Tag Archives: babies

I wish I had been a Fearless Formula Feeder

In talking about breastfeeding, I also wanted to talk about formula feeding. Like the mythological Ancient Greek character Tiresias, who has lived as a man and a woman, I have lived as a formula feeder and an exclusively breast feeding mom. It is a unique perspective.

I think parents who formula feed should never, ever feel guilty. But yet, we do. I certainly did. Whether it’s the little bit of formula we give to make up for a supply or pumping deficit, or if a baby is completely formula fed from the moment of birth, so many moms feel guilt.

If I had returned to work 40+ hours per week, as I did after my first child, my baby would be getting formula. I need to pump 2-3 times to get the amount my baby takes in one feeding. I would have continued nursing, and pumping, but formula would have made up the differential in the pump-to-feeding ratio.

There is also a prevailing thought that formula companies’ relentless marketing is what makes mom switch. While this may be true for some moms, and I do not doubt there are “formula pushers” in our midst, this vilifying of formula companies is a little ridiculous. Honestly, who should formula companies market to? 60 year old men? Or, since we operate in a free market economy, marketing to the target consumer base-women 18-35 who are the most likely to have kids…yup, that would make sense.

There is also this one simple fact: babies and mothers who could not breastfeed before formula was invented often did NOT have happy outcomes. As long as there have been babies and moms, there have been problems with breastfeeding, and moms looking for solutions. Also, let us not forget the high maternal mortality rates that long plagued women. Wet nurses, goats milk, homemade concoctions- none were as fail-safe as modern formula. Formula saves lives.

I could reiterate the millions of GOOD reasons women formula feed, but the good folks at The Fearless Formula Feeder have already done this. This is an amazing website. Everyone should read it.

Instead, I’d like to share the benefits that I’ve found to formula feeding.

1. You really can co-parent with your partner. In my home, we split it all-night feedings, mealtimes, formula prep. I have found this impossible to do while exclusively breast feeding.

2. You have the certainty of knowing how much your child is eating at each time of the day. This does wonders for a new parent’s state of mind.

3. You can include other caregivers in feeding your baby with little to no issues. As a working mom whose second baby refused a bottle, let me tell you, this is huge.

4. I think it’s easier. This is widely disputed on breastfeeding websites. I’ve had very little trouble nursing on the second go-around. I still found formula feeding easier.

5. Your body becomes your own again. As a person who is very sensitive to hormonal changes as it pertains to my mental health, and in ways I didn’t anticipate as it pertains to my physical health and comfort, I have found breastfeeding to keep my body in a constant state of flux. This is challenging in ways that has nothing to do with my ability to feed my baby.

All parents who love, feed, and take care of babies are awesome. Period. Let’s make the baby feeding game “No shame, no blame,” from here on out.

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The Breastfeeding Posts: Reflections on Self-Judgement and Forgiveness

The most difficult part of writing about my breastfeeding experiences was silencing my defensiveness and self-judgement about my first go-around. How could someone like me, who has been studying and has been an active member of the “women and children” health community in some way since I was 19 years old be so blindsided, so unprepared, so sideswiped? I mean, I read all the motherfucking books. I have a master’s degree. Shouldn’t I have known better?

Maybe. But I didn’t. I had no experience. I had no new-mom friends to be like “Hey! Sometimes things go wrong.”

I had to revise these posts many times to remove defensiveness about my choices. Who was I defending myself against? Nobody but myself, and my own sanctimonious self-talk about formula, and bonding, and how I “wasn’t mom enough.” What that voice really covers up is a deep sadness about the days, weeks, months of my life I spent enshrouded under the shadow of post-partum depression. Time with my first child I will never, ever get back. A time I’ve tried to write about many times and I’m still not ready to reference as more than an aside.

I am still working on forgiving myself. I’ll get there.

My tiny formula-fed preemie is three now, and is healthy, smart, huge, and beautiful (of course I think so. I am her mother.) A recent study comparing siblings where one was breast fed and one was formula fed has found that the home environment appears to be a stronger indicator of child health and intelligence than infant feeding methods. A free full-text link to the study itself isn’t available that I can find, but for those of you motivated to access the study the abstract and citation is here.

It has helped with my forgiveness process.

Breastfeeding is hard, even when, like with my second baby, the “mechanics” come together easily. It’s a sometimes crushing responsibility to be another person’s food source. It’s exhausting. It’s emotionally taxing. If I had had to go back to work full-time, if my baby had food allergies or reflux, if, despite my planning, I relapsed into depression and anxiety…If I had decided that disliking breastfeeding was affecting my ability to care for my baby. Any of these would have brought about a different ending. I was truly privileged to have the opportunity and the support to organize my life this past year around my children and their needs. Too many moms never have that chance.

Also thank you. To all of you who reached out to me, for being encouraging, supportive, loving. You rule.

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Breastfeeding: Part 1-It’s Complicated

I have, thus far, stayed away from Hot Button Issues (mostly) in my writings.
But it’s World Breastfeeding Week, and I am feeling the need to reflect on my own journey, as I have both succeeded and failed at breastfeeding.

I am always hesitant to write about breastfeeding because I’m worried people will feel like I am “parenting at them.” I am afraid people will try to educate me about breastfeeding. I am worried I’ll trigger someone with breastfeeding trauma. (Or I should say, I’ll trigger someone ELSE with breastfeeding trauma, as I used to be triggered).

Please know this: I think every mom makes the best decision for herself and her baby with love in her heart. I know, in my decisions, that I did. Secondly, while I learn new things about breastfeeding, children, and babies in general daily (let’s be honest, I learn things about EVERYTHING daily),I do my damnedest not to present a “fact” that isn’t something I actually can cite. In certain circles in which I travel, breastfeeding has become so political that simple facts about breast milk and nursing are challenged if they aren’t “Lactavist-y” enough. At the end of the day, we are mammals, and therefore we lactate. Just like cats, monkeys, goats, or three-toed sloths. Unlike other mammals, however, we have other things to do besides lie on our sides and nurse after we have babies. Also our babies can’t walk within hours of being born.

But I digress.

Lastly, this is much more personal than my general flippant rants and/or mushy hallmark moments that I share. Given conversations I’ve had with Mammas and Mammas-To-Be be in my life recently, I am moved to share my experiences because they have been both incredibly traumatic and incredibly healing. I’ve received feedback that sharing my story has been helpful.

I’m nervous, but this is a part of my own process I’m ready to tackle. Writing, sharing-it’s all part of the journey for me.

Those of you who have encouraged me to talk, to share- thank you.

More tomorrow.

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Germ Magnets

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been trapped in my house with two tiny germ magnets for the past several weeks.

We have had a cold, pinkeye, another cold, and yesterday, “My neck hurts, Mamma.”

Toddler-ese for, “I have a sore throat.”

Awesome.

And my two little ones have been sharing these ailments with each other. Such good sharing!

You have not had fun until you have tackled a toddler and a baby every day, three times per day, for a week, bearing eye drops.

By day two, my baby was squeezing her eyes shut and squirming, and my toddler was screaming ” Ahhh! Hide!” and ducking under furniture.

We bribed her with chocolate. After one time, it was ineffective.

It was helpfully suggested to me that breast milk would clear this up. First off, I did that, which is how the pinkeye remained delightfully contagious and shareable for a few extra days. Secondly, liquid in the eye is unpleasant to children regardless of “natural” properties.

Every consecutive sickness has led to an increase in cabin fever, of which, at this point, this mamma has a near-fatal case.

Whenever we have had a break in symptoms, we try a new activity.

Which in turn, has given us a new cold. Thus, missing the following week of said activity.

How many weeks until spring?

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