Formula Feeding; Needing My Body Back

When discussing breastfeeding, we nearly always focus on the physical element. We talk about how to overcome physiological challenges of mother and/or baby in order to develop successful breastfeeding for all involved.

But what if our issues stemmed from emotional barriers? Thoughts and feelings that consume a mother to their very core and are far more ingrained than simply ‘snapping out of it’ or ‘try to push past it’. What if a mother’s commitment to provide breastmilk prevented her from getting the help she desperately needs?

Discoverelle is a member of The Suicide Girls, a gorgeous woman living her life as a new mother, sharing her journey on Instagram. We stumbled across a wonderful post she uploaded yesterday and fell in love with her completely open and honest words. She speaks truth. She doesn’t hide away from controversy and simply strives to be the best mother she can be.

Here’s her story:

Why I chose to formula feed.

This post has been a long time coming. Until now I honestly wasn’t quite sure how to put it into words without sounding selfish, or like an ungrateful mother, but I think I now have a better understanding of why I made this decision.

Before getting pregnant, and throughout my entire pregnancy, I was 100% pro-breastfeeding. I never really understood why a woman would choose to formula feed their baby. If mom has a good milk supply, why would she bother spending money on formula, bottles and all of the other things associated with formula-fed bottle-fed babies? I figured I would breastfeed in public and have no problems with latching, because isn’t that what they tell us? That babies are born knowing how to latch/ breastfeed?

In addition to breastfeeding, I knew I was going to pump. I wanted my husband to also be able to bond over mealtimes, so I was determined to pump whenever I could to build up a milk stash. That was my plan, and I had full intentions of doing all of those things, but guess what? The minute I was wheeled into my postpartum room I must have had a serious hormone crash because I didn’t want to do a single thing associated with the baby. Changing his diaper? No way. Giving him a bath? Not a chance! BREASTFEEDING? Are you crazy?! Thankfully, I had my husband with me the entire time to do all of those things.. including feeding the baby formula.

Fast forward to 2 months later when my son had been bottle-fed pumped breastmilk for the first 8 weeks of his life. At that point he began eating more than I could pump, and cleaned out what was stored in my freezer, which was A LOT. We didn’t have any other choice but to switch to formula, because even if I wanted to breastfeed, I couldn’t. My son was born with a tongue tie and lip tie and couldn’t latch. I think I acted as if I was super disappointed that I had to stop pumping, but truthfully I was overjoyed.

It was only today when I was speaking to @strangerashleys about why she chose to formula feed her daughter that I realized why I also made that decision. She explained to me that she has a problem with people hanging onto her, and that she was worried that might interfere with breastfeeding. She also mentioned that her anxiety goes through the roof when she’s not in control of a situation, or if she’s feels stuck and unable to just walk away for a bit. There were a couple of other reasons she listed, but these few really resonated with me.

It finally made total sense as to why I chose not to continue breastfeeding. I could never put those reasons into words. Maybe it was because I was still feeling guilty for choosing ‘me’ over ‘him’ and didn’t want to talk about it, but with my postpartum anxiety being at an all time high, I feel now it is best to talk and write about it.

Breastfeeding would have meant I‘d literally have a human attached to my body for twenty, thirty minutes-maybe even longer considering the size of my child-everyday, multiple times a day. That in and of itself is terrifying to me. My body is mine, and yes I shared it for ten months, but I needed to take it back to start mending it. I needed to get back to being me so I could be the best mom for my son.

Breastfeeding would NOT have been an option for me because the antidepressants I’m taking are not safe for breastfeeding moms. Saying this no longer makes me feel like a selfish mother.

What it does make me feel is proud. Proud that I chose to do what was best for me, instead of what MIGHT have been best for my son. If I had ignored my body and chose to breastfeed, I would be without the medications I’m taking now, which are very slowly helping me be a better me, a better mom and a better wife (even though it doesn’t always look like it).

So thank you formula for being invented because without you, my baby might have been breastfed, but he also might have had a depressed, suicidal mother who wasn’t allowed to take medications to help herself.”

We’ve said it before and we will keep on saying it until every new mother knows that there is absolutely no shame in formula feeding. There is no shame in doing what is needed to keep you healthy. We need to ensure the mother and her wellbeing is of equal importance to her baby’s. Infant feeding campaigns are currently heavily focused on ‘what’s best for baby’. It’s time we take a look at the bigger picture and support mothers who make choices for the greater good of the family. A fed baby with a doting mother will always thrive; whether it’s with breastmilk or a breastmilk substitute.

You can find Discoverelle on Instagram and on her website

Thank you for being brave and talking about the emotions so many mums feel, with many suffering in silence.