If you’d like to criticize me for feeding my baby formula, take a ticket and get inline.
There’s currently a campaign making the rounds on social media in regards to normalizing breast feeding in public and how important feeding your baby breast milk is. You will find mamas posting pictures of themselves breastfeeding their child, followed by a lengthy post about how incredible their body is for producing ‘liquid gold’ or ‘nature’s food’ for their baby and how important it is for babies to be fed breast milk.
Don’t get me wrong, I completely agree that ‘breast is best’ for babies, and I had planned on feeding my baby this way, but unfortunately it doesn’t always work out the way we plan.
I gave birth to my baby 9 days ago and I’m currently feeding her with formula. Lara is formula fed not because I randomly chose to do this, but because I was having difficulty to feed her from the breast. Do you know how disheartening it is to not be able to produce enough breast milk to feed your child? It is so deflating to not be able to do something your body is naturally supposed to do, especially when your child is screaming with hunger and frustration.
While in hospital we tried so hard to breastfeed. I had the midwives hand expressing me every couple of hours which hurt, and then every time Lara was due to feed I had a midwife trying to get Lara to latch on properly. It resulted in tears for both of us. Lara just wasn’t ‘getting it’ and because she wasn’t suckling properly she ended up damaging both of my nipples to the point they were bleeding. It wasn’t a very pleasant experience for both of us, but everyone kept saying to push through the pain and keep going as we would eventually get there. That’s easy to say, but when you’re doing it, it’s extremely hard!
After 4 days of gritting my teeth through the pain and a broken heart of struggling to feed my baby, we found that Lara wasn’t putting on much weight as she wasn’t getting enough ‘food’. The doctor suggested we needed to ‘top her up’ with formula to help her put on the weight she needed, to which we agreed on.
The day before we were due to go home I told my husband how anxious and nervous I was to go home and tackle this breast feeding journey on my own without the assistance of the midwives. I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to express enough and that Lara would again struggle to latch. It wasn’t until one of the night nurses came in to my room and asked if we were formula feeding or breast feeding, and at that moment I told her of my difficulties and that I felt I couldn’t continue with the breastfeeding any longer. This particular nurse was so understanding and supportive and helped us transition to formula. The next feed I fed Lara with a bottle of formula milk and she drank it so easily and comfortably. She slept well because her tummy was nice and full and after a day she had put on 35 grams. And I didn’t have to go through the agony of expressing and the tears of frustration.
So while everyone is campaigning to normalize breastfeeding, I’m here to say let’s normalize formula feeding too! There seems to be so much criticism surrounding formula feeding and it’s really not fair! While breast feeding mothers may get criticized for feeding in public or to ‘cover up’, Formula feeding mothers get criticized for not giving their baby the nutrition it needs or in my experience so far am asked why I’m not breast feeding!
People are just so nosey and really don’t think before they open their mouth. In my opinion, a healthy baby is a fed baby, whether it’s breast milk or formula, and no one should criticize or judge a mother for how she is feeding her baby.