Formula feeding your baby isn’t selfish. Here’s why.

I knew when I became pregnant that “natural” everything was the right way to go.

As someone who lives the type of life in Brooklyn where we have a backyard garden and my dad pokes fun at me for how much kale I eat, I had this idea that “natural” was inherently better, especially when it came to kids.

After all, we all know that formula feeding is poison, right up there with taking your kids to McDonalds for three meals a day, right?


Then a friend surprised me with her report that she'd gotten an epidural during her recent birth, and highly recommended it. Everything I thought I knew said that epidurals were bad, but I couldn’t remember why anymore. What a revelation, that childbirth didn’t have to be extraordinarily painful!

I gave it some more thought and eventually added epidural to my plan.

Around this time, I was also collecting stories from friends about the physical and emotional challenges of breastfeeding.

Nearly all of them had some struggle in feeding their babies and experienced varying levels of guilt and shame at not being able to do something that was supposed to be easy. I was nauseous and uncomfortable for nearly all of my 41 weeks of pregnancy, so the thought of tacking on an additional year-long physical challenge filled me with dread.

One of the first parenting books I read was “Why Have Kids?” by Jessica Valenti, which pokes holes in many theories on the “right” way to do things — one of which is breastfeeding.

Valenti presented the idea that the benefits of breastfeeding and detriments of formula are overblown. Additionally, our society’s current emphasis on breastfeeding is slim on factual evidence and influenced by a broader cultural pattern of placing pressure and guilt on new moms.

This blew my mind. I had never even questioned the possibility of not having to do it.

After I finished reading, I cried with relief and wanted to read stories of those who had chosen to formula feed without guilt.

I began scouring the internet for every article that said formula feeding isn't child abuse.

I found maybe six relevant articles. On the entire internet.

The long and the short of what I learned is that the widespread belief that “breast is best” is fueled by about 30 years of influence from breastfeeding advocates who have effectively silenced everyone else.

Others have written about the extensive history and social trends that have gotten us here.

I instead offer a more personal perspective on why my husband and I decided that exclusive formula feeding was best for our family.

Equal Partnership: We wanted to be 50/50 partners in raising our child, and that started with sharing every feeding from day one. I would not be the “primary parent.”

We would do this as a team.

Pumping: I didn’t want to spend my time and energy planning to pump, then pumping, then worrying that I wasn’t producing enough. When imagining myself back to work, I didn't want to schedule meetings all day around pumping alone in a dingy room.

Expense: I heard often that people can’t justify the expense of formula when breastfeeding is “free,” but breastfeeding is only cheaper if you believe that your time has no value.

$50 a week to get more sleep, improve my mental health, and save 14+ hours felt like a bargain.

Mental health: As someone who had such a miserable time being pregnant, the added lack of sleep and bodily challenges of breastfeeding seemed like they would increase the likelihood that I’d experience postpartum depression. I also believe that what’s best for a child includes parents’ mental health.

The idea of not breastfeeding made me much happier, and that's ultimately best for our family. This is not being selfish.

Feminist rage: I believe that the current recommendations in the U.S. to breastfeed for a year while not providing paid maternity leave are a subtle trap created to tie women and other people who breastfeed to the home, and as a feminist, I did not want to support that.

Formula is good enough: Formula is truly almost as good for babies as breast milk.

I didn't want to be focused on only giving my child the very best of absolutely everything at the expense of all other considerations, particularly myself and my relationship with my husband. There are many instances where good enough is good enough, and this was one of them.

The only conclusive studies I encountered showed that we would basically be putting him at risk for one extra stomach bug in the first year.

Now that we have a 4-month-old baby angel, I’m happy to report that we still stand by these original ideas.

It has really worked out. Our baby ate well from day one, easily gained weight at a healthy level, and is always well hydrated. He sleeps for longer stretches so we are all better rested. He has a sweet bond with his dad who feeds him often, and can also spend full days and nights with doting grandparents to give us some much-needed rest.

On my end, the roller coaster of hormones with extensive sob breaks in the first few weeks that friends prepared me for did not happen for me, and I feel like opting out of breastfeeding may be part of the reason why.

Now that I’m back to work, I don’t have to take breaks to pump, worry about pumping in the middle of the night while he’s asleep, or struggle with him not taking bottles if someone other than me is caring for him.

It’s great.

On baby medical forms, a very common checkbox is “breastfed” or “formula fed.” I like this visual reminder that it is a choice.

It doesn’t say “loves child” vs. “poisons child and ruins their opportunities for health, happiness, and success in life.”

As I’ve shared my thinking with others, I’ve heard time and time again that my new parent peers, like me, never even considered formula over breastfeeding, because we all just understood breastfeeding to be the only acceptable option. Let’s change this.

Every other account of formula feeding that I have read was from people who came to formula feeding reluctantly after not being able to breastfeed as much as they had planned. I believe that there are others out there like me who thoughtfully chose this path, but choose to keep their choice private to avoid the potentially fierce criticism from others.

That's why I'm speaking up. I’m willing to take the heat if it can help others let go of any guilt.

Formula feeding is one more option to consider as you navigate this new life of parenthood, and I’m happy to report that it’s possible to make this choice while also choosing not to feel guilty about it.

This story originally appeared on Medium and is excerpted here with permission.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
True

Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

Keep Reading Show less

Eight months into the coronavirus pandemic, many of us are feeling the weight of it growing heavier and heavier. We miss normal life. We miss our friends. We miss travel. We miss not having to mentally measure six feet everywhere we go.

Maybe that's what was on Edmund O'Leary's mind when he tweeted on Friday. Or maybe he had some personal issues or challenges he was dealing with. After all, it's not like people didn't struggle pre-COVID. Now, we just have the added stress of a pandemic on top of our normal mental and emotional upheavals.

Whatever it was, Edmund decided to reach out to Twitter and share what he was feeling.

"I am not ok," he wrote. "Feeling rock bottom. Please take a few seconds to say hello if you see this tweet. Thank you."

O'Leary didn't have a huge Twitter following, but somehow his tweet started getting around quickly. Response after response started flowing in from all over the world, even from some famous folks. Thousands of people seemed to resonate with Edmund's sweet and honest call for help and rallied to send him support and good cheer.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
True

Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

Keep Reading Show less

The subject of late-term abortions has been brought up repeatedly during this election season, with President Trump making the outrageous claim that Democrats are in favor of executing babies.

This message grossly misrepresents what late-term abortion actually is, as well as what pro-choice advocates are actually "in favor of." No one is in favor of someone having a specific medical procedure—that would require being involved in someone's individual medical care—but rather they are in favor of keeping the government out of decisions about specific medical procedures.

Pete Buttigieg, who has become a media surrogate for the Biden campaign—and quite an effective one at that—addressed this issue in a Fox News town hall when he was on the campaign trail himself. When Chris Wallace asked him directly about late-term abortions, Buttigieg answered Wallace's questions is the best way possible.

"Do you believe, at any point in pregnancy, whether it's at six weeks or eight weeks or 24 weeks or whenever, that there should be any limit on a woman's right to have an abortion?" Wallace asked.

Keep Reading Show less

When it comes to the topic of race, we all have questions. And sometimes, it honestly can be embarrassing to ask perfectly well-intentioned questions lest someone accuse you of being ignorant, or worse, racist, for simply admitting you don't know the answer.

America has a complicated history with race. For as long as we've been a country, our culture, politics and commerce have been structured in a way to deny our nation's past crimes, minimize the structural and systemic racism that still exists and make the entire discussion one that most people would rather simply not have.

For example, have you ever wondered what's really behind the term Black Pride? Is it an uplifting phrase for the Black community or a divisive term? Most people instinctively put the term "White Pride" in a negative context. Is there such a thing as non-racist, racial pride for white people? And while we're at it, what about Asian people, Native Americans, and so on?

Yes, a lot of people raise these questions with bad intent. But if you've ever genuinely wanted an answer, either for yourself or so that you best know how to handle the question when talking to someone with racist views, writer/director Michael McWhorter put together a short, simple and irrefutable video clip explaining why "White Pride" isn't a real thing, why "Black Pride" is and all the little details in between.


Keep Reading Show less