Breast is best. Yes, I know that. In fact, we all know that. With all the campaigns, leaflets, brochures — it is difficult not to know the benefits of breast milk and breastfeeding.
These campaigns are great. However, they create a huge amount of pressure on us mothers. Sometimes, breastfeeding doesn’t always work out on some mothers — myself included.
I tried nursing after Baby N came out of NICU. Unfortunately, it wasn’t working. Exhausted and unable to produce, I spent many sleepless nights trying to nurse while she screamed her heart out.
I was in lactation class one day when her pediatrician came looking for me.
“Your baby is not gaining any weight. In fact, she’s losing more. We need to put her on formula. Otherwise, I can’t discharge her from the hospital.”
I gave in.
But, I was still determined.
During our stay at the confinement center, I managed to (finally) breastfeed Baby N. Not exclusively, but hey, better than nothing right? Because she was born a preemie, I was advised to put her on mixed-feeding.
When Baby N turned two months, she started to mostly be on formula. I tried, but I simply couldn’t produce according to her demand. And I still haven’t figured out why.
I felt really guilty and spent a lot of time beating myself up about it. It seems like I’ve “failed” her and myself. I still felt that way even though it wasn’t true. From the beginning of my pregnancy, I assumed I’d be breastfeeding like everybody else. But looks like that wasn’t the case.
I pumped whatever I could produce and right now, I have about 300ml of frozen breast milk for Baby N. I made peace with myself and chose to exclusively feed her with formula.
Fast forward to the present day.
(Some) mothers give me the judgemental looks whenever I pulled out a bottle instead of my breast. But hey, I shouldn’t have to justify how I feed my baby, right? Baby N is developing and thriving into a healthy, happy little person. That’s all that matters.
I’m clearly not the only mother who bottle-feeds her baby.
In an ideal world, yes, breastfeeding is the way to go. We know. Breast milk is full of antibodies, nutrition, and lifelong protections. Any amount given is a gift. But some of us are simply just not able to. Doesn’t mean we fail as mothers. We find other ways to keep our babies healthy. We’ll do anything for our children. That’s what mothers do.
I think breastfeeding is more than just the milk.
It’s about creating that special bond by holding your baby close against your body. It is the connection. It is the touch. Breastfeeding is about the feeling of relief because your child is safe in your arms.
And you can do that no matter how (or what) you feed your baby. Period.
It is a mother’s personal choice to provide formula, breast milk, or both to her baby. That choice should be respected. Try not to jump into conclusion whenever you see a mother pulling out a bottle to feed her baby. You have no idea why she’s using a bottle and honestly, it’s none of your business anyway. The judgement over not breastfeeding has to end.
I am not anti-breastfeeding or pro-formula feeding. I’ve accepted the fact that breastfeeding is not for every woman. Some choose not to for various reasons, and some (myself included) have difficulty doing it.
Right now, I’m very confident with my decision to not breastfeed my baby. I don’t have any guilt. Baby N is happy and healthy — so I don’t regret the choice I made. And of course, I like the fact that everyone can participate. Her grandma or her father can feed her while I indulge in a few moments of mom-me time 🙂
Doesn’t matter if it’s breast milk or formula. My main concern is: my baby is fed, not hungry and loved. So instead of the “Breast is Best” mantra, I choose