But when I gave birth to my daughter I realized I made a huge mistake of thinking it was a piece of cake. She just wouldn’t latch on for long and sometimes she just wouldn’t latch on at all. So to keep my daughter fed I had no choice but to feed her milk formula. It was the only way she would thrive.
Now, the formula vs breastfeeding debate has been going on forever and I wanted to write about this because for baby number 2, my son, I’m exclusively breastfeeding him and whenever people compliment me about how I’m breastfeeding exclusively, I should be happy but I also feel sort of uncomfortable.
To be perfectly honest, I feel like I’m being indirectly responsible for shaming moms who don’t, can’t, couldn’t, won’t breastfeed whenever other people think I’m a saint for doing it. I’ve been on both sides and I completely understand the pros and cons of each. Nothing is 100% perfect, no one is perfect, no matter who you are or how you feed your baby.
Right now I’m comfortable with this set-up of exclusively breastfeeding (EBF) and in fact there’s a half-empty can of milk formula somewhere in this house because it came to the point that my son didn’t want to drink from bottles anymore. So why is there milk formula in the house, you ask? My son started on formula because he stayed in the hospital nursery right after he was born, and because I had him via C-section it was impossible for me to breastfeeding on the clock. He eventually weaned off the bottle until he just exclusively wanted the boob. So if you reading this is an expecting mom, please know that it’s never an easy thing to start and everyone who wants to go the EBF route starts their journey differently. Do not be ashamed.
I wasn’t a breastfed baby, neither of me and my sisters were, because my mom had inverted tatas and didn’t have enough milk. At least that’s what she said. But I didn't judge her for it, and no one should. I turned out fine and dandy. Anyway, because she didn't have much experience on the matter, everything that I learned about breastfeeding was either from school or the internet.
Going back to subject of being complimented on because my son was on EBF, I wonder if they would have praised me too if I said he was mixed (BF and FF) or if he was exclusively FF (formula-fed). I want you to know that I had to suffer before I got here.
I used to hear stories of other moms who say they almost feel like being bitten by teeth during breastfeeding, having fever, rock hard boobs, mastitis, etc. I thought it was all overreaction until I experienced it myself. For many weeks I used to cry and scream in my pillows whenever he would drink out of the right boob (I don’t know why just on the right), but even on the left it was painful although more tolerable. That, on top of the C-section pain in my abdomen, was hell on earth.
But it’s just one of those things about being a mom. All the pain is worth it for your children and the pain just becomes negligible before you even know it until it disappears altogether. After a couple of months, the pain during nursing sessions disappeared, I’ve learned his hunger and satiety cues, I learned which boob is full enough to feed with (gentle pats and jiggles required lol), I learned when he’s not getting enough milk (greenish, liquid poop) which means he’s not being fed long enough, I learned when he’s getting enough milk (rich yellow thick poop), I learned that EBF babies don’t necessarily poop daily, I learned that what I eat has an effect on mine and the baby’s BM, I learned that I absolutely hate pumping and I still avoid it (unli-latch is the way!), I learned which nursing positions are best for me and baby, and so many other things that I keep learning as we go along. You can read all the books and articles there is about breastfeeding but to be honest it still all depends on what works for you and your baby.
The bottom line is: be proud of how you are feeding your baby as long as you are feeding your baby. Formula or breastmilk doesn’t matter. I’m not one of those extremists. All I know is, that, and your love and care, are enough. So good job, momma!