 years and we are talking about having a child I get to keep. My OB-GYN told me that since my C-Section was due to breach and not other reasons I have the option of a V-back or vaginal birth after a Cesarean and this would be the first time I experienced it. Maybe it was saved for me when the time was right, who knows but I just wanted to add that perspective. 🙂

  3. Thank you for this! I am almost 42 years old, was exclusively formula-fed, and I have an amazing bond with my mother. Even at my age, I still want her when I’m sick, upset, etc. She has always been my safe haven. She is now a wonderful grandmother to my daughter, who was also formula-fed.

    Oh, and I will add that I tested gifted as a child, read at the age of 2, and now have a master’s degree and a good job. I have never been overweight in my life and I have no health issues whatsoever. I’m one of those people who see the doctor basically only if I’m on death’s door.

    I have never attributed the way I was fed as an infant to any of these qualities. I’m smart and healthy because–gasp, genetics!–my parents are smart and healthy. I have a great bond with my mother because–gasp, common sense!–she was a wonderful loving mother and earned my trust and adoration.

  4. I really enjoyed reading this. Such a great perspective! I struggled to breastfeed for 5 weeks because I felt like it was something that I HAD to do. The pressure was ENORMOUS from all sides! Feeding her was so stressful and painful and I honestly dreaded it. I made the switch to formula and suddenly I was able to bond with her so much more easily. Funny how something that was supposed to drive a wedge between us was able to bring us closer together.

    She was also a c-section baby as well. I hope no one ever feels sorry for her. Without the c-section she wouldn’t be here.

  5. What a great perspective. I too was formula fed, in the ’70’s not many women did breast feed so my mom tells me. But she never had any desire to. The pressure just didn’t exist back then either. But we too have a great relationship. I’m healthy, intelligent and slightly overweight, but that’s due to me and not how I was fed.
    I too do not remember being born nor how I was fed, I remember later things in life.
    I also cannot comprehend how anyone could say that they are sorry for the way you were born or that you were formula fed. Who feels they have the right to say anything like that?

  6. Um, wow. It amazes me how things change over the course of just a few years. First it was pressure to have babies, now it’s pressure to have babies and how to feed them?!?! Yeah, nip that in the bud now—-politely. I’m sure she means well. My MIL bragged and bragged about how she loved breastfeeding all four of her kids, but I realize now it was because 1) it was easy for her and 2) she was criticized for breastfeeding because in her community in the 70s it was seen as “nasty.”. Still, let her know it a polite way that you know she means well but the pressure she’s putting on you is actually setting you up for failure. Do it now before you’re a post partum woman with a newborn baby. trust me!

  7. This is a refreshing point of view. I was a breastfed baby, but my mom was always a bit cold and distant (she’s much better now!) so it’s obvious that boobs don’t make the bond. Also, it’s amazing that a young 20something woman can already feel the pressure to breastfeed. Kudos to you, Anna, for sharing your experience and standing up to “the man.” Or rather… lactivists.

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