Formula Fed, and what.
Hi guys! Today I want to chat about my journey with breastfeeding and transitioning Santiago onto formula, but first, I want to give some words of encouragement to all the Mamas out there who are considering moving on to formula, are new to formula, or who have been on formula for a while now and just want some positivity sent their way.
1. Do not let ANY person shame you for feeding your baby formula. Everyone's journey is different.
2. Use your intuition on making this decision.
3. TRUST YOURSELF and be confident moving forward once you have made your decision.
4. Do the work. Research which formula will be the best fit for your baby and budget. Knowledge is power.
5. Have fun BONDING with your baby while formula-feeding. YES! Formula-babies and their moms can bond, too!
6. You got this!!!
Here we go.
I nursed Santiago for seven weeks. Seven Hellish Weeks. And while I didn't necessarily HATE breastfeeding, I certainly didn't Love it, and contrary to having that "bonding time" that "all the moms" rave over, I did not feel connected to my boy.
I couldn't make eye contact with him while I was feeding him. I hated that. He was also far from being a strong feeder. He struggled to latch* and had to work extremely hard just to get the tiniest amount of milk from me, and then would be so exhausted that he would fall asleep while feeding. I would then have to work super hard to wake him up and supplement with a bottle of my breastmilk, which I had pumped. It took him about one hour and twenty minutes to get the appropriate amount of milk for his age. And so... the cycle of: nurse, burp, wake, bottle-feed, burp, put him down to sleep, pump, clean-the-pump-parts, try to eat, tend to crying baby, soothe, try to finish eating, no sleep for mom, start over... proved to provide me with little to no rest, and made me horribly cranky and pessimistic. I was unhappy with the situation, and I couldn't find a way to connect. So after seven weeks, yep... I quit.
I started Santiago on Baby's Only Organic Dairy Formula.** This formula made him incredibly gassy and uncomfortable, so we switched to the brand's LactoRelief formula, which was much better for his tummy. But... he was STILL having a hard time latching... to the BOTTLE! What the heck, little babe? You gotta eat! I was so stressed out.
I took Santiago to the doctor to have his mouth checked out. All good. But our night nurse kept pressing that something was up with his mouth. We went to a specialist (who gave him a 2-second glance and didn't even look me in the eye to address me). The verdict: nothing wrong. Still, Santiago struggled to eat. Back to the doctor. Wait a second... It looked like Santiago had a minor lip tie. Alright! Now we have something to hold on to.
We took Santiago to the pediatric dentist, and voila. Low and behold... Santiago did indeed have a lip tie, which was preventing him from latching correctly. Right then and there, our pediatric dentist performed the lip tie surgery. It took about two weeks for the wound to heal, but we were already able to see the difference in the way Santiago was eating.
It still took about an hour for Santiago to take down 5-6 ounces, but with a lot of patience and persistence, Santiago got the hang of his new mouth set-up and we are finally at the point now where he can take down his entire 7 ounce bottle in about 25 minutes.
So... even though Santiago did have a legitimate health reason for struggling to latch...which led to us switching over to the bottle (and with that... formula), it was only a partial reason for my choice to stop nursing.
Simply... I did not like it. I did not like nursing and I did not like pumping. It was absolutely miserable for me. And you know the saying, "happy wife, happy life"? Well... I believe that it's the same for Mamas. You HAVE to put yourself in the best, healthiest scenario to be a happy mom. For yourself, but more importantly, for your Little One.
Of course... there are formula-shamers. They say things like...
"Oh sweetheart, but you could have kept pumping and giving him breastmilk... don't you care about giving your son the best of the best?"
Yes. I care. I care about giving my son the best of the best. He deserves the best Mama he can have. And truthfully, that nursing/pumping set-up, like it or not, was not allowing ME to be my best self. Judge me if you want, but know that this site ain't for you then. We are in a judge-free zone.
I am so grateful that I was able to give Santiago the immunities that come with nursing in the very beginning. But we (Santiago, my husband, and I) are much happier now that we can all participate in a joyful feeding session.
Today, my little guy is healthy, happy, and right on track with his growth and milestones. Any one of my family members or friends can feed him. I LOVE THAT!!! And so does Santiago. He loves getting to spend special feeding times with his grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends. He is no longer a "fussy baby" because he is getting EXACTLY what he needs. And... I have bonded with my baby boy in a way I didn't know was possible. We have so much fun smiling, giggling, and making funny noises and faces during our feeding sessions.
Ultimately, I know I made the best choice, and I don't regret it one little bit.
Mother on your own terms. Not anyone else's.
*Click here for more information on Lip Ties.
**Click here for more information on Baby's Only Formula.