Next week starts World Breastfeeding Week. If you’ve been here more than 5 minutes, y’all know that I am a breastfeeding
activist promoter. Breastfeeding isn’t easy. Moms need support. Moms need education.
You may not know, however, that for nearly 9 months, my oldest was fed primarily formula.
In light of my new Formula Feeding Moms support page (listed under the MOM tab), I want to share my story with you today. I know I’m not alone!
Let’s go back in time to 2008. I had a very stressful pregnancy involving a job loss (mine) and the Hubs finishing his doctorate and searching the nation (and occasionally world) for a job. Add in a mess with selling our home (thank you, Mother Nature) and a cross-country move at 7 months pregnant followed by preterm birth at not quite 36 weeks.
God provided. The house sold literally at 10pm as we pulled our moving truck in to a friend’s driveway in our new town where the Hubs landed a great job. Buggy was very healthy though a tiny 4lbs 10oz when we came home together.
Everything seemed peachy.
Around 1 month, things started to unravel. Buggy was no longer gaining weight well. It seemed that something was amiss with my milk supply. I knew NOTHING about breastfeeding. Thankfully, my family doc worked closely with my lactation consultant to do what we could to increase my supply.
It didn’t work.
My supply kept dwindling. Buggy gained a whopping 1 ounce per week for 3 weeks. At that point, the decision to supplement was made. Just an ounce offered after 4 feeds a day.
I. Was. Heartbroken.
I cried with every bottle. I felt like a failure. I couldn’t feed my child. I had allowed him to be hungry for weeks. I had to leave the room once I was done nursing and have someone else feed the bottle. I couldn’t stop crying.
Things kept going downhill for 5 more months. Formula increased. At least 20 oz a day. My milk decreased to nearly nothing. I was pumping furiously and eating oatmeal like it was going out of style. I was miserable. At one point, I couldn’t even leave my porch and knew something was wrong.
It took about 3 months to get my thyroid back under control. I had become very hyperthyroid which caused my milk issues and my anxiety and depression issues. Within 3 weeks of my thyroid medication adjustment, my milk came back. It took much longer to feel emotionally stable again, but at leas I was climbing out of the pit.
My biggest confession -
After my milk came back, I kept using formula. Not exclusively. I returned to nursing nearly full time, but I wasn’t opposed to replacing a feed with formula here and there for my sanity or for my convenience. Maybe once or twice a day. I no longer needed it, but I used it.
I felt guilty.
I never admitted continuing formula use on any forums where I was active. Only my family and close friends knew. I was a closet combination feeder.
I’m out of the closet now!
With my second, my milk supply was amazing. There was a few weeks where I started down the spiral to PPD again, but caught the thyroid imbalance quickly and things returned to normal right away. Scrunch has never had formula. I just recently weaned him at 14 months (sooner than either of us would like, but necessary for this pregnancy due to my preterm labor issues) and he now loves his cows milk and basically anything else that crosses his lips. I will most likely exclusively breastfeed my third when he or she arrives.
But I’m no longer a closet combo-feeder.
I shouldn’t feel guilty.
- My child was fed and nourished.
- I was able to take care of my medical issues.
- I was doing what was best for my family.
- Yes, breastmilk IS the perfect food, but formula is often a life saver.
- Formula feeding moms and combo feeding moms should not feel condemned.
So, That’s my story. That’s my reason for launching the formula feeding moms support page. Baby feeding choices is often such a point of division between moms. Let’s break down this barrier. Let’s end the warring. Let’s support each other.
A side note – if you had asked me about formula feeding back then, I probably would have lied. I probably wouldn’t have told you the real reason for formula feeding out of necessity and then out of choice. I would have told you what you wanted to hear or said something just to end the conversation. Remember this when you talk to moms about feeding choices. They may have other reasons for their choices that they are not voicing.
Have you been put down for your infant feeding choices? What would have helped you most?