I felt like a failure when I fed my child formula

From the moment you fall pregnant (and let’s be honest, long before), it is drilled into you: breast is best. You are told over and over how beneficial breastfeeding is for baby and that by exclusively breastfeeding, you are giving your child the best shot at life. Needless to say, when Aria was born I was so proud (and relieved) that I could nurse her with no problems or hassle. She latched like a dream and I had more than enough milk. Until I didn’t…

To say that June and July were a stressful few weeks is putting it mildly. Everything that could go wrong, went wrong and it was completely overwhelming but we were keeping our heads above water. And then Aria stopped sleeping through. She went from being the most beautiful, sleepy baby to a screaming, crying nightmare.

Every.

Single.

Night.

We tried everything but just couldn’t figure out what was wrong and she freaked out after a few seconds of latching.

After about 10 days it hit me: my milk had dried up. It was finished. Kaput. Left the building.

I was devastated.

I tried everything to get it back: pumping (I only got 5ml out over 24 hours), feeding more often, supplements, drinking more water, you name it, I did it. But after three days of my kid still screaming blue murder all day and all night, my mom suggested that maybe I should get a tin of formula, just until my milk came back.

I was horrified! Formula?! That was the devils drink! But then I looked at Aria, who was very clearly not happy and off to Dischem I went.

Seeing as though I had my heart set on breast feeding Aria, I never bothered to learn anything about formula feeding. I stood in the baby aisle and stared at all of the different tins of formula, completely confused. And then I burst into floods of tears. I was so disappointed in myself, as a mother. I was devastated that I had failed to provide my child with one of her most basic needs. I felt like a complete failure and that there were millions of judging eyes on me: the mom who formula feeds.

Eventually a very kind sales assistant helped me choose the brand most suited to Aria, I went home and gave her, her first bottle of formula.

For the first week I was so hard on myself. I felt like I had let Aria down and that I was now giving her sub par nutrition. Although I wasn’t emotionally invested in breastfeeding, I always felt like it was my major contribution to my child’s life, and now that my milk had upped and left, I just felt a bit useless.

9

Fast forward to two weeks later and I’ve come to realise that formula isn’t the poison so many people have you believe that it is. My child is sleeping beautifully again, she’s her cheery self, she’s putting on weight at a perfectly healthy rate and she isn’t screaming blue murder because she’s hungry. And even though my well-being is most definitely second to hers, I truly believe that a healthy and happy mom means the same for baby. My state of mind is so much better: I’m not a stressed out, sleep deprived wreck because I know that my daughter is happy and content.

So, formula feeding mamas, if you’re feeling down or inadequate because you aren’t breastfeeding, don’t. If your child has a full tummy, a smile on their face and is a healthy ball of happiness; you’re doing a great job and don’t let any judging eye or comment make you feel otherwise.

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16 Comments

  • Reply
    Corlia Pienaar
    July 25, 2016 at 10:12 am

    Sigh… It’s crazy how hard we as (new) moms are on ourselves. We had to start formula feeding when Lea-Mari was only 2 weeks old as she wasn’t putting on ANY weight πŸ™ my heart broke! I felt so ashamed. My poor baby. I still breastfeed and give formula twice a day and she seems perfectly fine. I wasn’t prepared for the emotional roller coaster motherhood would bring.
    Thanks for the share. It’s nice to know I’m not alone

    • Reply
      mascara & mimosas
      July 26, 2016 at 8:23 pm

      So glad you enjoyed the post Corlia! I’m sure you are being the best mommy to Lea-Mari and despite regardless or whether she’s having formula or breastmilk x

  • Reply
    Simone
    July 25, 2016 at 11:37 am

    So many of us suffer with these feelings of guilt and inadequacy…and it really puts such a dark cloud over that early experience as a mom. I had the same as Corlia…my child was not birth weight by 2 weeks, screaming when the boob approached, miserable. My brother eventually went out and bought a tin of formula and made that poisonous first bottle. I sobbed and sobbed. My daughter….she’s alive and well…7yrs old today.

    2nd born….I breastfed like a pro for 7 months.

    3rd born, repeat of number 1, hated the boob. I couldn’t be bothered and welcomed the bottle so now anybody could feed him and give me my hands free time.

    Thankfully I also wasn’t emotionally invested, but there are some moms that let the guilt linger for way too long.

    Great post! Well done on doing what’s right for you and your daughter πŸ™‚

    • Reply
      mascara & mimosas
      July 26, 2016 at 8:24 pm

      Thanks so much Simone! Formula definitely isn’t the devil drink that we are made to believe.

  • Reply
    Dawn
    July 25, 2016 at 12:19 pm

    Darling girl… when you next pop out to buy your dreaded tin of formula, hide it well in a packet and then walk straight to La Senza and buy the laciest most beautiful bra you can find~ and celebrate the fact that those boobs are yours again! Everyone in your home will be happier for it! XXX

  • Reply
    Monique
    July 25, 2016 at 2:48 pm

    She is a doll!!
    Yip…parenting is a constant battle…a lifelong guilt trip of wondering if we made the right choice. But well done for being open and honest…we moms do whats best for our babies…and no one can fault you there.
    Enjoy her! Time goes by way too fast!

    • Reply
      mascara & mimosas
      July 26, 2016 at 8:26 pm

      Thanks so much Monique, glad that you enjoyed the post πŸ™‚ I’m loving all the photos of your little peanut, he is SO cute!

  • Reply
    Olivia Williams
    July 27, 2016 at 8:05 pm

    Thank you soooooo much for this post. My lb has been on formula since 2 weeks old as my milk was just not enough. It was thers but the amount available wasnot enough to sustain him. Just like you I was anti formula and swore not to give it to my baby ever but I had no choice. I always felt like I did something wrong to cause my low milk supply. I would feed him and he was still hungry so alas formula ot was. And now he is the most happiest, healthiest baby ever!!!! His on par with uis weight for his age and p track with all his milestones. Like you said its definately not from the devil ha ha ha…. felt and do still at times feel like I failed him but then I remember how much worse it could’ve been if I was stubborn and didn’t give it to him…

    • Reply
      mascara & mimosas
      July 30, 2016 at 7:11 pm

      Well done mama! Much better to have a happy baby than a miserable one πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Cathy B
    August 1, 2016 at 6:08 pm

    Such a honest and insightful post. Aria is a very lucky baby to have such a caring mommy. She always looks happy and healthy, loved and we’ll cared for. Thanks for great articles. Xxx

  • Reply
    Paige
    August 24, 2016 at 8:32 pm

    You’re so right, as long as your baby smiles and gets the love of their parents, everything is more than fine!
    Breastfeeding isn’t for everyone, if it’s not working out for whatever reason, your baby still has to eat.
    Formula nowadays isn’t poison, it’s adjusted to the nutritional needs of a baby. It was also a shock for me when I had to start giving formula, but it settled me when I found organic formulas like this one. They’re GMO free and contain no chemicals.
    We have to start to accept other mothers decisions without judgement. There’s already so much pressure on new moms, let’s support each other and let’s create a supportive environment where we feel save with our choices.
    Kind regards,
    Paige

  • Reply
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