First off, you can let your guard down, because I’m not going to lecture you. I know it seems like every other mother is breastfeeding, but you can take a sigh of relief and know that you’re not alone.
You may feel a little isolated as a formula feeding mom in such a wholesome community, during a time when breastfeeding is a heated and public topic. There are no clubs or support groups for moms like us, but you should hold your head high nonetheless. You’re sustaining a life, and no matter how you feed that tiny mouth, it’s no easy feat.
Go ahead and shake off anyone that tries to shame you. But be prepared for awkward conversations–it kind of comes with the territory of parenthood. When you break out the bottle, you might get a few eye rolls… but you might get a few high fives, too. Give the strangers, acquaintances, friends, and even family a break because they likely mean well. They may say odd things like “Well, good for you!” or “Breast is best, you know,” but keep in mind that ultimately we all want what’s best for the baby. It’s just that not everyone knows (or needs to know) all the details about what that entails for your baby, for your family, and for you.
There’s no doubt that you did the research. You weighed the options. Maybe you even tried the recommended route and maybe it caused you stress and heartache. Maybe it was never an option for you. Or maybe you lovingly chose to provide a bottle the day your sweet baby was born – that’s okay too. Whatever reasons played in to your decision to formula feed are personal. They are valid.
Try to avoid the emotional debate on this topic, but don’t forget to be supportive of the mothers in your life that are breastfeeding. Recognize their decision and be a glimmer of grace at times when they are feeling isolated. We all have our battles, motherhood is hard, and we need each other.
Don’t think for a second that you’re lacking a bond with your bundle of joy. You clearly have an amazing bond with your baby, that’s not exclusive to breastfeeding mamas. Enjoy every moment that you get to cradle her in your arms, gaze into her eyes and hold that bottle at just the right angle. And when your child’s father or another loved one is enjoying the task of feeding, let the sight of their growing bond fill your heart with joy.
If you ever find yourself feeling guilty, don’t be. There is absolutely no shame in doing what is best for your family. There were many mothers before you and there will be many more that fill their baby’s belly with formula instead of breast milk. And you know what? Their babies are growing, smiling, and thriving just like the others. That’s what it’s all about.
Last but not least, I won’t judge you if you openly embrace the positive side of formula feeding. Go ahead and relish in the flexible schedule, drink your caffeine with abandonment, and feel free to do a happy dance when you breeze by the nipple cream, breast pumps, and nursing bras next time you’re at Target. Maybe I’ll see you there and we can share a mental high five in the formula aisle. You deserve it.
A Mom Like You