12 In in my shoes

Why I am NOT breastfeeding my baby

Before I start telling you the story of what happened with Little Dude last time and how I felt like a complete failure, let me begin by just saying it’s slightly crazy to me that I feel I owe an explanation to begin with and even crazier that many people feel they deserve an explanation why another mom has chosen not to breastfeed their child. And, now that I have that off my chest (and have wiped at least a few tears from my eyes), here we go… my story with Little Dude, the mental struggle I had, and the struggle it has been to defend my decision this time to family, to friends, to the medical staff  and even to myself.
The mental struggle of how to feed your baby - breastfeeding vs. bottle feeding. Why I am NOT breastfeeding baby #2 #momlife #parenting #fedisbest
I understand this post may upset many of you and for all of you who are judging me before reading the rest I offer this: I am NOT against breastfeeding – I understand the scientifically proven health benefits – and most importantly I am NOT a bad mom for choosing to feed my baby with formula and a baby bottle.

Let’s start at the beginning shall we? When I had Little Dude a little more than 3 years ago I was not completely convinced that I wanted to breastfeed, but I wasn’t against it either. When he was born and it was time to feed the nurse asked me (without pressuring me!) “Are you going to breastfeed?” I surprised myself and knew that I made every support person I had in the room happy with me by saying “Yeah, I’ll give it a try”. 

I knew there were many health benefits, I knew it was the “right thing to do” and I knew that many of my family members would be terribly disappointed if I didn’t at least try.

So, I did just that – I tried. Little Dude had a hard time latching so we used a plastic shield to help him out that the nurses gave us. It seemed to be working and I was diligently following their directions feeding him for 15 minutes or more on each side with burping breaks in between. We fed him every 3 hours (timed from when he began eating the first time), woke him through the night to keep everything exactly on schedule, monitored his pee / bowel movements by following charts provided to us at the hospital and the works. We did every single thing the nurses advised, but as first time parents didn’t clue in why he had such a hard time to settle after eating. After all we were told babies might have days and nights mixed up, they might have gas, and basically they may just cry for no reason. We did this for 5 days (Wednesday to Monday).

On Monday when we returned to the hospital for a check up we were shocked when they told us Little Dude had lost more than 25% of his body weight. They asked if my milk came in to which I responded “I think so?!” but upon further questioning realized it had not. They gave Little Dude an ounce of formula almost immediately and the poor little soul drank it in about 10 seconds flat. I immediately began crying. I felt like an idiot for not knowing my milk hadn’t come in – I felt horrible for starving my baby – I felt like a failure.

For the next 2.5 weeks we stuck to the exact same schedule and I kept trying while also supplementing with formula. I tried pumping, I ate foods and drank beverages with yeast as suggested by the nurses to help stimulate milk production, but my milk simply did not come in. 

Mentally, that time wasn’t any better. I felt trapped in my bedroom, I resented people for wanting to help, I resented them for leaving me alone, I was absolutely DONE with other people constantly asking me about my breast milk or the lack there of and even though it is a hormonal time for all moms I have never felt so much unlike myself.

Sidebar: I didn’t have to be trapped in my bedroom. That was 100% my choice. I admire moms who breastfeed in public or in front of their other children, family and friends, but I couldn’t do it. I wasn’t comfortable and with visitors and other people around the house that meant I was in my bedroom for at least an hour every three hours, 24 hours a day, for 3 weeks.

After 3 weeks and my milk still not coming in it was suggested to me that I should go see a lactation consultant. This was good advice but was the opposite of what I wanted to hear. I remember lashing out at my mom (who is always the biggest help and as most people we love always the easiest target for these bursts of rage) and saying “There is no way I am going to breastfeeding therapy when I feel like I need mental therapy”. I announced to the Mr later that evening when he got home from work that I was stopping to try and breastfeed and that was the end.

That night I remember using exclusively formula, Little Dude being fed right away without having to work for 30-45 minutes for nothing before I fed him, and him being the happiest little guy. I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders, freedom to feed him outside of my bedroom and fulfilled that I was making him happy.

In the end, no matter what the health benefits, fed is best.

So, now you might be thinking “Jenna, I get it but you might get milk this time!” or “What about the colostrum?” or “What about the bonding / skin on skin?”, allow me to explain…
The mental struggle of how to feed your baby - breastfeeding vs. bottle feeding. Why I am NOT breastfeeding baby #2 #momlife #parenting #fedisbest
I don’t know what is going to happen this time. I might feel fine, but based on the anxiety I feel even thinking about breastfeeding I doubt that will be the case. As much as I portray an image of “me being me and not caring what others think” I care deeply. In fact, if I didn’t I would likely not even be writing this. I care because I value others input, I value their experience and I in no way think I am an expert equipped to make all decisions on my own without the valuable feedback others provide. In my work, in my life and as a mom I take pride in considering options and viewpoints from all angles before making a decision that I will then stick to, be able to defend and feel confident about.

This time around I do not have any intention to breastfeed.

I have a full intention to enjoy those first weeks, not hide in my bedroom, take more than two pictures with the new baby, not resent the little bundle of joy we are blessed to be given and to look after myself both physically and mentally. 

I might hand express colostrum, I might not.
I will do skin to skin.
I have formula purchased and ready for baby’s arrival.
I will love and feed my baby.
I am a good mom.

You might be wondering why I am writing this post at all since I am clearly not against breastfeeding, in fact I applaud those that can do it and choose to… I am writing it for the women who cannot, who decide not to and who all feel like they might be doing something wrong. There is no amount of colostrum or breastmilk in the world that can replace your love, your snuggles or your attention. 

A mother’s love is the most powerful force on earth.

xo Jenna
The mental struggle of how to feed your baby - breastfeeding vs. bottle feeding. Why I am NOT breastfeeding baby #2 #momlife #parenting #fedisbest


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12 Comments

  • Reply
    Unknown
    January 25, 2019 at 10:49 am

    Oh Jenna, you have me crying over here! I remember the very first time I met you and shared my struggle of not being able to breastfeed Nora and really bonded with you over that. You are a great mama and a bottle is not going to determine that. I bottle-fed Nora and exclusively breastfed Abel and Abel actually ended up with all of the stomach problems! Not bashing breastfeeding at all but goes to show that FED and LOVED is best! Can't wait to see that little face, being a mama x2 is the most exhausting thing you will ever do, but your heart will be so full of love! ��

    • Reply
      Jenna MacDonald
      January 25, 2019 at 3:24 pm

      Awww, sorry to have you in tears, but I remember meeting you and having that discussion so clearly – it is so nice to find someone else that "gets it". xo

  • Reply
    Pickle Planet Moncton
    January 25, 2019 at 12:15 pm

    You’re doing wonderful things for so many people on opening up with this post. For me, the piece that resonated most was that ‘I think so?’ answer. So often on the pregnancy journey I felt that uncertainty and that pressure – that medical professionals especially assumed I knew that what my body felt like was or was not the way it should be. I’d be asked questions and feel uneducated that I didn’t know if milk was coming in, if my fluid seemed excessive, if my blood pressure was rising, etc. But these were all NEW things for me and even though I’d read about them, it didn’t mean I knew what the various sensations and warning signs were. I think it’s very easy for people who have experience to remember what it’s like to be new at something – and as parents, it’s all so new! Good for you for trying and for making a decision that was best for you. I breastfeed one for a year and formula fed the others from pretty much the day they came home. I knew it was what was best for us. ❤️

    • Reply
      Jenna MacDonald
      January 25, 2019 at 3:26 pm

      For most of motherhood I feel like my answer to many things will be "I think so?!" and the more times I answer that way the more comfortable I am with it.

  • Reply
    Simonne
    January 25, 2019 at 12:25 pm

    So many young mothers need to hear this….there are so many of them suffering…crying in their bedrooms because it is NORMAL to breastfeed , so they're told!!! All the while they are miserable and unhappy trying to please others.. babies have survived being bottle fed…and they will in the future!!!! Enjoy your baby and little dude!!! Xo

    • Reply
      Jenna MacDonald
      January 25, 2019 at 3:26 pm

      Thanks so much for your comment Simonne! I am looking forward to feeding our new arrival in "public" areas of the house right from the beginning 🙂

  • Reply
    Marie
    January 25, 2019 at 1:11 pm

    Went through the same type of situation with my first baby and didn't try with the other 2 …they are all healthy grown women! 🙂

    • Reply
      Jenna MacDonald
      January 25, 2019 at 3:27 pm

      Awesome – happy to hear they are all grown and healthy… just like you knew they would be 🙂

  • Reply
    Molly Stillman
    January 25, 2019 at 9:15 pm

    thank you so much for sharing your heart <3 fed is best! <3

  • Reply
    Myra
    January 25, 2019 at 9:30 pm

    Thank you for sharing this with the world. It is an individual choice but like you I felt pressure to breastfeed. Upon getting an infection in my breast after three or four weeks, I was done! It seemed hard for others to understand. “So and so had both breast infected and kept feeding their child!” Oh the guilt but looking back Luc got all the love, support and attention deserved no matter the milk!!!
    Side note: For anyone breast feeding with an infection, a cold piece of cabbage in your bra helps heal the breast!

  • Reply
    Sarah Hansen
    January 26, 2019 at 1:24 am

    I think you are so brave for sharing this story. I also had some serious struggles with my first and ended up with a laxtalact consultant on day 4, having to pump, suppliment and also go on medication. We also did a birth and babies class where we were told that "your body will produce what your baby needs" and so I went through sumilsi feelings of failure and thoughts that for those first few days that I was killing my baby. It turned out that almost half the moms in our class had some issues with feeding, and I ended up telling the teacher off about how they shouldn't be teaching that your body will produce what your baby needs. They should be teaching that ideally that is the case, but it is common to need help or to supplement. There was a girl in our class that also never produced anything. I think as women, our job is to share more, and judge less, and cutos to you for doing just that! Fed is always best and you are an amazing mom! Just look at your little dude… The proof is in the pudding 😉 xoxo

  • Reply
    Mel O
    February 4, 2019 at 1:53 am

    Your story reminds me very much of my own. I wanted to breast feed. My breasts had other ideas. My milk flow was minimal. Found out at my baby check up he had lost 15% of his birth weight. He was crying all the time as I was also starving my baby. I tried for a month. Feeding him the little I produced and supplementing with formula. All I did all day, everyday was feed him. I had no life I was exhausted. My OB said to me finally “you know it’s okay not to breastfeed” I knew this of course but for some reason being given permission from someone was what made the difference. I stopped and I never looked back. And I never even contemplated for a single second to try breast feeding again when I had my second baby. Both my kids are happy, healthy no allergies and they are both very smart. Pretty sure formula feeding also benefits children 😉

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