Should moms feel guilty about formula feeding?

Should moms feel guilty about formula feeding?

The other day when I was scrolling through my Facebook timeline, I couldn’t help but open an article from Parents Magazine called “Millennial Moms Choose Formula Feeding for Convenience.” The article was fairly short and it stayed very much on the surface not really touching on to any details. Here is a quick summary of its key points:

  • A formula brand surveyed moms in 2017 on their baby feeding habits
  • Formula feeding has increased a lot
  • While the vast majority of moms over 35 feels guilty about formula feeding, the majority of moms 34 and younger does not feel guilty about giving their baby formula
  • The nr. 1 reason that the moms stated for formula feeding is convenience 
  • Moms reported that they would breastfeed if their maternity leave was longer, and moms with multiple children were less likely to breastfeed
  • The article concludes by stating that breastfeeding is beneficial but that the world is not making it easy for moms to do so due to short maternity leaves (or the lack thereof), nursing shamers, and lack of provision for pumping moms
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 I felt like this article left a lot to be desired. Without a doubt, the real reason why so many women turn to formula is that society expects mothers to go back like nothing happened after they had a baby. The word “convenience” is completely misplaced in my opinion. Convenience is when you order food because you do not feel like cooking, or when you do not clean up because you rather want to chill. Modern society making it impossible for mothers to do it all can hardly be considered convenient. It boggles my mind that this article emphasizes how millennial moms do not feel guilty about formula feeding. It is the society that should feel guilty about the way moms are being treated nowadays. There are several reasons why moms may not breastfeed and there is absolutely no reason to feel guilty about it:

Breastfeeding is extremely challenging for working moms

A lot of families nowadays depend on both parents’ income. Hence, many mothers nowadays do not have the luxury of staying home with the child/children even if they would want to. The U.S. is the only developed country that does not offer paid maternity leave and the allowed amount of non-paid leave is only a meager three months. Most European countries offer paid maternity leaves ranging from anywhere between 6 months and 2 years. Before 2020, working from home was not a common thing. So, if moms who breastfeed go back to work 3 months or less after giving birth that means they will rely heavily on pumping. Needless to say that it is a huge sacrifice moms make by leaving their little baby with someone else to go back to work while being sleep deprived (most babies do not sleep through the night at that age and getting ready in the morning with a newborn takes extra time which means less zzz’s for mom). But pumping is a huge ordeal. Having to pack the pump every day with its gazillion pieces in order to take it to work makes you waste a lot of precious time in the morning. But not only that, it is very uncomfortable and time-consuming to take a break from work every 2-3 hours to pump for at least 20 minutes and then wash the individual pump parts every single time. I would not even consider my situation the worst since my office was able to provide me a private room with a connected bathroom where I was able to wash my pump. I would take storing bags (which are pricy by the way) and ice-packs to keep the extracted milk as well as a microwavable sterilizing bag. However, I still found it extremely challenging and exhausting. So I cannot even imagine what these poor women have to go through who work in shared offices with worse conditions. Hence, the word “convenience” is very out of place. It is almost impossible to perform at work while doing the excruciating pumping at the same time. This is why I believe a lot of working moms resort to formula. Additionally, breast milk production is a supply and demand kind of thing. Since babies extract the milk most efficiently, pumping also lowers the milk supply which brings me to the next point. 

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Milk supply issues

Exclusively breastfeeding is very difficult for a lot of reasons. Society puts a lot of pressure on moms regarding nursing. Before I was a mom, I vowed that I would exclusively breastfeed given that breastmilk has so many benefits. But when I gave birth my son was born coombs positive with low bilirubin levels so I was encouraged to give him formula to get the bilirubin out of his system. Then at home, after not having slept for days, I took my husband up on the offer to take some of the nightshifts. Skipping several nursing sessions at night also led to a decrease in my supply. When I was researching methods on how to increase your milk supply, I was surprised how many women there are who have serious issues with their milk supply. I would have never thought that after seeing women bragging on Instagram about their freezers full of pumped milk, that there are so many women with a low milk supply.

Hence, it is safe to say that exclusively nursing, as much as moms would want to, is not the easiest thing to do. I did actually feel guilty about not being able to exclusively nurse. But looking back, I realize I did what I could. Now, I have a healthy and smart 2.5-year-old and I do not feel that nursing him exclusively would have changed anything. I encourage every young mom to not feel guilty about her choices. Motherhood is tough and we do the best we can.

If you are a new or expecting mom, I highly recommend you check out Baby and Sunshine and their wonderful, high-quality products for mom and baby. Whether you decide to nurse, they offer a variety of beautiful and useful items. But if you do nurse or pump, you will find their amazing nursing bras and clothes as well as pumping bras in their collection. Baby and Sunshine empowers and supports other moms by collaborating with other small mom-owned businesses. They even have a Facebook group where Mompreneurs get to connect and support each other. Thank you, Baby and Sunshine, for sponsoring this post.

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Breastfeeding – completely natural but not necessarily easy

Breastfeeding – completely natural but not necessarily easy

Breastfeeding is without a doubt one of the best ways for a mom to bond with her child. Not only that but it is also extremely beneficial for the child’s immune system. Before I had my child, I was committed to exclusively nurse my son. I thought it would come naturally and didn’t understand why other women wouldn’t be doing it. While it may be completely natural, it is not necessarily easy. Like with so many things, expectation before giving birth and reality after giving birth turned out to be two different things. I had extreme difficulties nursing my baby at the beginning. I much later found out that my son had a lip tie which contributed to that. Moreover, it didn’t necessary help that I constantly had visitors at the hospital and at my home. I’m not the type of person that likes to be naked in front of other people and I feel like that these are intimate moments that should be enjoyed in private. In the hospital, I at least had the help of lactation consultants when my baby wouldn’t latch on. However, when I first came home with my baby, I had my entire family-in-law waiting at my home for me. I could have really used some time to settle in and figure things out with our newest addition to the family. The stress of having to breastfeed with an entire audience for the first time made me so nervous that I didn’t succeed. My baby threw a major fit and would not latch on. I felt like such a failure as a mom and that whole experience left me so traumatized that every time I tried to nurse after that, my baby boy just wouldn’t latch on so I resorted to pumping. However, I did have a success a few days later. Since I know so many moms out there are struggling with breastfeeding, I would like to give some tips on what to do and also reflect on what I would have done differently retrospectively:

  1. Lots of bonding and skin-to-skin

Like mentioned above, I had a terrible start to my breastfeeding journey which was so disappointing for me. I thought it would come so natural to me but because of several factors it didn’t. After difficulties at the beginning, I would also be afraid he wouldn’t latch before I even started feeding him that it became a self-fulfilling prophecy. But at some point I became determined that a rocky start wouldn’t determine the future anymore. After all, a lion mom doesn’t need a lactation consultant and knows what to do. So why should it be any different from a human mom. I decided to become a lioness. I did lots and lots of skin to skin with my baby in peace when no one except maybe my husband is as around. It was important to me to bond with him and for him to feel safe on my chest. I gave him little massages after bath time to relax him. And one rainy day when I was alone with him on the couch doing skin-to-skin, it just happened. He started nursing again and from then on, it wasn’t an issue anymore. I highly recommend getting as comfortable as possible for feedings. A good nursing pillow can help you and the baby. Moreover, you can still re-purpose it later for tummy time or a sitting pillow. Additionally, I would recommend get a few good nursing bras without a wire so your milk can flow properly. It is definitely recommended to get more than one in case any accidents such as leaking or baby spit-ups happen. Baby and Sunshine has amazing nursing bras even some with padding which I totally love.

Nursing bra from Baby and Sunshine

2. The benefits of pumping

Pumping certainly is a great way to get all the precious nutrients of breastmilk to your child when you are not around or when you have difficulties nursing. It is a bit tedious since it involves constantly cleaning and sterilizing pump parts and the bottle you use to fill in the milk. You should do it every 2 hours at the beginning and then once you have a good milk supply you can go over to pumping every 3 to four hours. Therefore, it is great that you have the ability for your partner or someone else to take over the feedings if you are ever gone longer than that time frame. It is also great for working moms. It is required by law that women are provided at area at work where they can pump. You can either bring a bag with ice-packs or store it in the company’s fridge. Moreover, there are microwave bags you can sterilize your pump parts in. Additionally, pumping is a great way to increase you milk supply. A lot of women like to pump one side while nursing the baby on the other side. Or they pump in between feeding to signal to their body that more milk is needed. Milk production works like supply and demand. Your body produces the amount of milk your body needs. If you skip feeding and pumping while giving them formula, it signals your body that your baby needs less and it lowers your supply. Hence, the more you subtract milk via nursing or pumping, the more your body will produce. Since I was such an avid pumper, my number 1 must have was a great pumping bra. Pumping can get extremely time-consuming and tedious. Thus, you want to be able to pump hands-free. I would pump at least 20 minutes every 3 hours. The pumping bra was holding the pump for me so I was able to eat, work, write blog posts, scroll the phone and pretty much every time that can be done sitting.

Pumping bra from Baby and Sunshine

3. Set boundaries

One of the lessons I learned from my last experience of having kids is to set boundaries. The first time around I thought I would have to make everyone else happy, however this came at the expense of my mental and physical well-being and affected my ability to nurse my child. You simply cannot pour from an empty cup and you already go through enough stress and exhaustion with a newborn baby. You really do not need anyone adding to it. If you do like to nurse in front of other people, make sure to either send people out of the room or go to another room. Limit visiting times to 30 minutes. And quite frankly, if you feel visitors interfere too much with your privacy and your ability to bond with your baby, limit them all together. Maybe people would be very understanding if you expressed how you feel to them. And if they don’t, that’s their problems and not yours. I know for a fact, that next time I wouldn’t be willing to constantly put myself in uncomfortable positions. If you do like to have visitors and actually find them helpful, then of course, this is completely up to you. I remember that I would never really know what to wear because I wanted to be presentable and comfortable at the same time. Next day, I would definitely opt for one of the super cute Baby and Sunshine dresses made for nursing moms.

Nursing friendly dress from Baby and Sunshine

I hope these tips were helpful to you and your breastfeeding journey. You got this, mom! And remember: whatever decision YOU make for your baby is the right decision. If you are committed to breastfeed, you have plenty of resources, besides being provided a lactation consultant in the hospital, there are also free La Leche League help groups in almost every area. Like mentioned above, having the right gear definitely helps. Check out Baby and Sunshine and all of their awesome items they have. You will love the premium quality and softness of the clothes and your little one will, too.