I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately because I recently wrote an article on breastfeeding for another site, and one of the comments thanked me for not demonizing formula-feeding moms. I think it’s pretty sad that there are women out there who will tear apart another mom for something so personal as the decision whether to use formula or breastfeed her own baby. I was so shamed by my decision (note I said shamed, not ashamed) that I just started telling people it wasn’t possible for me to breastfeed because Jacob was a preemie and I was really sick. While this did play a large role in it (I had originally planned to at least pump for a few weeks), my decision was made long before I even saw two lines on the little “hey, you’re pregnant!” pee stick.
My reasons for that decision are my own, and I’m not comfortable sharing them with others, but the fact it, it was MY decision to make. Before Jake was born, a member of some sort of local breastfeeding advocacy group called my house and basically told me I would be breastfeeding and they would be there to support me. When I told her I was planning to formula feed, she was outraged. Literally outraged. She asked me why and I told her my reasons were personal. She told me “get over it then!” I stuck to my decision, and she basically screamed at me, telling me that my baby was more likely to get sick and die because of my decision. By the end of the conversation, I was practically bawling on the floor and feeling like the crappiest mom alive, and my kid wasn’t even born yet! What a horrible, rotten, crappy thing to do to anyone, let alone a hormonal pregnant woman! That incident alone caused me to run and hide from anyone who even mentioned the word “breastfeeding.”
When I was in the hospital after giving birth to Jake at 32 weeks, I was on medication for my preeclampsia and blood pressure, pain killers for the c-section (although I only took them at night) and anti-anxiety medication when I flew into a massive panic attack over the whole situation. One of the techs in charge of monitoring my vital signs asked me what I planned to do. I told her I was going to formula feed and practically cowed under my blankets waiting for the backlash that I imagined was coming. She was the first person who told me my decision was perfectly fine and my son would survive it unscathed. He was on special formula at the time, so I didn’t even end up pumping because I was concerned about all the meds I was on and what not.
Six years later, Jacob remains a happy, healthy child. He’s normal weight, normal height, and exhibits an above-average intelligence in many areas. In these past six years, he’s had a grand total of two minor ear infections, a bought of seasonal allergies that lasted a few months last year, and about three colds, none of which were severe enough to put even the slightest damper on his massive amount of energy. Oh, and the stomach bug once. When he goes for his annual physical, his doctor always says “we’ll see him next year since he never gets sick!” I want to throw his nearly perfect medical record in the face of that nasty wench who had me bawling on the floor all those years ago and scream “you were wrong!”
The point is, all you moms out there who chose or will choose to formula feed- don’t let anyone put you down or make you feel less adequate for it. Anyone who would put your down for your decision isn’t worth your time anyway.