I know what you’re thinking – not another breast vs. bottle article. I get it. This divide between nursing and formula moms is getting old. But, why must we pick a side? As a mother who has pumped, formula fed, and now is exclusively breastfeeding, I’m unsure of where I fit in. The truth of the matter is, however you choose to do it, feeding babies is hard work.
Breastfeeding mamas, feeding babies is hard work. You’re sore. You’re on your last set of breast pads, because somehow you forgot them during your last two Target runs. You’ve become a homebody because finding a semi-private place to nurse in public is next to impossible. When you do finally leave the house, you realize you left your nursing cover at home. Your blood boils every time you read about another mother being shamed for breastfeeding. You are incredibly jealous of your “I’d help if I could” husband, who sleeps peacefully next to you during nighttime feedings. Your wardrobe is limited strictly to breastfeeding-accessible clothing. You blame yourself for eating the wrong thing when your baby has a bellyache. You desperately want a glass of wine and when you finally drink it, you feel like the world’s worst mother.
Formula-feeding mamas, feeding babies is hard work. You can sense the judgement of others every time you pull a bottle from your diaper bag. You’re never on time because you’re always filling containers with perfectly measured formula before leaving the house. Traveling is the worst because you’re on a constant lookout for safe water to make a bottle with. You can never make spontaneous plans because you don’t have enough formula on you. You’ve spent hours upon hours researching the pros and cons of each brand of formula, before deciding on the perfect one for your baby’s needs. You stress about the ever-rising price of formula. You are extremely disappointed when your doctor’s office offers you free samples, only to let you know that they’re out of your preferred brand. Every time you hear the words “breast is best,” you feel like crying. You’re constantly worrying that your child isn’t receiving the right nutrients or growing at the same rate as breastfed babies.
Pumping mamas, feeding babies is hard work. No one understands the phrase “crying over spilled milk” quite like you do. You watch a lot of TV, because you’re always pumping. When the TV’s on, you have to turn the volume up all the way, as an attempt to muffle the sounds of your pump. You use your lunch break to uncomfortably pump in a less-than-desirable location. You want to cry when your baby drinks only an ounce of an 8 ounce bottle and you have to throw your liquid gold away. You spend double the time nourishing your baby – pumping and feeding, pumping and feeding. You feel guilty when you make the decision to supplement with formula because you’re not producing enough. You feel like you’re missing out on precious bonding time with your baby because you’re constantly pumping. You think the most romantic gesture is when your husband washes your pump parts (All. Those. Parts.). You’d be more devastated if your pump died than if your car broke down.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned on my journey in feeding babies, it’s that you should always trust your gut. All babies are different. Just because you breastfed your first, doesn’t mean your second baby is going to latch. And that’s okay! Remember that feeding babies is not an easy ride for anyone – we all have our struggles. Let’s encourage each other and make feeding babies a judgement-free zone.