When my daughter was born, we quickly and relatively easily began a long and enjoyable breastfeeding relationship.
When my son was born, I expected it to be the same way.
Turns out it’s true what everyone has told me – no two babies are the same.
While my son latched decently at the start, it quickly turned into a fight to get him to latch and stay latched. I was pumping like mad right when he was born because I wanted to be able to store my excess milk to donate, but it turned out that milk went directly to my son since breastfeeeing was a struggle.
I was keeping up relatively well with his hunger level (which was very high in my opinion), though sometimes I was only one bag of milk away from not having anything either in my breasts or in the fridge. I knew formula was an option, but since I never used formula with my daughter I was trying not to use it with my son. I kept some on hand though just in case (and did the same with my daughter until we were almost done breastfeeding).
One night, a few weeks in, he was screaming bloody murder and would not latch. I had no more pumped milk. I had to give him formula.
I knew it was ok to do so, but it still upset me. Moreso that I wasn’t able to provide him breastmilk, but I still had a prejudice against formula. As much as I had told myself and others that “Fed Is Best!” I didn’t fully believe it.
After that night we supplemented with formula for a month or so while he got a better hang of breastfeeding. Now I pump about once a day and if he needs additional food he’ll get that. And since I still can’t guarantee he will latch when he needs to eat, I always bring formula powder and water when we go out.
I no longer have the stigma I used to have about formula because I’m simply grateful I can feed my baby whenever he needs to be fed. I know some mothers can’t do that. I saw a video of a child in Aleppo and the mother said she could only give her child milk every week or so. I can’t fathom their situation, and know I am blessed to have access to a surplus of food.
It turns out that first night I gave him formula he was screaming because he needed to suck something to soothe himself, not because he needed more food. As soon as he had a few sips he was asleep. But it broke down my barrier on using formula and allowed me to fully believe the mantra of Fed Is Best, regardless of formula or breast.