Breastfeeding Is No Fairytale

breastfeeding-pain

Sometimes, life is just harder than we expect it to be. Maybe we put too much pressure on ourselves? Maybe we buy in too early on romantic ideas about the future?

  • Prince Charming
  • Picket Fence
  • Glass Slippers

Nobody tells you the truth. Prince Charming? How many frogs are you willing to meet first, Cinderelly? Picket Fence? Why? So you can be HOA compliant? Screw that shit. Glass Slippers? Someone just try to pry these UGGs off of me with a goddamn crowbar.

Nevertheless, when I was ten, I started plotting and coursing out my future. I was easily influenced by song lyrics and so I turned to the masters like Whitney for inspiration.

Age ten was also when I fell in love for the first time. His name was Jon and his family lived close to mine, in a blue-collar suburb of New Jersey. He was out of my league and his hair was prettier than mine, but that didn’t matter when it came to matters of love.

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Please excuse my check lists. They make me feel organized.

  • Have kids
  • Teach my kids well
  • Let my kids lead the way
  • Marry Jon Bon Jovi

Over time, I learned. My checklist needed some adjusting. But I still, you know, yearned. I imagined what a perfect wife I would be. I was going to have an amazing career. I was going to be the Indian Connie Chung. I dreamed about the perfect husband I would have. How I would look as I tossed my smiling children into the air, believing that the still developing Polaroid image matched what I envisioned. And so what if I took some poetic license? The future had a few great things in store for me.

Namely, “Pilates” and “Brazilian Blowouts.”

In my hazy Polaroid picture, I was always a very giving, selfless mother (with great posture (Thanks, Pilates!) and even better hair (Thanks, Keratin! You sure make me shine!)). I just didn’t realize how much more complicated my checklists would become.

  • Can cook meals to keep the whole family happy. And healthy.
  • Can still maintain killer gym workouts and a toned physique.
  • Can work hard for the bacon, fry it up in a pan while still keeping things sizzling in bed.
  • Raise balanced, well behaved and kind children without ever touching a remote control.

My checklists would even look perfect. I would make calligraphy check marks.

I guess, after a while, I just really didn’t understand how MANY checklists there would be.  Or how MANY new items I would add to that list myself. How many times I allowed someone to add new items to my checklists for me. Checklists which not only became unrealistic, but unachievable.

Look. I am not saying that marrying Jon Bon Jovi was ever achievable. But I was ten. As a grown woman, once I checked off the items, “Married,” “Strong career” and “Make children, per instructions from Whitney,” that list grew so fast, sometimes it was easier to just stay in bed and cry than try to tackle all of it. The boxes kept coming, and I could never keep up with my beat up Sharpie. Never mind calligraphy.

I don’t even know how to DO calligraphy.

I think I hit an all time low at one point in my life when I could not accomplish what comes so naturally for so many women.

Breastfeeding.

“Breast is best.” I knew this. I know this. And I planned to. I really did. But things didn’t quite work out how I expected. Rather than use this post to tell you why it didn’t work, or how much I tried or how many tears were shed and how much pain I felt, let me just cut to the chase.

It didn’t happen. It just…

It didn’t.

And I can’t always explain to everybody why it didn’t work. And I don’t have it in me to try to convince everyone how much I tried. And I will never be able to get over that feeling of initial judgment when someone asks not if I breastfed, but instead how long I did it for.

Note: I usually avoid having to answer by running away and saying, “Lo siento, no hablo Ingles,” but this doesn’t work well with friends and family, who know that the only Spanish thing about me is that my husband is the spitting image of Eric Estrada. And I like rice and beans. Que bueno!

I am proud of my friends who have successfully breastfed, appreciating it more because I knew how challenging it was. I hear my friends talk about their abundant milk supply and the feeling of bonding they shared with their children. As they talk and commiserate about things like chapped nipples, I applaud them. Trust me, I was so READY for chapped nipples.

Sometimes checklists have to be amended. I had to scratch off, “Handle chapped nipples.”

I recall one time being on Facebook and seeing a friend’s post about how one of the formula companies had sent her some Enfamil. I recall how ANGRY she was. She wanted everyone to know she was going to write them a scathing letter about sending that “poison” to her door. She got a LOT of likes.

I left a comment asking if she wouldn’t mind leaving it on her porch since I was driving that way anyway.

Ok. Ok. I didn’t. But the only reason was because my son was using a different formula. Otherwise, I would have been all up on that shit.

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There are days where I still feel guilt about my lack of success with breastfeeding my children. And it bothers me. I sometimes wonder if it has impacted my children. There is always that nagging thought in the back of my head when my daughter gets an ear infection or my son gets a brutal cough. Or when my son thinks he’s a pink cat and crawls around the house purring, “MEOW.”

At times like that, I can’t help but think, “Is this because I didn’t breastfeed?”

I can play that game with myself, but it will just detract from all the things I am doing right as a parent. I have no idea why my son thinks he’s a cat or if their colds are because of me or the snotty kid they played “Ring Around the Rosie” with the other day.

For now, my checklists seem to have shifted.

  • Be happy
  • Smile
  • Remember that our children are the future and try not to mess them up too badly

For now, this checklist is fine with me.

About the writer

Kiran is the founder of Simply Om, a fair-trade jewelry company dedicated to fighting global oppression of women through fashion. When she gets overwhelmed by parenting, she wanders the make-up aisles of Walgreens and makes bad eyeliner choices.  She writes a lot of crap over at Masala Chica and on "the Twitter" as her Ma likes to call it.

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Anne 5 months ago

My son just turned one and I fought like a madwoman for the first seven weeks of his life to try and breastfeed. I spoke to lactation consultants, went to nursing groups, even took him to a chiropractor, and nothing could get him to nurse consistently. I felt like the ultimate failure of a woman, of a mommy, and shed a LOT of tears. I still get choked up thinking about it. I have to keep telling myself what one of those lactation consultants told me: “Nursing is a partnership and if either party isn’t doing their part, it won’t work out.” My son simply didn’t want to nurse. He took a bottle like a champ, and I exclusively pumped until he was 6 months old, but because of all the struggles, exhaustion, and fighting at the beginning, and having a crappy pump at first, my supply established low and I had to supplement the whole time and then after 6 months, he was formula fed, but he then ate real food (pureed, mashed, etc. and now table food). He has been hitting developmental milestones early pretty consistently and he’s happy and healthy, but I still have a lot of heartache about the breastfeeding situation.

This article helped me get a little more peace. Thank you.

Mela 6 months ago

Thank you for sharing! I am currently breastfeeding… well, pumping and bottle feeding because I can produce enough, but my little one has a shallow latch and hurts me when she nurses. I’ve often thought about stopping, but have felt guilted into keeping it up, even though it hurts. It’s nice to hear someone talk about not nursing for a change, and how that’s ok too. So many moms are quick to judge. I already work and feel guilty for not being home, I just couldn’t take giving up nursing and being made to feel like a bad mom for that too!

Leslie 6 months ago

I breastfed my son(2) for 3 1/2 weeks and I still feel guilty and wish I’d powered through almost every day. I had an extremely difficult pregnancy, then We had to move when he was 3 weeks old, several days with no gas or electricity to sterilize the donated pump so I could use it. Had a beer the night we moved in to celebrate, experienced SIL said have one more, you’ll be fine. Was still tipsy when he was hungry so she let me borrow formula and a bottle for the night. When I went back to breast feeding in the morning, I felt like I was in chains. I knew I had to quit for my own sanity, abd he ended up needing soy formula anyway, and he’s fine. but I still beat myself up about it. Thanks for easing my guilt.

Katie 6 months ago

Hugs to you!

Mary 7 months ago

Thank you from another member of the bottle club. My milk never came in. I kept asking nurses and doctors, when do I give up on breastfeeding? They kept telling me to hang on and keep trying, while my son lost too much weight and another nurse told me I needed to supplement with formula. My mom answered my question with, you quit right now and you don’t worry about it. I cried a lot and felt guilty, but know I did the right thing. My sanity was saved, my child was nourished, and that is the most important thing.

rose 9 months ago

I breastfed one and bottle fed one. They both turned out to be six foot athletic men with the same allergies as minor illnesses. In retrospect, it really didn’t make that much difference. If you are agonizing over you’re decision, stop now.

tara 10 months ago

I formula fed my twin girls…and other than well-baby visits never had to take them to the Dr. Fifteen years later they still rarely get sick….

Christine 10 months ago

Look, I’m a self proclaimed boob nazi, crazy proud that I’ve convinced and helped about 13 on the fence moms to breastfeed. It took till my third kid to manage a formula free kid. And it was HARD. (I only got past week 6 with kid 1 bc it was free) Stop with the guilt, your “breastfeeding success” in my eyes is that you even wanted to!

Christine 11 months ago

I breastfed my first 2 children. I didn’t do it for my last because I valued my sanity more than his health. Ironically he is the healthiest; such as not a single ear infection.

Natasha 1 year ago

I breastfeed, but I can guarantee you if I thought for a minute my daughter was underfed due to low supply, I would switch to formula in a heartbeat. I hate how society is so judgemental all the time. Everyone says breast is best, but breastfeed in public and you would swear that you are stripping around a pole in the middle of the park. Formula feed and people say you are not doing what is best for your baby. I say do what works for you and your family. Happy bottle feeding, in my opinion, is better than unhappy breastfeeding.

Prerna 1 year ago

Thank you Thank you Thank you!

Dawn 2 years ago

Thank you so much for this. I had the most awful time in the first few days of breastfeeding my son. Now I am mixed feeding but reached breaking point with the guilt of it all. Your post helped me to find some perspective and focus on being an awesome mum! I have set up my own blog for my own amusement but would welcome more readers. Will share yours to mine too xxx

Confectionista 2 years ago

I am so proud you wrote this and shared. Here’s a sign we can post on our social media-

“Dear Fellow Women –
Some of us, MANY of us cannot breast-feed. It does not work. Get over it.

Signed,
The rest of us who support other women.

Michelle Miller 2 years ago

So very true I wish breast feeding could be easy for everyone but some of us just have a hard time. I only breastfed my 1st for about 6 weeks – I just wasn't making enough milk, and my second one I was able to breastfeed for about 7 months before my milk supply was gone. I tried everything and it was so frustrating – but the worst part was being looked down on by so many people because I wasn't breast feeding my babies. It is not the end of the world and formula isn't poison – I just wish those who can do it so easily would stop looking down on those of us who try but can't.

Sharon L. Maxwell 2 years ago

I had one son bottle fed (he had inflamed nostrils at birth which prevented us from starting) and one breast fed son. I LOATHE people who shame mothers about their feeding choices. Good for you for putting it out there that sometimes sh*t happens and that it is MORE than okay to make sure your baby gets nutrition the best way yo can. Heck, those whiney heifers probably would have let their babies shrivel up and die if they couldn't breastfeed them. (Okay, maybe not- but yeah. LOL)

Rebecca Nemmers Morris 2 years ago

I love this post! I have tried and failed twice with breastfeeding. My kids are now 5 and 3 and I still think about it all the time, you can tell how much it impacted me, huh? It is exhausting to think of how many conversations I've had to have about WHY it didn't work out and how hard I really did try. People seem to think if one doesn't breastfeed, its because they didn't try hard enough and that's just not true. Thank you again for this post- its good to know I'm not the only one.

Megan 2 years ago

Words cannot accurately express how much I love this post.

I wanted so badly to breastfeed but after a long, traumatic labor, a postpartum hemorrhage, retained tissue that caused failed lactogenesis and near-septic shock that landed me back in the hospital for an emergency D&C, it just didnt happen. I even killed myself trying relactation.

16 month later, and I still havent fully recovered from the trauma. Yet, I thank god every day for that “poison” that kept my daughter alive.

Charlotte May 2 years ago

Thank you for this post. As another woman who desperately wanted to breastfeed as was devastated when I was (twice) unable to, I understand your pain, and the judgement you felt!

Courtney Kindree 2 years ago

Thank you for writing this. I am so glad I came across this post! Made me smile knowing I am not the only one that felt this way! : )

Stasie McKinnon 2 years ago

it is a very fine line with the breast feeding. I encourage people to breastfeed but would not push it. I believe that the initial push was to desexualize the breast to return the breast to a non-judgmental and natural act and pull mothers out of the closet. while doing this managed to create a shame for non-breast feeding mothers. every situation is individual and I am so happy you have reached a place where you are comfortable and happy with your parenting and providing. thank you so much for sharing it reminds me in my work that there is no right or wrong way but rather the way that is best for you.

Connie Beaton 2 years ago

Very powerful reading

Mo 2 years ago

I totally identify with what you’re saying. Just yesterday a younger cousin asked “so do you love being a mom?” I try to be as honest as possible when asked but always feel the judgment from the rest of the room when I respond with “I love my son.”

Jennifer 2 years ago

I have five children. My oldest is 22, and my youngest is 14. I breastfed my oldest for about two weeks until I could not stand the cracked and bleeding nipples anymore. After him, I never tried again with any of my others. All five of them are healthy, happy, and well-adjusted…well, except my 14 year old, because she’s 14. :) Healthy, yes. Happy and well-adjusted? Not so much at the moment.

Elisabeth 2 years ago

This is such a hard issue. Sensible women want to do their best for their kids but not ram things down other women’s throats. There are so many people who will scowl at you if you nurse your baby and so many who will scowl at you if you don’t. As someone who had to overcome a LOT of hurdles with my firstborn, every time I see a mom who’s giving up on breastfeeding my gut wants to scream “I KNOW you can do it, let me help you!” but the truth is not all women can, and no one should be forced to or shamed into it. It’s so hard to find that line between making sure that all women have access to the knowledge and support they need to succeed, and making sure you don’t pressure someone, especially someone who physically can’t. A lot of mistakes have been made in both directions and they’re all awful.

Tarryn 2 years ago

It’s really hard when everybody is brainwashed into thinking “Breast is the ONLY way- you’ll destroy your baby if you don’t…it’ll have x y z problems if you don’t” I was “Lucky” that I got to breastfeed my son for his first year exclusively- it took me a minimum of 6 weeks of anger, frustration and total nervousness about going ANYWHERE with him as it was that hard. I’m glad I managed, but as I went through this struggle with no help other than my husband for support, I thought to myself “Now I know why some women can’t do this” Good on you for sticking up for the mom’s who can’t :)

Shari 2 years ago

I loved this…and it made me cry!! The pressure to breast feed can be overwhelming, especially to a brand new hormonal mother who is already insecure and unsure. Well done!!

Gina 2 years ago

Thank you all. I am currently pregnant with my second, bottle feed my first and struggling to decide what to do this time around. The internet is full of terrible things that have made me feel horrible for my choices. This site and you ladies have brought tears (of joy) to my eyes and made me feel like I am not alone.

jen 3 years ago

I totally agree, after numerous crying sessions and breakdowns at the Health Care Unit in town the nurse told me “If you are not ok than your baby is not ok, you have to be your priority”. I felt like I needed her permission to stop breast feeding and once she gave it to me it changed my world. And you’re right it doesn’t matter how long we did it for, it only matters that we tried. I never knew it would be so hard so it was a huge shock and I am so glad that I can pass on my experience to other struggling moms.

Molly 3 years ago

Good for you that you were able to do it despite how hard it is! No one is saying you are a “boob nazi”! But they are out there, trust me.

Molly 3 years ago

I am so glad someone else went through the same thing I did and could put it down so well. I can’t even tell you how hard I tried to breastfeed and how much I wanted to, but it just didn’t happen. Two weeks postpartum, I still had only a few drops of milk to give. So I gave up. I hate the judgement I still get from people, and I cherish those people who understand my decision. Thanks for writing this!

Anne 3 years ago

This post struck a nerve very dear to me. I bought into the “Breast is Best” hype. BIG TIME! My son latched on correctly once and only once…even with help from a lactation consultant. I pumped like a fiend and ended up with something I’d never heard of….nipple erosion. Yeah, forget “cracked nipples”. Mine sloughed off. COMPLETELY. Within the first week. It was hell and contributed to more anxiety and post-partum depression. I supplemented with formula because I couldn’t bring myself to endure the pain and agony long enough to fully feed my son. Then, after 2 weeks, the pregnancy hormones disappeared and the SSRI I was on (which was the ONLY one my general practitioner permitted me to breastfeed on) started giving me side effects that I couldn’t live with. I switched back to another SNRI that I’d been on for years but that meant I couldn’t breastfeed anymore. I hated myself. Felt like an absolute failure. I was the ONLY mom I knew who didn’t successfully breastfeed (except for a friend who has RA and couldn’t because of her arthritis drugs). Thank God for my husband who was supportive and kept repeating the mantra to me that my son needed me mentally healthy more than he needed breast milk.

Then I came across an article when my son was about 6 months old. It was written by a woman who actually read the articles in the peer-reviewed medical journals. And what she found was that the actual data done in well-designed studies just doesn’t support the rabid “breast is best” fundamentalism. There is no “statistically significant” benefit. Anecdotal? Sure. But overall, what the studies show is that the majority of the mothers who breastfeed tend to be more highly educated women with better access to healthcare and are more aware of the kinds of things that lead to better health and higher IQ scores. So really, it’s NOT that the breast milk makes your child smarter, healthier, etc. It’s YOU!

I can’t begin to tell you how furious I was when I discovered this. I felt duped by an industry (AMA, AAP, LLL, etc.) that has acquiesced to the breastfeeding nazis who have a strong lobby. And it’s easier to just agree with them than to point to the data and say their claims are unfounded. My son is now 4 years old and I’m still angry that I emotionally beat myself up over something that isn’t even true.

I’m on a different SSRI now that minimally passes into breast milk. My husband is also in pharmacy school and has befriended a pharmacist whose entire career has been spent studying the expression and impact of drugs in breast milk. He’s essentially a lactation expert from the drug side. If he says it’s safe, I’m going to try to breastfeed my daughter who is due in May. If it’s not safe to do so or she has trouble latching or, God forbid, I experience nipple erosion again, I will not hesitate to give my daughter formula. And I refuse to be berated, beaten down, or made to feel guilty for doing what’s best for me and my child.

Brandi 3 years ago

I love this post. It is so true. Sometimes it doesn’t happen and there is nothing wrong with it. I did breastfeed both of my children and let me tell you, they still get ear infections and illnesses. I am sure you are a wonderful momma! I applaud you for even trying to breastfeed…some women don’t even try!

michele 3 years ago

my point exactly i’ve had women pay me to stop breastfeeding, so they could tell their friends they tried everything…including a lc so sad, ladies stand up for yourselves, you are not just breasts, believe me all for breast feeding, just not for any kind of guilt system

Rebekah 3 years ago

Just wanted to say thank you for writing this! A very warm thank you at that! My daughter is 2 now, and I still to this day cry myself to sleep sometimes when I think about how breast feeding didn’t work out. I wanted SO badly to breast feed, took classes, read la leche league books, you name it. I thought I was prepared, what I wasn’t prepared for was a horrible fight with “child-bed fever” post partum. Even though I pumped and dumped my entire 3 week stay in the hospital ( there were too many pain killers and heavy duty antibiotics coursing through my veins for me to feed her my milk) once I got home I just could not keep up with what she needed. I would pump 5 times a day for 20 minutes a session just to get enough milk for one bottle. After 3 months of drinking more milk teas, and taking “milk increasing” supplements I finally threw in the towel when I wasn’t even producing 4 ounces in a day. I beat myself up over it day in and day out, every bottle of formula I gave her I judged myself for. Mainly, and unfortunately because my midwives and even my friends felt that I didn’t try hard enough. They had the attitude that if I tried hard enough it would have worked out. It was the worst feeling in the world. I tried my ass off. Reading lifted some of the weight off of my shoulders! I am glad I am not the only one who battled with breast vs. bottle guilt.

michele 3 years ago

also i am a mother of 6 kids…who became an lc after consulting one, and she just gave me the book answer, my baby didn’t follow the book.

michele 3 years ago

i am a lactation consultant….who every 10 years must take a test to recertify (it costs 480.00), because every 10 years breasts change. i am also a nurse of 23 years, who has never retested b/c medicine never changes. i have seen first hand the pressure american women are under, Europeans do well because their maternity leave and support is much better…when i retook the test in 2010, not one question on american moms and that Damn 12 week FMLA. Until we say happy MOM EQUALS A HAPPY BABY, we can’t get past this stupid breastfeeding debate, who are any of us to judge? Any amount of breast feeding is good, ladies you need support not judgement

Caroline 3 years ago

I feel so much more guilt over the weight my child lost ***so much weight*** . . . .

Caroline 3 years ago

I was not able to breastfeed, Kiran. I am convinced that it was because I had the gastric bypass surgery several years ago and simply could not ingest the caloric intake necessary to produce milk. One day, I had kind of an epiphany: (1) if I had not had the surgery, I probably wouldn’t have even GOTTEN pregnant in the first place; and (2) at the end of the day, parenting effectively was going to go WAY beyond breastfeeding. The irony there is that my child could literally have any kind of formula without getting sick, which meant we saved a lot of money. She has only had one earache in her entire life, and she is one of the happiest, smartest, healthiest, well-adjusted children on the face of the planet (remember the Bitlet?) She gets better with age, and so do I. That, at the end of the day, is all that matters.

Plus, when a representative from the La Leche League tells you that your first priority should be to feed your baby, it might be time to break out the bottle. That really did happen. I feel so much more guilt over the weight my child lost, the fact that she was dehydrated, and the fact that it took a breastfeeding advocate to snap me out of my mindless obsession to do something that just was not working.

And I balance it all out by giving her soy milk and vitamins, rather than milk loaded with BGH.

Mostly, though, I just love my child to death, know that we have an amazing bond, and she is an amazing child. The rest of the world, and all the myriad opinions there are, matter not at all. Great post, loved reading it. Have missed you.

Shaynie 3 years ago

I had a hard time bf my twins due to post partum depression. I would literally throw up after pumping (I pumped to have back up since I had twins). After two weeks of not eating and throwing up I was finally diagnosed with PPD and put on antidepressants. I was not put on bf friendly antidepressants because I prescribed a drug that I had taken before that was effective. I made the choice to switch to formula rather than risk that 10% of the SSRI was being given to my tiny babies. I couldn’t bear to think that I was giving them neurological stimulants while they were developing like that.

It is emotional for me on so many levels. 1) it reminds me about the dark period in my life when I couldn’t even look at my amazingly beautiful babies 2) i feel like I failed at something that I was determined to do 3) 6 months later I am perfectly fine and off the medication, but it’s too late to reclaim it 4) my post partum gut will not go away and when I was bfeeding it was shrinking.

All in all, the formula has been great and they are really thriving, but it’s hard to be reminded when you hear of the success of so many.

mindy bloom 3 years ago

i have a beautiful little girl who came out a few weeks early. she didn’t quite get the latching thing. ok. but, i did want her having breast milk for as long as possible. so, i pumped. and, boyyyyyyy, did i pump. 15 months. LMAO i made bessie the cow look like an underachiever. i learned to pump almost anywhere. there were times i’d latch the pumps on and fall back asleep. i don’t recommend that…it can be messy. this was a PERSONAL choice and lots of people thought i was crazy for staying on so long. but you do what feels right for you and your baby. i just feel bad that so many times i see posts about moms not continuing w/breastfeeding b/c of latch issues and i wonder if they were even given good info about pumping???

Sophie 3 years ago

WOW, sounds like non-bf’s are the ones being a bit judgey… I have seen the term “Boob Nazi” at least 10 times in the comments. You know what? I DO breastfeed my daughter… and it was VERY painful for the first 5 weeks…. I am talking bleeding nipples and being unable to shower properly, let alone wear clothes for most of the day. There were moments where I thought I couldn’t go on, but I have never been more determined to conquer something in my life… and I am PROUD to say I did…. now, I don’t judge those who formula feed, as long as babes are getting fed who cares how? But I feel like I am being labeled as a hippy chick just because I do bf. IMO our bodies produce milk (if we are lucky) for a reason after giving birth. My DD gets one or two bottles of pumped milk a week from hubby… and every time I am sterilizing the bottle, preparing it, warming it up I think of the mamas that ff and need to do that up to 8 times a day… and wow… it’s a lot work! I do appreciate the fact that my dd and I jumped the hurdle and are successfully bf ing, and I remind myself of that at least once a day. But if she wasn’t thriving or getting what she needed those first crucial few days and weeks I would be very thankful that there would be an acceptable supplement available to give her.

Ilene 3 years ago

This is such an emotional issue and what makes it even worse is that it’s an emotional issue for the new mom – who is emotional enough already. And it’s an issue that people make enemies over! Thank you for your honesty and perspective and reminder that you can be an awesome mom but still not do THAT!
xo

Rachel Gurevich 3 years ago

Thank you for writing this! I have been feeling so overwhelmed by everything I feel like I’m “not doing right.” My checklists are just becoming insane. I was crying over my inability to check off my lists yesterday, and this post made me feel 100 times better.

I also, ahem, suddenly feel less guilty about weaning my three year old twins last week. (And yes, I’m serious. I nursed them for three years, and I feel so horribly guilty for weaning them! How silly is that?!)

Thank you!

Amy 3 years ago

I so needed to read this . I feel you on this one. Did not happen for me, either. No matter how many tears I cried. Then I realized, I was formula fed and so was my husband and we are fine…well as “normal” as everyone else!

Michelle 3 years ago

I have a large, close family. 7 cousins (all girls, most of whom are mothers now). Not one of us was breast fed and we are fine. Degrees, careers, families and no substantial health problems (as children or now). I breast fed my 3 y/o daughter exclusively for 2 years and she gets at least 5 ear infections a year and has a cold or flu every month or 2. I have a 13 y/o daughter that I only breast fed for a few months, she has never had an ear infection and rarely even gets the sniffles. My 8 y/o niece was breast fed once (for cholostrum) and I have only seen her have the flu once (and I am not convinced that it wasn’t food poisoning).

My point? People need to stop judging others. If you choose not to breastfeed, or are unable, it’s no one’s business and you do not owe them shit. No explanations and especially no feelings of inadequacy required. It’s a mixed bag. Your kids will get sick (or won’t) regardless of how you feed them.

Christina Rodriguez 3 years ago

I couldn’t breastfeed either and I don’t feel bad at all. I tried, it didn’t work, I moved on. People are so judgmental and pushy. They don’t realize that not everyone can breastfeed just because they have breasts. I am grateful that we have formula and my kids are just fine, thank you! With my last child, I got sick of the people from WIC and La Leche barging into my hospital room so I called security and threw the bitches out.

Laura 3 years ago

Those of us who couldn’t or even didn’t want to need to be honest so we stop feeding in to the shame of not breastfeeding. I almost killed myself trying to breastfeed twins for 3 months. Once I stopped I actually started to love and bond with the two bastards.

Lisa 3 years ago

I can relate to your comments – sometimes i felt like (and still do at times) that my oldest would suck every last drop out of me if i let her – and i would just disappear. that was really hard to deal with – the feeling that i would literally no longer exist as Lisa – just mom. I used to struggle with this but then accepted that i just needed to set boundaries and i would just be one of “those” moms :)

Christa 3 years ago

AMEN!!!! You just told my story.

Mary @ A Teachable Mom 3 years ago

I love your humor, honesty and attitude – all of it! Great post!

Sara 3 years ago

Thank you thank you…I know I am not alone, it is just nice to read it.

Ameena 3 years ago

Jennie…I didn’t want to either. Seriously I just had zero desire. You are not the only one!

Ameena 3 years ago

Love this post Kiran…just as I love your blog.

I couldn’t breastfeed due to some serious medical issues…and frankly, even if I could I don’t think it was for me. Luckily my daughter is doing just fine. Rarely gets sick (knock on wood) and is pretty much doing perfectly.

You said, so eloquently, what I’ve been trying to explain to those who’ve criticized me for years. Great post.

Stacy 3 years ago

I tried to breastfeed as well, and I beat myself up for not succeeding. The odds were stacked against me though. Triplets, hypoplastic breasts, and the most I ever produced at once was 2 ounces (after skipping the middle of the night pumping). Whenever I get down on myself I try to remind myself of how well my babies are turning out. At 16.5 months we are just now having our second cold ever, they are catching up developmentally (they were 32 weekers), and they are amazing kids!

I love your final checklist… it’s amazing how things that seem so simple like that can be so difficult.

Kiran 3 years ago

Ha! So true. “It’s not a one-breast-fits-all scenario.”

xo,
Kiran

Kiran 3 years ago

Sarah,

I think sometimes people start to ask the question and dig themselves so deep they don’t know how to get out.

They are not prepared because you are right, they made some false assumptions.

xo,
Kiran

Kiran 3 years ago

Beth,

I high five and applaud you for even “considering” going into labor naturally. I got the epidural both times and my deliveries were the easiest part of my pregnancies. I am sorry that it didn’t turn out the way you expected. I think our “birth plans” really should be simple. One checkbox, maybe to.

1) Get baby out healthy
2) Try not to poop on the table
3) Have a cold diet soda waiting for you when it’s all done

So glad you shared your own experience here and thanks for the comment love.
xo
Kiran

Kiran 3 years ago

Alison,

So with you as serve my kids Mac and Cheeses three nights running.

Just kidding.

Or am I? 😉
Kiran

Kiran 3 years ago

Dear Tiffani,
You know, I know the title is When Breast Isn’t Best. But let me be clear, I think it’s the BEST option. My only clarification would be, it’s the best if and when it works and falls into place as it should.

And ultimately, everyone has to walk in their own shoes and make their own decisions.

I used to say, “I was formula fed and I came out fine,” but then people would get quiet so I realized that maybe they thought I could have used a little more breastmilk myself 😉

Xo,
kiran

Kiran 3 years ago

E,

“I’m doing my best, and raising happy children, and that’s what counts!”

You are so right. You just took what I wrote in that long post and condensed it down to that and it’s spot on.

Congratulations on #2. Here’s to a wonderful pregnancy and a happy, healthy baby! (and mommy).

Kiran 3 years ago

Peace to you too, Renae.

Love,
Kiran

Kiran 3 years ago

No diggity. No doubt, sister.
Kiran

Kiran 3 years ago

Holla, Teresa!
Kiran

Kiran 3 years ago

MarySunshine,

“We all struggle to do right by our kids. That should be all that matters. ”

Bravo, Mary. So right.

I am adding the “Fuck everyone’s opinion” to all my checklists right now. Thanks for the tip 😉

xo,
Kiran

Jodie 3 years ago

It’s the judgement that was soooo difficult. I have 3. I successfully breastfed 1. I tried with the first two and for different reasons quit with both. How does that make me less of a parent or person? I didn’t love them less or stop feeding them or caring for them or keeping hem healthy. It was the public health nurses who were the most judgemental. I hope new moms realize that not everyone is judging. Many of us realize that there is much more to being a good mom than your boobs!

Kiran 3 years ago

Thanks for the love, The Atomic Mom!

xo,
Kiran

Kiran 3 years ago

Jennie,

One of my friends who is a midwife made me feel better by saying my kids were just going to negate the benefits of breastfeeding by hitting McDonald’s and boozing it up when they are 18.

Realizing that they are my kids and she is probably right, I felt much better after that 😉

Kiran 3 years ago

Ah, you get me, Toni. I am glad things worked out for the best for you.

Thank you for your comment!
Kiran

Kiran 3 years ago

Right back atcha, sister!
Kiran

Kiran 3 years ago

Thank you, Jamia :-)
Kiran

Kiran 3 years ago

Ah Kirsten,

You should see my husband when he dresses up as Ponch for Halloween. It’s quite the sight!

“I hope more woman understand that it just doesn’t happen for everyone like they planned in their story.”

Exactly.
xo,
Kiran

Kiran 3 years ago

Oh Skyler,

I was not even on the ladder rung for a while. I was the clump of dirt underneath the ladder, way below the first rung.

But we mothers always lift each other up and pull us back up the ladder.

Thank you :-)
Kiran

Kiran 3 years ago

“As a mom, do the best you can and stop judging each other.”

Hallelujah.

xo,
Kiran

TheHeadacheslayer 3 years ago

(((Hugs)))) Mandi. My son had problems that we still, to this day, can’t fully explain but YES he was in the 2nd percentile at his 1st bday. It turned out I had microscopic retained placenta, so our only theory is that it affected my hormones which reduced my milk content/production. He had other issues but I do feel your pain. Scary times. Now at 11, you’d never know!

Kiran 3 years ago

Hi Karen,

That must have been hard to go through. Not knowing. With my second, I could have sworn something was wrong with me because I just didn’t understand why nothing came out.

My to do-lists are still not complete, but I am aiming a little lower now and think I’ll catch up.

Eventually 😉
Kiran

Kiran 3 years ago

Stacy,

I am glad you don’t have that guilt. You know how people “hoard”? Well, I hoard guilt and baggage like it’s going to pick up and abandon me. Which, ironically, it never does. I am glad you guys found your groove – it’s important to do what’s right for your own family.

xo,
Kiran

Kiran 3 years ago

Andrea,

Good luck! Congratulations and be the most kick ass mommy you can be. You know? Without kicking your own ass 😉

Best wishes on a wonderful delivery!
Kiran

Ashley 3 years ago

I tried breastfeeding with both of mine and failed both times. My first had Gerd, jaundice, and after getting a bottle in the nursery right after I had her, she didn’t want the boob at all. My second would’ve stayed latched 24-7 if I had let him. I always heard a mother would produce enough milk for their child; supply and demand kind of thing. Yea, right. I’d be drained after a few minutes and could never pump more than 2 ounces at a time. I remember going to some mommy board with my first, reaching out for some support. My daughter was losing weight, screaming all the time…basically starving. I had one woman tell me not to give her a bottle, no matter what…she’d eventually take it. Yea…Ok. Starve my child to satisfy boob nazis? Never went back to that board…

Kiran 3 years ago

Dear Heather,

I kind of “psyched” myself out, making it such a pressure filled situation for myself. You will make the right choices – congratulations! The most important thing is you stay healthy, continue to be a good mom to your son and do the best you can when the baby comes.

xo,
Kiran

Kiran 3 years ago

Amen, sister.
Kiran

Kiran 3 years ago

Dear Kerry,

I was reading your response and was jarred when I saw this:

“I lost my mom at 6. So I think you win because you’re there and you love your kids. Period.”

You are so right. I am so sorry that you suffered that loss as a child. Your perspective provides clarity and also a lesson in humility for me. Not just about breastfeeding, but just about how so many things in life don’t go as planned.

So rather than stay mired in our doubts, we should appreciate the gift of being there for our kids and them being there for us.

Thank you.
xo,
Kiran

Kiran 3 years ago

Mandi,

Oh no! So glad that you made the switch and she put on the weight. Motherhood is disorganized and messy and no matter what we expect, envision or plan for – we just have to roll with what it serves us, no?

xo,
Kiran

Kiran 3 years ago

Thank you, Sally. Devastation sounds strong, but it’s exactly what I felt at the time. I am glad I learned to find what worked and cut myself some slack and just mother the best way I could.

xo,
Kiran

TheHeadacheslayer 3 years ago

Oh doll *HUGS*

Yes, breastfeeding is best….when it works out. It didn’t with my daughter. Between PPD, horrible advice and no support (not even from the sacred LLL) at 2 weeks, we were done and I was devastated.

My DD is now 17, goes to an International Baccalaureate HS, never got a B until 10th grade and her dream school is Ivy league–so she can be a neuroscientist.

My DS was my homebirthed, cloth diapered, attachment parented child, and I breastfed him until he weaned at 26 months.

It was NEVER EASY. It was HARD. IT HURT. I cried quite a bit over that lack of “bonding feeling” that everyone talked about. I didn’t even lose weight. And yeah LLL was still a failure.

My DS is gifted and has learning disabilities–he also has anaphylactic food allergies and asthma. I don’t regret BF for a second (he’s dairy allergic–formula would have been a disaster) BUT while I will help any mom out with support in BF, I am also here to say it’s not the end all, be all for mothering.

Because if mom isn’t happy, nobody is happy. As long as a baby is healthy, safe and loved, THAT is what counts about mothering.

Kudos to you for your guts!!

Kiran 3 years ago

Kudos to all of us for figuring out we can go our own way. Cheers to you, Holly!
xo,
Kiran

Robin 3 years ago

Thank you for this! I always got so upset when someone would tell me I didn’t try hard enough. My boobs didn’t want to be milk dispensers and I couldn’t get them to change their minds. Son kept losing weight so formula it was.

Suzie 3 years ago

I loved your post! I feel like we have lived very parallel lives except I wanted to marry Michael Jackson! I have three kiddos and try to be a modern day mama! I failed at the balancing the carreer and home life and now stay home! But, I too had trouble breast feeding! My mother in law told me if I was a cow they would send me back ro the bull because that is all I was good at! BTW I am from Nebraska! I also have a 3 year old who thonks he is a cat! It creeps me out because I hate cats! Stay strong in knowing that you are not the only mom out there who thinks ” what the f — am I doing”!

Kim S 3 years ago

Omg this made me tear up, because I felt the exact same way. I tried to breastfeed, I really tried. It meant a lot to me to make it work, but we had latching issues,I worried constantly he wasn’t getting enough to eat, it was super painful, my anxiety and worry just ran rampant because everyone told me if it hurts he isn’t getting anything, and it always hurt like hell. Every single time. I also didn’t produce much when I pumped. I’ve always had feeling of guilt and failure associated with my breastfeeding experiences. I thank you for writing this because it makes me feel like I was and am not alone and the ending is really empowering. So again thank you.

Kimmie, mom of 4 boys 3 years ago

I have 4 boys, age 2-13. #1 was breastfed for 4 months and cried ALL of the time. I mean ALL. He ended up on Neutramigen. #2 was on regular formula from day one. I just didn’t have it in me to try so hard again. #3 was tongue tied and BF until 5-6 months old. Had his tongue clipped at 4.5 months and it got soooo infected that between his inability to nurse and my stress killing my milk supply, I was just “done”. #4 was also tongue tied AND had a milk intolerance. I didn’t have the heart to clip his tongue after what happened to #3, so I pumped way longer that I could stand it, about 9 months. Finally made the switch to soy. As Moms we do what works for us. NO MORE judgement, please.

Michelle 3 years ago

Thankyou for this. This is very much my story. Especially the part where I also have friends who call out the “poison” that is formula and the way you dont feel like explaining all the time and trying to convince people why breatfeeding never worked out.
I feel better now, nowing there are others like me. :)

Amy K. 3 years ago

My son totally pretends to be a cat – yellow with stripes instead of pink, but with a pink collar that has purple hearts on it, and I nursed him for over 2 years!!! Thanks for sharing so candidly & reminding us all to go easier on ourselves & everyone else!

jessika 3 years ago

I know exactly how you feel. I was fully prepared to breast feed, but my son was just not having it. The lactation nurse came in multiple times everyday and even called me at home and offered to come to my house help after we went home. But we could not get him to latch on for anything. She even strapped some tubing down my chest with formula just in case I didn’t have enough milk coming out for him, but the closest we got was squirting it in his mouth when he was close enough. I still get questions about how long I breastfed and such, and he’s almost 7!

Jen 3 years ago

Thank you for writing this. I’ve had 5 children and only ‘successfully’ breastfed (past 2 weeks) 3 of them. When my 2nd child was born I was stressed, depressed, and exhausted. I was struggling with keeping up with the demands of my son’s eating schedule and the guilt over wishing I could just give him a bottle. My doctor saved my life. He said, “Your son will be better off if YOU’RE better off. He needs a happy mom more than he needs breastmilk. He’ll be just fine.” I’m sure there are people who would disagree with him, but that’s what I needed to hear at that moment.

Meg {Phase Three of Life} 3 years ago

(That was supposed to be a general comment, not just to you, Teri, haha.)

Lacyj 3 years ago

When I had my first baby DS5, I called the nurse a boob Nazi. She literally grabbed my right boob like it was no longer my own appendage. I am pretty sure a little piece of my poor, scared, single, 22 year old self died that very moment.

Wendy 3 years ago

Sorry for the typos. Lol!! Posted from my phone that apparently auto corrected and I didn’t check. Oops!

Jessica Smock 3 years ago

I wrote about my experience as a guest blog for Suzanne Barston’s blog, Fearless Formula Feeder (www.fearlessformulafeeder.com). It seems like women are finally starting to get the idea that it’s not okay to judge another mother because of her feeding choices. As Suzanne talks about so eloquently, EVERYONE knows breast is best. But that doesn’t mean that it’s right for every woman in every circumstance. I wish that I had read posts like this before I felt guilty for stopping breastfeeding.

Meg {Phase Three of Life} 3 years ago

I practically could have written this. I have my own reasons why BFing didn’t work past week 2, and I also don’t get into the details of it to very many people. Because I personally think ANY reason I might have had to stop BFing is legitimate and I don’t want to explain myself to anyone. My body, my child, my choice.

Also, I absolutely fume at the notion that formula is “poison.” That “poison” keeps lots and lots of babies from starving each year. I think it’s pretty amazing stuff.

Em Rohrer 3 years ago

I tried to breastfeed my daughter but she refused to latch on to the point where she would scream and refuse to eat at all no matter what we did. It got to the point in the hospital that she was starting to get jaundiced so we started giving her a little bit of formula then. I pumped for the first 4 months and supplemented with formula, feeling inadequate since I was unable to generate enough milk for her and having lactation consultants berating me and acting like giving my daughter formula was the worst thing in the world. Can I just say, THAT IS INSANE! I’m so thankful we have formula that is healthy for babies to eat and grow and thrive because without it my daughter would not have survived. My daughter is a happy, thriving 7-month-old who is excited to try new foods, has yet to get sick and is in the 80th percentile for weight and 88th for height. Whether you choose breastmilk or formula for your baby, either one is perfectly healthy for them and there are many ways to bond with your baby besides having them attached to your boob.

Thanks for this post, it was a huge encouragement. As moms we need to encourage each other, not rip each other apart because we choose formula or breastfeeding.

Jody A 3 years ago

Nothing at all to worry about. My DD2 was solely breastfed for over a year and is still nursing. And she thinks she’s a cat, too. Albeit a purple cat. With a fuzzy butt. *Meow.*

I’ve always said that you can’t look at the people you work with or go to college with and tell which were breastfed and which weren’t. There are douches and nice people, smart and not so smart, that fit both bills.

Breastfeeding worked for me, but there are many nights while I lie awake letting someone else chew on my nipples every couple of hours that I REALLY wish I hadn’t breastfed.

Elizabeth 3 years ago

Oh, thank you, thank you! My first night in the hospital with my daughter, a gruff nurse watched me try to connect my newly milk-heavy breast with my daughter’s mouth, and out of my frustration and her hunger we were both crying. The nurse approached me and said, “that baby is hungry. Feed her.” Jesus, what did she think I was trying to do…jump start her? She then grabbed my breast by the skin above my nipple and did some sort of maneuver i presume she felt was helpful, but left me feeling like she should have at least bought me dinner first. I was already hormonal, exhausted, and sure that this was merely the beginning of my complete failure as a mother. Like everyone, I had illusions and Iike you, many, many checklists of how I thought it was all supposed to go.

I pumped for awhile, but at the three month mark I was stressed, depressed and done. So, i had a ceremony: I washed and put away all of the pump’s parts, put everything in the “convenient” carrying case that came with it, put it in the furthest reaches of the basement, and poured myself a giant glass of wine. At 2 pm. I figured time would tell if I’d made the right decision, but regardless, I knew I’d find plenty of their things to feel guilty about— I needed to let this one go.

My daughter turned two yesterday. 90th percentile height, funny, stubborn, independent, appropriately eccentric (considering who her parents are) and has been sick four times tops. I’m pregnant again and plan to have a “pump put away” ceremony at some point. Will it be earlier than with my daughter? Perhaps later? Either way, I’ll give it the old college try and then vaya con Dios, Medela. Life’s too short to beat yourself up.

Thank you for sharing your story.

Helen 3 years ago

I breastfed. Not very successfully though, and forget pumping. I pumped. and pumped. and pumped. The only time I got more than 50 cc’s is when I had to travel and couldn’t pump or feed for like 12 hours, by then, I was in so much pain I looked at that pump like it was the enemy.

Oh, and my dd only took one ounce per freaking hour. If I hadn’t resorted to bottles and formula, I would have spent the first 3 months of her life with her attached to my boob all day just to get one feeding in. I was miserable. It wasn’t fun. Or a pleasurable experience. I took every supplement, including prescription ones only available via mail from the UK or made at a compounding pharmacy (glad I didn’t choose that route after what happened with the epidural steroid fiasco!)

My feeling is that so long as you’re feeding your baby and s/he is growing, who the hell cares how it gets done?

Jenelle 3 years ago

true, and a lot of “blessed” women became wetnurses for those who were struggling. Also sisters fed their nieces and nephews without batting an eyelash. We all do what we have to do to feed our babies. One option of today is formula :)

tiffany 3 years ago

I pumped breast milk for both my daughters and received a lot of “help.” After feeling inadequate, I learned that I can only do what works for my family. There are no gold stars for mommy.

Andrea 3 years ago

Me too!! I’m expecting my second any day, and we’ll try breastfeeding again, but if it doesn’t work out, no biggie. I have no qualms about gettin’ out the bottles! No guilt this time either, and I’ll be a saner mother for my children because of it!

Ivy Novick 3 years ago

I don’t know how to thank you for posting this. I can’t express how much it means to me. I don’t WANT to have to explain why I didn’t breastfeed for for more than a month. I felt AWFUL that I just could not do it and stay sane and happy. I was miserable, my family was miserable and all because I felt guilty and saw all the LIKES on FB for those people who talked about how wonderful it was and I just kept trying and trying and trying saying I would give it one more day and one more day and crying and stressing. And to refer to formula as poison… it was like a knife to the heart. I WAS GOING TO FEED MY KID POISON BECAUSE I WAS A TERRIBLE MOTHER. I’ll NEVER read a ‘breast is best’ article again. I know it is ok. And not eating carbs or drinking, or throwing a ball in the house is best too… but I’m going to have a glass of wine and order a pizza and play football INDOORS with my 2 year old :)

MILF Runner 3 years ago

Life is hard enough. Shame on people who think any less of you or more of themselves for how the breastfeeding situation played out. I still get quizzical, judgmental looks from people when the find out how long I breastfed my kids. None of their beeswax regarding you and yours or me and mine :) FWIW…my oldest only had breastmilk from the breast until he was 11 mos old and had chronic ear infections until he was about 6 year old.

Emily 3 years ago

I didn’t want to. Felt weird about it. Felt pressure to try. Tried doing it. Didn’t work. Me & kiddo both unhappy. Switched to formula. Both of us became happy.

He’s now 5 and a giant, super-smart, kind child with zero allergies or health issues. Honestly, I take issue with that whole “breast is best” thing. The “best” of anything depends on a lot of factors. What’s “best” is what works for mom and baby and leaves everyone nourished and happy. Period.

Beth 3 years ago

WORD!

Beth 3 years ago

I nursed and supplemented with formula. My son was ALWAYS sick for the first year of his life. He had more ear infections than I did my whole childhood (and I had one nearly every summer). And you know what, I did not enjoy nursing all that much. I felt just as close snuggling my son up to give him a bottle as I did with my boob in his mouth. The whole experience was too stressful, especially after I went back to work and, after three sessions, would only pump enough for one feeding. I was worried that he was not getting enough to eat ALL THE TIME. It was ridiculous and totally took any enjoyment right out it.

JJsMommy 3 years ago

I think it sucks that it is we “Moms” who are so critical of each other and our differing capabilities. Wouldn’t it be a whole lot cooler if we could all just pat one another on the back and say “Rock on mom – you shot that kid out of your who-ha like a champ,” or “You kick ass mom – sorry about the lasting staple marks on your gut wound”? Who gives a rat’s you-know-waht f the life sustaining nutrients a child is devouring comes from a teat vs. a plastic nipple. We’re all keeping our babes ALIVE. We’re all doing the BEST WE F’ING CAN. I want to start a coalition called “Slap the Beotch who Judges Me (SBJM)”. Those who live in ivory towers need not apply. I’m not even going to say whether I breastfed or formula fed because it just DOES NOT MATTER. We’re feeding them. They’re not starving. And, this year’s research will simply be contradicted by next year’s research. So, I say “suck it” Miss Judgey McJudgerson. Your crap stinks, too.

Rebecca 3 years ago

I breast fed all 4 of mine until they weened themselves at 11-12 months old. Honestly? It didn’t help us bond more and it really wasn’t the best experience. I just didn’t completely enjoy it. I did it because it was free and readily available. It was a practical choice for me and I have had to explain that to rabid ‘BFers’ and back up those that chose to not bf.
I’m pretty impressed that so many women have shown their support of your story.

Doni 3 years ago

There’s ALWAYS something to feel guilty about as a mom. I breastfed, but felt guilty because it wasn’t as long as stay at home moms. Whatever.

Everyone really needs to do what’s best for them and their child. There’s no one right way.

I finally got over not being the perfect mom. I figure it adds character for our kids. (I mean seriously, how boring would you be if you had the “perfect” childhood?)

michele 3 years ago

THANK YOU!

Renee Schuls-Jacobson 3 years ago

My son latched on like a pro.

Oh he loved my boobies.

Until he decided decided to stop.

Desperate (and in pain), I got upset. I wasn’t ready to stop nursing at 7 months. I’d planned to go the full year. Probably stop on his actual 1st birthday, knowing me.

So I called the local La Leché League people.

They told me I HAD to keep at it. No matter what. No matter how much it hurt. No matter how badly I felt about myself. Pump and just keep going.

Guess what?

All that preaching made this oppositional momma say: Screw you, Nipple Nazis! I’m using formula now! FORMULA!

And guess what?

Of couse you know, right?

Everything was fine. Actually better than fine. I wasn’t whipping out my tittie in public anymore. But also my husband could get involved. It was much more the way I’d hoped it would go.

My kid is academically excellent. He got the benefits of breastfeeding. A d, truth be told, the whole journey is foreshadowing if what he is like. He is strong-willed. He will go with the flow, until he isn’t into that something is anymore. Then he just stops – abruptly, without warning.

Now I know this.

But I didn’t then.

I’m glad you found your way.

And free formula? That stuff was like gold!

(Hmmm. Maybe I should fine tune and link here.)

Alex 3 years ago

I’m currently breastfeeding and it took me almost 5 months to go full time bf. gotta say it was rough.

BF is short term even if you go past the 1yr or 2 yr. so even if you don’t get to bf making an effort to healthier meals also counts and keeping active ( harder for us than for them lol)

I’m right on the picky eater stage and if it wasn’t because I’m still bf. I’ll be going nuts!

Susan 3 years ago

I was able to breastfeed soomewhat successfully with my 1st daughter for 6 mos (while also supplementiing with some formula) and then stopped after 8 weeks when I had twins. I hated every minute of it. Ok, it wasn’t awful with my 1st daughter or I wouldn’t have made it 6 mos, but I never enjoyed it or felt any more bonded. I just did it because I was “supposed” to while secretly hoping my milk would just dry up some day so I had an excuse to stop. For me this meant breast wasn’t best. With the twins I decided that spending time with my family was more important than pumping my life away. While I do think breast is best especially in the first 6- 8 weeks I don’t think women should feel like a failure because they either can’t or don’t want to breastfeed.

Jennifer 3 years ago

I couldn’t do it, either. I cried when I stopped. I felt like a failure. After all, hundreds of years ago there was no formula and women fed their children. One thought popped into my head one day and made it all okay. Hundreds of years ago a lot of babies died! I have never again regretted switching to formula. I am thankful it exists.

jenelle 3 years ago

I LOVE that all the comments seem to be supportive! We all do the best we can for our little brats and that looks different in each family. Kudos to each and every parent who understands this and can encourage others to do the same.

Heather 3 years ago

Agreed. I was in the same boat with my son and am now pregnant again and already feeling guilty about the possibility of not being successful this time around. Thanks for the reminder about what’s really important.

Melissa 3 years ago

My son literally came out of the womb a breastfeeding champ and I was very thankful. My sister now has a baby girl who would rather have formula than breastmilk. She is truly heartbroken and feels rejected by her own child. Thru helping and comforting her thru this difficult time, I have learned how frustrating and heartbreaking it can be. I’m going to share this post with her in the hopes she realizes she’s not alone. Thank you for this post!

Julie 3 years ago

THANK YOU for sharing!

I can totally relate. I had an awful time with my first and it broke my heart to stop breastfeeding… until I fed her formula and all of the sudden she stopped screaming! Hurrah! And then my second seemed to get it right away. She would just eat and eat and eat… but then she’d scream afterward. I overcame a lot of obstacles with my second (and when I say a lot, I mean not chopping off my breast during a bad case of mastitis AND going dairy free for 4 weeks), determined to continue to breastfeed her. That is, until we found out she had several food allergies and in order to continue to breastfeed her, I’d have to restrict my diet to only rice, vegetables, chicken, and fruits (and only certain fruits since she also had reflux). Ha! Helllllooo Rx formula! $50 per 14 oz can that comes with a large side of guilt? Fine by me as long as she wasn’t screaming and I could still eat!

I also worked in childcare (specifically infants and toddlers) for many years and never saw a difference between the breastfed kids and the formula fed kids in terms of health. If there was illness in the room, they ALL got it.

And in conclusion, I’ll never understand the anger over the free formula. Don’t these people realize they can sell it on Craigslist?!

Jen O 3 years ago

Thank you! Breastfeeding seems to have become a reason for bullying recently. Bottom line is that it is nobody’s business what or how you’re feeding your baby. As long as you’re feeding her and she’s getting the nutrition she needs according to her doctor. Because I have known kids who were breastfed and not breastfed and they’ve all turned out pretty well. Let’s stop the hating. Just as we tell our government to stay out of our vaginas, I would like to tell certain other moms to stay out of my bra.

Noelle 3 years ago

You are so absolutely correct! Totally agree with you! As I like to say, “Go to your local elementary school & pick out the kids who were breast fed.” You can’t!

Tzeitel 3 years ago

You should move to Panama, here I’m the freak because I breastfeed! The usual question among moms here is “what brand of formula do you give your baby'”

Veronica 3 years ago

I chose to be a sane mommy this time around with my second child and chose not to breastfeed. I went insane with my daughter who was underweight because I wasn’t producing enough but more than that, my boobs were just not meant for breastfeeding. Severely inverted nipples. Despite all that I still managed to nurse her for nearly 6 months. Honestly it really affected my bonding time with her because I was so miserable but the guilt over deciding to stop was overwhelming so I kept going. When I went back to work, I had to use the pump about 3 times a day and it lead to literally bleeding boobies every time I had to pump my sad little 2/12 to 3 oz of milk. One day I turned to my friend, crying, and said “I can’t do this anymore.” It was the best decision for me and my daughter. When I had my son, I tried to nurse him at the hospital and saw where this was going so I decided to stop. Both are perfectly healthy children and my bonding time has been ten times better this time around. I’m more exhausted than ever, but sane and happy :) Don’t let the guilt get to you. You’re children will be fine! Please don’t judge!

Liliana Reynolds 3 years ago

It took me till baby number four to be able to breast feed past month 3 and not to to combined breast feeding and bottles, I breastfeed my son till he was 18 months old. His a healthy baby but has the worse eczema out of the four children. I don’t like bottles not because there bottles just because I hated getting up in the night and realising I had forgotten to wash them or had no milk left :( breast feeding is easier in that department.

Arnebya 3 years ago

Eh, so the checklists we make before we know better (and even after we do) sometimes don’t pan out. Fuck anybody who 1) asks if you’re going to breastfeed, 2) asks why you aren’t breastfeeding, and 3) saying anything about anything related to anything about YOUR body and YOUR boobs (I so wanted to write titties but sometimes I try to be nice and well, shit, nevermind; did it anyway.) Look, we have got to stop beating ourselves up. Do what you can and screw all the rest. If you can breastfeed, great! If you can’t, great! You know why? Because you are still able to feed your baby and it’s none of anyone’s business what you feed him/her, when/where/how. There are so many reasons many of us can’t do many things but we love our kids, we do what needs doing and we keep on keepin’ on. I’ma make a shirt: I just made a gallon of kiss my ass. Get yourself a glass.

Besides, my son crawls on the floor barking and is the best motherfucking puppy I have ever seen a three-year-old be. Maybe it’s BECAUSE he was breastfed and because I ate some shit I shouldn’t have eaten. Or maybe he’s just a normal kid just like yours.

Wendy 3 years ago

I will never understand breast feeding zealots. And I hope that you will be able to let go of that guilt. As a Mom there will always be things to feel guilty about, this should not be one of them.
I wanted to share with you that I chose not to breast feed any of my three children. It was not for me, and I feel not guilt about it. When my oldest was little, another mom (in an online forum) actually told me her child would be smarter than mine because she breasted and I didn’t. Really? Ya think?
Anyway, my children are currently 19, 17 and 11. They are healthy horses, all three. Perfect attendance at school and so forth. Do their schools ever say to me, “Wow, your kids are so healthy, you must have breast fed.” Nope! And no, they don’t ask if your child WAS breasted. Even when they changed Doctors, I was never asked. The only comments I frequently get are “Wow, we have not seen you since your physical last year, fantastic!”. So exactly where do the statistics that all breasted children are so much better off come from? Who knows? Not me, but then I also wasn’t breast fed, so maybe I just can’t figure it out. Lol!
Anyway, try not to let judgmental people get to you, you are being the best Mom you can be for your child. Moms should stick together. I don’t get the Mommy war thing.

Mama and the City 3 years ago

That is a topic on every mommys diaries.

I felt guilty when almost all my friends just popped the boob out and feed the kid. Me on another hand popping a bottle feeling awkward. The guilt did not last long, thank God for my much more improved self-esteem. I stopped feeling guilty and sorrow for myself and tried to look at it as an opportunity to still be a great mom.

My kid is healthy – only 1 cold in her short existance so far. She is happy and I’m happy. That’s all it matters.

Great post.

Maria 3 years ago

Thank you for being so honest and posting this story. I couldn’t agree with you more! I was so stressed about breastfeeding that I ended up in the hospital with high blood pressure and all kinds of problems. It caused more harm then it did good, in my case. However, that doesn’t take away that feeling of being a “failure”. No matter how many stories I read, there still lies that feeling. Something that was obviously built by society.

Elizabeth 3 years ago

Love this post! Thank you for articulating some of the many emotions that a mother may feel who is formula-feeding her baby. I stopped breast feeding my son after 2.5 months (and I was never able to exclusively breast feed – not enough milk… and I too am not up for explaining to everyone why this likely happened). My baby is content, I am enjoying being his mommy much more now that the stress and guilt of not being able to breast feed has been left behind!

MeebsMom 3 years ago

I think we all just need to be a bit easier on ourselves and each other…it’s not a competition. I was hell-bent on breastfeeding, and when at first it wasn’t working…for a number of annoying and extenuating circumstances…I was devastated. But after a week my milk kicked in and my daughter got the hang of it. I think of myself as lucky…it wasn’t about success or failure, it just worked out. It wasn’t always a picnic (at least for me—my daughter loved to picnic at the breast!) but I nursed for two and a half years. I’m no pregnant with my second. I do plan to nurse again; I know it can work for me…but I haven’t set myself up so absolutely that I will be devastated if it doesn’t work. The most important thing is to love your child in every way you can…if that includes breastfeeding great, if not, so what?

DizzyMamaLizzy 3 years ago

Same here. My kids were all breast-fed and all have snotty noses all the time. My son prefers to be a frog over a cat though, that may be where the breast influenced him…

Deneen 3 years ago

i had such troubles with my first – constant mastitis, cranky baby, sleepless nights and days, infections … it was awful and i felt like a failure. after 7 weeks i ended up in hospital (the mastitis abcessed) and i was distraught – the nurse was great thou and she helped me put it in perspective … finally i chose to stop trying and put her on the bottle … i think we both felt better! i wish i had stopped sooner … (interestingly, babies #2 & 3 both breastfed no problems … goes to show each experience is different and unique)

Victoria 3 years ago

AMEN

Lisa 3 years ago

I exclusively breastfeed my daughter for 7 months, but she needed more and my supply wouldn’t meet the demand so we started to supplement with formula. I still nursed for a while when I could and pumped all the time so that she had breastmilk until she was over a year old. I was lucky I was able to nurse/pump as I did so that she was able to still have some breastmilk and that I did not experience some of the issues other women experience with breastfeeding.

I wanted to thank you for posting this because even though I had a different experience it was still hard…like really hard. It was exhausting, it was constant interruption in my life (especially at work), I had to continue to monitor what I was eating (and especially drinking) and my body was working so hard to produce milk that I literally couldn’t keep weight on (I was eating 3+ meals a day and at least 2 additional powerbars for extra calories…I know some women are like shut the hell up about being skinny…but trust me in this circumstance it was not enjoyable).

So, yes, we all know breast is best but we also all know that formula is not going to kill (or hinder) a child in anyway, do we really think pediatricians would recommend it if it was bad, I think not. But my greater point in writing this post is that, as women, we need to do a better job of not judging and putting so much pressure on each other about stuff like this and we need to look at the bigger picture…are you taking care of your child and loving child to the absolute best of your ability? If yes, then great, carry on…breastmilk or no breastmilk, you’re a great mom.

Victoria 3 years ago

I never tried. I knew I would hate every second of it and didn’t want to hate my child for making me do it. I don’t care if people think me a bad mother. My son (who was formula fed) has exceptional verbal/math skills and didn’t get his first cold until he was almost two years. He continued with daycare and only got mildly sick once a year, when all the other kids suffered allergies, asthma, constant sniffles, constant ear infections, and other childhood ailements. My point – don’t judge, breast nazis!

Robyn 3 years ago

Thank you for writing such an honest post. I am currently breast feeding my almost 5 month old daughter but it has been an every day struggle from the day she was born. I often wonder if I’m failing her or if my body is failing me. Thank you for making me feel supported and that I’m not alone.

Jennifer Domenick 3 years ago

Kiran,

I breastfed two of out my three boys, and I understand completely the reasons why some babies cannot be breastfed and I’m glad I had that experience because I was a judgmental breastfeeding mom before it happened.

Thank you so much for putting into words what exactly my sentiments and thank god for formula, because I have a healthy son because of it.

Tammy 3 years ago

I couldn’t breastfeed either…with my first I had no milk and for weeks I did formula/breast and it was a mess. I had to finally give up. With my second I decided to give up after a week of trying thinking that I again had no milk. Truth of it is that I am pretty sure my milk came in the day after I decided to give up….I still used formula with her and let the milk dry up. I just couldn’t do it. I am in awe of the women that do. Thanks for this post…

Kelsey 3 years ago

I completely agree. This passing judgement on other mothers who aren’t able to or don’t want to BF just because you can and did/do doesn’t help anybody. In fact, I wonder why so many kids nowadays are so self-centered and judgemental of others who are different?

I breastfed for 2 months. My little guy had no trouble latching and I had no trouble producing. Unfortunately, no matter how well I adjusted my diet, breastmilk did not agree with his tummy. We went through many nights when he was so gassy, no matter how hungry he was, he couldn’t eat, he couldn’t sleep, he just cried and cried. The poor little thing! Most nights we were both in tears.

When I finally tried formula, it was night and day! Finally he could fill his little tummy and not deal with the pain he endured for 2 months as I tried to “be the best mother.”

Now at 6 months, he is already a very bright, happy all the time, baby. I don’t usually get the questions about how long I breastfed. I’m not sure if it is because people assume I did or not, but it never fails that I get tons of compliments about how well-behaved he is.

I have several friends who are breastfeeding and have problems with a fussy baby. My sister never even tried to breastfeed her 3 children and they are all very intelligent, talented individuals.

Mothers need to be supportive of each other instead of criticizing the choices others make. Make the choice that’s best for you and your baby, and concentrate on loving and nurturing them as they grow.

We are shaping our children’s future constantly. Let’s not teach them to be judgemental and self-involved.

Jen 3 years ago

YES. Thank you!

Melissa 3 years ago

I breastfed because I felt pressured to. Everyone kept saying how great it is for the baby and if I even once suggested I might not I would get glares. I am glad I did it now. She has allergies, including peanuts, and gets ear infections. We had bonding time but any mother will when feeding their child. What works for some doesn’t for others.

Sarah 3 years ago

So true! And I found out the hard way that even when you do breastfeed, there are difficulties that no doctor or nurse will ever cop to. It took me two children to figure out that terrible constipation was (at least for me) related to BFing. And also painful sex. And–my personal favorite–some women have lovely feelings of success when their milk lets down. Me? A nauseous rush. I survived all of the above, but I had to figure it all out myself. Because nobody ever dares speak about the dark side of BFing. It’s like Voldemort. That which must not be named.

Diane 3 years ago

I tried really hard with both of my kids. Both times I couldn’t, physically. I would spending so much time pumping and got very little. Everyone just assumed I could because I was,well, endowed.:) But looks are deceiving. I totally went through guilt and despondency, but I’ve definitely moved on.

Maryjane 3 years ago

Thank you so much for this post. I really appreciate your “real-ness” and humor along with it! I nursed for 11 weeks with my daughter, and it was by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my whole life. I just couldn’t do it any more, she wasn’t getting enough, and I knew I’d be a better parent if the pressure wasn’t all on me. I still feel guilty about it even though she’s 2, but I’m trying to let it go. I also work full time and she’s in day care so that doesn’t help much with the guilt factor. We are expecting our second in April, and I hope that’s its easier this time, but if its not it really helps to know that there are other women like me, and there are those who I don’t have to worry about the judgement as well. Thanks again for not being afraid to bring this up!!

Mamarific 3 years ago

I breastfed my kids because it happened to work for me. If it hadn’t, I would have used formula. In fact, I DID supplement with formula, so that I could have a break! And I, myself, was not breasted, and I apparently turned out OK!!! I hope you never feel guily or question yourself over this issue again. The haters gonna hate.

Annie 3 years ago

I totally agree!

Rebecca 3 years ago

Thank you for this! It was like I was reading my own words! The amount of time I spent besting myself up for nor being able to breastfeed and the amount of tears I shed as well would have been better spent just enjoying those precious moments with my baby!

Annie 3 years ago

I wasn’t breastfed and i think i turned out just fine, I have no allergies and i’m never sick (I have cousins that are always sick and are allergic to EVERYTHING and they were all breastfed). And I did not breastfeed either of my children and they are happy, healthy well adjusted kids. It makes me so angry when other mothers have the nerve to judge you on this one part of being a mother. They have no right. So i say good for you for not breastfeeding! you did the right thing for you and your babies!

Aimee Giese | Greeblemonkey 3 years ago

Breastfeeding didn’t work for me, and I really tried. I say: what works for the family is what works, period. No caveats, no nothing. I got tired of trying to justify myself. 😉

Denise 3 years ago

I was a formula baby and perfectly healthy. My 2 kids were formula babies too. They are fine.

What I don’t get is the shift from my mom’s generation where it was not only Fine to not breast feed, but if you wanted to opt out the doc would give you a shot to keep your milk from coming in.

The moms who call formula poison are also the ones who pledge to make their own baby food from organic apples that they have planted in the yard and will knit all their own baby clothes from sheep they are raising next to the orchard.

Give yourself a break and remember that millions of people have been raised successfully on canned milk. It’s ok.

Amanda 3 years ago

I tried to breast feed. It didn’t work for me. I was too overwhelmed by my twins. And yes, you’re right, breast is best, but when that doesn’t work, babies who get to eat are just as happy. My twins are 8 and doing fabulously. I’m glad you were able to kick that breast feeding checklist to the curb!

Jenn 3 years ago

I am so glad you posted about this, I was also unsuccessful at breastfeeding, and felt ridiculed by my friends who easily did it with their children for a year or longer, my chronic-breastfeeding neighbor with 7 children who had been continuously breastfeeding for 13 years (her hair was even starting to fall out from this unnatural phenominon), my husband and my family. DD just didn’t latch, it hurt, I felt like I failed the most basic skill of motherhood. But she was happy and healthy, she grew, we figured out what worked for US and as an added bonus, I got to sleep through some nights. And I did try, successfully, with the second child, but the demands were too much after 4 months so my guilt faded when I handed him a bottle and handed him off to his father and went to the grocery store for 2 hours to regain my sense of self. I used to beat myself up about it, but now, 11 years later, I think I am doing a pretty good job overall in raising them, they haven’t suffered or lost out and they aren’t developmentally behind their peers for not being attached to my tit for 2 years each. And on the plus side….I still have a really sweet set of natural boobs!!!

LynnZMbH 3 years ago

I’m so happy someone wrote this article. I breastfed my son for 4 agonizing weeks. Felt like a failure for giving up. Turned out he was tongue tied and couldn’t latch properly causing terrible pain and trouble feeding. Still I’m judged for not sucking it up, or simply pumping every 2 hours (which I did toward the end) self righteous breastfeeding moms are the worst

Jennifer 3 years ago

Honey, you are not alone. There are more of us than you think.

Jenny 3 years ago

Rare is the woman who doesn’t have at least one fantasy about motherhood shattered when baby arrives–whether the issues are breastfeeding, attachment, sleep, or some other “basic” building block. But it matters not one whit that they’re common, because as you so beautifully articulate here, a dream-buster is a dream-buster, and these little so-called failures make you feel bad about things that, realistically speaking, are beyond your control. They’re not failures at all, just judgement-magnets. Lovely piece.

Samantha Agar 3 years ago

I breastfed both of my boys, but compared to may I didn’t last long. With my first son it was a horrible beginning, made worse by public health nurses invading my home and squeezing my breasts and telling me how to hold him while I sat there in shock, all hormonally depleted and feeling Ike an utter failure. We had to run out and get a breast pump (which I still refer to as “the bovine torture device”) to make sure our little guy was getting enough milk every day. After five months he chose to go exclusively with the bottle.

There are so many “expectations” put on mothers about this. Whenever the subject comes up I always grab the opportunity to tell new moms to just do the best they can, and if that doesn’t involve breast feeding, it’s really okay. It can be so hard to accept, and nobody tells you it can be such a complicated thing.

I am sure there are some subtle developmental differences between breast milk and formula, but I doubt they are worth worrying about. the latter was FORMULATED specifically to deliver all required nutrients for optimum health, right? And it’s been around long enough that we’d have seen any major fallout. Besides, my husband was fed formula and he is one of the smartest mofos I know.

Breasfeeding is a wonderful thing, but it is only one of the millions of wonderful things about being a parent. Thanks for writing this for the moms who need to hear it!

Teresa 3 years ago

I couldn’t have said it better, MarySunshine! :-)

kimmie 3 years ago

I didn’t. I tried with my daughter. And my doctor told me my baby would be fine….and not to beat myself up about it. I coulda hugged her right there. My son was an 8 1/2 lb preemie. Two weeks in NICU opened up a whole new list of reasons why I didn’t. And at 13yo and 10yo, they BOTH ARE FINE.

Teri 3 years ago

My oldest son is tongue-tied and couldn’t breastfeed. We switched to formula and he’s perfectly fine. My younger son was breastfed for almost 2 years, and guess what? He’s asthmatic, breaks out in a rash when he gets too hot, and takes Miralax every day for chronic constipation. Poor kid.

Ladera Mom 3 years ago

Are you my long, lost sister? :) I too ‘failed’ at breastfeeding both of my boys. They are THRIVING, and smart, sweet, and healthy. Not sure why people get so angry about this topic. Do what is best for YOU and YOUR kid, don’t worry about me and my child! Thank you for speaking the truth.

Hannah 3 years ago

I don’t really get all the guilt over not breastfeeding. I tried hard to breastfeed. It didn’t work. My child stopped screaming and losing weight once we started her on formula after a week and a half. We were all happier.

Don’t get me wrong – the first week and a half of trying was very hard and overwhelming and difficult but I just don’t feel guilty for making a decision that was best for everyone at the time. I wish there was more focus in general on doing the thing that is right for each family so that women can feel good about the way they are nourishing their baby. Because we are all just doing the best we can with what we got.

alelue 3 years ago

I think as long as a woman is being the best parent she can be, it is her decision. I had a preemie & pumped for 9 weeks til I could nurse her. It has a terrible experience. After she was 3 months old though, it got easy & wasn’t a problem to nurse. It’s rough in the beginning though. I tried to give her formula, but she vomited. She could only accept pre-made special formula (which was $13 for 24 ounces). We just could not afford that! So I stayed at home & breastfed. It continues to be a much cheaper option.

Veronica 3 years ago

I think it’s bad enough that we feel like failures as mothers when we can’t breastfeed (I did, both times), we don’t need others to make us feel that way too.

Jen 3 years ago

What I’ve learned in 26+ years of child-rearing is that the love and time you put into your children is what makes the difference. Breastfeeding or bottlefeeding, cloth diapers or disposable – these are all just different ways to care for our children and the caring is what’s important, not the details.

Modern Mia Gardening 3 years ago

Out of my 4 kids, only 1 was breast-fed. He’s the one who’s the first to get sick and the last to get well. Like everything else, breast-feeding just doesn’t work for everybody. It’s not a one-breast-fits-all scenario (I know, gasp and shock). When I was born 40 years ago, my mom wanted to breast feed but the doctor’s told her it was bad for the baby, not enough nutrients. Now it’s the complete opposite.

Sarah 3 years ago

Thank you for this post.
I have felt the pressure (“How long did you breastfeed? Oh, were you only able to breastfeed until you returned to work? Didn’t your doctor tell you how good breastfeeding is for your baby? Don’t you know how awesome breastfeeding is for you?”) of those assumptions– even though they are well-meaning assumptions. I’m glad to see someone write about how it can feel to be surrounded by these assumptions.

Beth 3 years ago

I love your candidness. So many moms are left to feel horrible when certain things just don’t work. I know when I went into labor, I thought I would endure the pain, have a vaginal birth, and then baby and I would bond, and breast feed and ta-da! Nope, walls of contractions had me choose pain relief, great dilation and 3 hours of pushing yielded nothing, so emergency c-section. Waking up in the recovery room I felt like such a huge failure. I then had a blood clot and had to feed her formula for 24 hours. Besides that, we have breast fed, and I love it, but labor and birthing and babies are tough. Anyone who criticizes another mother is a dick – life happens, things happen, complications happen and choices have to be made. Healthy babies and sane mommies are what are most important, not some ideal of the perfect mommy.

Alison 3 years ago

Eh, as long as the children got fed, and they grew and grew. Right?

Tiffany 3 years ago

Thanks for this! There is so much pressure to breast-feed and the reality is that not every women can or wants to. Maybe she has a physical block that makes it impossible, maybe she doesn’t want a squirming baby latched to her, maybe she wants the baby-daddy to be able to feed the baby right away too… whatever the reason, I wish that society didn’t try to shove breast-feeding down women’s throats! I was formula fed and I turned out fine, why wouldn’t my kids?

That being said, when my little one comes I plan to try breast-feeding, but I know that if it doesn’t fit for us, then formula is fine. “Breast is Best” doesn’t work for everyone… and if it really is that important, then women who can’t/don’t wanna breast-feed should have easy and inexpensive access to breast-milk not from their own bodies. If it is so important that babies get breast-milk, then moms who don’t breast-feed should be able to just go and purchase it as easily as formula.

Yes, there are some states (or provinces, if you’re Canadian, like me!) that have set up special ways to get breast-milk to these women, but it isn’t always easy to access… and if it is really that important, then it should be easier and cheaper to find then formula… don’t you think?

ekoehn 3 years ago

Thank you for writing this!! I tried so hard to bf my son. I hated it. I hated the feeling, and it just wasn’t a bonding experience for me at all. I was in grad school at the time too, so I was pumping a lot for him so he could eat while I was gone, and I could just never get enough. We had to buy formula so he would not starve while I was gone. Eventually he started to self wean around 6 months. No one believed me that HE was the one who didn’t want it anymore. I had (sometimes still have) SO much guilt over him being completely weaned at 7 months, especially since my friend’s babies that are his age are still bf-ing. My friends don’t purposely make me feel bad, but they don’t realize how hard it was for me…the pain, frustration, the many tears we both cried, when he was hungry and I had nothing to give him. Hes a pretty happy kid now, and I’m pregnant with #2. Going to try to bf, and if things go a similar way, I’m going to try and not feel guilty. I’m doing my best, and raising happy children, and that’s what counts!

Renae 3 years ago

For a variety of medical reasons, I was unable to have children. The things my husband and I went through to have a family were expensive and heartbreaking. Its a shame that this society of parenting newborns puts this burden on your shoulders.
This is such a great and exciting time for new Mom’s and Dad’s. Its funny and not so funny what others
preconceived notions of what you’re “suppose” to do can weigh so heavily on your mind and create such bad feelings.
Enjoy those little one’s, on the breast or off they will be just fine.
Peace

Rebecca 3 years ago

Before anyone is too hard on themselves for the manner in which they feed their baby, recall what will happen if you do not feed your baby.
I breastfed all three of my kids for over one year. My middle son was born with congenital glaucoma and had 7 surgeries in his first 18 months of life. He was underweight and cried constantly. It did not matter what I fed him. He had (and continues to have) a problem beyond the scope of feeding.
Human beings are very adaptable organisms. As long as we are being fed and loved, all things are possible.

MarySunshine 3 years ago

No one should feel guilty for doing what is best for *their* children and family. It’s their business and NO ONE ELSE’S.

I always have to wonder, all those moms (and dads) that have to loudly profess their parenting beliefs and goings on…are they really that confident in their decisions and beliefs? I don’t need to go on FB and post a length status about my decisions to only feed my kids purple potatoes and yellow cauliflower. If that’s what I feel is right, I do it. I don’t need the pats on my back, and you certainly won’t find me criticizing someone because they choose to feed their kids Russet potatoes and purple cauliflower.

All the BS we see and hear (especially on some other Mommy sites I’ll leave unnamed), the Mommy Wars if you will, I really believe just boil down to moms looking for some sign that what they are doing is right. Unfortunately, those pots have over boiled and have turned into scathing battles for supremacy. Over what? Chapped nipples and tub of baby formula. It’s stupid.

We all struggle to do right by our kids. That should be all that matters. Not who breastfeeds or formula feeds and on and on, ad nauseum.

Kiran, you’ve got it right. And make sure you leave a little * at the bottom of your list to remind yourself to, “Fuck anyone else’ opinions!”

:-)

Sara 3 years ago

I love this post even though I breastfed!! I hate when women who breastfeed feel superior to those who can’t/didn’t/no desire to, etc. Kudos to all moms for loving and caring for their children and doing what’s best for them!

The Atomic Mom 3 years ago

THANK YOU! I love this post so much.

First, the checklists … how I’ve been thinking about that in my own life lately.

Second, the breastfeeding … I always felt that breastfeeding was not the right choice for me, but after Ihad my frist child the pressure was there, so I tried and tried and failed and failed. I didn’t make any milk…not just, “not enough” but NOTHING! Expecting that, I didn’t even bother with my second and it’s been the right choice for us. I still get the looks, the sneers and so on, but I am happy that my kids are taken care of, and that I can hand them off to DH if I need to.

I love that my friends can and do nurse their babies, I wish that I were afforded that same courtesty by other women as well.

Thanks again for this great post!

Jennie 3 years ago

I didn’t BF. Even more shocking I didn’t even try, I just didnt want to. I am sure militant lactivists are recoiling in horror but I don’t give a monkeys. Quite frankly what you feed your kids doesn’t start and end with breast milk.
If you can BF well done. If you can’t or don’t want to and you use formula then well done too. Bottom line what’s most important is happy mum = happy baby. Lets ditch the guilt :)

Toni 3 years ago

Thank you for your honesty..I too struggled with the breastfeeding thing….that I didn’t have enough perseverance. That I was less than because I didn’t. Despite that, my boys still bonded with me…and my husband also had the chance to feed and spend that time with them,so it was all worth it in the end.

Dannielle 3 years ago

Love.

Jamia 3 years ago

Hurray to you for telling this story! I made it a miserable two months on the breastfeeding scene. It just never worked for me. No milk. Period. And it’s OKAY! My kid is fed. And loved. Does anything else really matter?

We all need to pay it forward with honesty like this so future mothers can feel more secure in whatever scenarios they face.

Kirsten 3 years ago

My story too – although I wanted Eric Estrada and not Bon Jovi. I tried so hard to breastfeed. Both kids. And even after drugs, being hooked up to what I can assume is the same machine used to milk cows, changes in diets, adding / subracting whatever I could to make this “natural” process work, the tears got the best of me. So very lucky to have had the right midwife and GP and said that the kids would survive with love and formula vs. frustration and exhaustion. Happy to say that my very healthy 10 and 7.5 year old have no problem keeping up with all their breastfed buddies. Thank you for writing this, I hope more woman understand that it just doesn’t happen for everyone like they planned in their story.

Skyler 3 years ago

I feel your pain! I, too was unable to breastfeed for a multitude of reasons. Back in the 70’s (like today) one was made to feel like a selfish, evil mommy if one wasn’t able to breastfeed. Yup, in the motherhood food chain, my inablility put me on the lowest rung of the ladder. But all these years later and my kids are both grown up and fabulous. Breast may be best, but loving, cuddling and nurturing your baby essential and don’t always have to be combined with nursing.

Kerry Rego 3 years ago

I did breastfeed. But I didn’t like it. I also wasn’t able to do it for very long. I felt like a bad person because I didn’t enjoy someone else’s near constant attachment to my body.

Though our experience is different, I think we may be feeling some of the same emotions. Every mom I know says that motherhood was the best thing to ever happen to them. Not me, my life was good before, still is, but I don’t glow extra hard because I had children. I didn’t instantly become happier or a better person.

I just wanted to let you know that sometimes it sucks to be the outsider mom. Even if you had breastfed, you still would’ve had nagging doubts, they’d just be in a different category. “Is it because I used disposable diapers? Or because I didn’t make my own baby food?” I think we lie to ourselves and other moms to make ourselves seem like more perfect mothers. We’re not.

I lost my mom at 6. So I think you win because you’re there and you love your kids. Period.

Lisa 3 years ago

I breastfed one child until she weaned herself at 9 months. She’s allergic to nuts and treenuts. I tried and tried with the other for about a month until we had to switch to formula – and guess what – no allergies. Go figure. As a mom, do the best you can and stop judging each other.

Mandi 3 years ago

I tried breast feeding my oldest. I nearly starved her to death. That is not an exaggeration. She was in the 3rd percentile for weight and almost categorized as a “failure to thrive.” Sometimes breast isn’t best.

Karen 3 years ago

yes! I totally get this post–both the inability to breast feed (I was eventually told that I likely have “insufficent breast tissue” or something like that that means I can’t store quantities of milk, hence no supply, hence screaming child who’s not getting enough to eat and losing weight, hence formula) and the love of to do lists. Thanks for sharing!

Stacy 3 years ago

I couldn’t have said this better myself… I didn’t breastfeed.. but I kind of don’t have that guilt?? maybe that’s wrong too. I did everything & still do every.single.day to make sure my kids are healthy & happy. But when people still say “how long did you nurse” i get a little annoyed.. I don’t ask that to other people??? I just don’t think to ask that of someone unless it’s a close friend/etc. Do others eat without dyes; processed foods; no gluten; no dairy; etc etc.. nope but I do… however I don’t tell everyone they suck b/c they don’t.. it works for us & really that’s what works for my kids so why does that matter to anyone else? same thing to me.

Sally 3 years ago

I honestly feel like someone took the story I could not articulate and wrote it for me. Thank you for sharing, because this is truly how it happened to me. I was devastated at the decision to stop after three days of trying. I realized I could be a better Mom, by not breastfeeding……imagine that.

Holly 3 years ago

I breasted both children and they both cough and get sick. I never understood all the fuss and pressure. Kids turn out great no matter how they’re fed. Kudos to you for being their wonderful mom who cares enough to do the right thing. You have.