Fed Is Best

As if we don’t already have enough to worry about while raising our children, we also have to deal with mom-shaming. I know you have heard the term and I am sure there has been a time when all of us have felt it—through words or eyes. Formula feeding, breastfeeding in public, breastfeeding longer than the average parent, feeding packaged baby food… the list could go on and on. It is so hard to parent in a world which is so focused on what is “right” or what is “better.” It is easy to judge when another parent is parenting differently than we are, but the truth: Just because something is different doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Years ago, I about drove myself insane trying to breastfeed my first baby. Why? Because I felt like I had to. They say “breastfed is best.” I even heard, “Formula— just the name of it sounds awful.” “They” made me feel like I would be failing if I couldn’t make it work. I wish I had known supplementing with formula was—not just okay—but necessary for my first baby. In the first several days of her life, I didn’t even realize that she was screaming because she was starving. It broke my heart when the lactation consultant helped me figure this out. When I couldn’t produce enough milk, I felt like something was wrong with me. So, I pushed through. I supplemented. I pumped. I lost sleep. I did everything I could to breastfeed. Fast forward to my third and last baby. If you have read Elizabeth’s Birth Story, then you know we struggled at first… a lot. We were in and out of the hospital several times. When Elizabeth had Jaundice, I had to give her bottles of formula because I couldn’t pump enough. Nursing took her away from her “light” too long. When I was hospitalized for post-clampsia, I couldn’t nurse her either. I had to pump and send milk home. It wasn’t enough, so she had to be formula fed. I remember being so worried over my milk supply going down, when I should have been worrying about healing. My nurse was my saving grace. She told me, “You need to get rest and take care of yourself.” On the second night in the hospital, she said, “I’m not waking you. The only thing that should wake you is your boobs. Then, you can pump.” By the way, there is a special place in my heart for nurses. They have helped me through so much. It’s like they know what you need exactly when you need it—physically, but even emotionally. They are angels. Then again when Elizabeth was hospitalized for RSV, she needed bottles of formula to keep her well-fed. In addition to all of this, we found she had a milk and soy intolerance. She was choking on the breastmilk so bad, even while sleeping. It was scary. We saw a feeding specialist who told us she simply couldn’t handle the thinness of the breastmilk. She ended up on Elecare formula at 6 weeks old. We even needed to thicken it for her. You know what? It worked. She was now healthy. She was happy. She was growing. But, when I had to stop breastfeeding, I felt so emotional. It was my last baby and I enjoyed the closeness of it. Weaning always makes me so hormonal. On top of this, I found myself worrying over what “they” would say… worrying if I wasn’t doing a good enough job. This makes me sad. It makes me sad that we would feel bad for feeding our children, no matter the way it is done. It makes me sad that at first, I felt the need to explain myself each time I answered that my daughter was formula fed. Why? Because I was doing something wrong? Absolutely NOT. It makes me feel sad that we would question ourselves when we are making sure our babies are healthy, happy, and safe. It makes me sad that moms are shamed for doing what they feel is best for their children and families. Because the truth is: FED is best. LOVE is best. Parents know best. If we are feeding our babies, giving them what they need and showing them love then that is what matters. Elizabeth has been fed formula almost her entire life. I feed her packaged baby food. I do these things because they work for us. And she is the happiest, healthiest little girl. This is what matters. I’m telling you this today because I truly mean it: If you are breastfeeding… If you’re formula feeding… If you are supplementing… If you’re breast-feeding longer or shorter than average… If you feed your kids packaged baby food… If you feed them homemade food… YOU ARE A GREAT PARENT! In the end, if you are loving and caring for your kids, then you are the BEST kind of parent. So let’s support each other. Let’s build each other up, no matter what. We need to encourage each other because let’s face it, this parenting gig is not easy. We are all doing our best, and our best IS good enough. Tell me in the comments, have you ever been mom shamed? What happened and how did it make you feel?   If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy: Sometimes Strength Requires a Break To learn more about me and my blog, check out: About Lauren   Photo credit: Lindsey Martin Photography

Back to Blog