The Decision to Breast or Bottle Feed
We had been married exactly one month the day I found out I was pregnant with my daughter Audrey. We were excited and surprised all at the same time. I knew right away that I wanted to have a natural childbirth. I unfortunately cannot tolerate most medications especially pain so I embarked on a journey with The Bradley Method.
Along with natural childbirth I wanted to breastfeed my child. All of my close friends were able to and I had read every book on the topic so I felt confident in my ability to do so. In fact, we didn’t even buy a single bottle for Audrey ahead of time. She came a week early and I delivered her naturally and had amazing skin-to-skin time and she latched right away.
Unfortunately, every latch beyond that was not as blissful and amazing. Audrey was constantly nursing. I would pass her off to my husband to go to the bathroom and then we were back at it. Worst of all, she wasn’t gaining weight. The pediatrician said to stick with it. By day 5, she gained some weight. I felt like a hero. But that elation waned as I started to sob every time she came near me. It hurt. Bad. I just had natural childbirth and this was torture. We were at wits end.
The lactation consultant came and she discovered that Audrey’s mouth did not properly suck and she was essentially closing off the milk flow as you would if you bit a straw. I started pumping right away. I needed a break. I was blessed to have a close friend give me a bunch of her frozen breast milk until I could develop a stash. From then on I exclusively pumped.
Audrey took to the bottle beautifully. My husband got to feed her and finally felt useful after a week of not knowing what to do. I pumped for 9 months until I became pregnant with our son. I donated countless ounces of milk to those in need. It was rewarding but isolating. I didn’t leave the house. I needed a village then more than anything but didn’t know it existed.
Fast-forward 9 months to the birth of my son. I was going to try nursing again. This time I knew that if it didn’t work, I was going to use formula. I had an energetic 18 month old and I couldn’t devote the time to pumping and caring for both children.
Magnus was born on his due date at 9 lbs and was eager to start eating. He nursed like a champ. And then he wouldn’t. It took a nurse and a lactation consultant to get him to latch every time. I knew where we were headed. I was devastated. I knew it wasn’t going to work. I cried. And cried. But I knew the decision to switch to formula was best. Fed is best.
I was blessed to have a nurse that night that supported my decision. She knew what I had been through. But then I was basically ignored after that. I apparently no longer needed support because I was formula feeding. I was so lost and hurt. How much formula do you give? What do I do when my milk comes in? There were no resources for someone like me.
I was the outcast of the Internet world. A million websites for breastfeeding and a million more shaming moms like myself. I’m grateful for my husband’s support. I actually enjoyed those first weeks with my baby and daughter. I slept. I recovered. And we figured it out.
There have been moments that it has been hard making that decision. Moms who judged me at a library for shaking up formula. People making comments in public. But you know where there was none of that? FIT4MOM. I belonged. No one batted an eyelash. There were breastfeeding moms and bottle moms and those who do both.
Breast is certainly great, I know! I have one child who was breastfed and one formula fed but most importantly they are happy and healthy and even more important than that I am happy and healthy! If you are struggling with breastfeeding and debating the switch to formula or supplementing, YOU are not alone. You are doing what is best for YOU and your baby.
**Kathryn Hupczey has been a member of FIT4MOM Lorton/Springfield/Burke/Woodbridge/Kingstowne since September of 2016. She is mom to Audrey (2 years old) and Magnus (almost 1 year old) and is the owner of Artisan Matchmaker, a creative concierge business. To learn more, visit her website.