Hey moms, I know you have felt the guilt trip.
You know, the one about feeding your newborn. We all get hit with it. Sometimes, even as early as right after you hold your precious bundle in those first moments of life.
Why, though? Why do we do this to ourselves?
You’ve carried your little one for nine months, turned down charcuterie and champagne, you endured heartburn and you might have stretch marks. All of that is … like … really hard.
So why is it that when we deliver our newborns we are immediately faced with the prospect of failure … because “breast is best”?
I’m an attorney by trade, so I’d like to think I can see both sides and form an argument either way. I feel that way about the feeding options we are faced with. I concede that breastmilk has many wonderful benefits. I also recognize it’s not for everyone and that leading formula brands have really wonderful ingredients, too. Babies thrive with either diet.
The mantra “breast is best” implies that one way of feeding your baby is better than the other. There’s a fake choice presented. If breastmilk is best, your ‘choice’ to use formula is really a second tier cop out. It’s not a choice at all – there is only one “best” option according to, oh I don’t know, everyone.
I don’t appreciate this concept. Frankly, I’m shocked it exists in today’s society.
On the most fundamental of parenting decisions, a mom is immediately set up to feel guilty. It’s really quite cruel.
Why make a mother feel like she isn’t giving her child what’s best? As if you’re not already physically taxed enough, most nurses and “lactation consultants” will continue to come by your room, grab you and tell you something like, “just keep trying it will happen, it’s best if you can”.
What if you aren’t producing enough? What if you don’t like breast feeding? What if you simply cannot perform the task because of a physical issue?
Are you less of a mom? Because you aren’t giving your child your best?
This is the guilt trip. This is wrong.
I’m a member of “mom groups” on Facebook. With frequency, I notice distressed moms write about how breastfeeding isn’t working, or the pump parts aren’t functioning, or they just don’t like breastfeeding (so something must be wrong with them). It makes me sad.
I have absolutely NO issues with breastfeeding. I think it’s a wonderful, God-given ability … if it works for you and your child. But God also gave us water, and hands to hold bottles with, and the scientific proficiency to create formula, and those work too.
Don’t feel badly if you bottle-feed breast milk. Don’t feel badly bottle-feeding formula. Do you. You’re mom, after all. You are doing everything right. I mean, give yourself some credit, you just grew a sweet, perfect little human. You know what’s up!
My own experience included the guilt trip. I only let it control me for a week. It was an arduous week. Not because of the decision to stop breastfeeding, but because I constantly felt like I wasn’t giving my child what was best. That is literally the worst feeling in the world.
I knew breastfeeding wasn’t working for me. I did it for a solid month, having to supplement the entire time because I couldn’t make more than an ounce or two a day. My diet wasn’t fatty enough (I’m trying to lose baby weight).
For a minute, I felt like I was putting myself first. That’s not my lifestyle any more. I felt guilty.
Then something magical and natural happened. My son was exuding contentment and happiness while exclusively eating formula. He gained and maintained weight. He giggled. The pediatrician said something wonderful, like, “y’all are doing perfect mom and dad”. I cried in the car after that doctor visit … tears of happiness.
We were no longer wrestling with a boppy pillow. I wasn’t carrying around a breast pump gadget thing. I could wear clothes again. I no longer stomped around our home topless, dodging the windows. Thank God.
It was liberating. I felt in control over my own life and I felt like a great mom.
I hope you feel that way, no matter how you give your child the most gracious care and love. Do what’s best for your family and worry less about what others are doing and saying.