I am in my second trimester of pregnancy with my second child and somebody sent me a link to a breast pump that was on sale. I kindly responded to her saying that I am not planning on breastfeeding my baby, and unsurprisingly, I got questioned and “educated”.
“Choosing not to breastfeed your baby is selfish.”
To paraphrase her reaction: “Why wouldn’t you at least try to breastfeed? You know that breast milk has so many important benefits that formula doesn’t have. You’re doing a huge disservice to your child by not putting him or her first. That’s honestly pretty selfish.”
Yes, I know that breastfeeding has so many good benefits. Not only have I done an abundance of research and taken the breastfeeding course at St. Lukes, but I also have first-hand experience with my last child. And yet, I’m still choosing formula.
If I know the benefits of breastfeeding, then why am I choosing formula?
Here’s the deal: no matter what a mom’s reasoning is for their choice of feeding their baby, it doesn’t really matter. For the sake of this blog post, I am going to share my reason, although, I shouldn’t feel like I have to share in order to be accepted by society. (Of course, like most women, I do feel the need to back up my decision).
Before my daughter was born I knew that I was going to breastfeed her. It was the only way for my daughter to thrive (or so I thought). When she was born and while we were still spending our three days in the hospital, we tried to get her to latch and we waited for my milk to come in.
Fast forward a week; my daughter still wasn’t getting it. She was overly hungry because I was being stubborn. Still, breastfeeding just had to work. I decided that since she wasn’t going to latch correctly, I would exclusively pump. So, I exclusively pumped for 6 months.
During those 6 months of exclusively pumping and feeding my child with liquid gold, I lost myself.
I struggled with postpartum depression and anxiety which were heavily induced by breastfeeding/pumping. I am prone to anxiety and depression, to begin with, but it was bad enough where I became suicidal. I didn’t know who I was and felt all I was good for was pumping milk. I never allowed myself to go anywhere because of the inconvenience of pumping. My life was pumping. My schedule revolved around pumping. It made me never want to have another child. My PPD/A made my relationship with my husband falter.
For me, it just wasn’t worth it. The pros of giving my child breast milk did not outweigh the cons that affected my mental state. I am choosing to formula feed with my second child because I don’t want to have any anxiety over it. I never want to go through postpartum depression again, and if that means I give my child formula, which is just as great as breast milk in most ways, I will gladly do so. In the end, my baby will thrive more from having a healthy and happy mom than the added benefits he will get with breast milk.
Hateful stereotypes are given to moms who trade the breast for formula.
Choosing not to breastfeed in today’s society, where breast is best, can be extremely stressful and anxiety-inducing in women who choose to go a different route, regardless of their reasoning.
People making assumptions on what type of mother the formula feeding mom is are all too common. She’s lazy. She’s selfish. She gives up too easily.
But what most don’t know when judging the new mom or mom-to-be is the real story behind a mom’s decision.
Maybe she, like me, was enveloped in postpartum depression with her first child because of her struggles with breastfeeding. Maybe she learned from her last child that it is more important to be a healthy and present mom than it is to breastfeed.
Maybe she has extreme anxiety when it comes to breastfeeding that consumes her and takes away all of the excitement of being a mom.
Maybe she suffered from mastitis which left her in such severe pain that it took her time and attention away from her baby.
Maybe she doesn’t feel comfortable with the whole process of breastfeeding.
Or maybe she just doesn’t want to breastfeed!
Let her be.
Yes, we all know that breast milk has extraordinary benefits for a child. But what we also know is that having a happy and healthy mother also has extraordinary benefits, and that formula-fed babies grow and excel just as well as breastfed babies.
Breast is best?
No. FED is best.
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