I Didn't Breastfeed My Children
What if I told you I chose not to breastfeed?
What if I told you I didn't want to breastfeed? That there wasn't a medical condition, or supply problem, or any good, legitimate reason why, except that I just didn't want to.
Are you disgusted with me and think I'm a terrible mom, even if we've never met?
Because that's how I have felt.
I was made to feel like I wasn't the best mom for my babies, that I was selfish and inconsiderate. Things were said to me such as:
"You're not even going to TRY and breastfeed?!"
"Your baby won't have the same quality of life if you don't breastfeed."
"You only get the real bonding with your baby through nursing, you're going to miss out."
Add disgusted looks and eye rolls and it's just topping on my guilt and shame cake that was fed to me with all three babies. As if we don't have enough mom guilt already, right?
Here's something else for you. I produced milk, a lot actually, and I purposely dried it up after giving birth. I made it go away. I didn't pump, I didn't donate, I just forced it away.
Guilt on top of guilt, on top of guilt...
That shame and guilt never, ever left me. In fact, I still feel like I failed my children. I let shame and guilt steal a part of my joy of feeding and caring for my babies.
I have three very healthy, growing, thriving children who were all formula fed from birth. They are incredibly smart and ahead of their grade in school, they very rarely ever get sick, and their growth is exactly where it needs to be for their age. I tell you this, not to boast or brag, but to stand up for formula fed babies and let people know that my babies are just as healthy as breastfed babies and that I, as a mom, am just as great as moms who breastfeed.
I bonded incredibly with each one of them. I held their bottles and stared into their eyes, I rocked them and sang to them. I bonded with my babies the same as any breastfeeding mother, and still the guilt forced upon me lingers and sits in my mind. It lingers because it's in my face everyday. Through social media, through the "breastfeeding movement," mom's staging sit ins at public places to prove a point.
I fed my baby, too.
You may be thinking that I'm against breastfeeding or think it's "gross" in public, etc. But I can assure you, I actually think breastfeeding is a beautiful thing. I think it's amazing that our bodies are designed to feed our children. It's incredible, the changes our bodies endure to accommodate a growing, living human being, it fascinates me.
But the associated judgement of other feeding methods hurts me.
What happened to just doing what's best for you and your baby? What happened to 'I'm going to feed my baby and care for my baby and just enjoy my baby without ever having to prove a point?'
Why can't we just empower each other through statements such as, "Wow! You're doing an amazing job!"
I should have never been made to feel guilty or shameful for feeding my baby, and yet I was.
Other moms made me feel inadequate as a mom.
I want you to know that if you're feeding your baby, you're doing a great job.
We need to care for and feed our babies and do what works best for our family. I, as a formula mom, am just as great as breastfeeding moms, and I will never shame another mom for feeding her child.
Let us build each other up, no matter our differences in parenting. Be an encouragement to each other, a breath of fresh air on the hard days.
We are doing the best we can as parents. Let's celebrate that.
Written by Nichole Clawson- Mom of 3 beautiful and healthy children