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While pregnant with my first child, my husband and I read all the books: we watched all the reality shows about labor and delivery, we readied ourselves with every morsel of information we could absorb into our already clogged brains. We. Were. Ready. Kinda.

As we sat in the parenting class offered by our local hospital, surrounded by other expectant people, the “Parenting Guide” stood in front of the group and asked theΒ question, “How many of you, are planning on breastfeeding?” All the other couples raised their hands; Except for us. The teacher nodded encouraginglyΒ at them, then turned her unimpressed gaze at me…

“Is there any reason you aren’t making the choice to feed your children with the greatest gift you can give them?” (you really gotta love the moxy on these boob wardens. They are on a mission, and you’d better accept it) but I stared directly into her eyes and stated the exact sentiments I felt about my decision to not breastfeed,

“I don’t want to.”

Maybe, just maybe, I sounded like a petulant child. That is possible… but in my head, that was all I needed to say. The pro-milker was unimpressed, “You don’t want to?” she staggered it out… as if I sounded like a petulant child. I reworded, “The idea doesn’t appeal to me.” Yes, that was better, much more grown up. She continued, “Well, you know, you’ll save $2,500 in the first year of your child’s life if you feed them with that liquid gold.” Everyone chuckled; Except for my husband and I. “This isn’t about the money, it’s about my own breasts and my own decision,” and it was.

I’ve heard breastfeeding moms talk about stigma, about the idea that they aren’t allowed to openly feed their baby wherever they need to. And that sucks, it’s freaking ridiculous. Whatever method you use to feed your child should be allowed and accepted everywhere, no judgments, no bullshit. But I’ve dealt with stigma too, because I didn’t choose that route for the nutrition of my children.

While breastfeeding might make other people uncomfortable, it can’t been near as uncomfortable as the way people look at you when you tell them you chose not to breastfeed. That you (in their minds) knowingly withheld the “liquid gold” from the child you claim to care about. I heard that exact quote from the hospital lactation counselor after the birth of my second child. I’m kinda glad for her actually, with that visit of shame, I developed my list. The reasons I chose not to breastfeed; All of my bottle fed children are perfect. Which just reinforces my list farther.

1. I like my boobs: There. I said it. I LIKE MY BOOBS. The rest of me looks like I was part of the German invasion into Poland; marked with scars and stretch marks and cellulite, but my boobs are real, and they are spectacular.

2. It didn’t sound appealing to me: The idea of being someone’s only food source on top of being their reason for everything didn’t jive with my life. The whole latching on, switching boobs, leaking, pain. No thanks, I’m all good.

3. I wanted my husband to help, especially at night: For my middle and youngest son, my husband did all the feeding from midnight to 6 am. He knows what a problem I have trying to sleep, and actually falling asleep, where he is the exact opposite. He loved that time with his boys, and he can fall asleep anywhere at anytime. I loved 6 hours of sleep to get up the next day and take care of everything else. It was the best parenting decision we ever made.

4. I wanted as much freedom you can have, while still having a baby: Yup, I said that too. I wanted to drink a glass of wine without having to pump and dump. I wanted to eat whatever food I wanted to eat without having to pump and dump. Did I mention I might want to leave the baby with my mom, or my mother-in-law for an hour without pumping? No? I didn’t want to pump.

6. I just didn’t want to: Call me selfish. I know, when it comes to the health and welfare of my beloved children, I’m anything but.

7. I didn’t want the additional pressure: Being a new mom is hard enough, and the idea that breastfeeding could complicate that scared the shit out of me.

8. I didn’t want to whip my boobs out everywhere: I’m not a modest person, but I would feel uncomfortable trying to nurse in public. It’s difficult to give a baby a bottle on a bench in front of Target, there is no way I could do that with my boob.

9. I wanted to see and regulate how much my child was eating: This was the biggest one. I wanted to be sure, I mean, really sure, that my kid was getting the right nutrition. I needed to see volume and numbers.

Breastfeeding was not for me.

Feeding my children was still a wonderful and beautiful time. With every bottle I held them in my arms and snuggled their adorable bodies. We never prop bottles, or leave them to drink on the floor or in their crib. With every feeding we still have human contact. And when each of my children was finished with their bottle, I missed it. Just like a breastfeeding mother would miss it when their baby weans.

Just because I chose not to breastfeed doesn’t make me a bad mom.

It makes me a human being.

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73 Thoughts on “I Didn’t Breastfeed, And the Sky Didn’t Fall

    • Yay! I was actually worried about posting this.

    • I was worried about liking and commenting on it haha that it would show up in my friends feeds and I would be judged. I had the experience with my first, I told my dr at our monthly class I didn’t want to and she called me out in front of the group and then called me at home that night to really make sure I was informed that I needed to bf. So I tried with her. Guess what? She had a SEVERE milk protein allergy so I had to cut out all dairy, anything made in a facility that made anything else with dairy, and so on. It was awful. Plus I didn’t make enough milk anyway so we started supplementing. With #2 I tried again and lasted all of 3 weeks, before I realized if I really cared about my second daughters well being I would just feed her formula so she would be full and I wasn’t an in pain basket case. Also I agree with the wine and food point. I love wine and I wanted to be able to drink it without worrying about harming them.

    • I forgot to add, if we have any more kids I’m just going to ff from the start. It will save a lot of pain and stress!!!

    • Ugh. Thank you for sharing.

    • I never considered the option. I was given a little “pass” by the doctors and nurses since I had twins. Not too much judgement. πŸ˜‰

    • That’s good Deborah Gelling Mulford!!! I wish more doctors were more supportive like yours. I couldn’t imagine nursing twins.

  1. my kids grew a tail though…

  2. Thank you for posting this!

  3. Love love love this! I get so much stick from people and I have two very healthy wonderful children x

  4. Amen! I suffered with Hyperemesis ( aka morning sickness 24 hours a day 7 days a week for the entire pregnancy) through all three pregnancies! This seriously limits your appetite at times. When I was done being pregnant there was NO WAY I wasn’t going to eat and drink what I wanted to! If that’s selfish come talk to me after puking and or having the almost overwhelming feeling you are about to for forty weeks times three.

  5. Yes!!!!! I tried with my first because I felt pressured to and then when she wouldn’t latch I tried pumping. I was so much happier and more attached when I gave up and gave her formula after 2 weeks we bonded so much better because breastfeeding wasn’t what I wanted.

  6. I nursed both my kids and I absolutely hated it. It made me feel gross and totally unsexy. But I read the ingredients In formula and I couldn’t justify not nursing because of my own hang ups. To each her own. I judge no one. Just for the record, it didn’t help “melt” the weight off, my kids still had ear infections and sore throats and while they are perfectly healthy, I can’t say that they wouldn’t have been just as healthy had I not nursed. They do both have tails as well, but that’s because they are part demon.

  7. Hillary Clark on February 19, 2015 at 4:00 pm said:

    I didn’t breastfeed either of my children past 4 weeks. That was as long as I could stick it out. I was tired, I hated pumping, so I quit. And they’re just as intelligent, bonded and healthy as anyone else’s children. They are perfect, and so are my tits.

  8. deb Mulford on February 19, 2015 at 4:01 pm said:

    So true! I’m witH you 100%

  9. I hated nursing! There was no bonding with my kids during that time. I found other ways to bond with them. I pumped until I couldn’t stand to anymore. I really hate the pressure some moms are putting on other moms to make baby food, sew cloth diapers, stay at home vs. work etc- it can be really competitive and over whelming. The bottom line- take care of your kids, love them nurture them the way you want.

  10. Breastfeeding made me angry and violent, so I quit before I threw my daughter across the room. Bottle feed both kids and they are beautiful well adjusted adults, 30, and 25 this year.

  11. Rianda Sweeney hurrah!

  12. I tried nursing this time around and it didn’t work out bc my milk really just didn’t come in. My baby was starving. The amount of shit I heard about how it was impossible that my milk wouldn’t come in is insane! It happened to me sister!!! Stress was apparently the cause. Started feeding formula and my boy became so happy, content, and chubby! Hurray for formula!

  13. I LOVE this! I bottle feed, use disposable diapers, and I have never made my own baby food. This is just what works for my family and it doesn’t mean I love my kids any less. πŸ™‚

  14. Yes! Exactly my feelings for my 3 kids! And then I was a surrogate for friends of ours and people asked if I was going to pump for that baby. Um, no. I just carried her for 9 months and she wasn’t even mine…I think she’ll do fine with formula. My friends agreed too.

  15. Amen to this! Whatever the reason, that’s why formula was invented. I’m so grateful to live in a time and place where it is readily available. And yay for unscathed boobies!

  16. I too miss my “spectacular” boobs but I honestly love breastfeeding! I did it with my daughter 15 months and so far with my son for 7. The only downside for me is how needy they are when I walk in a room. My almost 6 year old daughter not so much anymore. But my son is a serious titty baby!

  17. When oliver was in ICU attached to loads of tubes and wires I felt I couldn’t breastfeed as I was intimidated by all of that so I pumped so he could be fed by bottle or tube. I then had consultants almost screaming at me to “breastfeed this child!!!” so I did my best. For 3 months I fed him despite health visitors telling me to go to formula as he wasn’t growing. I felt I was a failure either way – I had some medical professionals telling me that breast was best and others telling me that my milk must be insufficient as he wasn’t growing. He’s since been diagnosed and clearly he wouldn’t have grown whether he was fed breast or formula. I guess my point is that mums get enough pressure from the medical professional and society in general without getting stick from other mums too. How you feed your child should be of no concern to anyone else! Looking back I wish I had taken the pressure off myself and formula fed from the start. X

  18. I love you..that is all.

  19. I have six very beautiful, very healthy kids.
    All of them had formula.
    People sometimes screaming to breastfeed the kids.

    I mean, I tried it, but they didn’t seem to get anything out of it, and they laughed because the chest hair tickled. :p

  20. Amen! And i love disposable diapers, thank gawd my kids took formula so daddy could take the odd night shift, and it was definitely a better world when gripe water had alcohol so it actually worked… But I’m grandma now so I keep my opinion to myself and laugh πŸ™‚

  21. Thanks for writing this. I’m about to bottle feed my third (after a disastrous attempt with my first), and I think my kids are pretty damn awesome!

  22. So awesome! The judging doesn’t stop there. Then in toddlerhood, everyone has something to say about the foods/snacks you feed them!

  23. Amazing!!!!! I felt the EXACT same way!!!! My list was 100% your list!! Love it!

  24. I breastfeed until they start biting, that’s when I draw the line. That’s what works for us. Seriously though, I see so much crap at work that I could care less how anyone feeds their kids so long as they love and take care of them!

  25. Thank you for this. I had a reduction, but let’s be frank – motherhood is hard enough without adding more stress to it. So thank you. I think pro breastfeeding people have numberless supporters that we hear about constantly, but you never hear of support for those of us with bottles. My son is 5, was bottle fed, and is amazing, and when I have my second and last in 4 weeks I’m certain that he will thrive on his Enfamil too. Heaven help the cruel nurses who scowl and roll their eyes at me in the womens center.

  26. Me either and the sky is still up!

  27. I’m horrified that the person leading your class said that to you. Talk about imposing her values on you! While I did breastfeed and in some ways I was sad when one day my daughter decided she was done, I am so relieved to have my body back. There are so many things I *don’t* miss about. And I think parenting is hard enough, whatever you do, that we should supporting each other.

  28. couldnt agree more! formula fed both my babies. they’re 5 and 6 now

  29. I didn’t breast feed
    Knew I didn’t want to the minute I found out I was pregnant
    We spent hundreds of dollars on a class and when we got there were berated and frowned upon bc I knew I wasn’t breast feeding AND I was getting an epidural
    I was the devil in their eyes
    We paid in full and left after an hour
    Best money ever spent
    I appreciated them being so judge mental and cray cray bc it showed I wasn’t
    Your article and list are 100% genius
    Xoxo

  30. OMG!! Well said Amy!! Luckily for me it was not as much as a “Scarlet Letter” if you did not breastfeed when I had my kids as it is now. But, even TODAY (23+ years later) I get a lot of crap because I did not nurse my kids! I bonded just fine with my kids, in fact, I am closer with my kids than many of my friends who breast fed their kids. My kids do NOT have allergyies or skin or mental or physical problems either. Like you said “The Skies Did Not Fall”!

  31. All 4 of my kids were formula fed from day one. Not a single one ever even attempted to breastfeed. That was MY choice, and the best decision for MY family. They are all healthy, happy and (gasp!) intelligent kids now. Not to mention, my boobs are exactly the same as they were before my first pregnancy πŸ™‚

  32. You care more about your “spectacular boobs” than you do about your baby? Wow. I get it if you can’t breastfeed and definitely agree on fathers helping (maybe pumping or supplementing with formula?), but I’m sorry- some of your reasons sound downright selfish.

    • “The rest of me looks like I was part of the German invasion into Poland; marked with scars and stretch marks and cellulite, but my boobs are real, and they are spectacular.”

      So, scars stretch marks and cellulite, aren’t “real” or “spectacular?”

      I beg to differ.

      Not to mention you don’t have to pump and dump if you have a glass of wine. That does nothing to remove the alcohol – only time takes care of that.

  33. Amen to this. I was intent to breastfeed before I gave birth. It was a nightmare trying to get it going in hospital. Cluster feeding bewildered and stressed me out but I was overwhelmed with guilt every time I “resorted” to formula. In the end formula won and it’s taken me weeks to ignore the feelings of guilt. And the ironic part? I’m the result of formula feeding!

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