I’m about to say something controversial…quite possibly the most controversial thing I’ve ever written about…Some of you may “unlike” me or choose not to follow my blog anymore after this, which is fine (although you may be missing the whole spirit of these “I Give You Permission” posts..)…However other people may feel about this topic, I feel like I need to stand up for those of you who like me, have been treated like we’re the devil for making a choice…Today, I am giving you permission to bottle feed.
Sounds silly right? It saddens me that there are thousands of women who feel (and have been made to feel) like they need permission to feed their child in a way that works for them. However, there are many of us out there who have literally been treated as though we are the worst kind of child abusers for simply making the choice not to breastfeed.
After I had my first child, we were still a little unsure about what we wanted to do, but we gave breastfeeding a whirl. It was awful. In and out of lactation with a child that would not latch. We were finally told that no one could help us. It was a long, stressful, tear-filled time. I was also being hounded by a lactation consultant every day on the phone, sometimes multiple times a day. I was at one point worried the La Leche League was going to beat down my door and yell at me. Pamphlets were being shoved down my throat and because I was having problems and wanted to try bottle feeding, I was attacked. I was harangued into pumping, and felt like a cow being milked every few hours (only to make about a ounce and a half a DAY). Then, I made the choice to switch entirely to bottles and formula, and my life got instantly better. It worked for me. It was the right choice for our family. It is okay to do what works for you and your family.
When our second child came along and we started to have problems again (along with the harassment…a nurse even made me cry!), we CHOSE to bottle feed again. With our third and fourth child, we never even attempted to breastfeed. With our second and third child, whenever anyone gave me a dirty look or made a snide comment like, “Oh….you’re bottle-feeding” (and say bottle-feeding as though you were saying, “shoving moldy rat carcasses in your child’s mouth”) I would feel as though I HAD to launch into an hour long speech about our medical reasoning behind the choice and the trials we had with Hannah…Then it occurred to me…Why should I have to defend my choice to you?(And yes, it is a VALID choice.) I knew as a mother what amount of stress I could handle. I knew that with bottle-feeding, my husband could help (and now does ALL of the night-time feedings…I seriously scored in the husband department!) IT WORKED FOR ME. I realized that you don’t have to like my choice, because you didn’t make it…It doesn’t affect you. I have four happy and healthy children! (The bottle did not ruin them, and YES, I feel bonded to my children.) While an unpopular choice in today’s culture, it was what we needed to do for our family…to save my sanity…to get rest…it worked, whether anyone else liked it or not.
I have faced countless women who have made me feel ashamed….like I was a bad mother….like I was less of a mother than they were…(And they were doing it on purpose.) If you have gone through the judgment, the speeches, the articles people send you, the unsolicited advice, the dirty looks, the comments….I’m so sorry. No mother deserves to feel that way for making a choice that works for her and her children. Period.
Now this is NOT a post designed to say anything negative about breast-feeding…quite the contrary. I am all about moms making the choices that work FOR THEM. If you are a breastfeeding mom or even a lactivist, good for you. I’m glad you found something that works for you and your babies! If it works for you and your family, I am one hundred percent behind you! Breastfeeding is a great choice for some moms. Lots of moms I know talk about how much they love it. Some talk about how hard it is. Whether it is for you or not, it’s a valid choice…just like bottle feeding.
So, if you are a mom who bottle feeds, no matter the reason you’ve chosen to do so….I give you permission. You are NOT a bad mother. You are not an unnatural mother. You are not doing anything wrong. You are doing what works for you (and your kids will turn out just fine! Trust me!) My hope is that one day, no mom will have to suffer judgment and condemnation from other mothers, but that we can all decide to come together and support each other in the choices we’ve made. If you are a mom that feels really strongly about bottle feeding in a negative way, I would ask you to think twice before shaming or judging a bottle feeding mother. She’s not a bad person. Often, she’s gone through one heck of a trial, and may often feel pained, embarrassed, and saddened about having to bottle feed. Some mothers have simply chosen to bottle feed because it is easier for them, and are just doing what works. Let’s stand together, and allow each other the RIGHT to feed our child in whatever way we choose to. We’re all doing the best we can for our babies.
Until next time, you have my permission.
Lovely post! The key word is CHOICE. I breastfed and it was a trial at times, but it worked for me. I think we all want the same thing, healthy babies. Judging is not helpful at all. Thanks for posting this.
Preach it, sister! My daughter stopped breastfeeding at about 3 weeks old. Just. Stopped. I was devastated. I knew she might be my only one, and my only chance to breastfeed. But, I pumped for 4 months, supplemented with formula. And, we survived. Fortunately, I never was the recipient of any harassment, but sure witnessed plenty – including nurses ganging up on a new, teen mom in recovery (I was in shared recovery). Thanks for putting this out there!
Good for you for speaking out on this issue. Sometimes it seems something isn’t given enough press, only to get in the spotlight and take such a “priority” that the whole issue gets slanted the other way. I’m so sorry for what you went through with La Leche league. I have to say I am very thankful that they didn’t give up on me with my first because I very much wanted to breast feed but my baby had a weak suckle. He finally got it, after 4 days!
I have to agree with you that sometimes the sensitivity just isn’t there in this whole issue. I think I was fortunate to have the lactation consultant I had. She didn’t press me either way, but I know other moms at the same hospital who had lactation consultants at their doors every hour trying to change their minds away from bottle feeding. It IS a choice thanks to modern technology and bottles!
I’m also going to say I got some of those looks when I gave my baby a bottle of my milk when out in public several times (with my first I was much more intimidated nursing in public) and felt like I needed to speak up and other times when I was nursing my little ones I got the same looks. In both situations I felt like I needed to speak up and justify, but that wasn’t right in either case.
In so many areas I feel like I have to constantly remind myself that I’m the mom, I’m the one making the decisions I feel are best, but always feel like there is some imaginary lady I’m supposed to be like. I’m glad we have choices, to breast feed or give a bottle, to send our kiddos to public school or private, to enroll our kids in sports or not…no one else knows me or my kid or our family dynamics well enough to dare judge. So good for you speaking up on this topic!
Thank you for this post! I had to give up nursing with both of my girls. It still makes me sad thinking about it… But I know I made the right choice. I’m glad I’m not alone!
You are so welcome! Thank YOU for your support!
i LOVE this!!!! I’m so sorry for the grief people gave you over bottle feeding 🙁 that makes me SO SAD!!! I am with you on every mama making the choice about what’s best for her family!!!
I breastfed my son, but it is a HUGE pet peeve of mine when mom’s who breastfeed act like it’s the only way or make other moms feel bad or guilty for their choices. gets me so fired up!!! I’m so glad you made this post! I found your blog through a friend sharing this link, and I am your newest follower!!! 🙂
Thank you so much for your kind words of support! It means so much to me and to other bottle feeding moms to know that there are other moms out there who support us and our choices. Thanks for having our back, and welcome to Chasing Supermom!
Bekki – I applaud you for posting this. When breast feeding didn’t work for me, it was an emotional time and I felt judged, perhaps even if I really wasn’t being judged. I remember having heard you share your experiences, and the experiences shared by another bottle feeding mother helped me focus on what really mattered – my son!! Thank you for sharing!
I wrote this exact same post almost 3 years ago with my daughter. Without going into a long saga, with her I had untreated mastitis that turned into an out-of-control staph infection, both internally and externally. I have physical scarring for my attempts. With my son, I tried again…and his reflux was/is so severe we could only control it with medication and special formula. With my daughter, I cried every time I gave her a bottle for the first several days. With my son, the choice was much simpler…I couldn’t give him what he needed to thrive (and gain weight), so I changed course so that he was healthy. Simple as that. And you know what? None of my real friends, the ones who witnessed my struggle, judged me. And I have happy, HEALTHY children. You do what you have to do.
Thank you! This needs to be said and, I think, said enough that people start hearing it! I felt so guilty every time I weaned my babes. But was it because I really wanted to nurse, or because I was so concerned with what the world around me thought? I still don’t know. For me, half the time I hated it and the other half I loved it. The stress of having older kids with their own needs and school aged schedules was just too much. Also, I had my health to think of. I’ve been a mom for almost 12 years, but I’ve lived with MS for almost 17. Mama always needs to come first, or no one wins. I so enjoy your blog!
I also tried and tried to nurse my first child. We met with lactation consultants over and over again but could never get him to latch correctly. I finally gave up and ended up pumping for 8 months. Thanks for writing this post. Moms need to know that however they decide to feed their babies is perfectly fine. There is NO need to feel guilty!
wow this actually made me cry. when my baby was born i got extremely sick and couldn’t breastfeed her. I really wanted to do it, was a choice I had taken when I got pregnant. And yes it feels horrible feeding your baby a bottle in public only because of judgmental people who come up to you and ask “is that breast milk?” and give their opinion. Thank you for writing this I no longer feel alone! 🙂
EXACTLY why I wrote it! Thank you for your kind words, and know that there are many of us out there who support you.
I have 2 daughters. I went through your experience with the first baby and ended up doing bottle feeding with her. I loved it and was a huge advocate for bottle feeding and didn’t really expect to nurse the second one. To my surprise, my second one took to nursing and so I’ve gotten to have a wonderful experience with nursing too. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I experienced both and saw the benefits and difficulties of both. I came away having a wonderful experience with both.
So good to see this article, because I totally agree with you. I saw so many lactation people and had so many articles sent to me, and had phone calls from many well meaning people that just made me feel worse. I wish I had read this when I went through that with my first one. It would have helped to save some unneeded tears!
Thanks for this. I nursed my first for a year and although painful at first I hung in there and continue until his birthday. I hate breastfeeding and I never do it in public but I felt I had to do it… With my second son he screamed for 7 weeks straight, it wasnt colic it was non stop. I had no help and my doctor was an idiot. So finally I bought a can of hypo allergenic formula and gave him a bottle and he stopped screaming. I tried pumping but he still kept screaming so we just went straight to formula. It saved my life literally because for 7 weeks of a screaming baby and a toddler I felt like I was losing it! I still feel guilty because my in laws keep reminding me on how I nursed my first and he is hardly ever sick and I bottle fed my second and he is constantly getting sick. Now with my third, I am nursing her (3 weeks in) but if she has a problem with nursing, I will move her to formula as well. I think you have to do what is best for you and your child and stop caring what other people think. People dont want to see a mother nursing in public but will also give you crap about feeding your baby formula. Sometimes I feel like you cant win, so you have to do what is best for your family. 🙂
You are so welcome Holly. I know firsthand just how tough trying to breastfeed can be. I’m sorry you’ve faced the judgment and guilt trips like I have…Just know you are absolutely doing the best you can and know that all those people judging, aren’t walking in your shoes! (And you’re totally right…moms really are put into a lose-lose situation when it comes to feeding these days!)
I’m so thankful for you transparently sharing your journey. As a breastfeeding instructor for Legacy, it helps me remember the variety of experiences moms face. And yes, you have GREAT kids. I posted this to our Prenatal forum page on Facebook for my fellow instructors to read.
Thank you April, and thank you for sharing this. It is so encouraging to me to know that there are breastfeeding advocates out there who are willing to support and stand by those of us who have had struggles and/or those of us who have foregone it altogether. Having loving educators can make all the difference…maybe we would have been able to figure it out with Hannah if our lactation consultant was more like you!
THANK YOU for this article! I was going through post partum depression while trying to breastfeed my firstborn. It was a vicious cycle of baby cries, Mommy breastfeeds no-good milk because of depression, baby cries more. The DAY I switched to formula (at 6 weeks postpartum), there was quiet and peace in my home and in my mind. My daughter got to sleep. I got to sleep. And to this day I feel that it was the best decision I have ever made. I only regret that I didn’t make it sooner. The looks, comments, and believable stares are so condescending. I even had a family member tell me when my daughter was 6 months old, to try breastfeeding again.
You are so welcome. I know just how you felt that day you switched over to formula….that relief…So glad you found a choice that worked for you. Facing the judgement isn’t fun, but knowing you’re doing the best thing for your kids (and your sanity) is worth it. Thanks for reading!