It didn't take me long to realize that while I wanted to breastfeed, it just wasn't for me. Bless all you moms who do it, love it, and swear by it, but to each their own. And when I started adding formula to pumped breast milk, there were moments when I couldn't help but think, "I'm such a stereotype right now." Turns out, I'm not alone. In fact, there are some formula-feeing mom stereotypes that are so true it hurts. I know, because I lived it.
When my milk supply all but disappeared and I made the switch to formula full-time, I felt an incredible pressure to be the "perfect mom" who always had her you-know-what together — regardless of my feeding method. While breastfeeding shaming is a very real thing, moms are shamed and judged and criticized for formula-feeding their babies, too. I wanted to avoid that at all cost, and I thought one way to do it was to fight the stereotypes thrust upon formula-feeding moms and, essentially, forge my own path (whatever that means).
But there I was, bottle in hand and looking like that stereotypical frazzled-but-trying-her-best, formula-feeing mom. With that in mind, here are some other truths I may, or may not have, lived as a new mom feeding her baby the best way she could:
We Spend Way Too Much Money On Formula
I knew formula would add onto our grocery bill (I wasn't completely naive to the process), but I had no idea it would cost that much more. I was that new mom searching between her couch cushions for spare change to grab a container of formula at the local supermarket. I can almost still feel the change in my palm (which was never enough, by the way, because formula is expensive as hell).
We Love Pre-Prepared Bottles
I heard about formula-feeding moms who would go out of their way to prep a day's worth of bottles at a time — maybe two or three — in the event the day got a little too chaotic. No way, I thought. That'll never be me. I figured if my baby was hungry, I'd take the time to make a fresh bottle, no matter what.
Well, postpartum life is chaotic and overwhelming and exhausting, so every now and then (read: a lot), I prepped bottles in advance.
We're Prepared To Face The Haters
As a formula-feeding mom you hear it all. What a terrible mom you are. How much your baby will suffer because you're not breastfeeding. How selfish you are. But guess what? Breastfeeding isn't for everyone for a variety of reasons. Those reasons, of course, are no one's business.
Switching to formula gave me the opportunity to bond with my baby instead of resenting her. I naively hoped my circle of people might understand why I chose formula, but that wasn't always the case. So believe me, I had my retorts and responses prepped and ready to go, especially if I was formula-feeding in public.
We Feel Guilty
I don't know a single mom who hasn't felt the crushing weight of mom guilt, and a formula-feeding mom is no different. So all those comments and the judgment and the shame? Not necessary. At all. Ever.
We Can Bottle-Feed Hands-Free
When I was bottle feeding I could use an elbow, my chin, another child, and a pillow to prop that bottle up and feed my baby. Talk about having a certain set of skills, right?
We've Tasted The Stuff
Curiosity killed the cat, and it definitely convinced a new mom to taste the formula she's feeding her baby. I'm, well, not a fan.
We're Equal Opportunity Feeders
I was pretty stoked to hand the bottle off to my partner in the middle of the night and give him the opportunity to feed our baby (and lose some sleep). Stereotype or not, I took the chance to sleep when it was available. No shame here.