World Breastfeeding Week Should Include Formula

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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?
 
Answer: NOBODY 
 
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.
 
 
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Amanda Kirkman
Amanda is a "mom on the move" as the mommy of two littles and spouse of an engineer whose projects have taken the family all over the continental US. Amanda's roots are in Columbia, Missouri where she was born and raised, but at age 21 she spread her wings and moved to Honolulu, Hawaii, where she earned her Bachelors in Public Relations and Journalism from Hawaii Pacific University. Life has been ridiculously amazing for Amanda, but she's had to fight for it. In the past 10 years she has survived Crohn's disease, losing both her parents, pregnancy loss and infertility, losing her dream home to a fire, nearly losing her spouse to a sudden cardiac arrest and simultaneously she lost her colon and became an ostomate. The silver lining is Amanda has not only survived--she has thrived--continuing to manifest a life she loves and is proud of. She is transparent, raw and real with others, prizing authenticity over perfection. As a Mom Amanda is an accidental attachment parent who bought a crib and stroller but discovered she loves babywearing and bedsharing. She is not shy about breastfeeding in public. She's a stay-at-home-mom by choice and she loves kids, especially hers.

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