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Baby’s First Food: Beyond Breast Milk

Tessa is nearly 10 months old and I haven’t updated this story! Wow! Shame on me.

I recently revisited my posts on baby’s first foods: Breast milk Part 1, Part 2 & Part 3 as I have had several readers indicate that they really identified with them and appreciated them. Which led me to realize that I should update that story. Especially if it could bring another mother comfort and relief.

The truth of the story is that by 6 weeks of breastfeeding I gave up. I just couldn’t do it any longer. It, like with the first, was a tough decision for me but was definitely the right one to make. Remember, my children were only 16 months apart. As I mentioned in Part 3 I was spending A LOT of time not only breastfeeding but trying to relax and build my supply. Have you ever tried to relax while simultaneously taking care of a 17 month old? IMPOSSIBLE!

I came to the realization that I could be putting in all of this time and energy and may not increase my supply. It was too much. Not to mention that Tessa was spitting up most of my milk and was having an easier time with the formula. The minute I made the decision I felt relief. Tessa felt relief. My toddler felt relief. And everyone could stop tip-toeing around me.

I mention this now and look to update you on this situation for a couple of reasons.

  1. I am now having some solid-food issues with Tessa that I thought many of you with babies in that stage might be interested in. That conversation will be updated next week when I start talking about our transition to baby food several months ago.
  2. The Motherhood has been doing some great online chats for moms of very little ones. Be sure to check out the following:
    1. The Top Twenty Tips for New and Expecting Moms
    2. Getting Baby to Sleep through the Night

Honestly, I shy away from writing about breastfeeding vs formula feeding because there is such a controversy out there. However, the side of me that wants moms experiencing difficulties to feel comforted and relief from guilt wins out. The fact of the matter is, we all might be able to breastfeed, but for some of us it comes with a high price of our time, patience, availability, etc. Resources I don’t always have at my disposal. Having raised two children on formula now, I am no less a mother than others. I am a mother who made the best decision for our situation and our family.

I appreciate those that are strong breastfeeding advocates and also appreciated the support I received during my struggles. I simply hope that this post and the following conversation are one that bring comfort to a struggling mother. Perhaps one faced with the same choices I was 9 months ago. It is a difficult one full of everyone’s expert opinions. But in the end, what matters is, is it what is right for YOU!

16 Responses to “Baby’s First Food: Beyond Breast Milk”

  1. Cortney says:

    I am a mom who has a daughter that refused to latch. Instead of fighting her, I pumped. And pumped. AND pumped. Looking back, I figure I was post-partum CRAZY to do it. And even crazier, I did it for a little over EIGHTEEN MONTHS. Yes, I exclusively pumped for that long. Would I ever advocate for someone else to do that? GOD, NO!!! Looking back, it would have been easier to go with formula, but I was blessed with an over-abundance of milk. So much so, that I was able to donate my extra to others in need. I would NEVER fault a mom for going with formula over breastmilk…every family is different in different ways. I say if it works for you, go with it! (I will NEVER exclusively pump again! If future children don’t latch, they get formula. PERIOD!!! lol)

  2. Kristin says:

    Thank you! I too had issues with both of my children and this is very comforting to me:
    “Having raised two children on formula now, I am no less a mother than others. I am a mother who made the best decision for our situation and our family.”

  3. Shannon says:

    My baby is 4 mths old and I had to stop around 5 wks because she was not gaining weight and I wasn’t producing enough milk with pumping to supplement. It was a very difficult decision for me and in fact is probably the key factor in why I developed PPD. I was more than distraught over it not working out and felt it was a reflection on my ability to mother and care for my daughter. I look forward to reading your next post – I am trying to start solids now and am also having some issues.

    • tricia says:

      Oh Shannon, sorry to hear that. Postpartum depression is such a difficult thing as well. I hope after 4 months it is getting better. I’d love to hear what your solid food struggles are now too.

  4. Kathryn says:

    I am one of the “lucky” moms when it comes to breastfeeding — we never had any problems and I am still nursing my 14-month old. HOWEVER, I am thrilled that you were able to look beyond the controversy and do what is right for yourself and your family. I applaud you for this: “I am a mother who made the best decision for our situation and our family.” Way to go! This is what I advocate for.

    • tricia says:

      It is good that you recognize the blessing in your ease of breastfeeding and I rejoice with you. Thanks for being an encouragement to others along the way too.

  5. Skirnir says:

    I have to say that I identify with this also. My son when he was born had some paralysis on one side of his face from forceps delivery. I tried to breast feed, and the first nurse in the hospital helped me. The second one, said you are going to have to learn sometime and walked out. The more I tried, the more frustrated he became and the more frustrated I became. When he got home from the hospital, he had already lost some weight and they were a bit worried. So I admit, I gave it up fairly quickly. Did not think of pumping, as I never really got started. I hope other mothers don’t feel guilty if they chose, or couldn’t seem to get the hang of breast feeding. It certainly does not come naturally.

  6. renee says:

    I too wanted so badly to BF my baby boy (who is also almost 10 months – Jan 14th is his BDay). He never latched on and it was so frustrating for both of us (I cried a lot)! I decided to pump and we did OK but I still had to give him formula once a day. When I went back to work at 6 weeks, I tried to pump there. My milk supply dwindled and more formula bottles ensued. I think around 10 weeks we started formula exclusively. I had the guilt, but I reassured myself that I was not a failure by any means. I swept the bad thoughts under the rug and now I can see he is perfectly healthy and (knock on wood) has never gotten anything more than the teething grumpies while others that were born a few weeks ahead and behind him struggled with 2 and 3 earaches and even strep. not saying they were bad parents!! just saying my boy is obviously a healthy one :)

    he now eats 24 oz of formula and 4 big jars (stage 3) of food a day. We did not start jar food until 6 months due to food allergies in our family. He was 28 inches long and 20 pounds (completely normal range) at 9 months… and he is gorgeous if I do say so myself (looks just like his daddy!).

    I am looking forward to your next posting… we are having some difficulties transitioning to table type foods. He spits out biter biscuits and cereal puffs… so I don’t know where to go from here.. but maybe it is a time thing.. of course he has been a slightly picky eater with jars (no green stuff! no meats! no peaches!) – but I can’t blame him on some of that stuff Yuck!

    • tricia says:

      Thanks for sharing your story. I am sure that others will identify and appreciate it as well. I look forward to our discussion around transitioning to solids.

  7. Amy says:

    I’m singing your praises! Good for you for making this decision and speaking up. I struggled w/both of my babies to breastfeed. My daughter had trouble latching on and when she did she would throw up soon after. Turned out she had an extreme dairy allergy and because she was getting dairy via my breast milk, it was making her sick. When my son was born I tried again and he latched on great but it was so uncomfortable and painful and was stressing me out to the point that I just could not relax. Then, to top it off I got the most painful breast infection within a week of him being born. Needless to say I quit right after and he happily took to the bottle. Bottom line is that both of my babies and big and strong and healthy from formula. I too struggled with feeling guilty for not breastfeeding but am so glad that I listened to my instincts and not all of the unsolicited advice from the lactation consultant and the other mothers who believe that only the ‘breast is best.’ It is for some and when it works, great. But, it’s not for everyone and that’s great too.

  8. Amy says:

    I’m definitely in the pro-breastfeeding camp. However, I know from experience how difficult it is and have the scars to prove it. Sheer stubbornness is the only thing that got me through the first four months until it became easy for us. Pumping was neat for a while (Hey! See how much milk I made!), but then as my supply dwindled I really came to dread it (See how little milk I made.) The guilt of knowing I wasn’t making enough milk to keep up with my daughter’s demands was awful, but I was a little proud albeit worried when she refused formula. She was 10-months-old at that point, so we did the best we could to make sure her solid-food diet was balanced and included things like whole milk yogurt and cheese.

  9. Kristi says:

    Hey Tricia! I had so many challenges trying to BF Judah and was even told by a friend who wasn’t a mom yet that I was a bad mom for giving him formula…awful, I know! Anyway, when I had Ezra We came upon many similar challenges at first and I began to get discouraged again even though I told myself not to. And then, Neil said something to me that was so simple, yet so true and it has been my mantra so to speak since then. He said, “Your identity is not in whether you breastfeed or formula-feed Ezra. Your identity is in Christ.” Oh, the comfort that brings to me, especially when others can be so vocal about their opinions, even when it’s hurtful! Now, Ezra is doing pretty well with BF, but I (and no other mom) will not think of myself a failure when I need to use formula. You are a great mom, regardless!

  10. Trexxd says:

    Tricia, I so respect you for making a (probably controversial) decision AND announcing it. Because you made informed choices based on your assessment that it is the RIGHT one. You do not mislead others by making excuses for not wanting to breastfeed anymore. Many will pretend that breastfeeding is easy and those mothers who choose to formula feed are bad mothers. But mothering is so much more than breastfeeding. I hope more people are like you..

  11. Connie Sue says:

    I’ve had 6 children all of whom have been breastfed. That being said the 5th decided at around 5 months he was done. He went on formula. Every child and circumstance is different. Feeding and bonding with your child should be a special time and experience not something that you dread (or feel guilty about). Aren’t we blessed that we live in a time that we are given other healthy options?

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