I never, ever had plans to formula feed. I was expecting (a little naively) that my breastfeeding journey with my first baby would be idyllic. And it wasn’t.
Don’t get me wrong. We had many idyllic moments. We bonded. I loved so many parts of it. I fed her with my body for her first 6 months of being earthside. Then, I just couldn’t anymore.
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Jemma was only ever able to nurse with a nipple shield (due to my flat nipples), and no matter how hard I tried I could not get her to latch without one. Breastfeeding in public was near impossible, and it was stressful to always make sure I had a clean one with me. Eventually, I gave up on trying to get her to latch because it just made her so mad.
I would get anxious about feeding her and it almost always felt like a chore. It was causing me and her a great deal of stress. I remember crying at her 6 month check up because her doctor told me it was ok.
“You’ve nursed for 6 months, she’s gotten all the important antibodies, and you’ve bonded. It’s ok to stop. If you’re not happy, she’s not happy,” he said.
I felt relief and guilt all at the same time.
Relief because I knew the worry would end. The worry about is she getting enough? My supply was decreasing and I felt like a failure for not having enough for her.
Guilt because well, breast is best, right?
I tried pumping and just couldn’t. It was just as stressful as the breastfeeding, and I couldn’t get my supply to cooperate.
At the beginning I looked at other mamas breastfeeding at church, on Instagram, etc. and felt so sad. Again, like a failure. It’s gotten better but it’s still hard sometimes.
I think about my next baby (whenever that will be) and how I want to make sure it’s different that time.
Then I have to tell myself that you can’t really plan for these things. Your baby could get sick. Your milk might dry up no matter what you do. We can’t control these things. That’s what sucks about being a mother — you try so hard to be the best mom but sometimes, things completely out of your control make you feel like you’re the absolute worst.
This is not ok!
I was a rockstar and viking mama for breastfeeding my baby as long as I did. And you are too! Whether that means 2 weeks or 2 years.
My husband has helped a lot with reassuring me that Jemma is fine. That she is healthy, and that hundreds of thousands of other moms have chosen the formula route and look at their babies! They’re strong too.
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Jemma is thriving and we haven’t nursed for 7 weeks.
I’ll always miss it a little bit. But my baby is happy and she makes me happy.
Sure, bottle cleaning isn’t fun and formula reeks (haha but really! My fellow formula mamas will agree). But I don’t stress anymore. And a happy mama means a healthier mama, and the better I can take care of her.
If you are struggling with needing to make the switch to formula, here’s my tips:
- Remember that fed is best. It’s hard to see practically everywhere that you should breastfeed for a least a year when you’re struggling like I was. But bottom line, your baby needs to eat. And if it means via a bottle with formula, great!
- Know that it might take some patience. It took us a few weeks to find a brand of formula that works for Jemma, and she likes some bottle brands better than others.
- You don’t have to do it cold turkey (health permitting). Start by eliminating a feeding every few days to a week. This will help you avoid getting mastitis. But if you do, read my 10 tips for treating mastitis naturally.
- The fact that you need to stop breastfeeding doesn’t make you any less of a mother than anyone else. Doing what’s best for your baby makes you the perfect mama for that baby!