The Big Switch

July 24, 2011

Because I had some interest from a few readers in knowing more of the details of why we switched from mostly breast milk to all formula I decided to devote a full post to it.

First of all, I felt a lot of "mom pressure" to breastfeed even though I never really wanted to.  My plan all along was to pump.  After I thought about it for awhile I knew pumping would be a hassle so I should just try breastfeeding for the convenience (No pump, no bottles) but I told myself all along that if it ever stressed me out I would just stop because I knew it wouldn't be worth my sanity.  (Although being disrobed half the day in a room by yourself isn't convenience...for me at least.)

So, in the hospital Georgia was the perfect little eater and she was doing great all the way to 2 weeks.  I supplemented a bit in the hospital because they wanted me to.  Georgia was showing signs of dehydration and was not going to the restroom so I would nurse her as long as she wanted and then give her a few ml of formula.  I figured once my milk came in all would be well.

After awhile I began to realize my baby was becoming very fussy.  (I had not yet supplemented at home because my milk came in very soon after getting home from the hospital.  It should have been a sign to me though because after the engorgement passed my BF boobs still fit in my pre pregnancy bra.  Red flag?  Maybe.).  Both Jonathan and I didn't want to go to formula just yet.  I kept telling Jonathan, "babies don't just cry like this for no reason." (meaning, I think she is still hungry)  And he continued to tell me, "babies just cry."  Finally, I gave into using formula at about 3 weeks when she would nurse for up to 45 minutes on each side (talk about some pain and scabs even though she was latched correctly!) and then scream while still latched on.  Immediately after starting formula she became a different baby!  No more fussing.  It was like magic.  I don't think it was fair that my baby was being labeled as "fussy" when she was just hungry.  That wasn't her fault, that was mine.

Then, I felt guilty for two reasons.  Number one reason - I couldn't make enough milk for her.  I know 3 weeks is when they have a growth spurt and need to eat more but it was getting to a point where a growth spurt couldn't last that long and I really had nothing to give her.  Number two reason - all the times we thought she was "fussy" she was just hungry and I denied her formula for nearly 3 weeks and if I hadn't she would have been so happy and full!

So then I began only pumping since it was easier to supplement with a bottle if you knew how much they had eaten already...and it was faster.  Once I started pumping I realized I only made half of what she was actually eating so I tried to up my supply.  I started drinking more water, trying to remember to take my vitamins every day, and tried to pump every 2-3 hours to simulate a growth spurt but it didn't work.  On a good day I could get 16 oz and that's how much Georgia eats in 3 meals.

I know I should have taken better care of myself but all new moms know that you are your last priority once your baby is born.  Jonathan would have to remind me to take a break every now and then or else I couldn't even remember to eat.  So, I do take a bit of responsibility for my small milk supply but also know that to a point there isn't much I could do about it...I blame breastfeeding for the cause of my huge weight loss after Georgia's birth. (11 pounds below my pre pregnancy weight)  I'm hoping that now that I have stopped pumping I can concentrate on being that I'm not burning so many extra calories and not spending so much time hooked up to a pump.

Anyways, so I was becoming increasingly frustrated with the whole pumping/supplementing situation going against what I had previously said...that if it stressed me out I would stop.  Then, I got mastitis (accompanied by a fever and back pain) and became even more frustrated with the situation.  Nearly everyone I knew could see that it just wasn't working for me but I still was holding on.  At 7 weeks Georgia decided she didn't want breast milk anymore.  It wasn't anything I had eaten or the fact that it was in a bottle...she just didn't want it.  I think it was God's way of telling me that it just wasn't the right thing for us anymore.  So, even though I wanted to keep pumping I knew it wasn't the best for me or for Georgia (especially because of her irregular bath room situation...she needed some consistency.)  So, over vacation I met my breaking point and just stopped!

I switched Georgia over to formula full time and continued to wean myself off of pumping which is pretty darn painful/uncomfortable.  I had to go from pumping 6 times a day to 0.  I am now totally done with pumping and feel SO FREE.  My body is mine again!  (Sorry if that sounds selfish but that's how I feel.  Just keepin' it real people!)

I was never the type to think a breastfed child is really going to have any kind of advantage over a formula fed one so that never really bothered me.  (Yes, I've read the literature about the benefits of breastfeeding...don't leave me comments about it.  I don't care.)  It really comes down to the fact that each family does what is best for them.  Georgia isn't going to love me less because I stopped nursing her and she isn't going to loose any IQ points either.  (Really people, she wont.)  I honestly didn't want to stop because of what people would think about me and I realized that if that was the only reason I was still pumping then it was a really dumb reason.  What works for some just doesn't work for all.  Georgia still eats every 2.5 hours on formula (minus her 3 hour nap in the afternoon and at night) and I can't even imagine how much more often she would eat if she were on breast milk...she's a BIG girl!

Now we are on formula full time...guilt free :)  Honestly, it's the best decision I've ever made (right up there with epidural and IUD).  It wasn't "rewarding" for me.  I hated it and I can say that without feeling bad about it.  It wasn't healthy for me...I've never been so thin in my life and not in a good way.  And, Georgia is JUST FINE on formula...even better actually.  So, all is good here!

Hope that helps some formula feeding moms!

(I don't want this post to be offensive to anyone or controversial in anyway.  I've read posts before from women nearly bashing formula feeding moms and it's really hurtful because as moms I know we are all doing the best we can and what is best for our children and family.  So please, nice comments only.)


Tami said...

I loved reading this post! Your honesty is refreshing and hard to find these days! It sounds like both you and Georgia are loving life after "the switch" and you really did the right thing for your family.

Liz said...

Props to you for doing what is best for you and your baby! I always wonder what if I can't breastfeed? Would people think it was awful?! I'm also not totally sure I want too... is that wrong? It sounds as though you are doing wonderfully!

Lyndsey said...

I agree with you about pumping - it is SO annoying having to constantly wash all the parts! I've gone down to only pumping in the morning and maaaybe at night before bed if I feel up to it. I just don't want to spend my days standing over the sink!

And every mom deals with mom guilt at one point or another so I say just keep doing what you're doing! :)

Jessica said...

I think I just read my own story/thoughts! Love your honesty and thoughts. Happy mommy = happy baby!!

Anonymous said...

You are a wonderful mother because you did what was best for you and your baby. You have to take care of yourself and your baby whether that is by formula or breastfeeding. No judgement from me. :)

thesweetthingstimes3 said...

I applaud you for being so open about your breastfeeding experience! I'm glad to know that I was not the only one with difficulties while nursing.

Mrs. Lopez said...

Thanks for sharing! I wanted to breastfeed my baby but she had trouble latching on so we tried a nipple shield. Before she left the hospital she had lost 11 oz! So I started pumping and the most i was able to pump was 2.5-3 oz every session when she should have been eating 3-4 oz so we had to supplement. Then my supply slowly drizzled and I was only able to pump .5-1 oz each session. I never got engorged and I never leaked. I just didn't have enough of anything. SO at 3 weeks I had to make the decision to stop and I felt so guilty but in the end sometimes you just can't help it.

Paige said...

I just started reading your blog a few weeks ago and wanted to comment on this post. I too felt lots of pressure to breastfeed with both of my boys. However, it never was something I wanted to do. I didn't feel comfortable with it and I was in school with both of them and it just wasn't going to work. Both of my boys are smart, rarely sick and have always been where they need to be developmentally. We all make the best choices for our families! It's a shame that so many feel the need to be so judgmental.

Courtney said...

Good for you, doing what you needed for yourself and for your daughter I really wanted to breastfeed my daughter, but my milk came in late (she lost a lot of weight the first 2 days after she was born) so I started supplementing until my milk really came in. And even then, I didn't produce a lot. I suffered from postpartum depression so I wasn't eating really well, which didn't help me produce milk. When my daughter was 6 weeks old, we went to just formula. She did really well breastfeeding for a while (with supplementing) but then she would just scream when I'd try to breastfeed, so that's when I stopped. It clearly wasn't working for us. I felt really guilty giving up-because like you said there is a lot of pressure to breastfeed. But we were both MISERABLE! She is 16 months old now and doing just fine!

Erin said...

Good for you Emily! I am happy that you made the decision that seems to have made you and your baby happier! A stressed out mommy= a stressed out baby and that combo is never good for anyone!

Also-Baby'shave to eat-some babies can never have breastmilk for one reason or another and they end up just fine-I breastfed my daughter until she was 6 months old-but the entire time we supplemented with formula because that's what it took for her to fill her tummy-and I didn't feel guilty about it at all-other's tried to make me feel guilty, but at the end of the day-Hannah is my baby and I know what i best for her (and you know-Hannah didn't grow an extra eye, nor does she show any signs of having a lower IQ or being developmentally delayed-as many women who exclusivley breastfeed treid to tell me would happen)Same with you and Miss Georgia-you kow when something is off with her-because you are her mother-and I believe you made a great (and yet very diffucult) decision and I hope no one tries to tell you any different!

Danielle Taylor said...

First time commenting and I want to give you a standing ovation for this post! I see and hear of too many women who hate breastfeeding with a passion but will not quit because they will feel judged by other women. It saddens me that instead of building each other up women are tearing each other down. Especially over something so trivial as breastfeeding! What blows my mind even further is that nonbreastfeeders will get judged by strangers who have no investment in your child what so ever! I did not breastfeed either of my children. Nor will I breastfeed any future children. I can not physically produce milk due to a breast reduction. I have been told about all the supplements, nipple stimulation, around the clock pumping to stimulate milk that I could have tried if I had really wanted the best for my child. No thanks! I'm perfectly happy with my sub standard formula fed babies! And to tell the truth, even if I had produced enough milk to feed a village, breastfeeding is not for me so I would not have done it! I think my kids will survive from this decision!

Bren said...

I am going through something similar right now. Breastfeeding has become so stressful on me and I feel horrible when my son nurses for 2 hours and still needs an extra ounce of formula. I have a pump and don't mind it but I think with the supplementing it has killed my supply. I really wanted to breastfeed but he is a lazy eater and mentally I just don't know how long I can last. Your post helped me not feel so alone!


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