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 authorXza
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.