I Am The Mom Who Loved Formula Feeding My Baby And I Have No Regrets

I pretty much knew I was going to be a formula feeding mom, even before I found out I was pregnant. I’d watched the struggle my sister went through to breastfeed, and I just knew that wasn’t something I wanted to put myself or my baby through. When I initially decided to formula-feed, I had NO IDEA of the stigma surrounding it. I always thought it  was pretty straight forward–formula or breast milk, just feed the baby. This was my first baby, so coming into the world of “Mommy” was a whole new experience for me. I joined on-line groups to learn the basics of pregnancy, and that’s when I first started seeing the “mommy wars” I’m now all too familiar with. At that point I didn’t really see how deep those wars went.

I was asked upon admission to the hospital whether I was formula or breastfeeding. I let them know I planned on formula feeding and signed papers stating such. I was in labor for nineteen hours and finally delivered a healthy 7lb 4oz baby boy. I was exhausted as I held my baby.  I looked down at him, and fell instantly in love. I then gave him to the nurse so he could be cleaned up and measured. Once he was bundled up, the nurse came in with a bottle of formula. I asked her to hand my son to my husband because he wanted to feed him. I held my baby inside me, felt him kicking, and fell in love with him for nine months of my pregnancy and it was time for my husband to love him.

As I looked over at my husband feeding our son, at him looking down at that little bundle, I could just tell he was now getting to fall in love with him too.

Olympia22

My husband feeding our baby.

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My Daughter’s Life Lay At Stake And I Took Every Formula Sample Offered

I’m the oldest of five kids. My husband has only one sister. Together, we knew that we wanted a large family. Yet, somehow, motherhood still came as a complete shock to me. I stumbled to breastfeed my first child and fed her some formula “on the sly” while I still figured out the damn process. I struggled to breastfeed my second exclusively. Somehow, I did, but I was diagnosed with post-partum depression when she was two months old. We had a space of time after she was born, and I learned whatever I could to breastfeed. I was determined to breastfeed any future children because what good mom would not want to give her the benefits of never getting sick, Einsteinian IQ, smoking hot body, and perfect social standing?

My third was born, and I tried to breastfeed her too. And at her four-month check, her ribs were showing, and our family doctor was worried. Tests that he ordered were not alarming, but did indicate developing problems. He referred me to a pediatric specialist. Dr. K was a godsend. He quickly went through a check, then just said, “ She’s just hungry, Paula.”

He took a little preparatory breath. “I hesitate to say this directly, but can you give her formula?” Honestly, I did feel a small punch to the gut—my mother had breastfed all of us, why couldn’t I?—and the thought of denying my child the supposed benefits seemed so…selfish.

But my daughter’s life lay at stake, and I took every formula sample he offered. She greedily sucked down every bit of that first two ounces I gave her. I prepared another ounce and she ate that too, then finally slept deeply and peacefully. My mother took my older girls so that I could just focus on giving my baby formula between breast-feedings that weekend. My daughter became calmer and her tummy became rounder. Rather quickly, I found that I did not have the sentiment for breast-feeding that I thought I ought to have. The milk I did pump looked thin and watery, and there certainly was not nearly enough to feed a growing infant. I quickly stopped the pumping and feeding and supplementing cycle, and I switched totally over to formula.

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Her round little belly after gaining weight with formula.

At my baby’s follow-up the next week, all warning signs of her health were gone and the doctor beamed at a child easily treated, unlike some of his cases. “Some moms can’t produce enough breast milk for a baby,”  he explained. “Nothing to be ashamed of, but it just happens. Some moms can’t produce enough for one baby though they can for another. Research on it just isn’t very strong either.” He gave my little girl back to me,  tickled her foot, and then surprised me with the words, “I’m just glad that you were not too upset at the suggestion of formula.”

Maybe some would consider it “too late” when I discovered the Fed Is Best Foundation at this time. I had already gone through the trials of breastfeeding and had figured out how to feed my baby without their help, after all. But I don’t consider it a waste. I still had to field the inevitable “What if” questions from others—“What if you had used fenugreek?”, “What if you had pumped between feedings?”, “What if your child had gotten sick without the antibodies?”, “What if you had just tried harder?’—and it was a relief to know that I had a place where I would be safe from such fruitless (and eye-rolling) questioning. I devoured all of the information the Foundation had on hand and resolved to support their work in any way I could.

No mother or child should have to suffer because information on infant feeding is sparse and an agenda focused on a means rather than the end fills the void.

When we were unexpectedly pregnant with twins, I considered maybe pumping some of my watery milk to give them, but by the time I was in hospital, I firmly resolved to give them formula exclusively. I would not start with a crazy cycle again. My boys have never known a day of hunger. I was a more relaxed mother even with five now in my care.

FormulaStudy

Formula served not only as a life-saver for my babies, but also as a key form of self-care for me. My husband split feedings with me, which allowed me to get some alone time at crucial moments. It fit my personality more readily than the boob. Not being as tired as with breast-feeding babies meant that my emotional health stabilized fairly quickly and my SSRI dosage decreased. Why I could technically breastfeed a child or two but not all of them might be an interesting question for some, but I don’t care to ponder it. Today, they all eat Chick-fil-a fries with equal gusto and turn their noses up each at their veggie of choice. The pumps, powder, bottles, cans, books, stress, and tears are a memory.

Lactivism has certainly established its narrative, but I’m grateful for the Foundation to provide legitimate information without moral judgment for those of us in the trenches.

I still wonder to this day, though, what kind of resistance Dr. K has encountered when he suggests formula to warrant the kind of gratitude he expressed to me. We still have a lot of work to do, and #FedIsBest leads that change.

Thank God for that.

“Paula is a no-nonsense mom of five who blogs about motherhood and keeping calm among chaos at www.bordrum.com/blog

HOW YOU CAN SUPPORT FED IS BEST

There are many ways you can support the mission of the Fed is Best Foundation. Please consider contributing in the following ways:

  1. Join the Fed is Best Volunteer group to help us reach Obstetric Health Providers to advocate for counseling of new mothers on the importance of safe infant feeding.
  2. Make a donation to the Fed is Best Foundation. We are using funds from donations to cover the cost of our website, our social media ads, our printing and mailing costs to reach health providers and hospitals. We do not accept donations from breast- or formula-feeding companies and 100% of your donations go toward these operational costs. All the work of the Foundation is achieved via the pro bono and volunteer work of its supporters.
  3. Share the stories and the message of the Fed is Best Foundation through word-of-mouth, by posting on your social media page and by sending our resources to expectant moms that you know. Share the Fed is Best campaign letter with everyone you know.
  4. Write a letter to your health providers and hospitals about the Fed is Best Foundation. Write them about feeding complications your child may have experienced.
  5. Print out our letter to obstetric providers and mail them to your local obstetricians, midwives, family practitioners who provide obstetric care and hospitals.
  6. Write your local elected officials about what is happening to newborn babies in hospitals and ask for legal protection of newborn babies from underfeeding and of mother’s rights to honest informed consent on the risks of insufficient feeding of breastfed babies.
  7. Send us your stories. Share with us your successes, your struggles and every thing in between. Every story saves another child from experiencing the same and teaches another mom how to safely feed her baby. Every voice contributes to change.
  8. Send us messages of support. We work every single day to make infant feeding safe and supportive of every mother and child.  Your messages of support keep us all going.  Thank you for your advocacy!

Donate to Fed is Best

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I Shared My Story a Year Ago And I Was Told To Go Kill Myself – How I Am Healing

By Mandy Dukovan, MS, MFT, Marriage and Family Therapist, Fed is Best Foundation Senior Advisor

It’s incredibly hard to put into words all the things that The Fed Is Best Foundation has done for me the past year.  I happened to stumble upon the Foundation when I noticed a friend of mine “liked” one of their blog posts. I was a first-time mom who was struggling with many different feelings, and wasn’t sure who or where to turn to. My son was 2 months at the time, and was just beginning to thrive after I had begun to supplement him with formula. While I was so happy to see my baby finally gaining weight and thriving, I had haunting memories and raw emotions that I was struggling to sort out. I had immense guilt that I didn’t see the signs that my baby was hungry, which tortured me non-stop. I was embarrassed that I could look at his 1-month picture and now see that he was obviously malnourished, but how on earth did I miss this at the time?

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1 Month Old

I was angry that I didn’t follow my own instincts that something was wrong with him and was angry that I believed all the terrible things I was told from lactivists that would happen to him,  if I gave him a drop of formula. I worried that we would not have the kind of bond that babies who were exclusively breastfed (EBF) experienced with their mothers. I now know that our bond is so much stronger because we bottle-fed him and no longer experienced the immense stress that came each time I tried to breastfeed my baby. I got to a point where I dreaded even trying to breastfeed him, but I was told that was the best thing I could do for my baby, so I kept going, at the expense of my baby’s health and my well-being. I honestly believed I was the only mother who had experienced what we went through because I only heard the stories about how amazing and natural breastfeeding was and every mother could breastfeed if only she tried hard enough.

Since I am a therapist, I knew I needed to share my story. I found courage in my strong desire for other babies and mothers not to struggle. I also found courage in the fact that I needed a reason for all of the suffering—I needed to know that Brock’s struggle was not in vain. I kept telling myself, “If I reach even one mother and prevent even one baby from suffering like Brock, then I have to do this.”  

Then I shared my story… Continue reading

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The Benefits That Come From Breastfeeding Doesn’t Automatically Make It Best

My breastfeeding relationship seemed like it was going to be perfect from the start—I had no problem producing colostrum, my milk came in while in the hospital, my daughter latched on easily, and she had a very strong suck. The pediatrician even told me not to tell people how easy it was for us because “other moms would be jealous”. My daughter was back up to birth weight by the end of her first week.

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My newborn daughter.

Although my daughter had wet diapers and was nursing well, she would spit up, quite often and something was stopping her from continuing to gain weight. When I took her to the pediatrician’s office multiple times, none of the doctors were concerned by the amount she spit up. They all said that I couldn’t know how much it truly was. Let me tell you something, though, watching my daughter choke and vomit all of her breast milk, I knew that she was spitting up too much. She was born above the 95th percentile but rapidly dropped her weight. Continue reading

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“I Made An Informed Decision To Formula Feed My Baby And It Was Perfect For Us

Before I ever became pregnant, I knew that feeding my future babies formula would be the right way to go. I have fibromyalgia, several chronic stomach problems, and mental health struggles, so it made sense to formula feed. I would need to go back on medications I’d have to stop while pregnant. My husband agreed that formula feeding would work best for us.

When I got pregnant, I felt sure of that decision, until I started reading, prepping for the new addition to our family, and talking to other people about the baby. I, much like every parent-to-be, was bombarded with the message everywhere that “Breast is Best”. It was in articles and books. It was labeled on everything related to baby feeding. It was in every online forum regardless of the topic. I was even hit by it when I went shopping online for car seats and strollers. But I expected all of that. So, when I came across it, I would roll my eyes and laugh about it with my husband.

I was not been prepared for the well-meaning friends and coworkers who hit me with the same message. They all said it in different ways and tones, but the meaning was the same. Sometimes it was an assumption: “You’re obviously going to breastfeed, right?” Other times it was an attempt to convince me: “It’s so much cheaper and better for the baby to breastfeed!” I even got the plea: “Just do it for her for a little bit!” Even my obstetrician assumed that I would breastfeed, judging by the time I tried to ask her for a refill on my anti-morning sickness medicine and she finished my sentence thinking I was asking for a referral for a free breast pump through my insurance.

This message coming from all directions put me into a position where I felt like I needed to justify myself. Suddenly, I doubted my decision. What if I wasn’t doing what was best for my baby? Obviously, I wanted to. What if I was being selfish about wanting to go back on the medicine that made me feel like I could function? I wondered if maybe I did not need to go back on my meds right away. If I had gone this long without my meds, what was a little longer, if breastfeeding was that important?

Thankfully, I am surrounded by amazing and supportive family. My husband has seen me on my worst health days and knows how much my medicine helps my quality of life. He reminded me how important it is for me to feel as best as I can, because there is so much more to caring for our baby than just how she is fed. My mother was a voice of reason. She agreed that I needed to take care of myself to take care of my daughter. My mother-in-law added her support for us to formula feed. She knew formula was a great way to feed a baby and was not buying into the supposed “facts” from the “Breast is Best” message. My sister-in-law reminded me of how much formula had helped her when she struggled to produce enough milk for her daughter. My sister-in-law was also the one who introduced me to The Fed is Best Foundation’s website, which is filled with scientific facts and resources about all types of infant feeding.

By the time I was five months along, I was once again sure of my decision to formula feed my baby from day one. I was armed with an explanation why I was not going to breastfeed and why formula feeding was going to best for my family. I noticed a significant difference in the way conversations went once I made my statements with the confidence my family helped me find. And then, another phrase came along…

“It’s okay because you have a reason not to breastfeed.”

Woah, okay. Let’s unpack that statement, shall we?

First and foremost, this statement does not actually provide any support. It is non-support veiled as a supportive comment. By someone stating my choice is okay, it means they are passing judgement on my decision. THEY deemed it was acceptable for ME to feed MY baby this way because of what THEY considered to be appropriate reasons. It did not matter to them that I had decided this was appropriate reasoning and only my husband and I could decide what was best. My decision was acceptable because the person speaking decided it was. The focus of the statement is still on the fact that I won’t be breastfeeding.

Why does the focus of this conversation need to be about breastfeeding? Why can’t the focus be on my informed and logical choice to feed my baby formula?

Ultimately, I realized that this conversation has absolutely nothing to do with what’s “best” for me and my family and everything to do with the way everyone else feels about infant feeding. And that positively infuriated me. Who the hell did these people think they were? But despite raging hormones, I just smiled politely and moved the conversation onto a different topic. I had no desire to start a fight at work or in a group of friends.

The last several weeks of my pregnancy were filled with extra appointments and ultrasounds to watch my daughter’s growth. At the first trimester screening, the scan showed that my placenta never formed correctly. It had a fold down the middle and looked like a coffee bean instead of a pancake. The doctor thought that my placenta may not be working as well as it should, so my baby’s growth needed to be closely monitored. At thirty-six weeks, she had dropped from the fortieth percentile to the thirteenth percentile in growth. By thirty-eight weeks, she had dropped below the tenth percentile, so I was induced during that week. After several days of hurry up and waiting in the hospital, my daughter finally came out and was 20 ½ inches and weighed only 5 lbs., 6 oz. You could see her ribs, she was so scrawny. Within an hour of being born, she took right to the bottle and ate about 10 mL of formula.

LizC2

The first weeks of her life are a blur, even though she was only born about nine months ago. We had to do a few formula changes before we realized that our baby had inherited my acid reflux. She had a terrible time with sleeping at night for the first month and a half or so. I struggled with post-partum depression and anxiety, and recovery was a little tough with my fibromyalgia.

 

My husband and I just kept saying, thank God for formula. Our daughter was gaining weight. Her pediatrician was so pleased with how well she put on weight. Thanks to formula, we never worried if she ate enough or was getting the proper nutrition. Thanks to formula, I could take my meds that helped my body and mind transition from carrying a baby to caring for a baby. Formula feeding truly was best for our family.

So, mothers, fathers, non-binary parents, grandparents, adoptive parents, foster parents, and anyone else who cares for a baby, I have one plea for you:

Do what is best for your family. Your baby matters. You matter. Your significant other (if you have one) matters. It can be hard to feel sure of that when you have people talk to you this way. It can be horrible to read the wrong, nasty comment from some judgmental stranger online. If you are struggling with your decision to formula feed your baby, just remember, you do not owe anyone an explanation. And if you need support, I and everyone at The Fed is Best Foundation have your back.21034329_1906956496188877_3625144469078855676_n

FedIsBest

 

HOW YOU CAN SUPPORT FED IS BEST

There are many ways you can support the mission of the Fed is Best Foundation. Please consider contributing in the following ways:

  1. Join the Fed is Best Volunteer group to help us reach Obstetric Health Providers to advocate for counseling of new mothers on the importance of safe infant feeding.
  2. Make a donation to the Fed is Best Foundation. We are using funds from donations to cover the cost of our website, our social media ads, our printing and mailing costs to reach health providers and hospitals. We do not accept donations from breast- or formula-feeding companies and 100% of your donations go toward these operational costs. All the work of the Foundation is achieved via the pro bono and volunteer work of its supporters.
  3. Share the stories and the message of the Fed is Best Foundation through word-of-mouth, by posting on your social media page and by sending our resources to expectant moms that you know. Share the Fed is Best campaign letter with everyone you know.
  4. Write a letter to your health providers and hospitals about the Fed is Best Foundation. Write them about feeding complications your child may have experienced.
  5. Print out our letter to obstetric providers and mail them to your local obstetricians, midwives, family practitioners who provide obstetric care and hospitals.
  6. Write your local elected officials about what is happening to newborn babies in hospitals and ask for legal protection of newborn babies from underfeeding and of mother’s rights to honest informed consent on the risks of insufficient feeding of breastfed babies.
  7. Send us your stories. Share with us your successes, your struggles and every thing in between. Every story saves another child from experiencing the same and teaches another mom how to safely feed her baby. Every voice contributes to change.
  8. Send us messages of support. We work every single day to make infant feeding safe and supportive of every mother and child.  Your messages of support keep us all going.
  9. Shop and Fed is Best Foundation will earn cash back! We hope to develop our online safe infant feeding classes with these funds.
  10. If you need support, we have a private support group– Join

Thank you so much from the Founders of the Fed is Best Foundation!

 

 

 

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