There are a few things I’ve struggled with as mom that stand out more than others.
How I’ve fed my babies is one of those things. If you are a young mom like me, chances are you have struggled with this very thing. I think it’s great that we are talking about it in the mom community today. My mom says that no-one talked about it when she was in the early years of raising my sister and I. I can’t even imagine how lonely and isolating that must have felt for my mom as well as so many other moms.
When I became pregnant with my first son, I didn’t assume that breastfeeding would or wouldn’t work out. I was pretty neutral about the whole thing. When Hudson was born, we struggled to establish breastfeeding. After a myriad of decisions, I made the choice to pump breastmilk and feed that to him for 12 weeks. I couldn’t tell you if he was ever EBF (exclusively breastfed) because sleep deprivation blurs those early months. At some point in the early weeks of Hudson’s life we began introducing store bought formula to him. He thrived on both my breastmilk and Costco formula. I cried when I made the decision to stop pumping. I knew he preferred my breastmilk but I couldn’t keep going. If you’ve ever pumped exclusively or almost exclusively, you will understand how much work it is to keep up with. I remember the last 1/2 ounce I pumped for Hudson. I stood at my kitchen sink, crying quietly with the soft glow of Christmas lights behind me.
When Jack was born he latched beautifully minutes after he came out. He wouldn’t get off the boob and basically camped out there for the next week. My milk came in within 24 hours. Because Jack was so efficient at nursing, I experienced true breastfeeding for the first time. It was like a train ran me over, on top of already feeling trashed from an intense labour and delivery. I loved those first weeks of Jack nursing as much as I hated the pain. I felt like my body was trying to kill me in the process of feeding my son. Eventually I began pumping so I could get more sleep at night. But I just couldn’t keep up with the pumping, while caring for a newborn and 14 month old. After going back and forth, I made the decision to switch Jack to formula completely when he was 6 weeks old. When Jack was 3 months old I began making his formula from goat’s milk. I’m happy to report he’s thriving on it!
I want to share some things I’ve learned on this journey in hopes that I can encourage other mamas.
- Everyone has an opinion and you have a choice. It will not matter what you do, someone will have something to say about it. People think they mean well (and they might) but you will hear all kinds of things about how you choose to feed your baby, as well as all the other parenting decisions you make. You have a choice in how you respond to people. It doesn’t have to be a war with another mama in some parenting forum over her poor choice of words. Honestly? I’ve just taken breaks from social media, situations and people if I feel like they are continually negative towards the way I parent. It’s worth it to let things go and keep moving forward!
- Nobody has to know how you feed your baby. You might think this point is strange, but I really mean that. Nobody has to know how you feed your baby, except maybe your doctor for medical reasons. Did you know you have every right to say to someone, “He’s fed with love, thanks!” That may seem really rude or direct but maybe if we started this way, it could stop the questions (or saying things) that are pointless, time consuming not to mention ridiculous. Keep it simple, right?
- It doesn’t matter how or why you chose to feed your baby the way you feed them. I think this has been the hardest point for me to come to terms with and actually put into practice. I mean here I am writing a blog post for the world to read, about my journey feeding my babies. When I say it doesn’t matter, I don’t mean that you don’t matter. You matter and the reasons for how you feed your baby are valid. I support you, whatever your journey looks like. But you don’t owe a single person an explanation, not even your partner. I think it’s important to include your partner in those conversations but only because you then can invite them into being a very important support person during this journey. (More on this later!) What is most important is that YOU are OK with how you choose to feed your baby.
- Your partner is important. I can’t say this enough. The highs and lows of caring for a baby can be extremely lonely. I wouldn’t be where I am today, with the confidence, security, and firm footing in this journey, if it wasn’t for my wonderful husband. No our marriage isn’t all roses and chocolate! But his support has come through when I’ve needed it the most. I cried when he told me to put Jack on formula full time. I cried because of the immense relief, love and support I felt. I felt a HUGE weight lifted off my shoulders and then I began to enjoy motherhood again. You need your partner during this season (and every season of parenting) even when it feels like all they can offer you is a literal shoulder to cry on. That shoulder is really important. Find a way to make them a part of your journey as hard as that might feel sometimes. You won’t regret it! The extra support of our families has also been a blessing. They have only ever been supportive of the way I’ve chosen to feed my babies. I can’t even put a price on how valuable that support is.
- Love really is the most important. #loveisbest is something that I can get behind, when it comes to how I take care of my babies. At the end of the day, we all want what the best for our babies. That is going to look different for every family. I see all of you. You are important and you are doing incredible! Earlier I italicized that I made the choice to give my babies formula because I want to get an important point across. You have a choice in how you feed your baby. Only you will know what is the best for your baby AND you!
I’ve done both breastfeeding and formula feeding with my babies. I want to be clear that I’m not discouraging or promoting any one way of feeding your baby. Formula is just what worked for us and is part of our journey. I’m not a nutritionist. I’m PRO feed your baby! If you are looking for some homemade baby formula options, I’ve got you covered here.
I am here to tell you that however your feeding journey has gone with your baby (or babies) it doesn’t have to define you in the way you think. You aren’t more than or less than. You just are. And that is really important. You also aren’t alone on this journey so don’t hesitate to reach out. You can email me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org
You are present in your baby’s life, loving them and being their mama. THAT is the most important. Go, mama, go!
What has been your experience with feeding your baby? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!