Normalize a Mother's Choice
(Audio version down below) As #worldbreastfeedingweek comes to a close I need to share my story. In the last two years I have had so many conversations about breastfeeding and the more I see on social media, the more I feel there isn’t enough women saying that ultimately it is the mothers choice to breastfeed or not, regardless of the circumstances.
With Zeke I had no problems breastfeeding. He was given formula first as there was an emergency during his delivery, but for the week he was in the NICU, I breastfed him for every feeding and pumped for the night feedings we weren’t present for. We had no latch issues and things were going smoothly. When we got home, Chris was back to work the next day and I was left at home with a newborn and no clue what I was doing. I felt my whole day revolved around feeding him constantly and pumping. He would eat for an hour every feeding and I was left feeling exhausted, frustrated and concerned that my whole life was over and that I wouldn’t be able to properly care for myself because there was no time. It was feeding, pumping, feeding, pumping all while my body was healing from labor and figuring out how to mother. I felt extremely bonded to Zeke, but not from breastfeeding. I breastfed him for three weeks and exclusively pumped for three weeks. When Zeke was six weeks old, Chris left for two months and there was no way that I could sanely continue. I felt fine with my choice to switch him to formula after researching which would be best and I experienced instant relief.
With Zane I had a very different delivery and was able to breastfeed him 20 minutes after he was born. He had an amazing latch, my milk was in very quickly as I just had Zeke last year, and everything was going so well. I thought maybe this time around it would be easier as Chris would not be going out to sea, maybe he would eat less than Zeke and maybe I would actually enjoy it. I ended up with the same feelings this time around. I could not fathom how I would take care of a 14 month old and a newborn with Chris back at work, me working full time from home, while feeding Zane for an hour at a time and then being strapped to the pump for what felt like all the rest of my time. I was barely able to be there for Zeke and was left feeling, once again, like all day everyday revolved around breastfeeding. I breastfed Zane for two weeks before switching to formula and again...instant relief.
I do not share my story to justify my choice because no justification is needed. It is okay to choose to formula feed your baby even if there are no issues. You can still have an incredible bond with your baby without breastfeeding. It is okay to not like breastfeeding and it doesn’t make you any less of a mother.
Fed is always best and please, let us normalize a mother’s choice.