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Fed is Best: My Opinion

I am about to “spill the tea” on why I agree with the “fed is best” movement and share my story behind why breastfeeding did not work with my daughter. Many moms are forced to make the decision to give formula to their babies. There are a wide range of reasons why breastfeeding simply just does not work. Fed is best is simply an ideology that as long as you feed your baby, whether breastmilk or formula, your baby is getting what they need. Now, my intent with this post is not to downplay the benefits of breastfeeding by any means. I am well aware of the benefits. There is a whole laundry list of reasons why breastmilk is beneficial to mom and baby but, I am not here to talk about that today. The benefits are the primary reason that I chose breastfeeding with both babies. Currently, I am breastfeeding my son Carter and while there have been a few set backs, breastfeeding has gone so well for him. When I had my first child I was so dead set on breastfeeding that I felt an immense amount of guilt when I finally gave up all together.

(Left: Lily enjoying her bottle, Right: Carter enjoying his boobie)

Why did I stop with my first?

To start, my daughter was not transferring milk correctly. She was born at 37 weeks via a forced induction and she was still a bit uncoordinated. She was constantly at my boob for the first few weeks and I was dead set on not introducing a bottle or pacifier at that time. I felt like all of my training toward becoming a Certified Lactation Counselor came down to this moment. I was constantly correcting her latch over, and over to ensure that she was getting enough milk. At Lily’s two week follow up, she was not even close to her birth weight. I was so disappointed in myself at the time. I felt like such a failure. I was also dealing with postpartum anxiety which made these feelings of failure even worse (see my post on Postpartum Anxiety to hear more about that). The pediatrician recommended giving formula top offs after each feed. I refused to do this because I was under the impression that formula was bad at the time. Instead, I started pumping after every feed and giving that milk throughout the day. Eventually, I had been told she was gaining weight so I thought I could cut out top offs. Her latch was getting better as well. At the time, I was in nursing school so I had to rely on pumping and bottles for a lot of my day after two weeks postpartum. Lily grew to really like the bottles and started to refuse my boob all together. I will go into breast refusal in another post because I have also dealt and conquered that with my second child. With lily, I did not conquer breast refusal. Instead, I switched to exclusive pumping. Exclusive pumping absolutely SUCKED. It was so hard to keep up supply, and I wasn’t getting the time I needed to pump while in nursing school. I could not afford to miss any class time or clinical time if I wanted to finish school. As my supply dropped we started doing half formula and half breastmilk. At four months, I was completely over pumping and I quit pumping all together and switched to formula.

The feelings I had around quitting

As I was quitting I felt immense guilt. I was a lactation counselor, how could I justify quitting? Breast Milk is better for the baby, how could I be so selfish to give her formula instead? I felt horrible, absolutely horrible. As my milk supply was finally drying up, I was in constant tears. There was a moment where I started pumping nonstop to bring it back. That did not work and slowly but surely, my milk was gone. My husband knew how hard it was for me to quit so early. He had actually suggested it because I was over doing it and he also was not getting a break at night. He knew just how much I hated pumping because I would complain about it non stop. At night, we always both needed to wake up. While he fed our daughter a bottle, I pumped. After my milk dried up, things got easier for both of us. I realized just how much more rested I felt and I began to finally accept my decision to quit.

Do I regret my decision?

Absolutely not! My daughter got the benefits of breastmilk for four months. I made a decision for my sanity and I was able to bond with her more because of my decision. I was less stressed and overall happier. This decision did not deter me from trying again with my future children. I am currently breastfeeding my Son and our breastfeeding relationship has been much better and more successful. If I had to exclusively pump for any reason with him, I would also stop. I give so much credit to moms who are able to exclusively pump, but I was not one of them.

(Pic: Two happy and fed babies!!)

To all the moms out there,

Don't feel guilty for making the decision that is best for you and your family. Every family's needs are different and there is so much pressure put on moms from the moment you deliver your baby in the hospital to breastfeed. There are so many reasons for deciding not to breastfeed and also many reasons to choose breastfeeding. Make the decision that works for you and run with it! No mom is “better” than another because of their method of feeding. If you think you are “better” than another mom for exclusively breastfeeding then you should consider keeping those thoughts to yourself. Do not put pressure on moms who decide against breastfeeding. They do not owe you or anyone an explanation. Especially do NOT say things to moms passing judgement to hurt their feelings like, “I breastfed for an entire year, why cant you make it work” or “oh you’re breastfeeding right?” or “you know breastfeeding is better for the baby, right?” While research has shown breastfeeding has more benefits for mom and baby, these statements are unnecessary as you do not know the reasoning behind their decision not to breastfeed. Some moms have other kids to care for and with little support can't manage breastfeeding too, so they choose formula. Some moms have low milk supply and feel guilty enough already about not making it work, reminding them of that only makes them feel worse. Some moms simply don't want to breastfeed and that is NONE of your business. Fed is best, end of story.

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