I recently gave birth to my first baby – a 6lb 12oz, adorable bundle of colic. I’ll save the colic story for another day. This story is a story about feeding. More specifically, formula feeding.
As soon as I found out I was pregnant, I made an appointment with a midwife (as is customary). One of the first questions the midwife asked was, “You are going be breastfeeding, correct?” Whether this was actually a question or a cleverly worded directive, is debatable. My answer? “I’m going to try.”
But the truth was, I wasn’t sure. Even before I was pregnant, I always felt that if I had a baby, I probably wouldn’t breastfeed. I don’t know why, but it’s never been a burning desire of mine, and being pregnant didn’t change that.
Neither did becoming a mom. After a grueling labor, my husband and I found ourselves in our hospital room with a screaming, starving baby. Despite my best efforts, our baby just wasn’t getting any nourishment, and although a number of different nurses visiting our room, we were never offered formula. After nervously discussing what we should do, my husband and I decided to call another nurse to our room. Luckily for us, a shift change had occurred. Our new nurse was an absolute angel. She immediately brought us tiny bottles of pre-mixed formula, and calmly told us “It doesn’t matter how you feed your baby, as long as he’s fed.”
After a couple of days in the hospital, the three of us went home, and I decided that I’d give breastfeeding another try. After all, throughout my entire pregnancy, I’d been bombarded with messages of “breast is best,” “breastfeeding is natural” and “formula is poison.” I certainly wanted to do what was best for my baby, and I obviously didn’t want to feed him poison, so what choice did I have, right?
And so began the breastfeeding journey. Day after day, I tried everything I could to get that little man to latch and feed. I visited with a lactation consultant. I tried an insanely annoying contraption called a “Supplemental Nursing System” or “SNS.” I used a nursing pillow. I tried the “football hold,” the “traditional hold” and every hold in between. I spent hundreds of dollars on nursing tea and fenugreek tablets. I spent hours and hours hooked up to a pump. I battled mastitis and painful clogged ducts that occurred almost every day. And I battled a constant stream of tears, not only from a screaming baby but also from myself.
The stress I felt from the whole “breastfeeding journey” was like nothing I’d ever felt before. After a while, I realized that while I was hooked up to a pump, battling with an SNS or trying to “correctly position” a hysterical baby, I was missing out on what is most important. Rather than enjoying holding my little boy, looking into his beautiful eyes, smelling his sweet skin and bonding with him, I was a stressed-out, bundle of tears.
It was then that I made the decision to quit trying to force something that wasn’t working for myself, nor my baby.
I decided I was going to exclusively formula feed.
Choosing to stop breastfeeding has allowed both myself, and my husband to bond with our baby. I’m not in constant pain from clogged ducts. My son has gone from being in the 23rd percentile for weight to the 53rd percentile. We no longer have to battle with pumping, supplemental nursing systems, breastfeeding pillows and mastitis. He’s happier, I’m happier and we’re both healthier – physically and mentally.
It’s been 2 months since I made that decision to formula feed my son, and I don’t regret it for one second – it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.