This is one of those topics I’ve been hesitant to write about for a few reasons. The most important being that however you feed your baby is the right way to feed your baby. No one should have to explain how they feed their baby to anyone. This is also not something I am especially interested in discussing. But the pressure and guilt, and the assumption that everyone is able to or wants to breastfeed is enough of a reason to share my story. This is a post I wish I had come across as a first and second time mom. So here is why I chose to formula feed my third baby and why I’ve had a better experience this time around. 


Why I Chose to Formula Feed My Third Baby


When I had my first baby, I did a mix of breastfeeding and formula feeding for the first 3-4 months. Supplementing was not a choice – my supply was very low.  I tried lactation supplements in every form worked with a lactation consultant. It was painful. So, so painful. Engorgement, clogs, bruises. Her tongue tie complicated things even further.  Pumping for 30-40 minutes to get 1-2oz on each side left me feeling like a failure. 

A few months after having my first, I was at yoga with a friend. As we were leaving, a complete stranger overheard me saying that breastfeeding wasn’t working out. She took it upon herself to chime in. “Don’t give up. It’s best for your baby.” It was one of those moments that left me in shock, so I said nothing. If I could go back, I would tell her that I strongly disagree. Doing something that you don’t want to do, something that makes you miserable, causes pain, or that isn’t working, is not best for your baby. And it’s certainly not best for you. The postpartum period and becoming a parent are hard enough. The transition from 0-1 rocked my world, and this didn’t help.

The best thing for your baby is to have a happy, healthy, and loving parent. Period. 


Is breastfeeding worth it? 

Some would argue that it’s “worth it” – they’d talk about the benefits, but at what cost? The mother’s mental health? Physical pain? Sacrificing our bodies and time? Worrying about where and how to feed our babies in public because not everyone is accepting? Or maybe we’re just uncomfortable doing so. Stressing over making it home every 3 hours or packing a pump. Or maybe it’s doing something you don’t want to do in the first place. Is that worth it? For some, yes. And if that’s you, great. I’m not here to say that people shouldn’t breastfeed. If it is something you want to do, that is wonderful. We should all support you. But what if it’s not? What if you really want to do it, but can’t? 

As a first time mom, I thought it’s what I was “supposed” to do, and I did want it to work. I know some have a great experience, but that was not my experience. Months of pumping, pain, and stress chipped away at me. 

Then I became a mom for the second time when I had my pandemic baby less than two months after my oldest started treatment for Leukemia. I had to try, right? So I pumped in the car on my way to clinic. I pumped on the pediatric oncology floor. I leaked on the pediatric oncology floor. My supply was once again, not great, but better than the first time. In the end, something had to give. And that something was not my mental health. I called it at the 3/4 month mark but wish I had done it sooner. 


You don’t need a reason to formula feed

The reason of not wanting to breastfeed is reason enough. So when I found out I was pregnant with my third, it was this post by my friend Jess Keys that left me wondering if I should do it again. Because it was, ultimately, my choice. Low supply and pain would be enough of a reason not do do it. Not wanting to do it is enough of a reason. What was unexpected were my flashbacks to pumping on the pediatric oncology floor that made me realize I couldn’t do it again. The thing I really want other moms to know, is that even with all I’ve learned, I questioned my decision. Why? Well, the answer would be different for everyone.


Let’s not make assumptions about how people feed their babies

Maybe it’s something we shouldn’t ask about unless we’re close with someone. It’s different with what I do, sharing my experiences online. I am ok with this question especially if someone is looking for validation in deciding not to. But if they’re not, what anyone else does really doesn’t matter, does it? Perhaps we could refrain from asking questions that put breastfeeding on a pedestal. That assume it’s what everyone is doing or should do. Or that it’s something everyone is able to do. Some choose to formula feed. For others, the choice is made for them. There might be shame or guilt tied to either one, so it’s really important to be mindful in how we talk about it. 


The Transition from 2 to 3 Kids

Read the Post


The benefits of formula feeding

I’d like to talk about the positives of going straight to formula. There’s the obvious that I am not worried about my supply, clogged ducts, bruised nipples, and when, where, and how to feed my baby. I am not the only one who can feed him, so my husband is able to help. I can hand him to my mother in law when she comes over. This has made a world of difference now that I’m a mom to 3. My daughters need me, too, and I’m able to be there for everyone. I am with him most of the time, but have freedom when I need it. So when I take my first workout classes, I don’t need to worry about pumping. More important is not feeling the despair I felt any time I pumped and got 1-2 oz per side. And the biggest benefit is that we have a night nurse 4x a week, and when she’s here, I don’t have to wake up to pump or feed the baby. It’s amazing how great I feel after getting a full night’s rest. 


What to do if you choose not to breastfeed (how to “dry up”)

I chose to give Jack colostrum. If you want to do this, great. If not, also great. I hand expressed it into a sterile medicine cup and saved it in a few syringes. 

One bottle of Cabo Creme may have helped, or maybe I just had good luck given my history of low supply. My experience in “drying up” wasn’t bad at all. There wasn’t really any pain – things were large and a bit lumpy (clogged) but it was overall not a bad experience. My nurse advised against any tight binding, and suggested a tight sports bra. Given the state of my body, my sports bra was quite tight, and that seemed to help, too. I hand expressed a few times just to soften things up, but again, it wasn’t awful. 


If you are going to formula feed your baby

Make sure you’re not at a “baby friendly” hospital. That might sound less than ideal, but it’s not. Baby friendly hospitals strongly encourage breastfeeding. In short, they don’t really support formula and bottle feeding. I was asked how I was going to feed my baby – no assumptions and no judgment. 

I used Hipp formula with the girls, but wanted something easier to get that was made in the US this time. A few people recommended Bobbie and Kendamil Organic, so I tried both. Jack seemed so gassy with Bobbie early on so I switched to Kendamil, and it’s worked for us. I also love that you can get it at Target. 

I wish my experience had been different. If it hadn’t been so challenging across the board, maybe I would have (or could have) stuck with it. But that wasn’t my story. The part that surprised me the most was that even after how hard it was, I still felt some guilt with my third baby. I questioned the decision toward the end of my pregnancy, but came to realize that it wasn’t worth the stress. I knew too much and had experienced too much to make things harder than they had to be this time around. Jack is thriving – he’s surpassed birth weight in less than two weeks. 


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