The slogan “breast is best” has been around for some time now. More recently the term “fed is best” has started circulating. For many reasons, women all over the globe have taken issue with both slogans. This is such a loaded topic. I’ve seen women tear each other apart online based on their opinion on what way is right. I’m not here to tell you if you should breastfeed or formula feed. That decision is up to you. However, I do want to share why I chose formula over breastfeeding.
If you’re one of my long-time followers, then you may have watched my video where I shared my breastfeeding journey with my firstborn. If not, you can view the video HERE. I’m not going to lie, formula feeding has its pros and cons. I actually wrote a post about the things that have helped to make it easier for us.
My Breastfeeding Journey
My first breastfeeding journey was rocky. I tried really hard, in fact, many would say that I achieved success, but that’s not how it ever felt to me. Yes, my son was breastfed, but there was no breastfeeding relationship. Or, if there was, it wasn’t a positive one.
For 5.5 months I persevered with breastfeeding. When I did eventually wean my son to formula I felt a huge amount of guilt. Why? Well, because so many women can’t breastfeed. Many stop because their supply is tanking or their child isn’t thriving.
Neither was the case for me.
Nope. At the end of the day, I stopped because I disliked it. There was a lot of anxiety mixed up in the whole process as well, which I didn’t realise until after I had weaned.
At the time, I struggled with guilt over the decision to stop breastfeeding but I don’t anymore. My son is a thriving, healthy two-year-old. I can count the number of times he has been sick on one hand. I love him and he loves me.
Then I got pregnant with my second child. When speaking with my midwife, I remember telling her that I’d do labour over again any day instead of re-experiencing the breastfeeding journey I had with my son. Some might find that dramatic, but unless “you’ve walked a mile in my shoes…” etc, etc, etc.
We set up a game plan. I would attempt breastfeeding again, but if I was having the same issues (serious pain with no apparent cause & oversupply) then I would make the switch to formula…guilt-free.
What Went Wrong
When my daughter arrived about 2.5 weeks before her due date, the game plan was put into action. Now is where I want to point out where a few things went wrong:
- Because I was a second-time mum I was treated like breastfeeding must be ‘old hat’ to me and therefore no real support was offered.
- The first point is ridiculous because I specifically requested extra support because of my previous experience.
- Breastfeeding my second felt EXACTLY the same as it did my first. The latch ‘looked‘ perfect, but there was always a pinching pain. Despite this, no action was taken.
- The lactation consultant wasn’t available to be seen for a day or two.
- I wasn’t able to get adequate rest.
Well, it was much sooner than any of us expected (37 weeks 5 days), but our darling Annie Elizabeth made her appearance at 7:37 this morning. Weighing in at 6lbs 4oz. I thought Jack’s labour was fast, but this time it was around 6 hours total from the first contraction! We’re doing well, and I’m soaking in the newborn snuggles. 😍😊
Let Me Explain
Okay, so some of the points are self-explanatory and others require a little more of an explanation. Firstly, seeing a lactation consultant before I left the hospital would have been a big help. She could have looked for a lip or tongue tie and overall given me more answers.
With my son, I was told that everything looked right and to just keep practising. Saying this to a mama who is in excruciating pain during every feed is just a kick in the guts. Because I was feeling the same pain with my daughter, I didn’t have much motivation to continue.
I also feel like the 5th point made a big impact. Both my babies have been up ALL NIGHT the first night after they were born. They both wanted to be clusterfed and then wouldn’t settle unless being held. I get the cluster feeding part, but the issue with the “needing to be held to settle” was that the midwives would scold you for having your newborn in bed with you. I also couldn’t sleep a wink while holding my babies because I was terrified I would suffocate them somehow.
If only a midwife had offered to take the baby so that I could get just an hour of sleep, it would have been such a big help! We’ve gone from the days of taking babies straight off to the nursery so mama can rest, to completely removing all support. There needs to be a happy medium somewhere. Now, of course, I could have asked, but I wasn’t confident enough to. So, with both my children I was awake for about 72 hours straight when you tally up labour, delivery and the first night/day.
And we all know how clear our thought processes are when we’re sleep deprived…
Why I Chose Formula Over Breastfeeding
So here we are. Despite the “breast is best” slogan, the health system is failing women in a major way when it comes to offering breastfeeding support.
I chose formula.
By day 3 my daughter was almost exclusively formula fed.
Why did I choose formula? Because I wanted to experience those newborn weeks with as little anxiety as possible. I wanted to soak up those cuddles and enjoy the times that I got to feed my daughter.
Is that selfish?
I’ve seen many mamas say so on one Facebook post or another. However, their argument is fundamentally flawed.
The Whole Picture
During my training as a nurse, we were taught with huge emphasis how important wholistic health is. We shouldn’t look at a patient and zone in on a single health issue without broadening our view and considering the larger implications.
The same can be said for a child. Let’s not forget that breastfeeding is a relationship. If one person is miserable, then it will inevitably affect the other.
I chose formula because while breastmilk may be nutritionally superior, the relationship that I have with my child is even more important. A child can be fed the most wholesome of foods, but if her parent is disconnected and stressed out, then the child’s diet doesn’t mean much in the big picture.
Yes, my breastfeeding journey would most likely have been GREATLY improved with better support from health care professionals, but while they’re working on sorting that out mamas still need to make a decision about what to do.
What Should YOU Do?
For the record, I have not regretted my decision to formula feed my daughter for a single second. She is happy, loved, and thriving, and most importantly, she has a mother who is far less stressed and anxious. I have been able to be so much more present during this second postpartum experience. It doesn’t mean that I loved my son any less, or didn’t bond with him, but so many of the little things were blurred by the overwhelming anxiety surrounding breastfeeding.
So, while some may pressure you to choose one way over another, all I’m going to say is to love your child. Love them enough to ignore the peer pressure of society and choose what is right for your family. And may I add that this may be the first time you have to make this kind of decision, but it won’t be the last. Becoming a parent and receiving the unasked-for opinions of others goes hand-in-hand. Start practising your “smile and nod” face now mama…you’re gonna need it. 😉
Tell Me Your Story
I love to hear from you guys. Your comments make my day, especially if I’ve helped or encouraged you in some way. Did anything I’ve said resonate with you? Are you struggling right now? Reach out to me and I would love to have a chat…even if I can’t offer any real advice, sometimes just talking things out is a huge help. Better yet, come and join our group of supportive mamas on Facebook. Motherhood Strong is a place of encouragement and love. You are so welcome.
Until next time!