I’m Sorry I Lied… I Formula Fed my baby from Birth
So 5 years ago I was pregnant with my first baby. It was all new and surreal! Surreal that in a few months we’d have a small human being to look after! And that was exciting, but mostly petrifying!
But surely Abby, you must have been very maternal you might ask?
A lot of people assume that because I’ve had three babies in just over three years and I’ve built a business on pregnancy and birth, having lots of children must have always been on the bucket list. But actually that’s not the case.
In actual fact I was the person that would avoid the staff room if someone brought their new baby in. Afraid of not saying the right thing, when cuing over a baby did not come naturally to me. Afraid of looking stiff and false as I held their precious new baby. Afraid of not seeming like a normal woman because surely all women love newborn babies?
Don’t get me wrong I was happy to be pregnant but I was scared. We’d planned this pregnancy or should I say stopped trying to prevent pregnancy. Of course the baby was wanted but that didn’t stop it being scary.
After getting married, having children seemed the next step so that’s what happened.
Then at 6 weeks pregnant I had my midwife booking appointment and I was asked how I planned to feed my baby. What?! I hadn’t even given it a second thought! It had only just sunk in that I had a baby in there (granted minuscule) never mind thought about what life would be like when he or she would be here.
She spoke about breastfeeding and it totally freaked me out! I’d even go as far as saying the conversation embarrassed me a little. The thought of popping a boob out wherever, whenever and have a baby feed was unnerving.
After the appointment I thought lots more about breastfeeding. I spoke to family members and friends and everything seemed pretty negative. Stories of pain, bleeding nipples, mastitis, no sleep, overwhelm and being man handled by midwives. And then stories of utter disappointment and failure when they’d tried and not been successful.
So it decided to just not try. I thought that if I didn’t try I couldn’t fail.
So my first baby never even had one drop of breast milk.
I feel sad, really sad writing it. Putting that statement out there for the world to read. And not because I think it’s the worst thing in the world to formula feed from birth. And not because I feel like my baby massively suffered as a result.
But more because of the mummy guilt I’ve previously felt as a result of this decision I made. A decision that was probably the only one I could have ever made considering what I knew about breastfeeding. I’m sad that I made a decision based on fear. I’m sad that I thought breastfeeding would be so awful!
Some of you, even close friends might be hearing this for the first time here! Because I have sometimes stretched the truth out of pure mummy guilt or embarrassment. Shame of not feeling like a ‘proper mum’, whatever one of those is. Fear of being judged. So I’m sorry.
So what’s all this about? Why I am I bothering to write this down?
Well 5 years ago I made a decision. Was it an informed decision?
It was based on assumption, other people’s opinions and ultimately fear. Would I have made a different decision if I’d have had all the facts and looked at the options in a balanced way? Who knows, maybe yes, maybe no.
The difference is maybe I’d have felt a lot different about my decision, knowing it was the right decision for us.
And this is why I’m so passionate about helping couples make informed decisions, be it about birth or how they care for their babies. I want them to truly understand the options that they have and have balanced information about both sides of it.
I really don’t care what decisions they make but I want them to feel happy with whatever they choose.
So how have I dealt with my mummy guilt? By knowing that I made the best decision I could at the time with the information I had. And by giving myself a bit of kindness I’d give to my clients. Giving myself a bit of credit and not allowing myself to be defined by how I fed my baby (or anything else for that mater).
Fast forward to now and I’ve just breastfed my almost 16 month old to sleep. So With my third baby, I made a different decision. But I was also a different person. Becoming a mum had changed me. Plus this time I had information and different support. This was the best decision for us in the circumstances. And do you know what I love it! Not something I ever thought I’d say!
So if you’re reading this and expecting a baby, you might have realised that there are big decisions to make. Do your research and follow your heart. Consider whether your decisions are informed or purely based on assumption or even fear.
And then be confident in your decisions. There’s no right or wrong! Don’t let your decisions define you as a parent.
If you’d like to find out more about your birthing options check out my Hypnobirthing courses. If you want to feel prepared to make informed decisions that you are happy with for how you will care for him or her have a look at my Beyond Birth workshop.