Why do I feel guilty? Why do I feel like a bad mother? Why do I feel like I have to keep it a secret? Why do I find myself lying that the bottle of formula my baby is gulping is breastmilk?
I was determined to breastfeed my baby, I would feed him as much as he needed, right up to him no longer having milk, or so my pre-baby confident self thougt. I battled through manual expressing for those precious drops of colostrum, through breast engorgement when my milk came in, through constant nights feeds to establish my supply and feed this amazing little human I had grown and nourished inside me. Was it supposed to be this difficult? Feeding your baby seems like the most natural thing in the world but in reality it can be tough. Don’t get me wrong when it clicks it’s such a wonderful bonding experience, little moments no one else shares just between you and your baby that’s what gets you through the tougher times.
Now here I am 5 months down the line and well and truly embracing the ‘evil’ formula. Apart from one occasion obly breastmilke passed hos lips for 5 months. The first encounter was taken out of our hands at 5 weeks when I was rushed in to hospital, with no frozen mama milk what was Daddy going to do let him starve? But this was a one off surely, from now on the freezer was stocked and never again would I have to ‘inflict’ this on my little man. But that’s the problem, he was a little man, still only hovering on the 2nd percentile line yet born on the 50th. Despite my worries my family, friends and wonderful partner have always fully supported my feeding decisions my mum and partner have both held my hand through meltdowns (once over literal spilt milk!). After another feeding meltdown the doctors suspected he has reflux, finally an answer, I’m not doing anything wrong afterall. Now on medication to help, which meant expressing milk daily, a formula bottle was introduced for bedtime and we have never looked back. I still love our sleepy morning feeds and let’s face it whapping a boob out in the middle of the night is much easier than making up a bottle, for us a bit of mixing and matching is what works.
Some people would still say I should have persevered and yes maybe everything would have worked out if I did, but I made that decision and I stand by my healthy happy sometimes formula fed baby. We are lucky that this is something that could easily be helped for our man but not all babies and mums are so lucky.
We’re not failing no we’re winning, winning at filling our babies belly, winning at doing whatever is needed for them to thrive. I salute those who never put a bottle to the babies lips, maybe you did fight and won or maybe your baby has never been anything but a perfect feeder, unfortunately it’s not that simple for us all.
Formula isn’t the problem, lack of support and lack of understanding is the problem. Don’t judge a mum for mixing up formula in public think how long she might have been been beating herself up because her boobs didn’t work or because her baby won’t do what is supposed to be the most natural thing.
There is only one thing that every mother shares with the next……unconditional love. Try spreading a bit of that love to other mums we all need it whatever decisions we make along the way. Haters gonna hate, lactaters gonna lactate, but I’m just gonna love.