Fast-forward to the present day. I just had another baby, and this time, at age 36, I was a little older and wiser. During those seven years between my pregnancies, I had done a lot more critical research on the benefits of breastfeeding. (I am a neuroscientist with a background in nutrition and wrote the book What To Eat When You’re Pregnant.)
Based on what I found, I decided to take a more relaxed approach to breastfeeding. I told myself we would try it — but I wasn’t going to be upset with myself if it didn’t work out. Plus, I had the reassurance of my beautiful 7-year-old girl, who drank formula as a baby and was exceptionally healthy and happy.
Once the new baby was born, we tried nursing, but it wasn’t working out. I was exhausted from the C-section, my milk wasn’t coming in very well, and we had latching problems that caused me to bleed and be in a lot of pain when I tried to nurse her. On the third day of her life, I decided (with the support of my husband) to stop trying to nurse and give the baby formula instead.
But I was completely shocked by the backlash I got from the doctors, nurses, friends, and family. They pushed breastfeeding really hard, even when I made it clear that we had decided to formula-feed her. “It’s best for the baby!” “You need to give it time," and “You need to suck it up” were just a few of the not-so-encouraging words I received just hours after giving birth. I brushed off these comments because I had made an informed decision and it really wasn’t anyone’s business anyway.
My new daughter is now 6 months old, and I am happy to say that formula-feeding is going well. We are all very happy and healthy, and I have no guilt about my decision to use formula this time around.
But even though formula-feeding was the right choice for me, I find there’s still a lot of unnecessary shaming around this decision.