Last month I wrote about the 3 Pieces of Advice That I Gave to My Sister after she became a mom herself.
I talked about feeding, self-care, and trying your best to ignore all unsolicited advice that people so willingly give the moment you become a mother.
In my personal life and in my work, I am constantly reminding women
You are the expert on your own family. Do what feels best for YOU
When I first started this blog and became a mother, I vowed that I would NEVER touch on this subject, because well, I've seen many of my blogger friends receive nasty comments, hate mail and some pretty serious threats for sharing their opinion.
To say the topic of breastfeeding is controversial is a HUGE understatement.
But over the past three years I've become increasingly passionate the whole "do what works for you" mentality (in both parenting and life in general). This includes the topic of breast feeding.
When I had my daughter Reese, breastfeeding didn't come naturally to me. Physically yes, but emotionally it took a serious toll. I experienced anxiety unlike anything I had ever experienced before. I was anxious, uncomfortable, and irritable, which she (and everyone else in our family) picked up on.
I had envisioned these beautiful breastfeeding moments, where I would enjoy coffee dates with girlfriends, and naturally drape my beautiful Instagram worthy shawl over my chest and seamlessly feed her without skipping a beat.
But that scenario couldn't be further from the truth. There was nothing seamless about our breastfeeding process.
In fact, I pretty much needed to strip right down to make the whole process work.
So when she needed to eat (which was all the time) I didn't go anywhere.
In addition to that, having two tween-age stepsons, I was also very uncomfortable breastfeeding at home. I'd lock myself in our bedroom and care for them by yelling instructions and responding to questions behind a closed door.
I'm sure I don't have to tell you what that did to my daughter's ability to latch on and relax.
Again, not the beautiful instagram worthy breast feeding moment I had anticipated.
I felt secluded and like I was slowly-going-crazy!
In fact, it was extremely stressful and disruptive for us all. In addition to it being difficult for her to feed, my stepchildren also weren't getting the time and attention they deserved. With my husband away at work, they were basically on their own.
Sure I could have stayed in the living room and just covered myself up, but it rarely worked, and was just as uncomfortable for them as it was for me. It did not work for our family dynamic.
Because of my ever increasing anxiety and discomfort, we decided to switch from breast to bottle. I would pump but we also supplemented with formula.
The transition from breast to bottle also gave me anxiety, because I'd heard horror stories about that as well. To be honest, I was petrified that she would be one of those babies who just wouldn't take a bottle.
But she did. We used Philips Avent Natural Bottles and the transition was seamless. I whole-heartedly attribute that to their natural, wide shaped nipple design. It reduces confusion, and makes it easy to switch back and forth from breast to bottle. It's the most natural way to bottle feed. Plus these bottles have an advanced anti-colic system to prevent air getting into their little tummy! Oh and they are BPA free (another hot topic amongst the Mama community!)
Our experience was so great that I've been recommending these Philips Avent Bottles to all my Mama friends ever since... especially my sister (as you read in last months post)
With the transition to bottle under our belt, my anxiety moved to worrying about what other people would think.
Through countless emails from Public Health and all the posters on the walls at the doctor's office, "breast is best" "breast is best" "breast is best" had been so heavily engrained into my head that I also avoided feeding Reese via a bottle when I was out in public. I was scared of being mom-shamed.
That is until one day, after mom & baby yoga class, when I finally told a fellow mom that I had begun to use formula. Without waiting for her reaction, I started to rationalize our decision. I felt like I need to explain myself.
Finally, she touched my arm and said "you don't need to explain your decision to me, you do what's best for you! There is no judgment here"
It was the biggest relief ever. I'm not sure this woman will ever truly know how comforting her words were to me.
She reminded me it was okay and that even though I wasn't breastfeeding anymore, I was a still damn good mom.
To answer the question, do I think that "breast is best"?- Yes. Sometimes. When all the stars aligned and it works for you, I think it's the best option.
But that's not always the case.
There are so many reasons (physical, mental and circumstantial) why breastfeeding is not the best choice for some Moms.
In these situations, I believe that that "Fed is best". More importantly I believe that a "Sane mom is even better".
Do what works for you Mamas.
Be the expert on your family and your own children.
In your gut and in your heart, you know what is best
... and remember what I said... "Fed is Best" and more importantly, a "Sane mom is even better"
Make sure you're taking care of yourself too. You'll be a better mama for it!
*** GIVEAWAY ***
Three years later, I am so happy with our bottle experience, that I've teamed up with Philips Avent to give some away!
If you're a bottle feeding mama, a mom ready to make the transition, or foresee a new baby in your future, make sure you put your name in the hat!
Disclosure: I received compensation for this post as an ambassador with Philips Avent and PTPA, however the advice and opinions expressed are my own.I only work with companies I genuinely love and would recommend to my friends and family.