So I’m sure you’ve seen those beautiful tree of life photos going around social media, sort of like the one I have posted here but slightly different since mine is of a bottle and not a breast. Those pictures are supposed to represent the way a mother is able to feed her child through her, give the child life with all of her nutrients. Also, what I took from those photos is that they show a relationship and bond between mother and baby.
Breast feeding, in my opinion, is one of the most challenging things a mother faces in the very beginning. For some moms, it’s easy. The baby latches on right away and she produces the exact amount the baby needs, sometimes too much! For other moms, its draining and difficult. It isn’t as natural as they thought. Some have to use a nipple shield, some can’t stand the pain, some can’t get baby to latch, and some can’t produce enough at all. I was apart of that group. The mom that really did try, but maybe not hard enough. At the hospital, I knew I wanted to attempt to breast feed. I went to the classes, I read about it, and I thought.. this has got to be easy! It’s natural, I make milk to feed my baby, I GOT THIS! Boy was I wrong.
The baby had a weak latch, so for this reason, the nurses at the hospital woke me up every hour to feed for as long as I possibly could. Watched me latch him on, watched his little mouth try his best to get what he could, watched me pump right after, weighed the baby, then all over again! Boy was it draining. But I knew nothing worth having comes easy, so I continued to try and try. Finally a lactation nurse came around and gave me a nipple shield. I thought this was going to be the light at the end of the tunnel!
Nope! Finally home and it was tough to say the least. Lucas was dropping weight like crazy and I needed to supplement. I tried to pump, eat the oatmeal and flaxseed, latch him whenever possible, bought tons of nipple shields to have them on demand just in case, went to lactation classes, tried to pump (I hated pumping), took Brewers yeast even but it was never enough. Supplementing with formula was what helped my little guy strive.
Formula feeding is not easy either, I think this was more stressful than breast feeding! Finding the right formula, one without crazy ingredients and chemicals, one that the baby likes, one that doesn’t cause constipation and spit up.. the list goes on. I researched day and night, tried a few different formulas, got heat from my pediatrician and family about which formulas I’m using. I even got into arguments with my boyfriend over this! It was stressful, still is actually. Lucas was constipated and visually uncomfortable. He would cry and push and strain, he would wiggle and spit up and sometimes not poop for days. I went to see a GI, an allergist, his doctor a few times without success.. finally we found a formula that although isn’t perfect or easy to get, it’s got a few more pros than cons so we went with it.
I think these pictures of breast feeding mothers are absolutely beautiful, I can’t help but to feel a little sadness and regret though. For mothers that were where I was, it’s tough for us to cope with the fact that we failed at something that should’ve been so natural. But, we didn’t fail. Our children are being fed regardless and we are doing what we feel is best for them. Doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks or says about it, you are mom and you are wonderful. I’m in a formula feeding mom group on Facebook (not cheesy at all!) and the amount of support you see in there is amazing. Believe it or not, there’s a lot of formula feeding shamers out there. I’ve read that we are killing our babies by giving formula, I even read that formula causes mental illness. I mean that to me is insane. Enough to make us moms feel even more guilty.
I want you moms out there that formula feed not to ever feel guilty. We are great mothers. We are feeding our children and loving on them the best way we know how. We are connecting and bonding with them because we are holding them close while we feed and sometimes I get to stare into my babies eyes, I’m sure you all do too ! I love that someone made that picture for me because that’s exactly what it portrays. Feeding your child is giving them life! So please mommas, don’t ever feel bad about it! Let’s continue to support those breast feeding moms to normalize breast feeding and also support those formula feeding moms to feel acceptance and less guilt.
If you ever need someone to talk to about any guilt you feel, I’m here! But there are also some great support groups out there too. Find whatever you can to help you feel better. A happy mom makes a happy baby and a fed baby is a happy baby!