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.
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.
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.