The world is a scary place right now for moms who are formula feeding. My heart breaks for them. I can’t imagine their fear and frustration. Even if they can find it, it is double the cost to ship. To top it all off, you see so many ridiculing them. Criticizing them for not breastfeeding. Giving them “simple” fixes to make their own formula. Telling them things like, “Well if only your body was able to feed your baby, oh wait, it can.” If this had happened anytime in the past 7 years, it could have been me and one of my babies in need.
There are many reasons moms don’t breastfeed. I know moms on medications that make it impossible. I know moms that couldn’t keep a supply, even with pumping, once they returned to work. I know moms who made too much milk that they couldn’t keep up with pumping and it was too much for their baby who would then choke at the speed it came out. Moms who constantly suffer from mastitis. I know breastfeeding is not simple. It isn’t easy. And not everyone is able to do it.
Here is my story.
As a new mom I wanted to do everything right. I watched everything I ate. I read tons of books. I was going to breastfeed. I got my pump and all my supplies. I went to classes. I wanted to do everything I could to be a good mom. And then, Ellyana was born at 37 weeks. I had a terrible delivery that was full of complications and when it was time to breastfeed, she couldn’t. She was born with an immature sucking reflex. We had to finger feed her formula with a syringe to teach her how to suck. I worked with the lactation consultant. I pumped every 2 hours, around the clock. Sleeping didn’t happen. We got her on a bottle because she became jaundiced from not eating. She was strong enough to drink from a bottle but couldn’t suck from the breast.
At this point I was still getting nothing. Not even colostrum.
I continued to pump every two hours. Setting an alarm all night long. It took about 5 days until my milk came in. I stayed on this schedule. Pumping every two hours, watching my daughter cry because I had to pump. I would get an ounce if I was lucky. I developed thrush from all the antibiotics from my terrible delivery. Pumping was painful. I would be in tears when I pumped. They told me it was unlikely she would get it from the milk. Luck wasn’t in our favor. She had thrush through her whole mouth.
For a month I did absolutely everything I was supposed to do and could not make enough to feed her more than 1-2 bottles a day. After six weeks, it was gone. Nothing. Thank God for the formula. She ended up needing Alimentum because she could not digest dairy, and it caused her to have blood in her stool, unable to digest the dairy.
Then we had baby number two. Not a drop. Not one single drop of milk ever came in. NONE. She developed diarrhea in the hospital from the regular blend formula. Emeilia lost a full pound, and it took her a month to gain it back. We tried soy, and it didn’t help. We finally tried the Alimentum with her and she started to gain weight, cry less and grow normally.
With my third, I planned to use formula due to my history. I never expected to get milk. When my milk came in I didn’t know what to do. I had never had milk like this, even when my milk came in when I had my first daughter. I tried to breastfeed my Addy but she refused. She had already been on the bottle and was perfectly happy on it. She cried hysterically when I tried to breastfeed her. She would turn her head away from my breast. I tried everything I learned in my classes, yet she simply would not latch. I considered pumping, but with 3 kids under 4 I just simply couldn’t do it. Pumping every 2 hours for 20 minutes with three kids who needed my attention. It was better for my kids to have time with me.
That time … it was my choice to make, and I chose all my kids over breastfeeding.
My story isn’t unique. I know lots of moms who have successfully breastfed. I know lots of moms who could not breastfeed. I know moms who choose formula. Every mom does what is best for their family. They aren’t selfish or taking the easy way out. Formula is expensive. Breastfeeding is not easy. Both have their perks and their challenges.
Right now, our concern should be children that could starve. Babies at risk of failing to thrive. There are babies in need of food. There are moms struggling. Instead of judging, help them. A friend of mine needed formula, so I shared her post. I had other friends looking around. A daughter of a friend of mine had some.
There are simple ways each one of us can help. Don’t pass judgment. Give comfort. Show compassion.
If you know a mom in need and the price of shipping from Canada is hurting her financially, help. Buy her a can if you can afford it. Know a new mom who is successfully breastfeeding? See if she has formula samples she is willing to give away. Write to your congressman and senators. Tell them you want them to put pressure on the government to help these families. We all can do something to help. Remember, these are people. Babies. Families. Our friends. Our neighbors. Start helping today.
And as for my girls. My 3 formula fed girls. All three are healthy. All are very intelligent. Athletic ability. They are in no way inferior to their breastfed friends. They are in no way at a disadvantage being formula fed over breastfed.
Fed is best.