Before I start this I just want to say this is not an attack at breastfeeding moms at all! This is a letter to breastfeeding moms hoping it will shed a little light on how formula feeding moms feel. I have (as well as myself) several formula feeding moms and talk to many I don't personally know and I feel these are the things we struggle with the most, in a nutshell. I have been wanting to write a post about this topic and now after almost 10 months of exclusive formula feeding (son is 11 months) and deciding how to approach this topic, I finally feel like I can. Remember, This isn't an attack on anyone, please don't feel that way. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions and this is mine. Having said that, if you choose to leave feedback, I ask that it is polite and respectful, even if it doesn't agree with what I say. I can only speak for my side of the story and would love someone out there who has been successful at breastfeeding to share their side in the same way. *This is a 2 part series (see bottom of post)
Dear Breastfeeding Mom,
Please understand from the beginning that I support you 100%! I am so glad that breastfeeding has worked out for you and your baby no matter if you has zero trouble from day one or if you struggled for weeks before finding success. This is simply a letter to you from the other side hoping to share how many formula feeding moms feel. Also, this letter isn't for those that feel breastfeeding is the only way to feed your child. It's not one of those letters, I'm not trying to convince anyone that one way is better than the other (Honestly, the way you feed your child that keeps them healthy is the best way, regardless of what you use).
Let me start by saying most of the time, it's not you, its me (I know, cliche right!). Personally speaking, I struggled for months within myself over how breastfeeding didn't work for us. It sucked seeing all my friends succeed at breastfeeding while I had to keep telling myself inside that I was doing the right thing for myself and my baby by giving him formula. (don't worry, I don't have some grudge against breastfeeding moms, not at all). I struggled wondering what people thought of me every time I pulled out a bottle and formula in public. Did they think I was a bad mother? That I didn't try hard enough? Were they going to come pour salt in the wound by suggesting trying something I had already thought of? (yes, most "suggestions" are just salt in the wound). All those thoughts went through my head for months. And honestly I don't know how many people, even family, really understood the battle I was having within myself over this. I kept quite, smiled and thanked those for their advice and said "We just weren't able to make it work for us but he is doing great on formula." So, like I said, most of the time, it's me, not you.
There are times that it is you thought, and I can say for myself (and a few others) the one thing that hurts the worst from breastfeeding moms is this....when you say "I understand". Not to hurt your feelings, but you don't! You succeeded at breastfeeding, I didn't. Remember the salt in the wound? That is pouring the entire shaker of salt in there. If you struggled with it then you understand struggling, you don't understand having to break down and stop altogether. You don't understand the battle within yourself about not being able to do what is considered "the most natural thing" for a mother to do. If you take anything away from this letter take this...Please don't say "I understand" to formula feeding moms. If you do ask, be a listening ear and offer support. (Honestly, the best support is simply saying..."your baby is healthy, and that is what matters". Even though I know I told myself that everyday, it's nice to hear, especially from breastfeeding moms, It shows no judgement). It isn't easy to open up to those who don't understand either, or those who have found success. There were very few (3!) people I really felt 100% comfortable with talking about my choice to formula feed. It isn't easy but with understanding on both ends, mutual respect can be earned and felt.
For those breastfeeding moms who do show support or even those with good intentions in offering advice, Thank you! I know and acknowledge your support or effort to help. Please remember though, formula feeding moms didn't come to that choice lightly, it came with much thought and time. We do not need advice on ways to try to get breastfeeding to work, what we need is support that we made the right decision for our self and our baby.
A Formula Feeding Mom
*Next week I plan to write a letter to formula feeding moms! (part 2 of this series) Come back to read that one, especially if you are a formula feeding mom!!
Until Next Time....