Note: I started writing this awhile ago and honestly forgot about it, but in light of the recent story about the new mom who ended her life because of the pressure she felt to breastfeed, I decided I should actually finish and publish this one. Remember, if you are feeling the stress as a new mom to do what society dictates, that at the end of the day, FED IS BEST! Whether breast, formula, pump, however you can nourish your child without causing stress is the best way for you! I’m always here to talk too. Just send me a message if you feel there’s nowhere else to turn! I’ve done it all!
My take on the ‘normalize breastfeeding’ viral photo trend comes with a bottle. Why, you ask? Read on!
I’m sure I’ve already written it somewhere in a previous post, but in case I haven’t, I am an exclusive pumper (‘EP’er). This means that to nourish my child, my handy dandy breast pumps and I set to work to prep bottles for a ravenous little mouth. Double, triple (quadruple?) the work…remove milk, put into bottles, sterilize pump parts, feed baby, sterilize bottles, repeat. Crazy as it sounds, this is what has decidedly works best in our house.
This crazy notion was certainly never my first choice (for any of the three kiddos). I was able to breastfeed our first for a few months until he refused…so I pumped and supplemented with formula when needed. Baby Bird was the laziest feeder ever so I pumped…up to 60oz a day and we donated unused milk to 9 other babies in need. Sprout started out so well but refused since she constantly choked due to crazy flow, so I pumped…this time maxing out at 120 oz every day. I donated to 5 other littles this time too and our freezer is full! This amounts to a collective 30+ months of being attached to my pump at the….well.
It is very real part of motherhood (at least in Canada) to feel the pressure to breastfeed. And rightfully so with all of the research hailing the benefits. I looked into everything before Moose was born, planning to EBF. There are supports in place, workshops, support groups, meetings, books, blogs, websites all hailing the importance of breastfeeding. But all of these groups focus on the au naturale version. I’ve tried to fit in with these groups, often greeted with looks of pity or or confusion. Why wouldn’t I just naturally breastfeed my child? Wow, I must be crazy to pump for that long! Which formula do you supplement with? Maybe I should just try again, that I did a…b…c…. wrong the first thousand times I tried. No thanks. I don’t need to be greeted with the pity party. I’ll just lock myself away and pump over here, thanks.
On that note, the HUGE normalize breastfeeding campaign that has taken the world and my social media feeds by storm, while well-intended, is a constant reminder to ‘other’ feeders, that they are considered second-rate. Or, it really comes off that way anyway. Formula feeders are generally accepted in public (aside from the similar pity looks). There are super cool gadgets for formula now and if you are out in public and you have to mix a bottle of formula? No problem. If you have to breastfeed in public? There is some backlash but that becoming less and less. No problem. Is it considered normal or natural or acceptable for me to whip out my pump at the park? At a restaurant? Not on your life. Guess what? The lonely pumper is still sitting in a bathroom stall with a bag of sterilized gear if stuck out in public for an extended period of time. We are left sitting in vehicles while the rest of the family enjoys their time at the park. We are forced to excuse ourselves from events to take care of business Does anyone make a fuss or create positive memes about pumpers? Nope! Not that I’m saying I really want to be all strapped in while at a formal event, but still. As well, workplaces are required to provide a place for breastfeeding moms to pump at work. Cool. I’m an elementary school teacher. Extra places to do such activities are pretty darned hard to come by, so I hide in my vehicle at recess. Good times. Glamorous even!
There are support groups, mail-in coupon programs, websites, even programs where special gifts are given for baby age milestones for formula feeders as well. It’s been tempting, especially this time with three littles needing my attention, to jump on the formula bandwagon, but since my body is still working to create ‘liquid gold’, and frankly, I’d rather not add the expense of formula to our budget, I’ve continued on. Even my husband has asked why I don’t just quit. Anyone who has been down this road knows that cold turkey quitting isn’t really a good option, unless mastitis and blocked ducts sounds fun to you! No? I agree.
I am supportive of every type of feeding. Feed your kids! That’s all! Do whatever is best for your family with no judgement! You don’t need to pity someone else for their feeding situation. Perhaps it was a choice they’ve made primarily without it being a last resort! Perhaps not! We are feeding our kids. Babies are growing and developing. Breastfed and bottle fed kids will grow up to be friends, do the same activities and reach milestones. You are doing what’s best for you! Take care of yourself! If you need support, whether breast, pump, formula feeding, I’m here in this venue! I will not judge, won’t give advice if you don’t want it, but I promise to listen! We all need support! I’m here for you!