Writing helps me process my emotions. A few weeks ago, I wrote this, and have debated whether or not to share it, because sharing the things I write makes me feel really vulnerable. But, today I needed to reread it to remind myself that I am not a “formula-feeding mom”, I’m just a loving mother. I decided to go ahead and share it with you guys. I’m hoping that this can maybe help someone else who may need a reminder that motherhood is not defined by how we feed our babies!
Somedays I have to remind myself that I am not a failure.
I didn’t fail at breastfeeding. I did not fail at being a mother.
Society and my inner voice may sometimes convince me that I came up short in the infant-feeding part of motherhood, but in the rare moments of clarity, I know that this is not true. I am confident in my decision to exclusively formula-feed my son.
You see, I didn’t start out motherhood with the goal of breastfeeding my son. It wasn’t my plan to exclusively pump. Nor was it my plan to formula-feed my baby. My only plan was to feed him.
I took a breastfeeding class. I bought a nursing cover and nursing pads. I bought a breast pump and breastmilk storage bags. I signed up for formula samples, and sanitized baby bottles.
Before my son’s birth, I prepared to provide nourishment to a healthy thriving baby boy by whatever means necessary, with whatever method worked best for us.
After his birth, there was an overwhelming pressure to breastfeed no matter what. Women from all directions told me that breast milk was the best gift I could give my child, that it would give him the healthiest start to life. They said to me that breastfeeding was how we would bond as mother and son. They chided I needed to stop pumping and try harder to get baby on the breast or my supply would suffer. They warned that I needed to stop supplementing with formula.
They said that they wanted to “support” me on my breastfeeding journey, because “more mothers would succeed at breastfeeding if they just had enough support.”
This pressure continues to weigh on me. This pressure has created a guilt unimaginable to anyone who has never experienced it, who have never cried as they fed their baby a bottle simply because it wasn’t breast milk, who have never sat up at night with knots in their stomach while questioning their worth as a mother, simply because they didn’t breastfeed.
But that pressure and guilt hasn’t changed the fact that formula was and is best for our situation.
I made the decision to exclusively feed my son formula in a moment of clarity, where I KNEW that it was absolutely what was best for us, where I was a confident mother and woman making a decision that she felt completely sure was good.
Unfortunately, pressure from society and other mothers can make those moments of clarity less clear and more rare, even nonexistent.
So, in this current moment of clarity, I want to write the following statements that I can look back on when unnecessary guilt becomes too much and so that other mothers may reflect on them and be confident in their decision to feed formula:
- Not breastfeeding doesn’t make me any less of a mother than those who breastfeed their babies. Not feeding breast milk to my son doesn’t mean I don’t love him as much as other mothers love their babies. Feeding my son formula doesn’t mean that I didn’t try hard enough. It simply means that I am a mother who knows and does what’s best for HER family.
- Our breastfeeding relationship did not fail. Our bond has not suffered. My baby is healthy, thriving and loved. It is NOT how we FEED our children that defines us as mothers. It is how we LOVE our children that defines us as mothers.
- And how we support other mothers on their journey, on their MOTHERHOOD journey, on their LIFE journey, rather than just how we support them on their breastfeeding journey that defines us as human beings.
- Our babies thrive on love, not on breast milk. Just the same, us mothers thrive on love and support, not on breastfeeding. #FEDisbest #LOVEisthebestgift #OurBondIsNOTLost #TheyNeedUsMOREThanOurBreastmilk #BreastfeedingROCKS #ExclusivelyPumpingRULES #FormulaIsAWESOME #AllMothersAreAMAZING #FeedWithoutGuilt #EFFwithoutSHAME #SupportALLTheMamas #NeverthelessFeedYourBabyWithLove”
Thank you guys for reading 💙❤️
WAYS 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Print out our letter to obstetric providers and mail them to your local obstetricians, midwives, family practitioners who provide obstetric care and hospitals.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Shop and Fed is Best Foundation will earn cash back! We hope to develop our online safe infant feeding classes with these funds.
- If you need support, we have a private support group– Join Donate to Fed is Best
Thank you so much from the Founders of the Fed is Best Foundation!