Feeling guilty as a mama is universal. The way you choose to feel it and the effect you let it have on you, is up to you.
For most moms, we think we just need to pick the right path for us, breastfeeding or formula feeding, and then the rest will take care of itself. However, with either path, it doesn’t tend to go in a straight line for any of us. There can also be a lot of mom guilt and mom shame around this topic as well, so please keep that in mind as we’re moving forward here.
With breastfeeding, sometimes there are issues with:
- The latch (and baby may need a procedure to correct this problem)
- Not producing enough milk (which often comes out during weight checks at pediatrician appointments)
- Baby having an allergy to something you’re eating (which may mean blood in their stool and you needing to stop eating certain foods while you’re nursing)
- Breast issues like infections such as mastitis, engorgement, leaking, cracking, bleeding, biting babies, etc.
- An oversupply of milk (which often means you need to pump after your baby eats)
- Being the parent who must by default take care of all the feedings (unless you’re also pumping and your baby takes a bottle)
- Feeling like your baby is always touching you- annoyed, tired, etc.
- Not feeling like you can be away from your baby for long periods of time
- Feeling like you’re at your baby’s beck and call
- Not being able to drink alcohol or consume too much caffeine
- Feeling like you’re doing more than your partner (because you are in this area)
- Having to find comfortable places to nurse when you’re away from home
- You and/or baby not enjoying breastfeeding
Some of these issues may keep you from being able to solely nurse your baby. When this happens, there is often grief and loss attached to breastfeeding not going the way you hoped or expected.
If you’re returning to work or wanting to spend some time away from your baby, you may need to pump if you’re not supplementing with formula. This also brings its own challenges:
- It can be very time consuming and can even feel like a full-time job sometimes
- It may feel uncomfortable for you
- You may have trouble finding the right type of pump
- It can be hard to find a comfortable place to pump
- Your baby may reject the bottle with breast milk
- Finding a place to store your breast milk can be hard when you’re away from home
- Washing the pump parts after every session can be tedious
- Putting everything back together for the next pumping session can be frustrating
- It can start to feel monotonous doing this day in and day out
Formula feeding might be your first choice or might be something you need to do if breastfeeding didn’t work out or external factors make it hard to pump. There can be issues with formula feeding too:
- Sometimes it can take a while to find the right formula for your baby
- It can be hard to see your baby uncomfortable or even in pain if the formula you’re using isn’t right for their developing body
- Some babies also reject the bottle until you find just the right one, with just the right flow for them
- Bottle prep can be time consuming and require a lot of organization on your part (especially if you’re leaving baby with a caregiver all day)
- You may worry about the temperature of the bottle and if it’s too hot or too cold for you baby
- There’s a constant flow of bottles to hand wash
- You may be hearing a lot of questions about why you aren’t breastfeeding
- You may be experiencing grief if you wanted to breastfeed but couldn’t
- The guilt and shame messages that can come with bottle feeding
It can also be hard dealing with the judgment and criticism from others, regardless of the path you choose. Know that your truth in this area may be very different from another person’s truth, and that’s okay. You don’t need to explain your why to anyone, you just need to know it for yourself.