I love formula feeding. There I said it. Something I'm constantly made to think I shouldn't be proud of - I am. As a mother in the 21st century I am constantly bombarded with breastfeeding propaganda. We are a society trying to make it "normal" in public spaces as well as in homes. Which is great. Mothers who can and want to breastfeed need all of the support out there to make it happen. I'm sure a not a lot of people who aren't parents don't realise just how hard breastfeeding is and giving these mothers the best chance at keeping the feeding cycle going is crucial. We are making huge leaps to make breastfeeding common place and accepted but on the other hand VERY little is said about formula feeding.
Breast milk, is undoubtedly the best thing we can give our babies. I'm not here to debate that, what I am here to talk about is how formula feeding is often referred to as the back up option. A lot of the times scoffed at as it must mean the mother has failed to breastfeed. The slogan "fed is best" is often used in the instance "if I didn't formula feed my baby would have died" which in some cases is true but there are mothers out there who rather than being forced into formula feeding they choose to go down that lonely dark alleyway by their own freewill.
I'm a formula feeding mum and I so wish this attitude would change. There are so many benefits to it so why is it such a taboo subject? Why do we not give mothers who are formula feeding the same grace & empowerment that we give breastfeeding mothers? Why is it referred to in our society as the second option thus inferring it is second best?
Based on nothing but by own experience with formula feeding here is what I see as its benefits:
- My husband gets to feed my daughter. Feeding time is often a time where your baby really connects & relaxes with whoever is feeding them. If we were EBF (exclusively breast feeding) my husband would have never had the opportunity to experience this bond. We used to take turns getting up with her in the night so we could each get some sleep & if I wanted a lie in he had no excuse!!
- We were able to monitor how much my daughter drunk and in turn compare that with how much was coming back out. With our reflux baby this was a god send! No more asking ourselves "did she just throw up everything she drunk?"
- We knew exactly what the milk she was drinking consisted of. When we discovered her dairy allergy we were able to swap her onto a lactose free formula and her problems eased almost overnight. If we were breastfeeding it would have taken weeks to wean it out of my breast milk as well as I would have had to go dairy free too! :( cheese is fab. common.
- If I need to be away from my daughter at any point we don't have to "train" her to take a bottle, she already knows how to do it.
- Breastfeeding became all consuming and draining for me. I was struggling to keep up with my daughters demands, I was rapidly loosing weight (not in a healthy way) and started to resent feeding time. My nipples were raw, and I cried in pain when she latched on. All of this began to make it mentally taxing too and I decided to switch to exclusively pumping for my daughter before I got swallowed into the hole of PPD (post partum depression), this lasted two months before we switched to formula and I waved good bye to feeling like a cow tied to my pump. We really have never looked back. Formula saved my sanity
- My body is now my own again. 9+ months of pregnancy & 3 months breastfeeding, wine never tasted so good. Personal space was heaven.
I still yearn for the connection that breastfeeding provides. I see mothers providing for their babies like that and my heart always breaks a little. Until I think about what I have & how formula has helped us get here then I remember our way isn't so bad after all.
Whichever way you choose to feed your baby, I am happy for you. Support the mothers around you no matter which way they do it. The last thing they need is judgement. And lastly, mothers, when have you ever met an adult and asked "were you breast or formula fed?" these things matter now, but not for long. Keep on keepin' on.
Pictured above: feeding Ruby today at 10 months old, feeding Ru on our wedding day & feeding Ru at 4 weeks old, not long before we begun feeding differently.