My dirty little secret.

My dirty little secret. We all have something we are ashamed of and don’t want to talk about, but there is a secret I have been hiding the last year that I’m going to get off my chest. I had formula in my kitchen cabinet up until three weeks ago.
This may come as a shock to some of you, considering how militant I am about breastfeeding and encouraging other mothers to revel in the bond that is breastfeeding.
Formula to me is the other F-word.- If I were to have given Atticus formula, it would have symbolized failure. Not failure, because he was consuming formula, but failure due to my inability to sacrifice myself for him. If my body was fully capable of producing milk, and I chose to feed him a medicinal feeding supplement, that would have reflected as failure in my eyes. This view of breastfeeding-failure came when I first planned on nursing my children.
I planned on breastfeeding my son far before I knew that he was a he. My mother didn’t breastfeed me, and my grandma kinda-sorta breastfed her, and it was always put off to “I don’t think she produced enough milk.” My mother just didn’t want to breastfeed, we’ve talked about it in adult life and I don’t know if she genuinely regrets that decision, but she has hinted to that feeling on more than one occasion. In any case, I knew that I was going to breastfeed.
So why did I have formula in my cabinets for so long? Well, it was partially due to the free samples I was given. I got them in the mail, at mom events and yes, I even received a newborn feeding kit during a breastfeeding seminar.
The other reason was even my pro-breastfeeding friends said over and over again that it was “ok to give him formula” and that it’s good to have some for emergencies.
Well you know what? I now have a bit of anger towards my friends. These friends should have said, “when you are struggling and sleep deprived, CALL ME.” or maybe they could have said, “breastfeeding isn’t always easy, but it’s worth every bit of effort you put in.”
If I wasn’t so determined to breastfeed, I would have given in to using formula. Kevin even asked me if we should use it. He asked me more than once and I always said “no.” Would he have asked me if the formula wasn’t in our house? Possibly, I guess, but if I wasn’t so dedicated to breastfeeding I probably would have said yes, and let him take over.
The reality is, I should have never had formula in my home. We didn’t need it and it never had a place here.
If there was an emergency and something really did happen to me, Kevin could have went out and bought formula.
Formula shouldn’t be handed out the way it is. The decision to formula feed may not be an easy one for some moms, but it is the “easy” thing to do for others. I didn’t become a mom to have an easy button, and I HATE that formula companies were even present in my home.
This isn’t about formula equating to being a bad mother or that formula is bad and breast is best, this is about the shame I felt as a mother to have formula on my cabinet and the pressure I put on myself to be exclusively breastfeed. My body is able to provide my sons nutrition and I feel passionate about breastfeeding, that is why I feel that formula would have been failure for me.

About the author

Xza Louise Higgins is the founder of MommyCon, creator of The Mommy Dialogues, and punk rock mom to two year old Atticus in the great city of Chicago, IL. She is incredibly passionate about birth options, human rights, and promoting gentle parenting practices.

No Comments

  1. Sherie Kristiansen -  October 7, 2012 - 8:36 pm

    I’ve EBF all three of my boys & each time I have kept 6 little bottles of formula for a just in case moment. I knew each time I did it I would never use them but it was reassuring if something happened to me my dh would have a small supply for our babies. I’d like to say that sometime in the future when we have baby #4 I won’t do it again but I’d probably be lying.

  2. Charlee -  October 7, 2012 - 9:06 pm

    I also received free samples but gave them away, breast feeding is still going strong thank god! I do need to mention that my mother in law said that if she could don’t all over again she would breastfeed (just from
    Watching me and seeing Bella thrive) my hubby acted sorta disappointed that he wasn’t nursed!

  3. Jessica Murphy -  October 7, 2012 - 9:30 pm

    I understand how you feel, Xza. I know that plenty of moms are okay with the decision to formula feed and this decision is obviously a highly personal one, but I look back and see those “samples” I got and feel nothing but disdain now. I sent them to a friend who used that brand, but the fact that they sat on my counter for months really bothers me.
    I have always had milk in the freezer, so that was never an issue for us. The issue is unfair marketing. I hate that as a new mom I kept it around “just in case.” If I hadn’t had the support that I do, I would have fed it to my littles. And I didn’t want to. But when I was in my darkest breastfeeding place I considered it. Jed told me that our babies deserved all my effort and he was right. They did.
    It’s the parents’ decision to feed a baby formula, and that’s fine as long as it’s what the parents want. I hate that formula companies undermine breastfeeding efforts with their “just in case” samples though. It’s despicable.

  4. Aimee -  October 15, 2012 - 2:13 pm

    It’s not really the end of the world that there is formula in your house. You should not feel “guilty”. It’s not like you gave in and used it when you said you didn’t want to. If that’s the worst thing you have done and felt guilty about, then more power to you. I was unable to breast feed. My son was born with pneumonia and we didn’t realize until he was a day or two old. He then spent 8 days in the NICU. He wouldn’t latch on because he couldn’t breath. I saw 4 different lactation specialists who told me the same things and it just wasn’t happening. I pumped for almost 3 months and stopped producing milk and I had to switch to formula. My son is going to be one soon and he is perfectly fine. He’s smart and healthy and thriving. There is nothing wrong with having it for “back up” or “just in case”.

    • Aimee -  October 15, 2012 - 2:14 pm

      And to each his own, but if a woman chooses to use formula and not breast feed it is their choice and there is nothing wrong with it. If you choose to EBF, that’s wonderful for you and your child. Many children are very much bonded to their child still despite being formula or bottle fed.

  5. Nicole -  November 12, 2012 - 10:31 am

    I’d just like to throw my 2 cents in. My daughter was born sept 7,2011 weighing in at 9lb 15oz and 22in long. We came home from the hospital that Friday. Saturday my in laws came over and cooked us dinner and watched some football. My milk had not came in yet due to my c section. My SIL said Ava was not getting enough milk from me and so my hubby went out and got 1 container of formula. She only had formula that 1 day and I just cried and cried. That next day my milk came in full force and I did not give her formula again until I decided to wean her at 10mo. I was just done. Done done done. Now she is a happy healthy 14 mo and I don’t regret doing what I did. Also my SIL bf both her kids the last one til he was 2.5.

  6. Gabriella -  November 12, 2012 - 10:49 am

    I have of sample of formula that was sent to me in the mail on my counter. I wish someone would take it. I don’t want to throw it away because it’s something that can keep a baby alive. Not MY baby but someone’s. For me, breastfeeding was not a choice. It is my duty and responsibility to my child. There is NOTHING that will stand in my way except maybe death. 😛 I had to stop nursing for a week because of some medicine I was given but my child still did not get formula. I’m proud of myself that that can has been sitting there since he was 3 weeks old and hasn’t been touched. It’s almost like motivation. A reminder of how important this journey is to me. Almost 3 months down, at LEAST 15 more to go!

  7. Jessica -  November 12, 2012 - 10:57 am

    I have been thinking about this for the past few days. I’ve been getting so angry at the formula companies because I feel that they push their products on new mothers. They create a doubt in new moms that maybe their milk isn’t good enough and maybe they should give their baby formula. I’ve also gotten angry at friends and family for telling me that I’m crazy for breastfeeding because formula is so much easier and breastfeeding is indecent. But if I try to defend myself then they get offended and say that I’m belittling them for using formula with their children. And that’s not the case at all! While I passionately believe that breast is absolutely best, I support a woman’s right to choose how she feeds her baby. And I often feel like my choice to breastfeed isn’t respected by my friends and family and it infuriates me! I am so so glad you made this post. I share your dirty little secret and I’m going right this minute to throw out the sample packs of formula that are tucked away in my cabinet.

  8. Zahra -  November 12, 2012 - 7:08 pm

    I didn’t get any free samples, but I did get coupons for a free containers of free powdered formula. What I did was give it away close to Christmas when all the major networks do a joint effort to fundraise and get money for organizations that give food for poor people. Around here, they try to get a box together for families that need it for Christmas. I figured that the company had given me the coupons to use them, so I did. If it went to a mom who needed it, all the better. If it went to a women’s shelter, all the better. I didn’t need it anyway.

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