My (Unnecessary) Guilt about Supplementing with Formula
Throughout my pregnancy, one thing that I knew for sure was that I wanted to breastfeed. When my daughter was born, she latched on like a champ. We were fortunate in that neither of us ever showed signs that it wasn’t going to work out. I pumped every time after she ate, and although it was usually only an ounce, I bagged it up and would proudly put it in the freezer.
It was around the time that she was 4 months old she stopped wanting to nurse before bed. It was a constant battle of her latching on and off with a lot of crying (from both of us). After an hour, sometimes more, I would give in and give her a bottle from the freezer stash. And it worked every time; there was no fighting and she fell asleep so much easier. But soon my stash dwindled and I was not able to pump nearly enough to keep up. Then one day…it was gone. Every last ounce was gone and I felt like the biggest failure in the world.
I can’t even express the amount of guilt, depression and anxiety I had by not being able to provide her with my milk. In my head I was like “I’m a stay-at-home mom. My only job is to provide for her, and I have failed.” I reached out to La Leche League and a local support group and was told not to formula supplement because it would initiate the cycle of needing more formula. So for the next month I spent hours trying to get her to fall asleep without a bottle. And meanwhile I was losing my mind because I didn’t have enough milk to be able to leave her with anybody else for a short while, so in essence I was stuck in my own terrible cycle anyway.
Through tears, I researched formula and found a brand that I was comfortable with. Through more tears (this time just mine), I gave her her first bottle of formula, and she drank every last drop and fell peacefully asleep. I felt shame and for no good reason at all because I was feeding my daughter. She was happy, healthy, and fed. Formula took away the stress and anxiety I had from only being able to pump an ounce at a time. I stopped losing sleep over my measly stash and I was still able to breastfeed her for every other feed throughout the day.
We still formula supplement and am thankful we are also going nearly 9 months strong with breastfeeding. It took me a minute, but I realize formula wasn’t anything to be afraid of or feel guilt over after all.
Lisa is a babywearing, breastfeeding, cloth-diapering mama who now happily formula supplements.