Long before I got pregnant, I had already made my decision. I would only be using formula to feed my future child. I never once reconsidered my choice. It is just one of those things I have always known I would do. I had no clue what a big deal other people would make of my decision and how guilty they would try to make me feel. But, I quickly began to understand the term “mom guilt” and its meaning.
Countless women throughout my pregnancy made comments like: “Are you sure you do not want to try?” or “Will you at least try to do colostrum?” or “You can exclusively pump if you are not comfortable with baby feeding directly from you!” It got to the point I would not even talk about what I was doing. It is one of the main things people asked me about after I actually had my son. When I gave them my answer, I could always tell that they judged me 99% of the time. Only a few said, “Good for you. I wish I had done that!”
It is so odd that how a woman feeds her child can be so controversial. I dried up my milk as soon as it came in and gave my son a bottle with formula from the beginning.
Why I Don’t Feel Guilty For Using Formula
Here are some reasons I do not feel guilty for using formula.
Anyone can feed my child.
This alone takes so much pressure off of me as a mom. Anyone can feed my son, be it my husband, grandparents, or caregiver. This means I do not necessarily have to be present for every feeding session. It also means my husband and I could easily take turns getting up at night to feed the baby so we can both get sleep. I can also leave the house anytime to run an errand or enjoy time with friends without strategically scheduling it due to feeds.
My body can be mine again.
They always say pregnancy is 9 months. Truthfully, though, if you count the weeks, it is 10 months. Then if you go past your baby’s due date, we are talking about just shy of an entire year. You give up your body for almost a year to grow and nurture another human (or multiple humans!).
Even if you have a relatively easy pregnancy without complications, it is still no walk in the park. Each pregnancy typically comes with some uncomfortable moments, especially toward the end of pregnancy. Toward the end of mine, my ankles swelled no matter what I did. My ribcage on the right side constantly ached due to my son burrowing into that area. I remember looking forward to relief from both of those situations. I did not want to put my body through more possible discomfort when recovering from giving birth and caring for a newborn.
It is no secret what and how much they are eating.
Baby formula is measured by ounces, so you can easily see exactly how much they take in. It is also easier to know what might be causing the discomfort in a newborn since you can read the label on the formula and decide if one of the ingredients might be the culprit. You can switch to another one and try something else in that instance.
I can eat, drink, and take whatever medication I need to.
Some foods and drinks may cause reflux, an allergic reaction, or upset stomachs for some babies. After a pregnancy full of restricted items, I looked forward to returning to consuming some of them. It also meant I could take any medications needed without worrying if I would pass them to my baby. Cosmetic enhancements like Botox and fillers are also back on the table if you enjoy doing that!
It takes away at least one source of anxiety.
Knowing I could “buy” my food supply for my newborn quickly removed at least one anxious concern. I could get it at a store down the road or even have it delivered to my home. I didn’t have to worry about whether my baby was getting enough, why they weren’t latching, or when/how much to pump. Being there 100% for my baby was made possible mentally and physically by using formula to feed him.
I bond with my baby in other ways.
Breastfeeding is just one of many ways a mom can bond with her child. We bond over snuggles, skin-to-skin time when he was brand new, and one-on-one time together. I don’t feel like I have any less of a bond than any other mom with my son.
My son is now 9 months old and is thriving! He has been consistently in the highest percentiles for height. He sleeps well at night and is a content, happy baby! Is formula the reason for these things? Maybe. Maybe not. But having a mom who feels her best mentally and physically because of her feeding choice does not hurt! Regardless of how you choose to feed your baby, whether formula or breastfeeding, be confident and proud of that choice while remembering that “fed is best!”