I always thought I would be a breastfeeding mom. After all, almost everyone I knew breastfed their babies exclusively. Then I had my first baby and couldn't make enough breast milk. So I switched to formula, thinking that was my only option. It wasn't until I had my second child that I learned that combo-feeding — using breast milk and formula to feed your baby — was a thing. I also learned there are more than a few reasons why a combo-feeding mom is the BFF everyone needs.
I'm serious, you guys. You see, when I decided to combo-feed, I felt stuck in a weird limbo between infant-feeding cultures, even though most moms use formula to some degree. Many of my breastfeeding friends low-key shamed me for using formula, constantly asked me if I had "tried everything" to make more milk, and even kicked me out of a La Leche League meeting when I brought out a bottle because I wasn't a "real" breastfeeding mom. It was mortifying and heartbreaking. My formula-feeding friends didn't understand why I continued breastfeeding when I didn't make enough breast milk, and were confused when I didn't switch to formula full-time. They made comments about it and asked me when I planned on stopping.
The truth, of course, was that I liked breastfeeding and formula-feeding. I enjoyed feeling like I got the best of both worlds, and I wanted to continue as long as it was working for me and my baby. It wasn't until I made other combo-feeding friends that I felt supported in feeding my baby, was able to obtain realistic advice on how to do it, and was able to confidently whip out a bottle or boob in public without feeling like a crappy mom. Every new mom needs a friend who she can be herself with, and for me, that was definitely a combo-feeding mom.
A combo-feeding mom has been there through early days of breastfeeding and mixing late-night bottles of formula. She's the mom who tried 10 different bottles before finding one that works, or discovered first-hand how much pumping sucks or the hell that is thrush. Whether you breastfeed or formula-feed, she can empathize and commiserate, because she's totally been there.
I just don't understand why people shame other people for how they feed their babies. It's food, and it's so small in the grand scheme of all things parenting. But when you are a new mom, and you're struggling to breastfeed or trying to figure out formula, that shame can break you. That's one reason why combo-feeding moms are great. They aren't going to judge you for how you feed you baby. In fact, they will pretty much judge the hell out of anyone who shames you for feeding your baby.
So yeah, your combo-feeding BFF likely has mad skills when it comes to navigating all things infant-feeding related. She's the friend you can ask about everything from types of formula, and nipple cream, to power pumping, and the best bottle warmer or formula container for your money.
Because she's been there, she's also great at providing support. She's the friend who always tells you that you are an expert in your own life, and that the best person to decide what's right for you and your baby will always be you. She'll give you a high five when you meet your own feeding goals, no matter what they are. She'll also be there with a hug when things don't work out like you planned.
Your combo-feeding friend has learned to be flexible, adjusting her routine and plans when she needs to. She's your friend who never gets mad when you cancel plans because you would rather sleep or can't find a sitter. And she's your friend you can count on to babysit while you nap or take time for self-care.
Combo-feeding moms have figured out a motherhood secret: there's often more than one way to make things work. They are smart enough to realize that breastfeeding is not all or nothing, and how to make breast and formula-feeding work for them and their families.
Above all, I think the best reason to have a combo-feeding BFF is that she doesn't take sh*t from anyone. She's the person you tag if someone is bullying you about not breastfeeding in a mommy group on Facebook, and the person you call when you are feeling sad about weaning, because you know she will understand better than anyone else.
You can count on her to stand up for you and stand behind you, no matter what. If you are lucky, she will teach you to care less about what mean people have to say about how you feed your baby and the other parenting choices you make, which is a skill all moms need to learn.
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