Breastfed and Formula Fed: One Mother’s Journey

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breastfed or formula fedMy daughter will be one this month, and it brings me to tears to think our breastfeeding journey is slowly coming to an end. This year has been how most moms dream breastfeeding will go.

Easy from the beginning. Baby latches well. Milk production is sufficient. Extra milk stored in the freezer. No pain. No mastitis. Sweet sleepy snuggles in the night.

Yet this is my third child and the first time I’ve had this experience.

Breastfed and Formula Fed

My First Child

My first son was adopted, so he was formula-fed from the start with some breastmilk mixed in from some beautiful souls who donated to us. I did try the Medela Supplemental Nursing System, but I often found by the time I could get milk warmed up, in the bottle around my neck, get the tubes taped to my chest, my son was beyond hangry. Therefore, we stuck with bottles for the most part.

My Second Child

My second son was born after IVF, a rough pregnancy, and preeclampsia leading to an early delivery at 36 weeks. Breastfeeding was a different story. My nipples hurt for weeks. My son struggled to latch, and I’d cry in the middle of the night as it often took 15 minutes or more just to get a so-so latch. I was also advised to pump after feedings to make sure I produced enough for our little premie. But trying to pump and take care of a needy two-year-old and screaming newborn seemed to be a task for a mom better equipped than me.

I felt like I was failing my sons.

After three months, I broke down to my husband telling him I wanted my body back and was ready to stop breastfeeding. Admitting this out loud was difficult as I had put immense pressure on myself to breastfeed. But letting go of this idea built up in my mind from myself and society’s constant reminder that “breast is best” allowed me to heal mentally and physically.

Creating a Bond

This healing, believe it or not, led me to build a stronger bond with my son. While I would have loved to bond with each of my babies through a year of breastfeeding, I found many other ways to build that loving, trusting relationship with my children.

I have three kids and had three very different experiences with feeding and bonding with my babies. I’m here to remind you that every child and mother is different and how they choose to feed their baby is a deeply personal choice. More than a simple choice made on a whim, the decision is often driven by an infant’s growth and development or a mother’s mental and physical health.  

Remember, you know what is best for your family. Make decisions for you and your baby. Then find the moms who will cheer you on either way because no matter what journey you are on, no matter if your baby is breastfed or formula fed, you are doing an incredible job, Mama.

What was your feeding experience? 

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Betsy is a stay at home mom to two handsome, energetic boys and a sweet baby girl. Most days are spent chasing after little boys, reading books, and playing superheroes, but she loves spending any extra time she can painting, cooking, writing, listening to music or audiobooks, or being outside. After years of infertility and now as a mom through both adoption and IVF, Betsy loves connecting with, supporting, and advocating for those on their own personal journey with infertility or adoption. Follow her family’s story and connect with her on Instagram @betsydearnoone.

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