Guilt of switching to formula — The Bump
Babies: 0 - 3 Months

Guilt of switching to formula

Hi ladies,

Is anyone else struggling with this whole breastfeeding thing? My LO has a good latch and I think my supply is fine but he's a chunky man and wants to nurse every 1.5 to 2 hours. At one point, the frustration was very difficult to handle because he would get so hungry (which we assumed he wasn't since he ate 30 minutes ago) and couldn't latch but would take a bottle of breastmilk and sleep. I've been pumping and he takes 5 ounces each feeding at only 3 weeks old but nursing at night every two hours. I feel so guilty for even considering formula since it's a completely selfish decision. The stress of thinking about pumping at work and the demands of breastfeeding are definitely causing a little depression. Just looking for some of your thoughts and/or experiences!

Re: Guilt of switching to formula

  • Oh mama I feel you on that. Only I've had more difficulty actually being able to latch. Just know that while there are many benefits to breast feeding some mamas bond better with a bottle or formula. Don't get too caught up in what everyone thinks is best or not. That really got to me and it's made my baby blues all the more intense. Hang in there and do what's best for your relationship with your little love
  • Firstly bf is hard in the early weeks.
    Have you seen a lactation consultant? Is your boy gaining weight as he should?
    I personally think a lot of bf issues improve with time as baby learns to latch well as long as baby is gaining and there aren't issues like tongue tie.
    Having said that it doesn't have to be all or nothing. Perhaps you ff when at work and bf,when you're with baby.
    I've ebf all 3 babies and the issues we've had have all been solved with time and a good LC.
    So perhaps seek advice if it's important to you, but don't feel guilty if you choose to ff or if you can't solve your particular concerns
    your well-being is crucial to bonding with baby.
    Best wishes
    Elizabeth 5yrs old Jane 3yrs old

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  • Hear ya girlie! BF is hard and it's just not for everyone. No shame in that. I'm pumping and doing a formal breast milk combo in a bottle. I'm much happier therefore everybody is happier lol! You do what's best for you and don't worry about what other ppl think.
  • Agreed! Don't feel guilty, however if in your heart you still want to breastfeed, just make sure you get the support you need! An LC and a moms group helped me tremendously, I've been struggling with low supply. Also, look up breastfeeding mama talk on Facebook, it's a very inspiring page!

    The most important peice of advice I've gotten so far (my daughter is 4 mo) is don't quit on a bad day. Make sure it's a decision that works for you and your family, and that you've thought it through. And remember, you can always supplement! I've been doing that for several months, best of both worlds! Good luck!
  • Maybe he's wanting to feed so frequently because of the growth spurt that happens around 3 weeks? Hang in there, mama!
  • lbaird123 said:

    Hear ya girlie! BF is hard and it's just not for everyone. No shame in that. I'm pumping and doing a formal breast milk combo in a bottle. I'm much happier therefore everybody is happier lol! You do what's best for you and don't worry about what other ppl think.

    But maybe in the thick of the first few weeks is not the time to decide this?
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  • There is a reason why wealthy women throughout history used wet nurses. Because breastfeeding is tough work and there's no relief for mom. I did it exclusively for 6 weeks before giving a bottle of formula. I felt terrible but relieved at the same time. I have been breastfeeding with formula supplementing for 12 weeks since then. My LO is 4 months and unfortunately has self weaned early due to so many bottles with me working full time I'm sure. I'm currently weaning myself with no regrets. We all go into motherhood with the best intentions but shit happens. I would encourage other moms to keep it up as long as they are still happy doing it but if you are not enjoying your baby as much by all means give a bottle of formula and make no apologies for it. Every mom, baby, and situation is different and don't waste time on guilt or comparing yourself to other moms.
  • Thank you ladies so much! I appreciate all of the feedback. As of now I'll be pumping and adding formula if necessary. The doctor actually suggested to cut back because LO is in the 97th percentile and ate enough one day for a 6 month old. It's hard to do what's best for me when it's the opposite of what's best for baby but having others actually be able to help feed him especially throughout the night would be phenominal for me.
  • Breast milk is quickly digested. What you describe is normal. Formula isn't awful, but what you describe would not sway me to switch. You are different & have different needs. A fed baby is a happy baby.

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  • Yes I agree that what you describe is pretty normal. I was like you, I had no idea and I was worried but that's how babies are :)

    I also felt very guilty for supplementing with formula but it was the bloody hormones. Baby blues suck big time. Now I feel no regret over my decision.

    I want to add here to not worry too much about your supply, in case you do. I was terrified because I've been combo feeding almost from the beginning and I was scared from what I've been reading that I will dry out etc. I did rent a pump from the hospital for a week to help me a bit and it might have done it.

    Well, luckily at 3 months today I'm still good with milk and I never stopped supplementing with formula. We still have pretty much the same feeding "schedule" so from my personal experience I believe you can successfully do both, if you wish to do so, since your body will adapt and of course there is no need to feel guilty :).

    Of course the above is my personal experience and I understand that every woman is different.

    Best of luck and I repeat, don't feel guilty :) you're doing great!
  • Please do not feel guilty or selfish! I went through the same thing! I planned to BF for six months and made it three weeks. I was crying to his pediatrician because I was depressed and sad and couldn't stop crying. I was EXHAUSTED! He was nursing constantly and I wasn't getting any sleep. At one point I fell asleep sitting up in the rocking chair and awoke moments later with no recollection of what had just happened. That has never happened to me. I had this perfect beautiful healthy baby boy in my arms yet all I wanted to do was cry. And I did. Constantly. Because I was so tired. He had a perfect latch and my supply was great. All I could think about was how awful of a mother I must be. The hardest part? What other breastfeeding moms would think of me. He is 10 weeks old and I'm still scared to admit that I started formula feeding within a month of him being born. I still feel like a selfish quitter. BUT - I felt like 10x of a better mom once I switched. I was well rested and less emotional. My advice is to first consult a LC. A good one! I wish I would've had someone to encourage me more. Not guilt me into continuing, but helping me to continue. So, do what YOU think is best. As PP have said, a fed baby is a happy baby. You are the mom. You make the decisions. Don't try to parent a specific way out of guilt. BF is the best thing you can do for your child, but so is sending them to a great college (which you may not be able to afford) or staying home with them (which you may not be able to do) and tons of other examples. Sometimes, things just don't work out. Do your best!!! Good luck!
  • Everything you describe is exactly how I am feeling! I'm glad you mentioned other things that are best too but can't always happen. Helps to put it in perspective. Honestly just the process of taking my shirt off, unlatching my bra, and leaking everywhere on him and me is so frustrating! I know other mommas thoroughly enjoy the process of breastfeeding but I honestly do feel I bond 100 times better with him when giving a bottle. He stares right at me which I love and he's colicy so we don't get as many moments of peace.
  • I cried the 1st time I gave him a formula bottle bc I felt guilty too but I also had a 9.6 pounder with a big appetite! I do a combo of BF & formula. I always do my last nightly feed with the formula bc it keeps LO fuller for longer and we all get a better nights sleep.

  • A growing baby love to eat, don't deny him that, even if he ate 30 minutes ago. My son is now 10 weeks and for the earlier weeks we nursed for 1.5-2 nonstop sometimes, with maybe 20 minute breaks.

    Nursing is not only about feeding, it provides bonding and comfort, so don't always assume it's hunger. He probably just wants to be close to mama. ☺

    Breastfeeding is hard work, but I love every second of it now. I too struggled at first and felt overwhelmed with the early demand. It changes daily though.

    I sought out help from an LC and highly recommend it.
  • I've never experienced guilt like I have with breastfeeding! Nursing for me was so painful & I felt so tied down I hated it. I quickly began to resent pumping as well. I couldn't keep up with baby so I supplement. The first time I did that at home I locked my doors & drew the curtains because I was CERTAIN my lactation consultant was going to repell down from a chopper, land on my roof & know what I did. I still avoid her at my pediatricians office. Pumping is definitely a chore! Also I set very small goals, for example, Im going to pump for 2 more days & see how I feel. Or, Im going to drop how ever many pump sessions & see how I feel. Right now I pump in the once in the morning & once before I go to bed & that's helped me take off so much stress & continue to give some milk. I dont know why these decisions are so emotionally taxing but it sucks. You've already given your baby a great start! Good job!
  • Same situation here... My son is almost 10 lbs ... Was living at the breast around the clock... Got a 3 year old to tend to (with no one really to help me watch him while I'm with the baby) with a husband that got only 5 days paternity....Breastfeeding wasn't going to work for us and I recognized this almost immediately... My first son did great with is what it is... I feel bad but then.... I also know formula feeding isn't the end of the world... Good luck and try to not be hard on yourself ...

  • There is so much pressure on women regarding how they feed their baby, it's awful! In my opinion do what makes you happy and works for you! If you are happy your baby will sense that and it will help them be happy. The mother/baby bond is about something bigger .....unconditional love! Are you feeding your baby and are they healthy and growing? That's what is important. Just's called unconditional love for a reason!
  • My sisters baby is 6 months old on formula and still wanting to eat every 2 to 3 hours. If your supply is fine, formula might just make it harder because now you've got to fix a bottle at night, wait for it to warm, sterilize it. And you lose the breast as a comforting tool. Just a thought.. breastfeeding seems easier to me, just pop it in their mouth at night half awake at least. It sounds like you respond well to the pump too. That said, I would agree people oversell breastfeeding. I breastfeed but I wouldn't fault anyone for fomula feeding. It seems to me that many of the benefits could be attributed to socioeconomics rather than the breastmilk itself. Anyway, my point is that I'm not sure bottle feeding is way better so give it a thought before losing your supply.
  • alisong10alisong10
    100 Love Its 10 Comments First Anniversary First Answer
    edited February 2016
    This thread is a lifesaver right now. I'm also strongly considering supplementing or switching to formula. For many of the same reasons. I am not myself right now ( thankyou baby blues & hormones & sleep deprivation) and I feel I could be a better mother if using formula 
  • BF can be challenging, especially if you are a FTM. It is physically demanding and painful in the beginning.
    I exclusively BF and she may eat non-stop for 3-4 hours with little brakes to change or sleep for 4. I wish she ate less often, but I am OK with sacrificing my nipples for her health
  • All three of my kids were primarily breastfed, but once or twice a day they got formula. It worked for us.  My husband got to enjoy feeding them and I got a little breaks that helped to keep me going and keep me sane.  DD1 nursed for 21 months, DS1 nursed for ten and DD1 is 13 months and still going.  I hope I can make it to 24 months with her.   I do remember with the baby I almost had a break down with her.  I was nursing her for what seemed like a long time and just couldn't do it anymore.  I asked my husband to take her and give her a bottle because I need to not be touched for a few hours.   Maybe try having your husband give him one bottle, maybe two bottles a day and see if that helps you feel better ?
  • smileybabyboysmileybabyboy
    Fourth Anniversary 500 Comments 25 Love Its Photogenic
    edited February 2016
    Unfortunately all those feedings are normal.  I'm also considering using formula to supplement since my LO who is a week old is up all night and it's emotionally draining.  I used formula with my first child and I found it much easier to deal with splitting up the feedings with DH and myself.  I don't think it's selfish.  Do what you want to do and what works for you.  You could pump and use that milk for bottle feedings. 
  • Thank you for posting this! I've been so upset about making the switch but your post really hit home and is very encouraging. My baby is three weeks and nurses around the clock. Pumping is helping ( into bottles) but I also have a 5 year old that I feel like I'm neglecting. I am going to be switching over soon. Thanks again for making me feel more human!
  • I have a 9 day old and I'm supplementing with formula. He got dehydrated and ran a fever at 3 days old and we ended up back in the hospital for a nightmare 3 nights (when you take a baby to the ER who is under 30 days old, there is a protocol in which they assume meningitis or sepsis until proven otherwise (the tests take 48 hours to come back - from the time they hit the slide, not when they draw). So to make a long story short, feed your baby - I give him all the milk I have right now and it's not enough, so I have to supplement. I breastfeed first and pump after. My milk is still coming in so the amount I'm supplementing is going down, but I'm prepared for the possibility that I might never be able to keep up with him. One awesome benefit is that if you feed formula at night, it helps them sleep longer than breast milk, which goes right through them. I'm lucky the hospital sent me home with the pre made bottles so all I have to do is screw a nipple on them. They are expensive to purchase though. Don't feel guilty for feeding your baby. I took the advice that all he needs is what I can give him and my baby ended up in the hospital - dehydrated. 
  • It makes me so mad that women feel guilt for how they feed. The fact is: breast is not ALWAYS best. A healthy happy
    mother is very very important. I was formula fed. I'm a healthy and normal person & I love my mom. It's all good.
  • It helped me to visit and read the testimonies of other mom's who exclusively formula feed. Breast feeding is not for everyone and all that matters at the end of the day is that LO is fed and healthy. Not sure what other people gain from shaming women who make that decision for their family. 
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