I Want To Tell Mothers That Bottle Feeding Is Also Beautiful

 

Kristen Elise Umunna
Kristen joined the Fed Is Best Foundation’s Mental Health Advocacy Team to be a voice for mothers, especially mothers of color who are struggling to breastfeed and are experiencing shame for feeding their babies formula.
‘ I want to be a voice that tells every mother that bottle feeding is also beautiful and formula is the best nutrition for the babies who are being nourished by it.’

My story:

February 12, 2014. I was just 1 day postpartum after delivering my firstborn and I remember bawling my eyes out. The nurses at the time were assuring me that I was doing everything “wrong” in regards to feeding my daughter. They woke me out of my sleep at least 7 times in one night to feed my baby and they assured me she was getting enough to eat. One nurse told me to stop crying about breastfeeding pain as it is going to hurt! “If you want to build your supply, you have to keep going!” Never has I felt like more of a failure.

February 13. 2014. I put her to the breast on demand as I was told in my baby friendly hospital. Yet, she kept crying. And crying. And crying. She was making wet diapers, but something was wrong. I just knew it in my heart. So I did what my amazingly supportive husband suggested and I called the pediatrician and took my baby in for an emergency appointment. When the pediatrician walked in the room, she held my baby and handed me a bottle of formula to feed her. She told us we had to take her to the hospital immediately. When we arrived,the nurses and doctors took my baby girl in immediately. After she was stabilized and taking blood tests, she was diagnosed with jaundice, hypernatremia, hypoglycemia and dehydration. She was critically ill because I was not making any breast milk while nursing her. She spent 3 days in the pediatric intensive care unit and we were devastated. I was STILL rudely encouraged to pump every 2-3 hours while sitting in the PICU with my baby, despite not producing any milk.

I’ve never felt so worthless in my mothering journey. I  was suicidal from depression and failing at breastfeeding. I felt like less of a mother and I cried when I would hear others say ‘breast is best.’ I was terrified that I was ruining my child’s future and I feared making bottles of formula in public.

After my daughter’s stay in the PICU, I was still being told by nearly everyone I encountered that I shouldn’t give up. That I must see a lactation consultant. That I wasn’t trying hard enough. I spent so many hours crying over the shame I received from outsiders, crying over how I would afford the costly lactation consultants, and worrying about why this was happening to me. I was eventually diagnosed with PPD and was advised by my doctor to switch to all formula milk to help me through my depression.  I did so and the heavy depression began to lift.

Formula feeding was the best decision for me and my mental health. We were both thriving for the first time and it was glorious.

I then formula fed my 4 subsequent babies from birth. However, I still suffered from PPD after my second and third baby because I was still hoping I could breastfeed, but as I came to terms with my biological breastfeeding challenges, it got better with time. I am happy to say that I did formula feed baby 4 and 5 from day 1 and I’ve had no incidence of postpartum depression. I’ve been confident, empowered, and satisfied with formula feeding all of my 5 babies (ages 5 and under). It has been the best thing for us and my mental health. Over time, I did have testing done and I’ve been diagnosed with insufficient glandular tissue, endometriosis, and a pituitary rumor which could all affect hormonal levels and breastfeeding. My breasts do not make breast milk.

 

I am thankful for the wonderful village that I’ve had to get me through it all. Support is crucial as a mother, and no matter how we feed our babies, we can all agree that being a mother is just plain hard. I’m an advocate for mental health awareness because I know what it’s like to struggle with the day to day emotional and mental chaos with PPD and infant feeding challenges. If you want to join us in our judgment frees upport group, please click here: Private Fed Is Best Support Group

In 5 more months , my 5-year straight formula feeding journey, will be ending. I will miss feeding times as they were  very special times for me.  I would bond while feeding them, looking into their precious eyes and smiling at them, with LOVE.

 


Kristen Elise Umunna

joined the Fed Is Best Foundation’s  Mental Health Advocacy Team to be a voice for mothers, especially mothers of color, who cannot breastfeed to know that they are doing what is best for them and their baby, and there is no shame in that. I want to be a voice that tells every mother that bottle feeding is also beautiful and formula is the best nutrition for the babies who are being nourished by it.

Kristen is a very busy mother to 5 children under the age of 5. Her husband is her biggest supporter and together, they have a thriving, happy family. Kristen is also a photographer for children and you can see her fabulous work here.

To reach out and contact Kristen, please send your message to Contact@Fedisbest.org

 

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 and a variety of other volunteer projects. There is project that will work for you!
  2. Make a tax-deductible 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. We are an all volunteer non-profit.
  3. Shop Amazon Smiles  designating The Fed Is Best Foundation as your charity of choice and Amazon will donate a percentage of your purchase to us.
  4. 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.
  5. 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. If you need help writing your letter, please contact us.
  6. Print out our letter to obstetric providers and hand deliver them to your local obstetricians, midwives, family practitioners,  pediatricians and hospitals.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Shop and Fed is Best Foundation will earn cash back! We hope to develop our online safe infant feeding classes with these funds.
  11. If you need judgement free, infant feeding support, we have a private support group– Join

 

Please follow and like us:
0

Maternal Mental Health Feels Like it Comes Second to Breastfeeding When It Should Be First

This story is for you mommas whose mental health feels like it comes second to breastfeeding, when it should be first.

I have a long history of mental illnesses in my family. I inherited most of them. While they do not define me, they are a part of me. I have Bipolar 1 Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder and a Panic Disorder.

I tried to get pregnant in 2016, but through no fault of my own, was diagnosed with PCOS and had to go back on hormones to re-regulate my cycles. Luckily, I was able to score an appointment with my amazing fertility specialist in Jan 2017 and I soon became pregnant in February. I saw my psychiatrist shortly after and I couldn’t decide if I should bring up how depressed I felt. This pregnancy was very much wanted but I wondered if I risked my stability and my mental health. My husband and I quickly decided pregnancy was not the time to start playing with my medication and I was just going to have to “push” through my depression unless I had thoughts of self-harm.

In this study, researchers found that 1 in 4 women had mental health problems: 15% had anxiety, 11% had depression, 2% had an eating disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder, and 1% had post-traumatic stress disorder. The research also found low prevalence’s of bipolar disorder and other disorders.

Continue reading

Please follow and like us:
0

Advocating For Lactation Consultant Services When You’re A Fearless Formula Feeding Mom

By: Michelle Klimczak, Registered Nurse, Population and Public Health, with a focus on health equity.

We frame infant feeding success as exclusive breastfeeding, so maybe it’s surprising that I got support with formula feeding through local lactation consultants? In fact, I think the support they offered was exactly the kind of compassion, kindness, and respect that new moms deserve. It’s possible to be inclusive.

MicheleSignBlog

When our fourth baby arrived we knew our family was complete, and so I’ve savored every milestone even when it feels a bit bittersweet. He just passed 18 months so a lot of the baby stuff that all 4 of my kids used is now packed up. It’s amazing to think of how I agonized over decisions about strollers and car seats and now those things are just “stuff”. It’s amazing too to think of what was meaningful, like what was actually good advice, what was actually helpful, what was actually supportive. These conversations about support are undoubtedly well-intentioned, but I learned time and time again that there are all kinds of ways to find support for a specific version of mothering, but not much widely available when you don’t match up to that version.

That “version” is largely reflective of the kind of mothering that happens when you have the privileges of wealth, and education, and an able-body, food and water security, and the social status that comes with a hetero-normative/traditional family structure. When you have those privileges, your baby has a pretty good chance of having good outcomes, and so by and large, we try to carry out the practices associated with that version of mothering.

So what happens if you can’t “do the thing”? Well, given that I hold all the privileges I talked about above, it’s quite likely that I never would have had a clue, and could have ascribed my own kids’ greatness to my practices rather than my privileges. But, life has had a way of teaching me big, humbling lessons and as it turns out, it wasn’t that I needed support to do the “right” thing but I did need support (and lots of it) to figure out how to do things differently. All four of my kids were by-and-large formula fed. I desperately wanted to breastfeed because that’s “the thing” but it just wasn’t in the cards. No amount of support would have changed something I couldn’t physically do. The support I needed (and was so lucky to find) helped me figure out the practicalities of feeding and feeling successful.

MicheleSNSblog

Tube feeding my baby formula was the best I could do.

It’s tricky though because I think there’s a general impression that feeding supports should exist to minimize formula use, not support it.

 

Continue reading

Please follow and like us:
0

I Was Ashamed to Ask for Formula in the Hospital, But I Couldn’t Hear Her Scream Anymore

I took some time to write up my story and let you all know why this cause is so important to me. Thank you for welcoming me to this community.

I’m not afraid to admit that I’ve had some issues with post-partum anxiety following the birth of baby Ariya – I still struggle with irrational anxiety from time to time at 8 months post-partum. One of the biggest reasons was because of my ‘failure to provide for my daughter’, AKA struggling, and ultimately deciding not to breastfeed her due to my inability to produce milk at the time of her birth.

Continue reading

Please follow and like us:
0