I’ve had this on my mind for a while, but didn’t really know what to say about it or how. Or if it was worth talking about at all. Today I read something that made me realize it needs to be said.
Fed. Is. Best.
I’m in a group on Facebook for moms. People post in there for advice, support, and everything else. Today a mom posted that she felt guilty, upset, and sad that she had to give her 3 month old formula. She said that tonight she didn’t produce enough while exclusively pumping, and that she had to give her baby formula and that upset her. That made her feel guilty.
Now why in the world would she feel guilty about that?
Before I go into this let me just say that I 100% understand that breast milk is the best thing for your baby as far as nutrients and immune support goes. It also has so many other benefits and any mom who can breastfeed is an amazing mom and should be so proud of herself.
BUT, breastfeeding is not easy and a lot of doctors and society make it seem like the only good option. “Breast is best” is actually a harmful statement in my opinion. Because in reality, feeding your baby is the most important thing whether it be breast milk or formula.
When I got pregnant I just assumed I’d breastfeed. That’s the norm. That’s what’s “best” for my baby. That’s what’s expected of me.
Except Tate didn’t want to latch. My second night in the hospital I slept 1 hour because I could not get him to eat. Coming home was no better. I cried trying to feed him the entire first week. Finally, he started to latch and I was so relieved because I thought it would be better. Except my kid is stubborn. He would latch, nurse for a couple minutes, fall asleep and wouldn’t wake up (trust me I tried EVERYTHING I was told to try). And then he’d wake up screaming because he was still hungry. It would go on for HOURS. He wasn’t gaining much weight and we were both miserable.
Eventually, I stopped trying for my own health and for his. I tried to pump. And I did it for two months with supplementing before switching to formula only.
But I felt SO MUCH GUILT. I felt like I had failed. I felt like I was letting Tate down, Cole down, myself down. I felt like people were going to judge me. That they were going to think I was a bad mom. I just felt ashamed and like I was a failure. When people asked me if I was breastfeeding I honestly felt embarrassed to tell them I wasn’t anymore.
Looking back that guilt should never have happened. But it did. And it’s happening to a lot of other moms too. But why did/do we feel guilty? Example: this past week one of my new coworkers said “you must still be nursing” just assuming I was. And when I told her I wasn’t, she genuinely looked shocked and surprised. I don’t think she meant anything by it, but the general mentality is that everyone should be breastfeeding, and that’s not always the case. Example two: I’m constantly reading how “breastfeeding isn’t for the weak.” And while it may seem like a harmless statement, those of us who aren’t read it and feel like we just weren’t strong enough to do it. We’re too “weak” to breastfeed.
I don’t let it get to me like I use to though because Tate is THRIVING on formula. He went from being in the 10th percentile in weight and 50th in height at his 2 month appointment to being 50th percentile in weight and 90th percentile in height at 4 months. Turns out he loves it and his growth is excellent on it!
My point is, I have a happy, healthy baby. He’s growing and developing exactly like he should. And he hasn’t had any breastmilk at all since 2 months. And I’ve come to terms with the fact that that’s okay.
My advice to new moms is this, fed is best. Breastfeeding is amazing. It really is. But if you have to supplement, or if you don’t do it at all, you are still a good mom. Do not do what I did and feel guilty for giving your baby formula. As long as they’re getting fed, you’re doing the best you can.
And my advice to society… STOP making it out like moms who don’t breastfeed are less than or not as strong. Stop acting like we aren’t good moms. Because I promise you we still love our babies and we still do our best to take care of them. We’re still good moms.