Quick survey for you all to do in your heads to start off this lovely post:
- Do you know who of your friends were exclusively breastfed as babies and for how long?
- Do you think your kid is going to be smarter or have fewer illnesses with breast milk than with formula?
I’m assuming we answered the first one similarly as it isn’t usually a hot topic of conversation around the dinner table at girls’ night. No, I don’t know which of my friends were exclusively breastfed as babies and for how long.
As for the second one, I’m sure I will hit some sensitive sally’s nerves here as people all have different beliefs on breastfeeding benefits and mine may get a bit intense as you read on.
As a mom who has exclusively breastfed one of my children and then done a combination of both breast milk and formula for my second round of children, I have realized a few things.
Firstly, that the judgement people have around formula is a giant hot steamy load of garbage. That maybe the moms who formula feed their babies actually produce smart ass babies who take a bottle from the get go and allow that mom to have freedom, which in turn makes her a calm and cool mom who has super sweet hair and feels relaxed because she could go sit her ass in a chair for a few hours and get her hair done while not worrying about her boobs exploding or how her baby was going to be fed. Obviously, pumping breast milk can also mean you have super sweet hair too but that added annoyance of pumping and your boobs exploding after a few hours is less than ideal. Also, did you pump enough to give you more than three hours of freedom? Bear with me here as I am steering this topic toward the formula stigma. Not putting down the breast feeders…remember, I was one of those too.
Formula was made for a reason: to feed babies. So why do so many people judge other moms for using it and why do people think it’s so terrible for these little humans? No, it’s not organic for the most part (the super high-end Kirkland brand I use is definitely not organic) and it’s made from dairy usually… but hey, your milk ain’t 100% organic and if you drink milk or eat cheese, there is dairy in your milk too I suppose. Also, what is SO WRONG with dairy if you’re not allergic to it?! Separate conversation for a later date maybe…
I’m pretty sure a lot of our generation was fed formula. I know I was at some point. Do you think you were hard done by or sicker than other kids because of this? Or that you got worse grades in school because your parents fed you formula as a baby?
If so, I’m going to nip that one right here and assume you were just lazy in high school and got sick a lot because you shared cigarettes or 40’s of malt beer or from passing around 2 liters of Growers cider with all your pals in the park on weekends. Not because you were formula fed.
I fed my first-born 100% from the boob or from a bottle of expressed breast milk for the first 6 months of her life. To be honest, I was fortunate enough to produce a lot of milk and never had any issues but I decided to stop around 6 months because I didn’t really like it anymore and realized that my kid was going to be AOK. Let me clarify further… I stopped breastfeeding because I wanted to. Not because I had challenges or because baby wasn’t feeding well but because I didn’t want to do it anymore – for no other reason.
The crappy part of this decision was the fact that even though I was confident in my decision, I still felt bad about it because of a few assholes out there in the world (the “THEY’S”) who tell people over and over that you have to breastfeed your baby for a minimum of one year for the healthiest baby and that it will mean they will get less illnesses and all sorts of other hot garbage. This also went hand-in-hand with the fact that I started feeding her formula after I stopped breastfeeding, which opens up a whole other conversation for people to discuss and judge you for but guess what? My baby was being fed! She ate veggies and chicken and eggs (sorry vegans) and pretty much all the food groups and then paired it with a lovely 2018 vintage Enfamil blanc that only fancy babies had acquired tastes for.
This time around with the twins, I was again fortunate enough to produce a lot of milk but also started topping up with formula from the start because if I tried to breastfeed them both exclusively, I may as well have been in jail with not so sweet hair because I would be at home 24/7 to feed these two weirdos. That was not the life I wanted to live so I was all about the formula alongside the breast milk.
Recently, right before the twins turned 5 months, I told my husband that I was completely over the whole breastfeeding and pumping thing. My initial plan was to make it until 6 months but I changed my mind. He, of course, was fine with whatever I wanted to do so I decided to stop. Again, not because I had issues or that it was affecting my life in any way but because I just didn’t want to do it anymore and the babies seemed fine, ate some solid foods and I decided that formula was easier for everyone involved… especially for Costco.
I had those same feelings after I made the decision this time around… I felt a weird guilt come over me like I was giving up and that I was a bad mom because I just chose not to breastfeed anymore. I even talked to my husband about the fact that I felt guilty for some reason and after calling me a crazy person, I sat there and realized the only reason I had this feeling was because it had been so ingrained in everything I had seen or heard or read in the past. That breastfeeding is the best way to feed your child and that you should do it for at least a year and how amazing it is for your baby and for bonding and all of this other crap that was making me feel bad when I shouldn’t have.
I then started thinking about other places in the world where they don’t get a full year maternity leave. Even in the States, a lot of the people I spoke to had only breastfed for a few months because they were already back at work full time. It’s similar to when we were raised and a lot of our moms had to go back to work around 4 months and then introduced formula because things weren’t as easy back then (no feeding rooms or electric breast pumps or perfect little cooler bags that fit the perfect little bottles inside or milk storage baggies) and that was AOK. We all turned out fine, didn’t we?
SIDE NOTE: Some moms aren’t able to breastfeed and can’t produce enough milk or any at all. So why do others still feel that it’s ok to judge and say “breast is best”? Whoever came up with this whole “breast is best” bullshit deserves a big punch right in the mouth because it’s not accurate, makes people feel like crap and provides no help to anyone at all. Fun fact, I’m pretty sure these non-breastfed babies are doing just fine and to be completely honest, they probably even sleep better than some of those breast milk babies.
For those of you who have had issues breastfeeding, I’m sure that was extremely stressful and challenging to get through but just know that whatever you did was the right thing. You fed your baby. That is all that matters no matter what your baby gets. If you breastfed them or bottle-fed breast milk or formula or if you had to take drugs to get your milk supply up, as long as your baby is fed and not starving, you’ve done your job. It may not have been the exact way you pictured it going but again, your baby is fed and probably pretty damn happy with whatever type of “milk” they’re getting so good for you! A fed baby is a happy baby so just feed your damn child however you can! I mean, maybe don’t give your 3-month-old a cheeseburger but you know what I’m saying. Mmm… now I want a cheeseburger.