True Life: I am a Formula Feeder

From Day 1 both of my boys received formula as their sole food source for the first 4 or 5 months of their lives.

Not because my breasts didn’t work.

Not because of any meds I was taking.

And not because I was suffering postpartum depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress.

They were fed formula because well before they arrived, it is what I chose.

I’ve been sitting on this post for a couple weeks. For one because I know I already write a lot of “Mommy” stuff over here and I wasn’t sure this had a place here. But I have also been avoiding writing it because the entire thing makes me so angry, it’s hard to type out a post that is not just a ranty ragey mess. I get so passionate that my fingers fly faster than my brain can form cohesive points and counter-points.

I am not pro- nor anti-breastfeeding.

I am not pro- nor anti-formula feeding.

I am pro FEED YOUR BABY. (Unless of course you are feeding your baby cyanide. I am not pro that kind of feeding, obviously).

Why is this argument even a thing? Good old Mayor Bloomberg of New York City stirred the ever boiling Mommy Pot a couple weeks ago with his newest initiative for NYC hospitals: Latch on NYC.

The initiative is to increase/promote breastfeeding.

I can stand behind that.

However, it wants to do so by discouraging and LECTURING mothers if they ask for a bottle.

See, now this is where I start getting all pissed off.

Since this shiz hit the fan a couple weeks ago, I have found myself a lone duck (or at least it feels that way) in a firing range of EXTREMELY PASSIONATE breastfeeding nuts advocates who say I am WRONG WRONG WRONG for being opposed to this. They say BREAST IS BEST! and that I am feeding my sons poison.

Ok.

What?

Someone even used the argument that the initiative should take it a step further and make formula prescription only.

See?  Just typing that made me need an hour break from this post.

I 100% support my friends who have chosen to breastfeed. I give them big fist bumps and hugs when they meet goals they have set for themselves. I hold them and listen when things don’t go the way they hoped.

I did my research and understand the benefits of a healthy mom breastfeeding for a healthy baby.

I also made the decision not to breastfeed.

I don’t really think it’s anyone’s business why I chose not to use my breasts to feed my children. My husband and I discussed it at length. I talked about it with my doctors (yes, plural). And this is our choice.

Now, I don’t live in NYC and my OBGYN and hospital are almost unbelievably supportive of all the choices moms have when it comes to birthing and feeding their newborns. When I hear so many horror stories of birth plans and pain management and feeding support gone wrong, I send up a prayer of thanks for my experiences.

But let’s pretend I did give birth in NYC under this initiative.

I planned to bottle feed.

I also planned to birth vaginally, but that didn’t work out so well.

And I for SURE didn’t plan to have the postpartum depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress that I ended up with.

So let’s say the only thing I knew I was doing right was feeding my baby. I could do that. Bottle in hand, he and I were actually ok.

But what if EVERY. SINGLE. TIME I needed to feed my son, I had to ask for a bottle (in my situation, because they knew I was bottle feeding, premixed bottles of the brand I requested was stocked in my labor/delivery/recovery suite). And each time I buzzed the nurse to tell her I needed a bottle for my baby, I received a lecture that, Yes, I could have it, but really I should be breast-feeding.

No one explicitly tells me I am doing it wrong. Not in those words.

But to a new mom who just had absolutely all of her plans and expectations go out the window, and already feels like a failure, this “talking to” as Mayor Bloomberg calls it, is just another reminder that she doesn’t have it all together.  That maybe she is doing something wrong.

Formula is NOT WRONG.

It’s a healthy choice.  It is.

My sons are thriving, hardly ever sick, and very smart.

They are getting all the nutrients.

Formula is a healthy choice.

Breast milk is a healthy choice (given you’re not on drugs).

Feed your baby. Mind your business.

Support choice.


Comments

  1. word.
    you educate yourself. make a choice. live your choice the best you can. — it’s all any of us can do. It would be great if we could count on support for ALL of our personal decisions.

  2. Thank you, Katie, for voicing this. I keep trying, but I also get all ranty and full of rage.

    We have bigger problems in this country than how a mother chooses to feed her baby. Here in Boston, there are already hospitals disallowing formula samples to discourage bottle feeding. MAKES ME CRAZY.

    People need to mind their own beeswax or put their energy towards fixing the broken health care system, or reducing the debt, or finding homes and food for starving, homeless people. Actual problems, people.

  3. I was bottle fed and I turned out fairly normal.

    My daughter is 10 years old, was fed formula and has turned out healthy. . .

    When she was first born though, I DID try to breast feed. I did. Because I was bound and determined for ONE of my plans to go as I had thought it would. (I ended up having pre-eclampsia and had to be induced at 37 weeks which was NOT part of my plan)

    I was bound and determined to breast feed. But she would not latch. No matter what I did or how I laid. . . It was . . . uncomfortable.

    I felt like a failure. I felt like out of all the things a mom is supposed to do, that feeding my baby should have been the ONE thing that I could do without messing it up.

    After two days of trying in the hospital I decided that breast was not best where I was concerned and I would be bottle feeding my baby from there on out.

    I have to agree with you. . . I am PRO feed your baby.

    Boob or bottle.

    Whichever one you are comfortable with is fine with me.

  4. Feed the children. That’s all we need to do.

  5. Thank you for voicing this! I’ve tried to write on this topic but I just end up frustrated and full of rage. I have had four children, all have been formula fed from day one. I feel like I am surrounded by people who are anti formula feeding and I have always felt so alone on this. I am definitely with you here, pro feed your baby. Keep them healthy and happy, that’s what matters. The judgements need to be left out of it.

  6. Bravo for writing this. My son was formula fed. I gave up breast feeding after my VERY pro-breast feeding hospital wouldn’t get me the support/help I requested several times in his first few days of life. As long as your kid is being fed some way that’s all that matters.

  7. You took the words right out of my mouth. I was just talking about this last night with some girlfriends. It’s not about which is right/wrong/better. It’s about choice, and this NY thing is just one stop close to taking that choice away.

  8. Oh my god. I want to hug and kiss you right now. I’ve been very quiet on the whole subject. It seems that as long as you breastfeed it’s acceptable but not formula. I started out breastfeeding all three of my kids and all three had issues with it mostly because of a lactose sensitivity… my pediatricians were the ones that said to go with a special formula for a few months and what a difference it made. My babies changed from cranky, fussy always crying with pains to the happiest little things. Is that wrong? No, in the end it was the right choice for me and my babies and breastfeeding may be the right choice for another mom. I am totally pro- choice in this matter. Thank you for sharing your perspective and for being so open about it!!!

  9. I’ve become this crazy let me feed my baby where I want with our without a cover advocate. I had no idea I’d become this person. I’d like to think that bottlefed mamas could get the same hell-yeah respect that I do. Babies are tiring enough. The rest of the world makes us feel shitty enough. We shouldn’t be so worried!

  10. I breastfeed but I don’t care what other mothers do. My stance has always been, as long as the baby gets fed when they need to be fed, who cares? Don’t mayors of big cities have more important things to do than decide for mothers what should be best for them and their babies?

    Go you, for voicing this.

  11. so freakin awesome. Bless you. I did breastfeed my 3 children, but they did get a bottle of formula from time to time for various reasons/circumstances…because um, yeah, it’s obvious: Feed the Baby! Bravo.

  12. THANK YOU! I always was judged and made to feel ashamed that I chose to bottle feed my babies. Even when C was in the NICU and I COULDNT breast feed, they wanted me attached to a pump for 20 hours a day. Um, no. Also when I had B and made the decision to bottle feed, my mother in law refused to come see her new grandson over it. So again, thank you for this!

  13. I don’t understand why it’s so hard for these breastfeeding initiatives do just ASK. Nurse: Hi new mom, are you planning to breastfeed or bottle feed?
    If it is breastfeed, no formula sample given and lactation support etc
    If it is bottle feed, formula samples given and the process explained
    If the mom is unsure, both are explained with cost/benefit given based on SCIENCE not peer pressure and pseudoscience.
    PS. I think it’s sad that this is a brave post — the point when advocacy has become fanaticism.

  14. Kudos to you for being brave enough to state this online. And a big fat FAIL to the atmosphere that forces me to call you “brave” for stating something that should be so obvious.

    I love how you point out that you can’t tell how life is going to unfold. That’s my biggest beef with this Latch On NYC thing – because no one knows how they will feel about breastfeeding until the time comes. And I mean NO ONE – because things can differ from baby to baby. With my son, breastfeeding was torture, compounded by PTSD and PPD (sounds like we have a lot in common there, sadly) and with my daughter, it was roses and sunshine. You just never know. And I don’t see why it should be such a freaking federal case for hospitals to simply provide support for either means of feeding. You know how women have birth plans and most hospitals at least pretend to follow them? Can’t we have feeding plans? If we have the right to demand our own style of birth despite what the medical authorities want us to do, why don’t we have the same luxury when it comes to infant feeding?

  15. Thank you for taking a stand here. That initiative makes me so angry, I can barely read this without shouting profanities. There are so many other things to consider besides what format a baby’s food comes in. Often, what keeps the mommy happy will be what is best for the baby. Like you said, it’s a CHOICE!

  16. Michelle Longo says

    Thank you for this. It needed to be said and you did so wonderfully.

Trackbacks

  1. […] case you missed it this week, I wrote about how I chose to formula feed my kids over at Borderless News and Views. EmailFacebookStumbleUponTwitter Filed Under: Project 365 […]

  2. […] But the problem is, even though you’re there…are you? I mean, I know what being a first time mom is like. And even when it goes perfectly (so basically NOT what I experienced with a baby who had digestive issues, had to go on soy, was colicky, and never slept unless I held him), it is still exhausting. And I didn’t even breastfeed! […]