I never planned to be a formula-feeding mom, so when I had to use formula due to my undersupply my baby's food allergies, I felt like I failed. Then I watched my babies thrive and started to feel like I was thriving, too. I not only made peace with using formula, I grew to love it. I feel like people, especially breastfeeding moms, assume a ton of things about me based only on the fact that I feed my baby formula. I want to set the record straight, because there are a few things this formula-feeding mom wants breastfeeding moms to know.
First of all, contrary to what you might think, I don't hate breastfeeding. I honestly loved it, especially once I figured things out and stopped trying to attain the impossible goal of exclusive breastfeeding. Feeding my oldest son formula actually helped me breastfeed longer. For me and for many other parents, formula feeding and breastfeeding are not mutually exclusive. I support you in your choice to breastfeed, in public, in private, and for as many months or years as you want to. Seriously.
I also don't hate formula, either, or feel ashamed to formula-feed my baby. I honestly love it. So, please don't feel sorry for me or assume that the only reason I formula feed is because I lack education or support to breastfeed. Also, please stop telling me that "breast is best" or that I can try again "next time." Saying those things feels seriously shaming and are in no way helpful. There's so much more to motherhood than how we feed our babies, and so many things I want you to know, from one mom simply feeding her baby, to another.
I totally wish that the slogan "breast is best" would die in a fire. It simplifies a really complex issue and invalidates the real experiences of formula-feeding moms, like me, for whom breast is definitely not best. I can think of at least 100 scenarios where breast is definitely not the best for an individual, baby, or family. So, can you please stop saying it, because it really hurts.
Seriously. I loved it. And as much as I love formula feeding, sometimes I really miss it. For real.
Being a new mom is hard work, no matter how you feed your baby. Honestly, I was way lazier when I was a breastfeeding mom, probably because how you feed your babies literally has nothing to do with how lazy you are.
Also, please don't assume I need more education or information about breastfeeding. My choice to use formula was an educated one based on what was best for my baby and our family, which are areas where I am the only expert.
I used to think that admitting that formula was good meant that I was also saying that breast milk wasn't good. Now I know that isn't true, and both methods of feeding a baby are good.
I know you sacrificed a lot and worked hard to breastfeed. I'm sure you are proud of yourself and, of course, that’s OK. That is what you chose to do. My choice to formula feed doesn't make your choice to breastfeed less awesome, or meeting your breastfeeding goals less personally satisfying. Fed is best means that all feeding choices are equally good.
In our culture we often talk about breastfeeding as something all moms should "at least try." The problem with that idea is that so many people, like me, feel pressured to try, then continue trying even when it's not working, not good for our mental health, or our babies aren't thriving. Just because I wasn't able to breastfeed doesn't mean I didn't try hard enough. Besides, formula feeding is not failure. No one should be forced to breastfeed.
Formula is amazing. It really is. We're lucky to live at a time when mothers have another option that's specially formulated, nutritional, safe, readily available, highly regulated, and getting better every day. I love using formula for so many reasons, and I'm no longer ashamed to feed my babies.
Our society is so focused on exclusive breastfeeding, that no one talks about combo-feeding as an option. Did you know that, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost 80 percent of breastfeeding moms feed their babies formula, too? Me neither. I loved combo-feeding and it's ability to give me the best of both words. If you want to talk about how I did it or ask me anything, I'm here.
We switched from combo-feeding our youngest son to exclusive formula feeding when he was 1 week old. He has food allergies. and it sucks, but once we switched to hypoallergenic formula he thrived. Seriously, overnight he became a different baby. He no longer spit up after every meal, had horrible gas and diarrhea, or had a blistering diaper rash. He also started gaining weight, which was a beautiful thing. He's a healthy, happy, thriving baby.
Please don't feel sorry for me or my baby, and if you do, please don't tell me all about it. We are healthy and happy. There's literally no reason to pity us.
If you choose to breastfeed, I support you. If you choose to formula feed, I support you, too. If you choose to exclusively pump, I support you. If you choose to supplement with formula, I support you. If you feed your babies, I support you. Motherhood is freaking hard, and we all deserve support. #FedIsBest #ISupportYou