Days of Milk and Formula

Sol is visibly plumping up. I am so, so relieved. It took him a few days to get used to the bottle, but it turns out our doctor was right: supplementing with formula has made this problem vanish.

I was struck by the fact that every mother who left me messages of support, to say they had been in the same position, also talked about how hard it had been to confront the stigma that surrounds formula, and the sense that anything less than exclusive breastfeeding makes you a Bad Mom. There is a whole industry out there that has a vested interest in pushing the “breast is best” philosophy to an irrational extreme: “the lactation-commercial-industrial complex,” as my BFF calls it. It’s like the crunchy-granola mirror of the formula companies—I mean, those are still more evil, but at this point they are less insidious.

Every mom in my demographic can reel off the studies: breastfeeding makes healthier babies, even smarter babies. (It doesn’t, actually, but never mind.) And of course we want the best for our babies, so women are quite literally torturing themselves in a struggle to live up to the breastfeeding ideal. I had one friend, whose baby was prone to a painful latch, describe to me how she would spend each nursing session weeping from the pain. Another, who spent a small fortune on lactation consultants and breast pumps, told me that her failure to exclusively breastfeed made her feel like she wasn’t a real mother to her baby.

This is crazy, and cruel. There’s no One Right Way to be a mom, and while nursing is lovely, formula is fine too. I’m still nursing Sol a lot, but I don’t feel the least bit ashamed of giving him a bottle as well. I’m just glad that he’s getting what he needs to grow.

8 Responses to “Days of Milk and Formula”

  • Amy K Says:

    I’m so happy for you and for your soon-to-be thriving, pump Sol. Switching to formula was one of the most unnecessarily difficult decisions I’ve ever made. I felt absolutely wretched about it … until I switched. Almost immediately after I felt an overwhelming sense of relief. It was the best decision for all of us, including Mark because it allowed him to bond in that special way with her as well. Yes, breast is best, except when it’s not. 🙂

    • Shannon Phillips Says:

      Thank you, Amy! Your experience was one of the ones that struck me, especially what you said about LLL types putting a guilt trip on you when you’d just come out of a medically induced coma!

  • Megan Says:

    Yay, plump babies! Watch out for large cats from Oz.

  • Nina Says:

    I’m so glad that Sol is plumping up, and that you have wisely managed to avoid the crazy, crazy self-recriminations that seem to be come free with each purchase of formula.

    So after we abjectly failed Breastfeeding 101, and went on to scrape by with a D in Pumping 101, I was determined that I could still attachment-parent the hell out of this kid, right? So I dutifully purchased and read a book about cosleeping. I won’t link to it, because I don’t want to give it publicity, but it’s the most popular cosleeping book out there. I cracked it open and learned that cosleeping promotes health and bonding and everything good, but that you’re only allowed to do it if you breastfeed. Because otherwise you lack the instinctive connection to your baby, and will smother him with your obliviously non-lactating body.

    Incidentally, this same author also holds that the baby shouldn’t sleep on the side of the similarly non-connected father for the same reasons. Only lactating mothers.

    If we’d listened to him, we would have missed out on one of the most delicious parenting experiences in existence.

    Okay, apparently I was just dying to off-gas that.

  • Nonna Terry Says:

    Hello Sweetie,
    I tried nursing all three of my babies and was an absolute failure. My babies lost weight. Although breast feeding is good and I have always applauded Mom’s who were successful,I knew for my children to thrive I would have to switch to formula. I felt quilt at first and than I felt a great deal of relief. On a side note Pappy loved being able to give the babies their bottles. There is no absolute right way of doing anything in this life and Sam turned out ok.
    Love you! You are a wonderful Mother.
    Nonna Terry

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