I know what you're going through.
I know what it’s like when your little one is crying in public and you pull out a bottle of formula from your diaper bag, instead of sitting down to breastfeed. I know what it's like to feel every head turn and look at you, as if you're doing something wrong. You're not. I know it can feel like the weight of the world is resting on your shoulders and the judgment coming from moms passing by is so thick it could be cut with a knife. It makes you feel like you're making poor choices and doing something wrong for your child.
I know what it's like to be alone when you’re home alone with your new baby, measuring out formula in a bottle and wondering every single time if you’ve made the right choice, because let’s face it — the pressures put on moms to breastfeed has gotten out of control.
No matter what path you took to formula feed — if you couldn’t breastfeed, because your little one wouldn't latch, or if you had a really low supply, or if you didn’t want to breastfeed at all — none of that matters. You don’t owe anyone an explanation. You’re doing what works for you, your family, and your baby. Trust your gut instinct, because that’s your power as a mom, the one thing that will always guide you to do the right thing for your child. And know in your heart that you are not alone.
I had a breast reduction, so I knew from the beginning that breastfeeding would be a challenge. At the time that I had my surgery, my doctor told me it would be more difficult to breastfeed because he removed milk ducts during the surgery. Sometimes, they can grow back, but it takes a long time. My surgery was done when I was 17, before advances in medical technology made it possible to preserve milk-producing tissue.
When I had my first child 8 years ago, my doctor told me not to even try to breastfeed because my supply would be too low. So bottle feeding it was — and I was totally OK with that. It was a no pressure choice, and I didn't feel judged for it at all. When I had my second child a few months ago, however, I felt like I was constantly being judged for bottle-feeding her. People come up to me while we’re at restaurants, hanging out at the park, or at my son’s swim lessons, and they feel like it’s their place to ask me if I’ve tried breastfeeding.
Most of all, I want you to know that you’re not alone.
It's difficult for me to explain why I don't, because it's a long and personal story. Most of the time, I'll just say, "Yes, I tried. It didn't work out," and change the subject. Almost immediately, they'll say "Well, you can try next time," before walking away.
For the record, I did try to breastfeed my daughter, but we couldn’t make it work, so we gladly opted for a bottle. After all, there's no one way for a child to be fed.
People call formula-feeding moms selfish. But I know that you’re not. Yes, there's less pressure on us, since we're sometimes able to have our partners help with feedings, but we still wake up at night with our babies. We still are on constant mom duty, and we will be until the day we leave this earth. Formula-feeding allows us to bond with our babies, but it also gives us some flexibility so our partner or another caregiver can jump in for a feeding if we need to work or run an errand. There’s nothing wrong with any of that, so give yourself a pat on the back, mama.
People call formula-feeding moms lazy. But I know that you’re not. I know your hands are pruny, dry, and peeling by the end of each day because of the amount of bottles that you're constantly washing. I know you always have to make sure that you have formula in stock so you don’t ever run out, which means you're always running out in the middle of the night to make sure you have some handy. Lazy, we formula-feeding moms are not.
I know that sometimes, it can feel like you’re swimming in a sea of breastfeeding mamas, and you're constantly looking for someone to connect with. But we’re out there.
But most of all, I want you to know that you’re not alone. I know that sometimes, it can feel like you’re swimming in a sea of breastfeeding mamas, and you're constantly looking for someone to connect with. But we’re out there. Your formula-feeding journey doesn’t need to be an isolated one, and even though feeling judged on a daily basis has become an unfortunate part of our culture, just know that you’re not alone.
We all know that “breast is best,” but we chose formula, and we did so for many different, equally valid reasons. We’re not doing anything wrong, and you aren’t less of a mother because you chose to formula feed. We all need our mom tribes now more than ever and in the ever-changing landscape that is parenthood, we’re just doing the best we can everyday. We’re all being pulled in different directions and making the best decisions that work for our lifestyle. It’s no big deal if that includes formula.
A formula-feeding mama