Parenting

The Reluctant Formula Feeding Mummy’s Guide to Surviving International Breastfeeding Week

31st July 2015

Ah, International Breastfeeding Week.  This week, for Mums like me who, for whatever reason, didn’t manage to breastfeed, or not for as long as we intended, it can be a pretty crap week to get through.

As I’ve said before, I’m an advocate of feeding your baby the way you want to; but sometimes it doesn’t go the way you hoped, and regardless of outside influences, the Mummy Guilt can take over. If you’re sad about your breastfeeding journey, that’s ok (you can read about mine here). It’s ok to be upset by this week. I know I am!  And not because of the typical vitriol you get from the (I use the term hesitantly) militant lactivists, but because, quite frankly, I’m jealous – all these (sometimes smug) women celebrating their breastfeeding successes while my story is littered with pain and failure.

So this guide isn’t just for you guys, it’s very much for me too. I support you, Mama, yes you, who’s reading this right now, fighting back tears and hoping for someone to take your hand and say “Yeah, this week sucks, doesn’t it?”.

baby x and me

Step One: 

Take a look at your beautiful creation. Aren’t they just the most amazing thing in the world?! You did that. You’re awesome.

Step Two:

Isn’t formula freaking wonderful?! Science milk! How incredibly lucky are we that we have such a brilliant option at our finger tips?  Yes, breastfeeding is fantastic, and free milk, yay! But as much as the internet and lactivists might go on and on about research that has apparently proved babies who are breastfed for 6 months are less likely to develop leukaemia, or obesity, this needs to be taken with a pinch of salt – if you head over to The Fearless Formula Feeder you’ll find a far better explanation of why the studies and research that get banded about on TV might not be as straightforward as they seem.

Step Three:

While you’re over on FFF, check out all the other stories from Mums who’ve ended up using formula because breastfeeding didn’t work. I can assure you, with total confidence, that you are not the only person going through all of these emotions and heartache. There are loads of women out there who struggled too – so when you see the brelfies and the Mums on Facebook describing how they got through their difficulties etc. don’t take it to heart – their situation is different to yours. You should be proud you got through a tough time by making hard choices for the benefit of your kid.

Step Four:

Talking of social media… remember that life isn’t what people put on Facebook or Instagram. Those serene brelfies? The kid probably puked up all over her afterwards, and she might have crippling mastitis, or the kid might have tried to bite off her nipple… at least when your rugrat bites the bottle teat it doesn’t hurt… #smallmercies

Step Five:

Remember that 99% of the population do not give a hoot about how you feed your kid. And the ones that do decide to comment with negativity probably aren’t worth your time and energy. The important thing is that you fed your kid. And fed your kid the right stuff, not blended up Burger King at 3 days old.

Step Six:

Give yourself a break. Turn off Facebook, go for a walk and resist the urge to scroll through Social Media feeling bad. If it isn’t going to help, then don’t do it to yourself – you deserve to treat yourself better than that.

Step Seven:

If you want to, cry it out. It can be so therapeutic to just let it go occasionally. Talk it out with your friend/partner/Mum/the woman in the supermarket; get the nagging bad thoughts out first, the ones that always tug at your heartstrings. But then remember the bits you’re proud of – it’s ok if this makes you cry too. Emotions demand to be felt, and if you tuck them all away in the back of your mind you’ll never deal with them and they’ll turn into big ugly monsters who wont leave you alone. If you want to, leave me a message on here – I will get back to you as soon as I can – or you could just rant in the comments section. I don’t mind!

The biggest thing to remember is fed is best. You’re a brave, wonderful, selfless Mama who did the right thing for her family’s health, and importantly, your own health. A happy mama equals a happy baby.

And here, have a virtual internet hug. They help too. {hugs}

  1. Thank you for this. My son was eight weeks premature and, no matter what I did or tried (and tried, oh how I tried), my milk never came in. I pumped faithfully for a month, got him all that colostrum and had to stop when he finally came home from the hospital a month later. I was not pumping enough for even a single feed. I was exhausted, physically and emotionally, and I know I don’t need to justify that to anyone . . . but I still find myself feeling guilty and needing to explain (like I just did here!).

    I remember seeing Breastfeeding Week stuff last year, but I didn’t have a child then, and it didn’t affect me. It does now. I’m going to think about your post in the week to come and try not to worry about it — I did the best I could, and I love my son fiercely. Thanks! <3

    1. Thank you for commenting 🙂 I’m glad you found it, and I really hope it helps in the coming week! This is my 2nd year now, and the feeling does soften a bit, but it can still be pretty raw from time to time. You’re doing an awesome job! xx

  2. I never made milk to speak of either, although both of mine were full-term (and are now 3.5 and 1.5). I love my kids and know I made the choices that I felt were best for each of them, but I still can’t help feeling overwhelmingly disappointed with my deliveries and feedings because I had the wrong expectations from the beginning. So I have this deep-seated sense of wrongness about it all even though it couldn’t have worked out any other way.

    1. I really relate to that disappointed feeling; but as you say, you made the right decisions to keep your kids healthy, and that’s the really important thing. I think it’s human to wish the past was different, and it can be really difficult to push past the regret.

      Thank you for commenting; in a way, I think, talking to other women who’ve experienced that same feeling of upset with a similar situation goes some way to helping me deal with my own emotions. I hope it helps you too.

  3. Thank you for this wonderful post. I do breastfeed my baby, but I went through hell to achieve that. Lactation consultants, oral surgeon, lots of tears and pain for weeks, if not months. I wouldn’t judge anyone for opting out of that. I’m also lucky that once I got the hang of breastfeeding, I never had supply issues. I have friends who just can’t produce enough milk, no matter what they try. Thanks for bringing a spirit of compassion to this discussion.

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