Breastfeeding vs. formula-feeding? Moms, we have a choice and we must do what is healthy not only for the baby, but ourselves.
During my most recent pregnancy I was very excited to breastfeed. It was my second child, and I had a pleasant experience breastfeeding with my first child ten years ago.
Everything I expected and was prepared for went wrong during my first night after delivery - it was extremely difficult to get my newborn to latch and I feared she was not getting enough food.
My second day in the hospital, the lactation nurses visited and provided tips and tricks to master breastfeed. However, I continued to struggle and the consistent push and coaching for breastfeeding caused me to feel like a failure. I found a momentary relief from my sadness when one of the seven nurses ensured me that my baby getting fed was more important than the feeding method.
Still - I left the hospital feeling inadequate.
After leaving the hospital, my relationship with breastfeeding did not get easier - I continued to struggle physically and emotionally. To help my milk supply, I went to additional lactation consultation, adopted a new diet, and put myself on a strict schedule of pumping every two hours.
What came so easy for me ten years ago and once brought me joy, quickly became a draining task that took time away from my family and bonding with my newborn and caused me to become depressed and insecure.
Six months post-delivery, my milk dried up. When this happened, I initially felt like a horrible mom. Soon after, I felt relieved because my constant worrying over not pumping enough milk was no longer present, and my schedule was now free to get back to taking care of myself, my family, and my newborn.
Last year, Chrissy Teigan spoke out about normalizing formula feeding. Before this, I thought I was alone in my struggle with breastfeeding. I’m sharing my experience to let other moms know they are not alone and hopefully help moms believe their choice to formula feed is just as good as breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is not always best, and we must do what is healthy, not only for the baby but also for ourselves.
Ways We All Can Help Normalize Formula Feeding:
Share and discuss the challenges of breastfeeding: Part of normalizing formula feeding demands that moms and doctors openly acknowledge how difficult it is for some women to breastfeed. By recognizing the challenges with breastfeeding, we can help make it easier and more acceptable for moms to formula feed.
Reframe language to be more inclusive and less offensive: Writing and saying things like, "Breastfeeding is the best thing that you can do for you and your baby" can imply that you are a bad mom if you're unable to breastfeed or formula-feeding is somehow detrimental to your baby's health. Let's remove this type of language to be more inclusive and less offensive to moms who opt for formula feeding.
Choose What Works For You - As a new or repeat mom, you will receive a lot of advice on what others think it's best for you. Some things will work, some will not. Choose what is best for you!
Prioritize your mental and physical health: Do not feel pressured to compromise your health to follow the status quo.
For safe breastfeeding and bottle-feeding support, check out Fed Is Best, a foundation created to identify critical gaps in current breastfeeding protocols to support moms in best feeding newborns.