Every expectant mother at one point or another has this perfect idea as to how their birth story is supposed to go. They plan every detail and expect for everything to go perfectly. You know what I mean, right? That moment when you think, “I’m going to have a natural birth with no epidural” or, “baby is going to breastfeed exclusively.” You even try and control what your time with baby will be like once they arrive because everything has to be just perfect. That kind of planning.
It’s almost like making sure that because we plan everything right it must mean that life will be easy because you already know what to expect. The harsh truth about all of this is that the majority of the time, things don’t go according to plan. And that’s okay.
Going back to the birth of my daughter, I can tell you that I myself had an expectation of how everything was supposed to go. After going through so many doctor appointments, reading up on birthing articles, and absorbing knowledge from parenting blogs, I started to think I had a good sense of everything that needed to be done. Breastfeeding was one of the most talked about topics and it seemed to bring a bit of controversy into the parenting world. A stigma that one way was right and the other was a failure. Every article that brought up breastfeeding seemed to allude to the idea that breastfeeding is the only way to go and that formula feeding was wrong and made you a “bad mother.”
When the time came for my daughter to be born, one of the first things the nurses ask is if you want to breast or bottle feed. Naturally, I chose the route of breastfeeding. The nurses began to teach me what I needed to know and they wanted to see how well my daughter was able to latch on. After a few tries, she finally did and I thought, “Yes! I am doing this! Breastfeeding is totally happening right know.” There was so much excitement in that moment I thought I was on top of the world. Newborns need to be fed around every 1-2 hours. So when the time came for her second feed, I started to have some trouble. I was trying all the techniques the nurses had shown me; even with my husbands help. My problem was that my daughter would latch and then detach. We called the nurse in for help and they gave me some other techniques to use; which seemed to work for only short periods of time. Arianna was getting so frustrated but the nurses insisted that we persist with the techniques they had shown us. Practice makes perfect, basically.
On our last day, they brought in a breastfeeding specialist. She claimed to have all the magical answers for us. When she arrived for our meeting, it resulted in just being shown more techniques to use on our baby to get her to latch on. I think she only spent a total of 3-5 minutes with us in total just trying to “guide” us on what was correct. All of this information from nurses and specialists. All these techniques that are supposed to be useful tools for getting this right. And we still struggled. The night we went home, the nurse gave us a few bottles of formula that were put in our take home gift basket from the hospital. That day, we tried breastfeeding again. At that point, my daughter was frustrated and hungry. She went from patiently trying to latch on to frustratingly impatient because she was hungry and it wasn’t working. I don’t blame her. Newborns only know a few things when they enter this world and one of those main things is that they’re hungry when they’re hungry.
After several frustrating tries and spending a large amount of time getting her to latch on, I told my husband to hand me the formula bottles. I was hesitant because I started to feel like a failure. But, my daughter needed to eat. Arianna took it right away and was the most peaceful she had been in four days. There was a bittersweet feeling about it. I felt a sense of relief because she was finally able to eat and be comfortable but I also felt guilt because of the stigma. I still had this expectation of breastfeeding so I got my hands on a fancy pump machine. I thought, “if latching on isn’t working and she seems to use a bottle fine, then I’ll just pump and she’ll get all the nutrients she’s supposed to be receiving.” My body had other plans. I read up on how the pumps were supposed to be used and how often to use them so I followed those instructions. My daughter was being fed formula while I tried my luck at starting a new breastfeeding routine. The first time I tried it, I sat there for over two hours and was only able to produce a minuscule amount of milk. Two ounces. The more I tried, the less I was able to produce until finally I just stopped. Within the first week of giving birth to my daughter, my body stopped producing milk.
My body had other plans. I read up on how the pumps were supposed to be used and how often to use them so I followed those instructions. My daughter was being fed formula while I tried my luck at starting a new breastfeeding routine. The first time I tried it, I sat there for over two hours and was only able to produce a minuscule amount of milk. Two ounces. The more I tried, the less I was able to produce until finally I just stopped. Within the first week of giving birth to my daughter, my body stopped producing milk altogether.
Formula Feeding Doesn’t Make You A Failure
It wasn’t easy coming to grips with the fact that my body had failed me. As a mother, one of the first moments you have of providing for your new bundle of joy is being able to breastfeed and provide those crucial nutrients they need to enter the world. My body being unable to produce it made me feel like I had just failed my daughter and she had only been on the earth for less than a week. I quickly came to the realization that I was giving into the stigma. I was letting all of those articles get into my head and cloud what was really important. Sure, my daughter was being formula fed, but most importantly she was being fed. She was still being given all of the nutrients she needed and I was still striving to make sure of that. Breastfeeding is ideal to the world where they only focus on the ideal. But they never account for moms who struggle with breastfeeding or the moms who can’t breastfeed at all. Formula feeding was created for this very reason and that’s okay. It should never be a debate that one way is better than the other or that one parent is a better parent than the other because of the ways they choose to feed their babies. No, we’re all moms trying to make sure our children are getting the best they can.
Breastfeeding is ideal to the world where they only focus on the ideal. But they never account for moms who struggle with breastfeeding or the moms who can’t breastfeed at all. Formula feeding was created for this very reason and that’s okay. It should never be a debate that one way is better than the other or that one parent is a better parent than the other because of the ways they choose to feed their babies. No. We’re all moms trying to make sure our children are getting the best they can.
Accepting that you are human and that your body works differently than the next person, you will realize that no matter what choices you make for your children you’re doing your best and that is okay. I won’t stop trying to breastfeed when I have more children but that doesn’t mean that I won’t consider formula feeding if something like this happens again. If our perfect plans don’t go like they’re supposed to, it doesn’t mean that you are a failure. It simply means that you are human. If there is one lesson I can take from this whole experience it is this. Breastfeeding moms, be open minded that formula moms are trying their best. Formula moms, don’t be so hard on yourself. Both types of moms are amazing mothers just trying to nourish their little ones.
We hope you enjoyed our breastfeeding post today. We’d like to hear about some of your stories and whether you breast or formula fed your babies. So comment down below and let us know! Remember to be kind. We’re all mommas doing the best we can! Don’t forget to subscribe to keep up with my future blog posts.