Look, I get it. Breastfeeding is scientifically the best for your baby. It’s told to us repeatedly in the hospital, by our OBs and by everyone on Facebook. If you choose not to breastfeed for whatever reason, you’re generally met by snide comments about how you didn’t try hard enough and “oh, your poor baby!” It’s easy to see why so many women become depressed and anxious when they struggle with breastfeeding or switch to formula. I definitely felt the same way at first.
When I was 38 weeks pregnant I broke my wrist. Worst timing possible, and it happened in one of the most ridiculous ways ever. As a result, I had a brace that kept my wrist immobilized but I was able to take it off for showers and such. When my son was born, I had a hell of a time getting him to latch. I was chesty before I got pregnant, so I had a lot to work with and only one good hand to try to hold my child and get my nipple in the right place for him to latch properly. It usually ended up taking a nurse or a lactation consultant to help, and by the time he would get latched an hour later he would be so upset he’d pop right off. By day two, I was getting more and more upset. I finally gave in at 4 in the morning after we had tried for an hour and a half to get him to latch properly. We were both exhausted and crying and the nurse, who was extremely helpful and tried her best, could tell I was going to crack. So we gave him his first bottle. And guess what? He’s fine. He’s now an 11 week old healthy happy baby who is formula fed.
I won’t lie, I felt like a failure at first. I had all these plans to breastfeed and not use formula. I tried to pump when we got home, but my milk never fully came in and, while I fed him the little bit I was able to pump, he was still starving and needed formula afterward. Post-Partum Depression hit pretty hard, too, and I spent a lot of time dwelling on the fact that I took the easy way out by not breastfeeding. Nevermind the fact that my wrist was in a brace until 2 weeks ago and I physically could not get him into the proper position to latch. I should have tried harder, I should have kept pumping, I’m selfish and awful. I started to feel better about my decision after his pediatrician appointments, where he was ranging at or above average on his growth charts. I realized that, for my mental health, formula feeding was actually the best choice. I am able to have my fiance feed the baby and not have to worry when I leave the house for an appointment or want to sleep in. I get to sleep a little longer because he isn’t up every 2 hours or wanting to cluster feed for several hours at a time. I don’t feel touched out yet because he isn’t on me 24/7 for feedings. So yes, scientifically breast is best, but not at the cost of your sanity. Formula is quickly catching up to the quality of breastmilk, and as long as your baby is fed, that is all that matters.