My youngest child was just born two weeks ago. I had originally planned to combo-feed him — feed him both breast milk and formula. Then, we discovered he needed special formula to thrive and, as emotionally and physically painful as weaning has been, switching to formula made me feel like I was making the right choice for him and our family in so many ways.
I fed both of my other babies a combination of breast milk and formula, to varying degrees, using my breasts, bottles, and supplementary nursing systems. Now, seven and four years later, you really can't tell which child got more breast milk, and it's clear that they both are loved. I do know that letting go of impossible expectations to exclusively breastfeed when it wasn't possible for me and doing research about how there are only negligible differences between formula and breastfed babies did wonders for my self-confidence to make this choice and to not feel shame or fear.
While I love and support breastfeeding, it's clear that formula is the best choice for many babies and families, for a variety of reasons, including ours.
He Got Sick From Breastmilk
Despite my desires to both breast and formula feed my new baby, when he was a week old, we discovered that he has an intolerance to dairy and soy protein. This means that in order to continue breastfeeding him, I would have to eliminate all dairy and soy from my diet.
As a vegetarian, trying to maintain a breast milk supply (who loves cheese more than just about anything) I didn't see how it would be possible and because I knew that formula is awesome. I didn't give myself a hard time for not going to extremes to breastfeed.
Formula Made Him Healthier
Once we switched from breast and formula-feeding him to feeding him entirely hypoallergenic formula, he thrived. Over night, he became a different baby. He no longer spit up half his meals, had horrible gas, had horrible diarrhea, or had a painful diaper rash. He stopped losing weight and started gaining. It was magical.
I Love Giving Him Bottles
I had always felt shame when giving my other kids bottles. Rarely taking the time to stare adoringly at them and enjoy the quiet moments of bliss snuggling and nurturing a tiny baby. Snuggles are the best, especially snuggles without the stress of breastfeeding or health issues.
My Husband Gets To Feed Him
Now, my husband, my parents, and even my other kids can also feed the baby. All of the pressure is not on me every feeding. I have the ability to take a shower, get rest and eventually even leave the house without baby.
Less Gross Diapers
His diapers before switching were so terrible. So terrible. (shudders)
His Clear, Soft Skin
And now, not only is his poor little bottom healing, his skin is soft and beautiful.
The best feeling in the world is hearing that your newborn is growing and thriving and your doctor say the words, "Keep doing what you are doing. It's working well."
He's Such A Happy Baby
He's literally the happiest baby I've ever encountered now that he doesn't have a horrible rash and pain at every meal and diaper change.
I Get More Sleep
My husband and I are able to share nighttime feedings, and the extra sleep is really adding up. I feel way less exhausted than I did after my previous babies were born and that's saying a lot since between the two of us we now have five children.
I Am Happier And Less Stressed Out
Because I know that my family needs me to take care of myself first, so that I can take care of them, it's important to me that I be able to reduce stress and feel OK; especially during these rough first weeks with a new baby. Previously, not being able to breastfeed and having to choose formula made me want to die and contributed heavily to postpartum depression. Not this time.
This time around, I feel relaxed and positive that we are making the right choice for our baby and for us, too.