Let me first begin by saying that I am aware of the benefits of breastfeeding. I admire other moms who breastfeed their babies, especially when it does not come easy or is fraught with complications. However, I feel that breastfeeding is presented to women as simple, when it is actually very complex. This approach can be unfair to new moms and babies who may struggle to nurse.
Before my son was born, I planned to breastfeed him. I went to a class at the hospital, bought a breast pump, and read up on all things breastfeeding.
“Breast is best” was drilled into my head and I set a goal to breastfeed for a year.
Let’s just say what I imagined and planned in my head could not have been farther from my reality. My son was born with a stomach condition that required surgery and he had significant acid reflux. His feeding problems, coupled with my stress, made nursing feel impossible. My milk never came in and eventually we switched to specialized formula. I was crushed!
I deeply regret how much I let breastfeeding upset me. I internalized so much guilt that I did not fully enjoy being a mom for several months after my son was born. I felt like I failed my first mom test and that I was somehow less of a mom. My hormones did not help my emotional state, but modern mom culture did not help either.
Five years and two children later, I can honestly say I am thankful for formula. Here are my three reasons:
I am Thankful for the Nutrition Formula Provided
I am thankful that formula provided my children with the nutrients they needed to grow and thrive. I watched both of my kids begin to put on weight and get back on their growth curves after struggling with weight loss. Although breast milk would have been ideal, I am thankful that I had an alternative.
I am Thankful for Specialized Formula
Both of my children had to be on specialized formula for several months. My son had acid reflux and trouble digesting proteins in milk. My daughter was adopted and required specialized formula for weight gain. These formulas made a significant difference in the well-being of my kids. I often wonder what we would have done without them!
I am Thankful that my Family Could Participate
I am thankful that other family members could feed my children a bottle. I loved watching my husband give my son and daughter their night time feedings. It was a sweet bonding experience for them. I also appreciate that I could go to work, and it was simple for my mother and mother-in-law to feed my son.
There are so many reasons why mothers choose to give their babies formula. Before judgement is passed, we must remember we are not in that mother’s shoes. We do not know her background or story.
In the end, we are all just mothers trying to do the best job we can!
**This post originally apeared on March 28, 2015