It’s World Breastfeeding Week and I always struggle with how to talk about breastfeeding without alienating Moms who formula feed. I really believe breastfeeding is ideal, but fed is best. And Moms tend to take it ultra personally. But I want to reframe how we view breastfeeding and formula feeding. I want to offer a new perspective that is accepting and supportive and realistic.
So I pose a question: Who gives their child THE VERY BEST of everything–every.single.thing–100% of the time?
Everybody has to make choices. All day. Every day. And in those moments we do the best we can. We don’t strive for perfection in every action we take.
I want Moms (especially new and expecting Moms) to really look at and understand how much of our lives fall into the categories of “Fine”, “Ok” and “Acceptable”. And we are at peace with it.
Except with breastfeeding vs. formula. There is this black-and-white stigma. No gray area. Either you breastfeed or you formula feed.
But what about doing BOTH?
You can do both.
This very viable and realistic option is not talked about enough.
One of the platforms of World Breastfeeding Week 2020 is the worldwide need for more educated lactation consultants and medical practitioners. There are a lot of uneducated or poorly educated and very biased people–medical practitioners–giving women very bad advice about breastfeeding. And even the good practitioners are trained to support women to exclusively breastfeed and caution them that bottle feeding will hurt their baby’s latch and supply.
When we live so much of our lives in “gray area”, why is it still breastfeeding or formula when it can be breastfeeding and formula?
I did both.
My baby was not gaining enough weight, I needed to supplement, and I could not pump enough milk to exclusively breastfeed. The lactation consultants were championing me to try to achieve a full supply, regardless how unrealistic it was for me to feed and pump 24/7. The (female) pediatricians were suggesting I should just switch to formula, regardless that I was striving to breastfeed and had a pretty good supply that fell just a few ounces short. I was stressed and felt misunderstood and unsupported from both sides. I had to figure out how to combine breastfeeding and formula feeding with pitifully little guidance or support–everyone was telling me to pick one or the other.
But I did it. And lots of other mothers have done it. And plenty more would also choose this option–if we helped guide them and support them.
I’m here to tell you that if you want to breastfeed and you only pump an ounce per day, that doesn’t mean you need to quit. That ounce is valuable. Consider it like you are feeding your baby a vitamin–good things come in small packages.
I’m also here to tell you that formula is not the enemy. If breastfeeding doesn’t work for you, it’s ok! Your baby is fed and loved. Maybe the trade-off is a less stressed, happier, healthier more present Mama, and that is everything. YOU matter too.
I would love to see more women find a way to breastfeed that works for them.
I would love for formula feeding mothers to feel that breastfeeding is inclusive of formula.
I would also love to see new and improved varieties of formula is the US (European formulas are far superior) so that formula feeding Moms have more options.
We can improve breastfeeding outcomes and work towards increasing the variety and quality of formulas simbiotically.
These goals are not mutually exclusive–or at least they shouldn’t be.
World Breastfeeding Week should include formula.