In the early weeks of my life, my mommy felt that I needed a little sometime extra, and she began to supplement my diet with a bit of formula. It wasn’t a choice she made on doctor’s orders, my mommy simply did what she felt I needed. A bit of formula made both of us feel much better and within a few weeks we were able to make the transition to breastmilk alone.
Formula solved the problems we were dealing with, but there are people who criticise us for using it. When speaking to these people, it has become apparent that the push for breastfeeding has caused misconceptions in some people’s minds. Today I want to address these myths and defend my mommy’s choice to supplement my diet.
1. Babies are born knowing how to nurse.
Babies are born with the rooting reflex, not with the understanding of what nursing is or how it is done. The rooting reflex causes newborn babies to turn their heads towards their mothers and to make sucking motions with their mouth. As a result, they are usually able to figure out how to nurse. This learning process takes time and practice.
2. Breastfeeding is a beautiful moment between mother and child.
Breastfeeding can be wonderful, but it is also hard work and requires practice. The first few weeks are generally quite painful for most women as breastfed newborns need to eat almost constantly and it takes time for mother and baby to find their rhythm.
3. You can’t bond with your baby if you don’t breastfeed.
Your baby will love you no matter what. Love is not contingent on breastfeeding, or even feeding in general. If it was, you would be in love with your refrigerator.
4. Milk = Good, Formula = Bad
It is true that mother’s milk is the healthiest food for a baby, but formula isn’t poison and there are many instances where formula is beneficial. If an infant isn’t putting on weight quickly enough on breastmilk alone, adding some formula to their diet can help. For babies who are diagnosed with jaundice, feeding formula alongside milk can help clear it up faster. All the benefits of breastmilk are not erased by adding formula to a baby’s diet.
5. If you feed formula, your milk supply will diminish.
Milk production works on supply and demand. The more you remove, the more you will make. Feeding formula and allowing milk to be reabsorbed will ultimately decrease the supply. However, if you’re already not making enough milk, it is silly to allow your baby to starve while you stress about your supply. Feed your poor baby some formula and look into other ways of getting that milk out so that you can work on your supply.
6. If you don’t breastfeed, you don’t love your baby.
Breastfeeding is not proof of love. There are many reasons why a woman may not breastfeed and none of them make her any less of a mother. Breastfeeding is a personal matter and nobody has the right to pass judgment.