Don’t Hate Me Because I Don’t Breastfeed

This is one of those that I’ve debated writing and wondered how to approach this subject, but after much thought I feel like it’s a valid and “postable” subject that we should talk about and maybe…just maybe I’ll reach someone out there that needs encouragement today, even if it does open myself to a little scrutiny.

What I’m about to tell you may shock you….

I am not breastfeeding my newborn.

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Yep. You heard right. I live smack dab in the middle of au natural-Asheville and I have chosen not to breastfeed. Although this wasn’t my plan from the get-go, I did plan on a bottle/breast combo platter.  After about a week of breastfeeding and bottle feeding, Vera started refusing to latch on. I realize that this was probably as a result of giving her a bottle early instead of getting her fully established as a breastfeeder, but regardless, latching was a feat for days.  My mom was still here to help and love on me during this time. Through tears and heaps of mommy guilt, she walked beside me as I chose to throw in the towel.

I felt tons of guilt initially, as if I was instantly some careless mother that would just as easily put Coke in a bottle as give up a mother’s perfectly concocted milk.  I realized though after beating myself up that what I really felt bad about is what other moms would think of me. Now let’s not be painting a picture of Alicia as the president of the Le Leche club, but I did breastfeed my other babies…not for an overly long amount of time, less than a year for each, but I did breastfeed before. I felt like I was part of that club.

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I realized my limits and I knew I needed to stay within those limits. As I was sweating and wrestling with a screaming 7-day old infant that just. wanted. to. eat. something, I decided enough was enough. I could so much easier just give her a bottle and make her happy. I knew my mom was leaving soon and Jarrod was going back to work. I knew that I’d be alone with four kids, all of them needing something unique.  I knew, for me, I would be stretching myself further than I could be stretched even if Vera’s latching issues were resolved.

Today Vera is six weeks old. She is healthy and happy. I feel confident in my decision to formula feed my baby. There have been moments in the last six weeks where I have gotten raised eyebrows from other mamas, yes, but I’m still confident in my decision.  I have sat beside mamas with their happily suckling babe at a restaurant and smiled back at her stares while I shook my 4-ounces of Enfamil…and I’m still confident.

I have lots of friends, most of them are mothers. Mothers from all over the spectrum of baby-feeding: from never breastfeeding a day in their child’s life to breastfeeding till their kids are three.  Regardless of their choices on how to feed their children, I love them all and they still love me, even though my decision might be different than theirs.

The message I’m trying to give is this: this mama-gig is hard enough as it is. Let’s love on each other rather than raise our eyebrows. Let’s cheer lead one another rather than pick apart the little things. And also? Lets not pick apart ourselves either…especially on this particular thing. Because what my mom convinced me of is that no one else has to feed your baby…nobody but you.  There’s times where you have to push and do things that are really tough. And there are times when you need to realize your limitations and accept that.

Let’s love on some mamas today.

32 Comments

  1. Amen, Mama! My babies all survived bottle feeding just fine, are quite intelligent, and bonded to me as a mama. Enjoy that baby and big siblings. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. i breastfed some and bottle fed some. i felt guilty because i didn't choose to breastfeed and even when i was done with my first one i felt guilty giving her formula…so crazy! all of them did very well and honestly i could tell no diff…the plus about bottle feeding was i could share the feeding and i didn't feel glued to the chair every two hours while they nursed for like EVER….lol! i know bad mom…i don't care anymore….doing good momma doing good…xo

  3. wonderful post!!
    I let go of the guilt early on with Camila — nursing was so stressful for me and the baby. and when I'm stressed out the entire household starts falling apart ๐Ÿ™‚

    We are all doing the best we can, let's be there for each other and love and support each other! ๐Ÿ™‚

    and i love all your babies. xoxo

  4. Someone here wrote "To each their own." and I couldn't agree more. Everyone has their reasons in either direction. Let's honor that. Too bad some mommies feel it's their God-given right to criticize. Personally I doubt God is critical that way. Lynn

  5. And this is why I love coming to your sweet and honest blog. You keep it real. Love your perspective and appreciate your candor.
    May God continue to bless your journey…
    Blessings…
    Susan
    @SugarBeans.org

  6. you're awesome.
    I like you bc you are learning to do what is right for YOU, which makes our babies, no matter how old they are, more content and less stressed.

    She's growing so fast…already 6 weeks old!!

  7. Hi there, visiting from a link over at Homemaker Design…

    Your sweet little girl is adorable! You're brave to post on this subject…I do believe in the importance of breastfeeding if possible but if it's not working I think a baby would prefer formula and a mom who's less stressed!

  8. I just found your blog today. And I LOVE it!!! It is really a God-send! I needed the breath of fresh air from another wife/mom. Thanks for writing!

  9. Good for you. A very similar thing happened to me with my first. I was able to pump for every feeding back then since I had no other littles around. You do hit a wall sometimes where you just have to throw in the towel and do whats best form everyone. You want to enjoy this time not worry about baby weight gain or painful latch on issues. I get ya. Do what ya gotta I always say:) thanks for sharing.

  10. Just the other day another mother asked if I was worried for Josiah since he didn't breastfeed (obviously). I had to just laugh. Partly because it was a ridiculous question and also because I look at my thriving boy, the one who is kind-hearted, smart as a whip, and has never EVER been to the doctor except for annual well child checks….and I see a miracle. God's creation. The one I was so dang blessed to feed with those glorious bottles.

    Cheers to Miss Vera. And you. xoxo

  11. Never did, never wanted to, never regretted it. We have to do what we're comfortable with. It's a hard hard job. No need to do something if it's a struggle or uncomfortable. Why make life more stressful. Proud of you momma!

  12. Oh. my … this baby is adorable.

    Bravo, Alicia.

    I have done both and both were great. (Oddly, it is my daughter that I nursed for 2 years that has all of the allergies. Go figure.)

    Happy parenting.

    fondly,
    Glenda

  13. Alicia, great post and so honest! It is true…breast feeding is not natural and easy for everyone. I adopted my first, so breast feeding was not an option for me. Then i had a unexpected miracle pregnancy and I was thrilled to be able to experience breastfeeding! Well…not so! He had to stay in the hospital because of feeding issues and needed to be on a feeding tube for a few days. then we had to bottle feed because he was not able to suck right away. I tried breastfeeding and pumping for about three months and I finally gave it up because of the stress it was causing me! Just not worth it! So happy that you an Vera are happy…that is the way it is supposed to be!

  14. This is a great post, Alicia! And I'm happy for you do that you did what was best for your family.

    With my oldest two, because they were in the hospital for months, were both breastfeed and bottlefed. And even after they came home they both needed high calorie formula feedings a few times a day, etc. So yeah, we did both!

    Miss Vera Mae is blessed to have a momma who is more concerned about doing what's best for her than about what people think! =)

  15. I so understand what you're saying. My two children found it hard to latch on and so after a few weeks of spending hours trying to feed and having hungry, unsatisfied babies, I decided that the bottle would be best. They both grew up happy and healthy and smart! Be confident and happy, you've made a decision that works for you and lovely little Vera. Have a lovely week.

  16. What an awesome post! Thanks for being brave and posting this! You are indeed in the land of "crunchy" ๐Ÿ™‚ and are such an inspiration to admit you were more worried about what others would think. You aren't afraid to be real and that's why we love coming to visit each day! I feel the same about Becky at Farm Girl Paints! Thanks for being honest and vulnerable! You're awesome! Ps I tried breast feeding all three of my girls. The first was so difficult (latch issues too) and I was so overwhelmed by a difficult delivery, healing and my new life that I just cried with guilt. I remember my mom saying to me "your quality of life is important too." the phrase "if momma ain't happy ain't nobody happy!" never rang so true!

  17. Girl, I so so get this. My babies never latched. Never. I felt like a mess and a failure. Then our Pediatrician said that we live in a fallen world so natural things don't always work perfectly like we think they should. That freed me from so much guilt. You are doing it just like you should – doing what's best for your family! There's no guilt in that.

  18. I was a miserable mom trying to exclusively breastfeed my twins because other people made me feel like formula was poison. My wonderful doctor suggested I give them two formula bottles a day and let someone else have a turn so I could rest. Best advice ever! I also didthat with my third, it was nice to let daddy have a turn with the feeding too. Healthy babies come from healthy mamas, and you need to do whatever works to make sure you are the healthiest and happiest mama for your babies.

  19. Wonderful post and everything is so true! I have 5 and pregnant with #6 and with each of them always said I would breast feed them as long as we are BOTH happy! With our first I had painful thrush that just wouldn't clear up so I decided to pump. And can you imagine the guilt people gave me over giving the baby breast milk in a bottle?! Shame on them. I've never been able to breast feed for a full year- my milk supply dips way too much by 6-10 months. I'm just happy I have been able to breastfeed each of them even if it were just a little bit because I know some people can't and want to.Enjoy your baby and the love you give her!

  20. I didn't breast feed either of mine and they are now 20 and 17 and healthy! Not my cup of tea – to each his own – good for you sweet momma! xo

  21. Thank you for this post. I adopted both my kids and actually tried to breastfeed the first, without success. The other day, a friend who is adamant about breastfeeding, started quoting me statistics about how babies who aren't breastfed have lower IQs, etc. I couldn't believe someone could be so insensitive! Not every mother is able to breastfeed and it's not up to other women to judge them.

  22. No judgement here! I love how open and honest you are too.Mommy guilt can be so awful! I had to bottle feed my youngest from the get go because I was on blood pressure meds. The stares I got from people were terrible. I really believe though, that it is more important for baby to have a happy mom. Keep doing what you are doing!

  23. Amen! Being a Mama is hard enough…I just don't understand all the criticism from the world, especially other Mamas. We are the ones graciously and uniquely hand picked by God to be our kiddos Mamas. And by golly, we are doing the best we can…and that's pretty great! I sometimes find it easier to stand up for what I feel strongly about and harder to love those critics. I guess we are all growing and learning each day. I'm proud of you for following your instincts and being a wonderful Mama to your four kiddos. It is obvious how much joy is found in your home, and that is what matters. Thanks for the encouragement for us other Mamas making those daily decisions to do what's right for our families. (P.S. Love the pic of your girls…so sweet!)

  24. Well girlfriend, you just do what you have to do to get by!! No judgement here… I did both… I did what worked at the time for each child. If it makes mama happy… everyone's gonna be happy!! LOL

    And her precious little face is smiling at me from my fridge right now. ๐Ÿ™‚

  25. Love your heart Alicia…no judging here my friend. We are all doing the best we can and what comes easy for some mama's is not so easy for others. We do live in a day and age where an eyebrow is raised at almost every parenting decision we make. I am experiencing that right now with my decision to home school. I see the looks and whispers….judging me. But what I am confident about is I am doing what is best for MY FAMILY. No one else's. I know what we can handle, I know what my kids need. Go mama, whip out that bottle with pride, you are doing an amazing job!

  26. You know, I used to be one of those people who when I saw a mom give a baby formula I would think, Why doesn't she just breastfeed? But then I had kids. And now I know why! There are so many reasons and what I learned is that it is OKAY no matter what you decided to feed your baby. My first little guy would freak out when it came time to BF so I pumped my milk for six months and then I said, enough. ANd he got formula. My next little guy was born 6 weeks early and couldn't BF because his little mouth couldn't handle it. So I now pump my milk and give him formula. I have a toddler and an infant and I'm not going to beat myself up for this. I just can't judge mommies anymore because as a mom you just need to do what it takes to be the best mom for your kiddos. Thanks for writing this and being honest, because I know there are other moms out there who feel guilty and need to know that it's okay, whatever they choose to do.

  27. No judgement here friend! I bottle fed all three of my girls and guess what? The two that are in school are both in the gifted program. Smart little cookies! Mommy guilt is the worst though. We have to do what we feel is best in the end. I did try with my first child, but it was a nightmare. I never understood why something that was supposed to be so natural and beautiful was so difficult! Anyway, you are an amazing mamma, which you already know, and so gracious for sharing this with us! xoxo Jen

  28. Yea! Great post! It's hard enough being a mama without worrying what other mamas are thinking about us.

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