Disclaimer: I don’t intend for this to be a rant, but I have a feeling that despite my best intentions it just might be a rant, because there’s a lot to rant about on this sensitive topic!
I breastfed my first 10 children; what a blessing it was that it came easy. It was smooth and simple. I dealt with thrush here and there, D-MER by a few, but nothing that was unmanageable.
I breastfed because it worked. It was convenient. And I knew it was good for my babies too.
Along came baby 11 and boy did things change. While my labor and delivery went smoothly, post delivery did not.
While I was severely ill with a life threatening condition in the Trauma ICU, my newborn baby daughter was nourished by formula. She was cuddled and fed by my husband, with support from hospital staff and family. And my baby was content.
As I recovered, I learned something new. When your body is losing tremendous amounts of blood and in severe distress – your body shifts all its attention to saving the heart and brain – “the essentials” – and the “not as important” parts of the body begin to shut down. I suffered from multiple organ failure and my body fought to save my brain and heart. And what I also learned was that even within the brain itself, all the blood is focused on the vital parts; and the part of the brain that is responsible for milk production; that’s in the luxury department, and it therefore loses its production.
With an abundance of miracles, I survived, my organs recovered and my heart and brain are fully intact.
And my body never produced any milk. Period.
My body was too busy saving me.
My wonderful nurses tried pumping and doing what they could to help, hoping to stimulate the production, even before I was aware of what was going on. But it was not possible.
Eight days after birth, I finally understood what was going on. I was terribly weak, unable to walk, sit or stand yet; I had weeks of recuperation ahead of me, my milk was nowhere to be seen, and my baby was contently drinking down her bottle and gaining weight.
And in that moment I knew; my baby didn’t need my breast milk. My baby needed me.
And we are so blessed to live in a time when not only is there formula available, but there’s an abundance of options too.
And I look back at the paper in my hand.
What are you trying to do?!
I can smell the propaganda a mile away.
Why are you trying to scare vulnerable moms?
Why are you inducing guilt upon innocent women who want the best for their babies and make choices uniquely for them?
What is the point of this?
Formula is SAVING LIVES.
It saves the mother and it saves the baby.
Absolutely no one other than the mother herself can decide what works for her.
The most important thing is: the baby is being fed! Yes, that IS the most important thing!
Is the document trying to say the benefits of breastfeeding? Go right ahead, do that and educate – but without making formula into the evil enemy. Nursing can be good and formula can be good. They can coexist.
You might say that my situation was extreme – the paper certainly wasn’t referring to my situation. Of course formula is ok in my circumstances! It’s not like I had another option.
But no, it doesn’t need to be a life threatening situation for formula to be the right choice.
For me, reading that paper – when I had no choice – was infuriating.
For any postpartum mother, in the most vulnerable and sensitive time when making a personal decision to formula feed – reading this pamphlet could be the piece to throw her over the edge.
This is not helpful. This passive aggressive tormenting of mothers who formula feed has got to stop.
There is no replacement for a healthy mother. Thankfully, there is a replacement for breastmilk. We are so blessed.