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.

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Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

As we careen through the first few weeks of 2021, we could all use a feel-good story. And what's better than a sweet proposal story to bring us all a bit of joy?

Jesse took his girlfriend Erin to a bird show at the Australian Zoo last week. (Since Australia has managed to control the pandemic, people are able to do such things. Isn't that nice?) The bird handler introduced the audience to Euli, a red-tailed black cockatoo, then asked the audience for a volunteer. Erin stood up and waved her arms, and when she was chosen, she assumed she'd gotten lucky.

The bird handler had Erin pull out a five-dollar bill and hold it in her hand with her arm out. Euli, the handler said, would know exactly who to go to since she was holding the money. Sure enough, Euli flew up to Erin, took the bill from her hand, and flew back.

Then the handler said Euli was going to take Erin her "receipt." The bird flew up, handed Erin a piece of paper. The handler told Erin to open it and read it, and that's when she got the surprise of her life.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.