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I was recently sent an article regarding a woman whose baby was struggling to nurse and basically starving because the baby could not physically remove milk from the breast. After much trial, the mother chose to formula feed. The article’s point? Fed is Best.
I would like to reiterate this point: Fed is Best. (And no I don’t mean the Federal government. I mean that a fed and full child is best. Yes, my mommy brain went there and was confused by the article until my smart brain kicked in.)
This article hit home for me because my son also struggled to nurse and for the first 4 weeks, before we put him on high-calorie formula, he was in fact, a failure to thrive baby.
For those Mommies out there like me who knew from the start of their pregnancy they wanted to breastfeed, and had the motto, “Breast is Best” ingrained in their minds. These Mom’s looked forward to breastfeeding and prepared for it while pregnant. They researched the heck out of it, they asked other Mommies about their experiences, and they, quite literally, dreamed about it. For Mothers who plan so thoroughly, it can be quite a blow when someone suggests putting your baby on formula.
Uh, ex-squeeze me? Did you say formula?
As my midwife put it, “Formula is not the devil.” Upon hearing these words, I rationally knew what she was saying, but emotionally my heart was saying, “But formula is bad.”
Let me say now, it really isn’t. And this is coming from the Mama who had to go take a shower to BAWL HER EYES OUT while my husband gave our baby his first BOTTLE of formula.
Mommies listen. Formula is not “bad”. It can nourish your baby. It can fill your baby’s tummy. It can keep your baby healthy. If you’re a new Mama who is needing to put your baby on formula, that’s ok. There was a time in my very recent past, I truly did not believe that, but it really is all right.
If you really want to, there is still the option to continue to breastfeed. Some options include:
- Partial breastfeeding – While working towards your breastfeeding goals, but supplementing with formula or pumped breast milk, nursing can be done to still reap the wonderful benefits. The benefits are what sold us on it in the first place, right?
- Exclusive pumping – If nursing your baby simply isn’t a possibility, some mothers choose to pump their breast milk and feed this to their babies in bottles. To read about efficient pumping, click here.
- Exclusive formula feeding – This is a perfectly acceptable option. I know, love, and respect my dear friends and family members who have chosen this option.
Now those of you who know my story know that I did whatever it took to breastfeed as much as possible. For me, I used a combination of partial breastfeeding and pumping and worked toward the goal of exclusively breastfeeding. Those of you who KNOW me personally, know that I am as stubborn as they come. I had to constantly check myself to make sure I wasn’t being selfish in my desire to breastfeed. My decision was to salvage nursing using any means necessary. I had the time, determination, resources, and most importantly, the support (my dear, sweet husband is a Saint), to make it happen for my son and me. It was a very difficult path, but one I’m glad I took.
Now, this does not make me a “better” mother than Mama’s who choose to formula feed. These Mommies are amazing women, some of which I learn from every single day. Their wisdom and insight are what make me a better Mother than I could be without their experiences to pull from.
So if you are pregnant and starting your research into breastfeeding or if you are just starting your journey into motherhood, again or for the first time, you will hear over and over again, “Breast is Best” by many reputable organizations such as the La Leche League. There is some very helpful information to be gleaned here, but you will read about how any obstacle to breastfeeding can be overcome. While this is true the vast majority of the time, sometimes it just isn’t going to work and you may have to make a different choice. And THAT’S OK!
So, in the spirit of Fed is Best, here is my new motto: Hungry Baby is Bad. Formula is Good (Not Bad). Breast is Better. Fed is Best.
Remember, Happy, Healthy Baby. Happy, Healthy Mama.
Tell us your experience. How do you feed your baby?
“For thus says the LORD, “Behold, I extend peace to her like a river,
And the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream;
And you will be nursed, you will be carried on the hip and fondled on the knees.”
Read About My Breastfeeding Struggle: