I know that Liam is hungry. In fact, at his check-up on Monday, he had only gained 2 ounces in 2 months. I’ve tried experimenting feeding him every 2 hours, 3 hours, pumping in the middle of the night, fenugreek supplements for me, cutting back on exercising, increasing my caloric and water intake, and sleeping more. Lately, I’ve been supplementing him with some previously stored breast milk that I had in the freezer so that he sleeps better and is happier. But, I have now depleted that stock. I need to supplement him with formula, but I feel guilty.

Guilty over not providing for my child. Not being good enough for him. Could I have eaten/drinken more? Been more persistent about pumping after feeds? Not exercising as often? Not shown him the pacifier?

Guilty because of what other mothers will think of me. That I wasn’t strong enough. I didn’t work hard enough. That I am quitting too soon.

Guilty because formula isn’t as nutritional and is an added expense for my family. I do the grocery shopping and formula isn’t cheap. Shoot, they keep it behind the counter because people steal it. Being as though I don’t financially support the family, I feel guilty that I’m in control of his food supply at the moment and am having to buy what I should normally be able to provide for him for free (financially speaking).

Guilty because I’m starving my child if I don’t supplement.

It has taken a few days for me to get over this guilt and ego of mine. After talking with some fellow new mothers who are also having to supplement to make for a happier baby, it took a load off of me. I no longer feel the invisible burdon from my peers. I’ve talked to my husband, and he made it clear to me that buying formula is just something we need to do. It’s okay and feeding our child is obviously in the budget. And finally, I’ve had a good long conversation with myself and there will be many more challenging decisions to be made. I mean, come on, curfews, grades, girls, discipline, etc. We just want our baby to be happy and healthy. Supplementing is not the end of the world. It’s a necessity for us.

What do you think about supplementing? Formula feeding? Guilt?

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24 Responses to supplementing

  1. Such an honest and heart-felt post. I am so glad you are feeling better about the situation and realize that there is nothing you should feel guilty about!! But, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t also feel it. I am currently trying to wean from nursing and you can’t help but wonder “should I keep going?” I’m sure the guilt never ends as mamas. xoxo

  2. Rachel Booth says:

    Awww… as someone who tried desperately for five weeks to pump breastmilk (every two hours, etc…to the point where the doctors told me to stop), I know the guilt that you’re feeling. It’s hard when you envision that you’ll be able to provide the nutrition and feeding that your child needs, BUT, sometimes, it’s just the way it goes. Yes, formula is WAYYYY expensive. But, as mommies, we do what we have to in order to care for our children. Ultimately, they need to eat. Whether it’s formula or breastmilk…. and he will thrive. I promise. Reagan has been formula feed exclusively since five weeks, and the girl is growing like a weed. You are not a failure for using formula. It’s not the mark of a bad mommy. You are meeting your child’s needs!! Go you! 🙂

  3. I think all of those emotions are completely normal and valid, but don’t beat yourself up! As a mom you simply do what is best for YOUR baby & that’s giving him whatever he needs by any means possible. You have given him sch a gift by breastfeeding this long & adding some formula to the mix is not giving up qor a failure. Making the decision to do it shows you have his best interests at heart. I feel like we may be following you down that road soon too.

  4. I know the exact guilt you are feeling. I had it too. I went through hell trying to breastfeed and it didn’t work out. I supplemented then had to give full formula starting at 8 weeks. M is now 11 months old and has thrived. Met all of her milestones early, meeting her growth charts and she is happy. Above all else she is happy.

    I still get guilty. I still wish I could have breastfed longer. But in the end I have a happy and healthy child. And that is all that matters.

  5. Seung Lan Pritchett says:

    I agree with Rachel.
    I thought breast milk comes naturally and besides latching problem I read in books I never imagined any other problems. Every book I read said breast milk is the best for a baby so I thought I will feed my baby breast milk of course, no doubt. Why would I even consider feeding her anything less than the best? I didn’t even read the section of formula feeding because I knew I didn’t need it.
    The reality hit me hard. Zoey was losing her weight. I don’t think I was a failure. I was just never ready for the occasions of not having enough breast milk.
    I know you are doing your best for Liam. At least he is gaining weight, however little it is. I know you will not stop breastfeeding him. So keep feeding him breast milk even it is little. Like everyone says it’s better than nothing.
    $100 for a month and your baby is thriving? It is the best $100 you will spend. Think of food you will buy later when Liam is big. You will spend more than $100 for a month. So I don’t think it’s expensive.
    You are doing great, Caroline!

  6. I can relate to the guilt. I’m due to have my first baby any day now, and I cannot breast feed because of an immune disorder. It was really difficult for me to come to terms with the fact that I have to formula feed at first, and I was nervous about criticism from other people. However, my husband helped me to realize that all that matters is that our baby is fed and cared for and it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. Even though we always hear that “breast is best”, there just doesn’t seem to be one perfect way of doing things that works for everyone.

  7. LaNeshe says:

    You shouldn’t feel guilty. You’re trying, and your first priority is to take care of him, so if he needs something additional, he needs that. You’re giving it your all and that’s all you can do! Give him what you can from you, and supplement what you have to… no guilt! 🙂

  8. I don’t know about breastfeeding or supplementing because I don’t have any children yet, but I understand the feeling of guilt and I’m so glad that you’ve released that weight off of your shoulders because that can tear you a part and make it even harder to produce breastmilk. You are right, you have many big decisions to make in the future to worry about and what is most important is that Liam is a happy and healthy baby with parents that will do anything for him!

  9. Chantel says:

    You make me feel so much better! I have had issues with breastfeeding from the beginning (baby had a tongue tie) and felt so guilty for feeding my baby boy formula so early on. My take on it now is that at the heart of it baby needs to eat and as mothers that is our number one priority so you just have to do what you need to do! I wish it wasn’t such a taboo topic…bf’ing isn’t easy for every woman and we really need to stop making women feel guilty for making that choice.

  10. Kristy says:

    First of all, Liam is as handsome as all get-out!

    One of the hardest things about breastfeeding, as wonderful as it is, is the guilt that comes with it too. Guilt if your milk isn’t enough, guilt if you secretly just wanna be done because you’d like some freedom (totally me right now), guilt for using formula, guilt for eating wrong foods, exercising too much…it seriously goes on..

    But you are so right….all that really matters is that baby is healthy and happy. And they can be healthy and happy without the boob;)

  11. Andrea says:

    I can totally relate to your feelings and so many others that commented. My youngest just turned one a few weeks ago and he was formula fed from about 3 months. I tried breastfeeding and it just didn’t work for us. I struggled for a while with switching him because I felt guilty. My guilt was magnified because I had nursed my older child for much longer and I felt like I was cheating him. But it all worked out and he is a healthy, happy, rambunctious toddler now and Liam will be too before you know it ; )

    As far as formula, if you haven’t already, sign up online with whichever brand you are using and they will periodically send you coupons/rebates in the mail. Every little bit helps!

  12. kirsten says:

    You have a beautiful website. I started reading in during my own pregnancy (you were due a few months ahead of me). Supplementing is not the end of the world. But I also learned that the hard way. I, a healthy woman with a healthy pregnancy, went into labor 8 weeks early (and had my daughter 5 hours later!). She spent 27 days in the NICU. During that time she was learning to breathe and on a feeding tube. I didn’t have the initial breast feeding bonding experience that I wanted to have. But I tried desperately. I pumped every 2-2 /12 hours, even through the night. Took Fenugreek, drank the teas, drank water, increased my calories…and when she was able to start breastfeeding I was so excited….and then eventually an emotional wreck. I was so against the thought of formula and donor milk that I would even show up in the middle of the night after pumping if I knew she would be getting low on milk. I don’t think I EVER produced more than 2 ounces in a pumping session. I cried and cried and cried. One day in a new mom haze I left 6 ounces (liquid gold!) on the counter overnight and literally had a mental breakdown. I’m sure having my daughter in the NICU didn’t help. Eventually I had to give into the formula. I still pump what little I have, and breastfeed in the evenings after work. My daughter is 12 weeks old, and now weighs over 10 pounds! (she was 4 at birth). She is happy and healthy and beautiful. I try to remember that when I start to feel guilty.

    We as moms should be supportive of one another. We make the best of the situations we are given and try to do the best we can for our babies. Your son looks happy and healthy- and that is really what matters the most. And this seems like the perfect opportunity for dad to bond with him more during feedings. I recently read something that I’ve made my new mama mantra: “the MOST important thing you can give your child is your sanity.” We’re both a lot happier now! Good luck to you and beautiful Liam!!!

  13. Pauline says:

    You must do what is best for you and your baby. Let nobody judge you, and you have no need to feel guilty for doing what you believe is the best for your family. BUT . . . many mothers are pressured, especially by weight charts and well meaning health visitors, to formula feed. The chances are, you do NOT need to. All babies grow at different rates. The charts just show averages. No baby is average. If breast feeding is what feels the right thing to do, stay strong and carry on. If you want to introduce formula, do so and don’t be afraid to say that it’s your choice, to yourself and to everyone else.

  14. Jewel says:

    It still saddens me to see soo many women battling this “invisible burden” placed on them unjustly. I went through it too and I’ve gotten the “you just need to keep trying” or “everyone can do it, they just didn’t have the right help” from other mothers whose kids latched perfectly from the start, they pumped 6 ounces a breast or weren’t battling a difficult recovery (- that was me). But one thing that has helped me after those first 3 weeks was knowing how WONDERFUL my son (and I!) was doing when he could eat what he needed, I could rest more and Daddy could join in on the feeding bond. Also, how stinkin’ smart my kid is and to realize that what matters is that every mother who loves their babies will give whatever will help them grow successfully – and that is what’s BEST for our kids.

    I also find that we as modern moms suffer because we lack knowledge. Throughout history, there have been “wet nurses” for many reasons. Some mothers have used them because they didn’t want to be tied down to feeding all the time. Others used them because of the very same reason many modern mommies face, milk production waned or was lacking if the reasoning did not surround not a bevy of other issues that come with delivery, recovery and maternal health. Instead of encouraging mothers to healthily support their children in any way possible, we allow some overzealous advocates to weigh this invisible insecurity upon us.

    I’m thankful to read this blog and know that other mothers can find relief from this fake guilt (because it is not justified, it is a form of victimization/bullying) and enjoy their newborns.

    I mourn for the many moments over my sons first 3 weeks that I wasted being saddened because I could not breastfeed my son. Instead of using those random moments to soak up all that newborn loveliness, I’m worried about what I am reading in pamphlets, on sites and in magazines. None of which will ultimately rear my son or let him know how much he is loved – that’s all on me and my hubs.

    I commend you and sorry to be so long winded but I don’t like when others are cast down for no reason. A caring mother is a good mother. Period. God bless you and continue to help other mothers realize that they are more than the sum of someone else’s expectations 🙂

  15. Deborah says:

    Hi there, I just wanted to add my bit about guilt. OH THE GUILT! Really, not to be eyeore about it, one of the wonders of motherhood is the sheer amount of guilt we take on!! I have two girls ages 6 and 3. They each had their quirks – the second one a champion breastfeeder the first one not so much… I went through the double guilt – of giving it up the first time AND then second guessing myself the next time when it was easy (I kept trying to replay if it was something I was doing wrong myself!) But the guilt about that will fade….probably to make room for guilt about potty training, schooling, assessments, special ed queries etc etc etc!. It goes on and somehow or other a certain degree of guilt becomes part of us. It’s a sign of being an involved, loving parent.

    You’ve received a lot of good advice here – you’re on top of this and helping him thrive. That is wonderful! As for the money, yes formula isn’t cheap, but there’s ups and downs all the way along their childhood. Maybe he’ll make up for it by potty training fast as diapers (or constant laundry) isn’t cheap either!

    Anyway, I wish you all the very best, you have a beautiful website and a just gorgeous son! Oh and by the way just to illustrate that guilt thing? I read with joy about your beautiful birth…then got to thinking about my 2 c-sections…sigh…..see, we all have our bubbles of guilt! Work through it, you’re doing the right thing!

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  17. Do what is best for you and for Liam. My little guy and I had a series of issues and I was never able to breastfeed him. I suppose I could have tried again once he was a little bigger, but I was so emotionally fragile that I would have lost it if he “rejected” me again – that is how I felt. So I pumped exclusively for 5 months, which built up enough supply for him to get another month of breastmilk. But his middle of the night feeding or feedings were formula – since I had to wake up to pump, daddy had to bottle feed every night, and still get up for work. So it was much quicker to dump a scoop of formula into a bottle of room temp milk, versus going downstairs and thawing/warming a baggie of frozen milk. Despite the agony this caused me, we all survived, and though I still feel some guilt (which everyday I pray goes away when I am hopefully successful with breastfeeding #2), he is happy and healthy.

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