I had my heart set on exclusively breastfeeding, but as I've now seen, I know it's not the only "right" way to feed your little one.
Before my baby was born, I knew I wanted to breastfeed. My husband and I took a breastfeeding class at the hospital and we learned so much. But even with all the knowledge gained, I obviously couldn't put anything I learned into practice until my baby was born. Truth be told, it never crossed my mind that it may be difficult or that I may have to feed my baby anything else other than my milk.
Cut to our pediatrician telling us that it was time to supplement my baby with formula so he could gain the right amount of weight. It almost broke my heart. I wanted to feed him breast milk—100% breast milk. Up until that point, that is all he had consumed and the thought of adding something foreign to his little body made me upset.
I wanted to be feeding him 100% of what he needed, and it was making me feel like a failure when I had to consider supplementing. I went home and started pumping after every feeding. I pumped enough to supplement him, but I quickly realized that I couldn't pump after every session. I was already so sleep deprived as it was, there was no way I could take away any of the (very) few hours of sleep I was actually getting.
The doctor also had me feeding my baby every two hours during the day and every three hours during the night. I would never sleep if I continued pumping after every single breastfeeding session.
I paused all the chaos and noise and thought about what was best for my baby. My husband and I discussed our options extensively. He knows I have to talk things out in order to make a big decision like this. That's what this was to me—a big decision. And the facts were: 1) our baby needed to gain weight, and 2) I needed to sleep (at least a little).
After a lot of research, we decided it was best to supplement with formula. We had some free samples, but I felt more comfortable giving him an organic one. Luckily, he drank the formula from a bottle with no issues! He didn't have any nipple confusion, and he was able to easily switch between the two forms of feeding like a champ.
I made sure I always breastfed him before feeding him the formula because I wanted to breastfeed as much as possible. After a couple of months of supplementing, the doctor told us he was happy with his weight gain and we could exclusively breastfeed again if that was what we wanted to do. It was such a relief to hear my baby was gaining weight. And it is really comforting to know that our baby will take a bottle and formula if we need to rely on it again
There are several reasons why a mama might decide to supplement with formula. And because of my personal experience, I have learned to have more of an open mind. Being flexible as a new mother is so important because plans always change—we've never done this before, right?
I had my heart set on exclusively breastfeeding, but as I've now seen, I know it's not the only "right" way to feed your little one. I started out thinking this way, learned to adjust my plans and do what was best for my baby and I. Fed truly is best.
Every baby is different, every pregnancy is different, every labor is different and every mama is different. Every mother must make decisions for her and her child based on what is best for their family. There is no one "right" way to do any of this.
Follow those mama instincts that you have and do what is best for you and your precious baby. You're doing an amazing job. ✨