Let’s get something out of the way, so you know the direction this post is heading (as if the title didn’t give it away): I have two precious boys, ages six and almost five, and they were both formula fed. They are happy, healthy, and if I must say, super smart and all-around cool guys. If you are choosing to continue reading without an eye roll, thank you! If you’re choosing to pass judgment at this point, try to keep reading with an open mind.
I’m a researcher, a problem I have written about before, and it drives my mom and sometimes my husband crazy! So it goes like this: I have a problem, I read up on it, and then I make a decision based on what my gut is telling me. When we got pregnant, I researched and read and planned, and breastfeeding was firmly in that plan. I work full-time, so I planned to breastfeed when at home, and pump at work to supply my bundle of joy with all the nutrients he needed while I was at work.
As with most things in life, plans went down the crapper when that sweet boy was born. I will spare the details and reasons, but within a week or two, it was clear that breastfeeding was not working. I was dreading feeding him, I cried every single time, and I resented my child. I was not in a good place.
Thank God for a pediatrician who grabbed me by the tired shoulders and told me that the healthiest, best decision for my baby was the one that made me the best mom I could be. A thank you is just not big enough for that moment in my life. She recognized something in my tears and my uncertainty that changed the course of my motherhood. I can honestly say that from that moment, I was a better mother for being able to let go with validation.
Breastfeeding was not that for me at the time, and once I was given permission to let it go, I felt so relieved.
That decision was not taken lightly. Remember I’m a researcher? I looked up formula, formula feeding, and anything related to that topic. Oh.My.Goodness. Just don’t do it if you’re already an emotional basketcase from not being able to do the most natural thing in the world, because you will leave your search feeling like a failure. Nothing I saw was positive.
There is clear evidence to support breastfeeding, but what about when breast isn’t best for you?
I realize there is a movement to normalize breastfeeding, and I am all for it! I am happy to see a mom providing for her child in the most natural way possible. Just look at this post, and this post, and this post! I celebrate all of you moms who breastfeed your children — you are providing a natural, healthy meal for your child EVERY DAY, MULTIPLE TIMES A DAY! I mean, your body produces food. I also celebrate those of us who manage to feed our babies by whatever means is necessary or chosen!
I remember feeling like I had to hide the fact that my kids were formula fed. I felt the need to explain myself. I felt that I was trying to be converted and was judged on several occasions because of the choice we made. I can remember several lectures/lessons/tips I was given which sounded, to me, a lot like failure.
What I needed was validation. Validation that I am a good mom. Validation that my child is safe, happy, and healthy. So here is some validation for those of us who have chosen (for whatever reason) to feed our angels with formula or for the moms out there struggling to reconcile their decision:
You know how much food your baby is eating.
This is particularly helpful at the doctor, and/or during early phases when it is hard to tell whether your baby is hungry or not, or how to gauge weight gain.
You can choose a formula that works for your baby without changing your diet.
This is selfish, sure, but it is a benefit nonetheless.
Anyone can feed your baby.
You can work, go to church, go out with friends or on a date, let Dad get up and feed the baby in the middle of the night so you can sleep…and nipple confusion is not a problem.
You can mix and match (breastfeed and formula feed) — it doesn’t have to be all or nothing.
I did this method with my second child, where I was able to breastfeed him a bit longer, so I did a bit of both (breastfeeding in the morning and at bedtime).