I have not met a new mommy nowadays who has not attempted to breastfeed her baby. Some eventually have had to include formula into their feeding plan. As the trend is becoming increasingly pro-breastfeeding, there is a lot of emphasis on how breast milk is the “perfect food” and formula is “poison”. Formula feeding mothers feel the need to defend themselves against this tide. As a result, we are separated into two rival camps, whether we like it or not.
But is one really better than the other? Not really! As mothers, we are doing the best we can, each and every day, to feed our babies however we can. I feel sad that we have to be labeled one or the other and dislike the bashing attitude some carry. When I found out about the “I Support You” movement started by Mama by the Bay, Fearless Formula Feeder and I am not the Baby Sitter, I was thrilled. I want to show my support to ALL MOTHERS, because we are all feeding our babies with tender loving care. So, here today, I am giving our feeding method of choice a new name: LOVE-FEEDING
Since I only have breastfeeding experience up to this point, I want to understand how another mom who feeds differently than me feels about her experience. I chose to interview my very best friend. She had her baby only 3 months prior to mine and, in retrospect, I regret not being there for her more, especially after I have been through the first few months. Sincere thanks to her for giving me her perspective. Let’s see what she has revealed to me.
Please share a brief summary of your feeding experience.
I tried breastfeeding but my baby couldn’t latch on so I pumped until I went back to work after 3 months. My supply was low so I was doing part formula and part breast milk. I stopped pumping after 4 months but managed to save enough for her to have a little bit of breast milk until she was half a year old.
What was your original plan for feeding your child, and how did that compare to what you ultimately ended up doing?
My original was to breastfeed if I have enough supply and formula feed if I don’t. Turned out my baby couldn’t latch on right away plus my supply was also pretty low so it was frustrating at the beginning. For the first few weeks I would spend 20 to 30 minutes every feeding session trying to get her to latch on, unsuccessfully. Then, I would spend the next 20 to 30 minutes with my pump while my nanny/mom/MIL/husband bottle-fed my baby. I did this for 2 months before accepting the fact that my baby just won’t latch on and that I would just have to keep pumping.
I ended up pumping for 4 months and giving my baby mixed formula and BM. I am ok with giving her formula and BM together, but for the first 2 months I tried really hard to get her to latch on just so that I could breastfeed her. I didn’t think I would want to breastfeed her this bad but I did. Even though I’m fine with giving her formula, I was disappointed at the time that she would not latch on. I felt as if we are missing this special bond between us and I was pretty upset at the beginning. This mixture of emotions surprises myself, because I just didn’t think I would mind not breastfeeding.
What was the best part about how you fed your child? What was the worst?
The best part is not having to do everything myself. The worst part is having to spend time with my pump rather than with my baby.
What myths about how you fed your child were the most hurtful? What is your “truth” that counteracts those myths?
I don’t think this is a myth but some breastfeeding supporters make it sound like exclusive BM is 100 times better than formula and you just have this invisible pressure to give your baby exclusive BF, which in many cases are just not practicable. (I do agree that BM is better than formula but some people often exaggerate how much better.)
What would help you (or would have helped you) to feel supported/understood in your choices?
To have nurses give you a choice about BM/formula at the hospital. I do have a pretty good support group amongst friends so that really helps.
Think ten, twenty years into the future. If you could give your grown child one message about how you chose to feed him/her, what would it be?
Do whatever works for her. Baby grows up so fast, so I wouldn’t spend too much time worrying about breastfeeding. If you can breastfeed, that’s great, but if you can’t do it then don’t sweat it. I would rather spend the time with the baby in whatever way that’s feasible.
What can I do (what could I have done) to better support you in your feeding journey?
Move closer to me! (joking, but seriously) I wish we could chat more about breastfeeding at the beginning, but I think given the fact that we had our babies at the same time it was really hard. (Hardly had time to sleep!) But I do think we have a good support via text and online chat. I think it’s pretty cool that you are breastfeeding and I was pumping. At least we get different perspectives on nursing/feeding.
When I look at her beautiful daughter, I see a well-loved, healthy, bright little girl. She has the best clothes, best toys, and most of all BEST CARE from her mommy and daddy. No one can (and should) say that, having been fed part formula, she is LESS of an amazing girl. LOVE is the most important element in feeding your baby, not the method you choose.
I wish that we will be able to come together as mothers, no women, and support each other! Afterall, we are all just LOVE-FEEDING, no?
Do you Love-Feed your baby?