Women who can’t breastfeed or choose not to are often pegged as being selfish or not being a good mother. It isn’t enough that people shame mothers for breastfeeding in public that now even bottle shaming is a real thing. Remember no matter what people say, you don’t have to think low of yourself if you are formula feeding your baby. ‘Bottle over breast’ doesn’t decide what kind of a mom you are or how good a parent you are going to be in the future. And you certainly don’t have to explain to anyone how much you love your child just because you are not breastfeeding. Being a mother of 2, here’s how I know we shouldn’t demonize formula feeding.
The Guilt And The Pain…
When I had my first child, things were going great. And I was able to breastfeed for one whole year. Things couldn’t be more perfect and I loved breastfeeding my baby boy. But with my little girl, I had a hard time feeding her my breastmilk. My nipples were sore and it hurt like hell. And to add to that struggle, my milk supply had also deteriorated to a great extent compared to my first child. The guilt of not being able to provide the same nutrition for my baby as I did for my son was eating me inside. My friends and family started telling me that it must be because I’m not eating properly or not pumping enough (like, seriously?).
Coming from a family of women who couldn’t even fathom the thought of feeding formula to the baby, I suffered a lot. No amount of visits to the doctor or thoughtful suggestions by friends helped me or my baby. Slowly, breastfeeding became a tedious task for both of us. Rather than looking forward to it, I began dreading the experience. I wanted to get over it as neither was I able to provide any milk to my baby nor was it a good bonding experience. I wasn’t able to get enough rest and started feeling anxious and stressed all the time. Even after seeking help from several lactation consultants and pumping day and night, my milk supply was low. And the sore breasts and cracked nipples just added to my emotional pain.
It’s Your Choice…
My baby started losing weight and I was slipping into postpartum depression. My doctor suggested that I start taking medication for my postpartum depression. It is when I realized being a mom has more to it than just breastfeeding your baby. It is about being there for your baby when they need you, and loving and caring for them. Which I wasn’t able to do any longer. Finally one night, I made up my mind and told my husband that I was thinking of switching to formula feeding. He was totally okay with it as he too believed that it was in the best interest for me and the baby.
Once I was off the stressful feeding regime, I gradually started feeling much better. It was as if a load was lifted off my chest- pun intended. My daughter was finally getting that nutrition that she needed, and the bonding was much better as I was more calm and relaxed this time. She started gaining more weight and looked happy and healthy.
Looking back, I am happy that I was finally able to take that decision for myself and my baby. We live in a society where most of the things get decided for us. And if you swim against the tide, you are faced with harsh comments and side-eye looks from strangers every now and then. However, from what I have learned ‘Breast Is Best’ does not hold true for every mother, and it is completely OK to choose the best alternative option there is.