*disclaimer: longer post than I usually have up*
Not going to lie, writing this post took me a bit out of my comfort zone and I keep asking myself WHY. Well the truth is, women and society can be really judgmental when it comes to the way your baby is fed.
Breast is best. Bottle is better. Fed is best.
Best breast shmest fest.
With June, I breastfed exclusively for only 8 weeks. My postpartum anxiety was completely out of control and in order for me to get it in control, I needed to right my body & mind. While I went into motherhood completely blind and with intentions to nurse June until she was 1 (it will be a breeze I had thought), my anxiety was taking a toll on my mental health causing my supply to drop. Also, quality bonding time between us was suffering as I suffered through feedings.
The mom-guilt, back and forth questioning of my decision to stop and utter conflict was debilitating. Would we bond? Would she be constantly sick? Would people judge me? However, I finally silenced the noise and unsolicited opinions and made the best decision I could for me and my baby. I knew I didn’t want to completely give up so I continued to pump for about 3 months more.
I ate all the oatmeal, drank all the tea and would spoon teaspoons of brewers yeast into things praying it would just go down because that stuff is disgusting. My supply increased and I was able to accumulate a supply of frozen milk to supplement with formula until she was 7 months old.
She is completely healthy, has no allergies and was always happily full & content. Most importantly, mama’s postpartum anxiety started to dwindle and I was able to find joy in motherhood, not just stressing over feedings. Silencing the noise of intense pro-breastfeeding people or rude women, finally put me at ease.
When I found out I was pregnant with Will, I knew this time around I would try to breastfeed and if it spiked my anxiety or caused any mental conflict I would stop immediately. Every baby is different so I wanted to make sure I at least tried.
I didn’t like it any better than I did my first time around. I still suffered through those initial feedings as my body adjusted & he figured it out. It was easier in the sense where I didn’t have the devil on my shoulder yelling at me that I must power through or else all the terrible XYZ things would happen to my child if he had formula. In fact, he had 10mL of formula the 2nd night of his life because mama needed to sleep.
Our nursing experience was much calmer than with June. I nursed him until about 4 months. When COVID happened and I was working at home with 2 under 2, time just did not allow for nursing every 2 1/2 – 3 hours so I started to pump more. Bryan would bottle feed him and a new routine just happened.
I continued to nurse him at night until one night he just screamed bloody murder until we gave him a bottle. Thereafter, he wouldn’t nurse anymore. He preferred the bottle. Now while this tugged massively at my heart, which surprised me given I was never a fan of nursing, he was happier with bottles of breastmilk.
I continued to pump and accumulate such an intense supply that we actually had to buy a deep freeze LOL. I pumped for about a month straight and once our freezer was packed I weaned.
Will was able to get full breastmilk bottles until he recently turned 9 months, minus his bedtime bottle of formula that kept him full longer. My goal was always 6 months so to get to 9 was amazing.
When I pulled out that last frozen bag, my heart strings were tugged again. However, this time in a different way. I was so proud of myself for not letting the noise get to me. With Will I didn’t experience post-partum anxiety and I think a lot of that is contributing to doing what was best for my son and me instead of what “I was supposed to do”.
To all the future moms, new moms, moms experiencing breastfeeding woes, mom guilt or overall struggling, do not listen to anyone else except you. Your motherly instinct will guide you. Follow it and don’t look back. Breast. Bottle. Both. It does not matter. Your mental state and health of your baby is top priority. Whatever it is you choose to do, you are doing an amazing job!