After successfully (though never smugly) breastfeeding two babies and birthing my third, all I have to say is thank God, science and human ingenuity for the invention of formula.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I have always been a fan of the chemical wonder that is formula. Formula is feminist; simply because it offers women and men choice. At least that’s how I used to value formula – it met MY needs. My firstborn had her first bottle of formula at three months as Mummy was desperate for adult conversation and a coffee but there was no expressed breast milk left in the freezer. No milk, no problem. Formula met my needs.
Today though – as a woman two days post pushing out a 12lbs, 8oz baby – I am just relieved and grateful that formula is meeting my baby’s needs when I can’t.
I can draft this because for the first time in my daughter’s life, she is content enough to be lying alone for more than 8 minutes (in fact, we’re almost at a full hour of restful sleep). That poor thing was miserable and, as her mother, so was I. So thank you, formula. And thank you to all the pro-feeding midwives and mamas who let me know there was another option for my newborn.
I will still try to express milk and then breastfeed after the tongue tie is snipped because I want to breastfeed. I like the ease of it. I’m not organised enough for bottles.
Always, I have seen formula feeding as less convenient than breastfeeding. But suddenly now, little bottle brushes, sterilisation tabs and warming a bottle in the middle of the night all seem far more convenient than having a starving, unhappy baby and extreme pain during feeding which offers no relief to said starving, miserable child.
I knew about formula, was a fan of formula but I still choose to write this and share this message. Why? Because as a third-time mum I have some authority on the matter than each child is different.
The child is the thing, I guess. I used to believe formula was about the mother (though intellectually, I knew about dairy intolerance and reflux etc.). I was so confident and committed to breastfeeding in the early days, that is was the right choice for ME, I didn’t even unpack the bottles and bottle warmer. I didn’t consider it might not be the right choice for my newest daughter.
But at 1 o’clock this morning, I had no idea where to start looking so I fed my 2-day-old from her 16-month-old sister’s bottle. Luckily, I had a newborn sachet of formula as ‘back-up’ for her dad (my midwife took one look at my gargantuan baby and suggested I might stock some for a little top-up after breastfeeds). I suspect the giant bottle teat will end in projectile vomit but it’s better than offering my boob as a painful pacifier to the starving child.
Mother Nature is survival of the fittest. Motherhood is simply about survival.
So do what you have to do, ladies. Your job is for you and your babies to survive and thrive, respectively. So I am, always have been and will remain an advocate for feeding your baby. Whatever way is best for you, whatever way is best for your baby.