As a mom who has breastfed, formula-fed, pumped, and combo-fed three babies, I've pretty much seen it all. I used to think how I fed my babies made all the difference in the world, too. Maybe it's because some people place breastfeeding and formula-feeding moms on opposite sides of the spectrum, or because there's so much hype about feeding babies in general. Either way, I've since learned that there are a ton of anxiety-inducing situations breastfeeding and formula-feeding moms all go through. Every single one. How you feed your baby can't save you from some downright overwhelming moments, which is why we should be supporting one another instead judging, shaming, or labeling individual choices.
I'm not just talking about postpartum anxiety, either. I'm really referring to the things that seem to happen every damn day to make new moms feel overwhelmed, scared, worried, confused, and like they have no idea what they are doing. I'm talking about those small yet somehow monumental decisions that leave you wondering why someone trusted you with a newborn baby in the first place. Because, yes, it's typical to worry about your baby's health and development, stress out when they are sick, and forever want what's best for them. All new moms feel that way, no matter how they feed their babies. And the anxiety that we feel about breastfeeding or formula feeding? In my experience, at least, it's temporary. As they say, this too shall pass, and when it does your worry will seem almost laughable.
In the end, us moms have a hell of a lot more in common than we might think, especially in the beginning. I think it's time we start talking about it, too. Maybe then we can get past our differences and start supporting each other through all those heart-stopping moments that make us panic.
When Your Baby Won't Sleep
Sleep deprivation is the worst. The worst. Not only does it change you, but it can cause some serious anxiety when your baby won't sleep. I'm sad to say that I've experienced this both when breastfeeding and formula-feeding. Each have their pros, to be sure. For example, being able to stick a boob in your baby's mouth to get them to sleep and being able to share night time feedings with my husband. But every mom is likely to have anxiety when their baby won't sleep.
When You Can't Sleep
If there's anything that's worse than your baby not sleeping, it's the anxiety that you have when your baby is actually sleeping but you can't sleep at all. So, instead, you lie awake and think about every mistake that you've ever made and worry about whether or not you are a good mom. No matter what people say, it's hard "to sleep when your baby sleeps," no matter how you feed them when they are awake.
When Your Baby Gets Sick
When your baby gets sick you feel absolutely helpless. I mean, it's not like your little one can tell you what's wrong. And no matter if you are breastfeeding or formula-feeding, they might not be able to eat, they might cry, or they might just not feel good at all, no matter what you do. That inevitably will mean anxiety for you, at least until they start feeling better.
When Your Baby Has A Mystery Diaper Rash
I have become sort of a pro at diagnosing and treating diaper rashes over the years. I am not sure if I am proud of that or not. In the beginning, though, it made me so anxious to see my baby in pain, and even bleeding, from a mystery diaper rash. I scoured the internet, posted pictures on social media, bought every cream and ointment on the market, and called the doctor so many times I'm sure they thought I was diaper-rash obsessed. It happened with all three of my babies, though, and regardless of how I fed them.
Judging from the similar posts I see on social media on a near-daily basis, I'm pretty sure diaper-rash anxiety is universal.
When Your Baby Cries
I can't stand to hear my babies cry. While you do get better at interpreting their cries and figuring out how to calm them, in the beginning any cry, regardless of how you feed your baby, will stress you out.
When Your Baby Seems Behind
It's so hard not to worry about your baby hitting milestones "on time," or to compare them with other kids or even their siblings. I still do it every time I see another mom brag about their baby, or notice that my youngest doesn't use as many words as his older siblings did at his age. So does every other mom I know — breastfeeding and bottle-feeding alike.
When You Hear A Noise On The Monitor
I have a love/hate relationship with baby monitors. One one hand, they enable you to have a look or listen at your baby when you are in the other room, but they can also suck, if you hear, or think you hear something not right in your baby's room.
When Your Baby Sleeps Through The Night For The First Time
As wonderful as it is for your baby to finally sleep through the night, it can also cause you some serious anxiety. With every baby, no matter how I fed them, I thought for sure something was wrong when they didn't wake until morning.
When You Leave The Baby With A Sitter For The First Time
Every mom I know who has relied on daycare staff, family members, friends, child watch at the gym, and in-home nannies to provide care, at some point or another, worries about their babies when they're not around. I used to feel so much anxiety at drop-off, especially the first time. And guess what? How I fed my baby didn't save me from that worry.
When Your Baby Won't Eat
I can't tell you how much time I've spent stressing about my babies not eating enough, not wanting to nurse, refusing to take a bottle, and going too long between meals. It's all stressful, no matter what or how they eat. The good news is that you will get past it.
And fed is totally best.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.