Formula Feeders Love Their Babies (It's True!)

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mom and twinsYou know the dirty words -- most of them are four letters long and super fun to use to punctuate sentences (if you're a potty mouth). But there is one word, featuring seven letters, that sets off the alarms in mothers everywhere even worse than the c-word and it's (whisper now) formula. It doesn't matter if you breastfeed or mix a powder in a bottle or go for the liquid stuff, formula triggers some insane reactions. Some for good reason, some for pure evil, but all of it comes with a whole lot of misunderstanding.

I'm happily in the breastfeeding camp. I'm all set up with my Fenugreek, and oatmeal cookies, and pretty nursing bra from Target with the easy snaps so I can nurse my 13 month old twins.

I was also in the formula camp. Not as happy there with all the bottles to clean. But as a working mom with twins to feed and not enough milk to pump I did what I had to do.

I stand by both camps and yet both camps really piss me off sometimes.

There were times, I felt like a terrible excuse for a mother because I couldn't make enough breastmilk to feed my babies. I felt less than a woman. Damaged. I would get annoyed when I would read about some moms speaking to other moms about where they went wrong when they failed at exclusive breastfeeding. I did everything I could do within my power and ability to EBF my twins. I felt like a failure that I couldn't. I got secretly mad at women who produced a lot of milk and then stopped nursing at three months. Why couldn't I have her production level?! So along with the breastmilk I was able to pump while at work, my babies had -- shhh -- formula. And despite what some might think, I'm very close friends with some of the loudest lactivists out there. And I think I am one, too. Even though some might reject me.

There was a part of me that was jealous of moms who could produce five ounces of breastmilk in one 20 minute pump session. Why couldn't I? What was I doing wrong? Turns out ... nothing at all. I have one breast that is a good producer, and another that never wanted to make much more than an ounce.

The guilt of motherhood -- no one warned me about this!!

Just like every baby is unique and their needs are different, so is every mom, so is every mom's breastfeeding issue they may or may not encounter. With every new issue I faced, I read books and talked to people -- lactation counselors, lactivists, La Leche League leaders, women who have breastfed for years. I also have a husband who is extremely supportive (some do have issues with lending "their" breasts to their kids). So I was lucky. And through the help of all of that, I'm still breastfeeding despite the fact that some people in my extended my family think it's really weird.

My twins are entering the toddler years and don't need formula anymore (thank God!) -- it's just solids and breastmilk, no more possible (ready for it?) synthetic poison. Which leads me to that. Exactly that. The synthetic poison comments, which stung me so bad, made me feel like a monster of a mom for having to give my twins formula even though I had to. And it was comments like that which made me get really mad at EBF moms. It's not always what they said, but HOW they said it. Formula CAN be bad. The industry isn't regulated enough and that is a HUGE problem. Moms who breastfeed could go a little easier on the language used when pointing it out. And moms who formula feed shouldn't be mad at the moms who point out that formula can be bad (as long as they don't throw daggers when they do it).

New moms are sensitive creatures. Our hormones are raging. Sometimes we feel vulnerable and most of us are trying to do the very best that we can.

With all the possible obstacles, there is also the back to work and pumping issue. I've got a job that created a room for me to pump in, and the flexibility to pump when I needed to. They even bought me a pump (well the generous gift card they all chipped in to give me purchased it). But not every working mom has that. Doctors, nurses, teachers, receptionists, store clerks, waitresses -- these workers and many other professions can't consistently set time aside to pump. Some moms have to go back to work right after baby. This is one of the reasons our breastfeeding rates are low.

It shouldn't be the breastfeeding camp versus the formula camp. Both sides have unique knowledge and issues to face and we should really all be fighting for more benefits for working moms and stricter rules to make better and safer formula for those of us who have to use it. We should all be careful of the words we use because they hurt, attacking us moms where we feel most vulnerable -- at our ability to BE a mom.

Let's not let the bigger issue get lost in the heat of the breastfeeding mom versus formula mom battle. Not all formula feeding moms are bad moms just like not all breastfeeding moms are good moms. 

Have you ever felt like I have felt? Which camp do you stand in?

 

Image via Michele Zipp

breastfeeding, formula, natural parenting

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mommix4 mommix4

I bf my boys for a gew weeks but never tried with my girls. Never felt guilty and I'm just as "bonded" with all of them. I'm all for bf if you can and want to. I never knew it was such a debate until I joined cm last year.I guess I had enough confidence in myself not to care what others thought and I never asked what others thought!

mommix4 mommix4

Oops that was a few weeks not gew weeks!

ethan... ethans_momma06

I'm in the EBF camp, but you know... I think there is a lot of misunderstanding when someone is vocal about some of the negatives that come with FF. It's not the mom's I have a problem with- as you said there are fantastic wonderful loving mothers in BOTH groups. I have big issues with the current product and annoyance that it is almost too taboo to talk about which makes 'fixing' it (or progressing) nearly impossible.


There is just a lot of emotion tied up into it... ff'ing can be a rocky emotional choice, and bfing can be the same.

ivans... ivansmom07

Love it, Michelle. You know I stand right there with you. I was fortunate enough to get over the hump, dealing with latching issues and then the whole pumping at work ordeal. My son also got the F word a few times during his first month of life. We survived and he self weaned two weeks before he turned two. I encourage everyone to breastfeed but will never doubt their love based on one single thing.

tis.u... tis.unnatural

Thank you for this article! I want nothing more than to EBF my three-and-a-half-month-old son, but I work full time and, try as I might, I just can't produce enough milk (even with my $100/month domperidone prescription). I'm trying, and he gets mostly breast milk, but I just can't produce enough. I've been feeling horrible about it, mostly because of all the terrible things I've read and been told about formula and the "bad" mothers who use it. Something as simple as feeding my son shouldn't have to be so difficult and emotional.  

rocks... rockstarmom2b

TRUE lactavists don't hate moms, we LOVE THEM! We want the best for mom and baby, there's not a true lactavist out there that would condemn you for your NEED of formula.

Most of us WANT AND DEMAND better standards, ingredients, and TRUTH from formula companies. When it REALLY doesn't make us any difference in the long run because we BREASTFEED! So why do we write, fight, and debate when it doesn't make US PERSONALLY any difference? Because we LOVE MOMS AND BABIES!

I love you Michelle and neither I nor any of us will condemn you for doing what you needed to do.

spenc... spencersmum

I desperately wanted to EBF, but it seemed, despite all of the lactation consultants, supplements and many books I read, I still couldn't produce enough, nor did my boys gain enough weight. They actually lost a LOT of weight in the first few weeks, causing me to have to go in for weekly weigh ins with the pediatrician. When I first heard "possible failure to thrive" with my first child, I burst into tears. I felt like a failure. I hated formula, but I felt like it was best for me to supplement. I breastfed first, then "topped them off" with formula.


It took me awhile to come to terms with formula feeding, but I think my post-gastric-bypass body just couldn't supply all of the necessary nutrients. I only get angry with "lactivists" when they act like I didn't try hard enough, or even presume to know how my vastly different body works. And I admit, that after dealing with comments about my "scrawny" children, and "don't you feed that boy?", I get a little envious of seeing chubby, EBF babies, but I'll just have to deal with that. What matters most is despite my "inadequacies" as a woman, my boys are healthy and bonded to me.


Thank you for your article. It's been awhile since I could relate tosomething written on CM. (:

thedg... thedgoddess

I am in both camps. As a person who exclusively breast fed and had no problems at all (other than mastitis from oversupply problems because even though my kids were the fattest babies ever they still didn't nurse enough!) I am pro breastfeeding. But I also think there is a time and place for formula. My sister had massive issues and her kid had failure to thrive and she did use a supplemental nurser with formula. But she made sure she fed that kid liquid gold.


Parents have to do their research with formula. You can't just buy the cheapest crap. You have to look into it and research it and figure out which one is best for you.  Just like with Bfing, you have to be educated. Doing it blindly is just silly.


This is a great article. And I htink you are right, folks from both camps need to chill the eff out!

nonmember avatar Katherine

I am also in both camps, I exclusively feed from the breast when I am home and pump as much as possible at work but there just isn't enough time in the work day to pump as much as my growing girl drinks under my mothers care. I come up about 5 oz short or one bottle. I have had to suplement. One of the biggest reasons I chose to BF was the bonding which I still give as I am exclusive when present and I never feed her from a bottle myself only my mother or her daddy because I want her to know that mommy feeds her from mommy. That is the biggest issue with the camp wars I believe, activists are focusing too much on the pumping and not enough on the bonding. Was I furious when a Dr carelessly prescribed a non BF friendly med yes, and my Father in Law said it is just formula it won't kill her one night. The formula was not the issue it was that I couldn't feed her for 24 hours or nurse her to sleep like I have since I birthed her, however I purchase my can of soy based formula that lasts me all week without feeling and ounce of guilt because I am doing all I can and in the end BF is still are special time together. It is like the "Family Meal" you can have the healthiest money can buy on the table but it doesn't mean a hill of beans unless you sit together to eat...

Amber Dawn

I breastfeed and make homemade formula for the days my 7 month old goes to daycare.

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