Why It’s Okay Not to Breastfeed

With August being National Breastfeeding Month, there’s a lot of discussion around the topic of breastfeeding right now. No matter what you hear or read, it’s important to remember that the decision to breastfeed is a personal one each mother must make for herself. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 8 in 10 mothers in the USA begin breastfeeding their babies at birth, which begs the question: what about the 20% of women who don’t breastfeed?

Breastfeeding can be a beautiful bonding experience that a mother and child share together, but for many women, it’s not always as simple as that. The National Center for Biotechnology Institute states that “even though breastfeeding is often described as natural, it is also an art that has to be learned by both the mother and the newborn.” Some women are set on breastfeeding their newborn and “expect breastfeeding to be easy, but then find themselves faced with challenges.” Society does not talk enough about the many difficulties these mothers face!

“The incongruity between expectations about breastfeeding and the reality of the mother’s early experiences with breastfeeding her infant has been identified as a key reason that many mothers stop breastfeeding within the first two weeks postpartum,” according to the NCBI. Failure to continue to breastfeed or choosing not to breastfeed can result in friends and family or even total strangers telling you that you aren’t giving your baby what they need. This can result in many women feeling like they are somehow failing as a mother.

If you are one of these women, like me, here’s some news for you: it’s absolutely okay if you don’t breastfeed. It’s okay if you can’t do it, don’t want to do it, or do not like it. Your number one priority is that your baby gets fed, and if formula feeding is the route you are on, know that it is 100% normal. Being a good parent is doing not only what is best for your baby, but also yourself; when you are happy, calm and present, you are a better mother to your child.

I know it can be difficult for some of you mommas who can’t breastfeed or are having trouble fitting it into your lifestyle, so let’s take this opportunity to look on the bright side. Here’s some good news for you…

Your baby is still getting the nourishment they need

No, a formula fed baby will get not get sicker than a breastfed baby. This is a total myth! According to the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), “it is not the milk that makes the difference in the baby’s overall health. The baby’s overall health is all determined before he or she is born.” So rest assured momma, you are not failing your child if you are not breastfeeding them!

You will still bond with your baby

According to an article from Parent Insights, “whichever way a baby feeds does not dictate the intensity or quality of the relationship they have with their mother. Feeding is one of the many cares which mothers provide and it should never eclipse all the other, immensely valuable aspects of nurturing which they do each day.” You can still snuggle that baby close to your chest. You can still look into those loving eyes that gaze right back at you. You can still smell that perfect baby smell and you can still watch them doze off to sleep when their bellies are full.

You always know how much your baby is eating

There is no guess work when it comes to bottle feeding your baby. You always know how much they ate or didn’t eat at every feeding. According to the Journal of Pediatrics, researchers stated that after birth babies can lose a significant amount of weight, and sometimes, this can be dangerous. This is where formula feeding your baby or at least supplementing with formula can help immensely. You can be certain that your baby will put on weight by the clear lines of measure on the bottle.

You are not the only source of food now

Husband, partner, grandparent, friend, cousin, aunt… practically anyone can assist you in feeding your child when they are formula fed. This is a major perk because it can make life so much easier for you. Those middle of the night feedings? Wake up your partner. They can take a shift too!

There’s no need to monitor your diet

So you made it through 9 months of avoiding alcohol and certain foods while you were pregnant. Some good news for those who formula feed is that everything is back on the menu! So go ahead momma, order that sushi and enjoy a Corona with a lime!

photo: the honest company/unsplash