Controversial I know. But hear me out.
Breast is best, every woman knows this but breast is only best if your body works how it’s supposed to work.
Mine didn’t. With either child.
With Aria I was only able to feed her till she was 5 weeks old.
Hours after she was born I developed a rash all over. At first it felt like a heat rash, given she was born in a heat wave it wouldn’t have been a leap to assume the red pin pricks popping up all over were anything other than a heat rash. However, a cool shower and staying out of the heat did nothing and the rash actually got worse. By this point I was covered in tiny blisters and I was so uncomfortable with it that I couldn’t physically hold her to feed. It was around 4 days postpartum that I was diagnosed as having an allergic reaction to the diclofenac (pain meds) and given treatment.
Side note: I developed the same rash while pregnant with Roman, and it turns out it’s actually called dyshidrotic eczema cause by extreme hormone changes. I’m basically allergic to being pregnant.
Anyway, by the time the treatment had done away with the hellish rash Aria was established on a bottle and expressing was becoming harder and harder to maintain. Expressing isn’t something you should really do before you’re got an established feeding pattern but I had no choice. There’s no way I could have a hot sweaty baby laying across or even right next to my very itchy skin. All breastfeeding Mamas will know how important it is to be comfortable while feeding so that baby gets the best feed they possibly can. Neither of us could get comfortable. She couldn’t get latched on because we were both fidgety and there was a mutual giving up. For my sanity and her health I had to substitute the breast for the bottle.
She was five weeks old when I was no longer able to express.
With Roman I didn’t even produce milk until he was 5 days old, by which time he’d already established a feeding routine and was doing well on formula. He actually refused the breast. I tried expressing, knowing I needed to give him breast milk some how but it only lasted a week before milk production stopped and he was back on to formula full time again.
It didn’t help that he wasn’t with me for the first 48 hours of his life because sepsis decided he had to spend his first 2 days of live in NICU.
Not only that but I never the morning sickness never went away so I ended up losing weight throughout the pregnancy. I was in no physical state to feed him.
So what options would you have given a mother like myself? A mother who was literally unable to feed her babies? Would you have let them starve? Or would you have given them formula?
Bear in mind that donated breast milk wasn’t available for either of them when you answer this. By the way, I think donated breast milk is a fucking fabulous idea and if you’ve got any spare breast milk you should see if the local maternity wards could do with it. You can find out more about becoming a breast milk donor here http://www.ukamb.org/donate-milk/.
There are so many reasons a woman may be using formula. Maybe she’s adopted or had to use a surrogate. Maybe her wife is the biological Mother. Maybe she’s had a mastectomy. You simply do not know someone’s story by just looking at them.
There’s been a bit of a thing since Roman was born calling for health warnings to be plastered across the packaging of formula cartons, a kin to those on cigarette packets but the huge difference is that smoking never saved anyone’s life; formula has. My two children are a testament to that.
All the nutritional information, allergens and ingredients as well as health warnings and a paragraph advocating for breast feeding are all already on the formula cartons. You don’t need to make them bigger.
Not only that but being a new mum is hard enough without shaming them on the front of a formula carton and telling them how they’re about to harm their child.
Breast may be the best way to feed you child but do not compromise your mental and physical well being pushing yourself to do it.
Breast is great, but alive and healthy is better, and if that means your child is formula fed, more power to you.