Why I Formula-Fed

Before passing judgment, take a walk in my non-breastfeeding shoes.

I brought home a beautiful healthy baby boy. He had latched on quickly, allowing my body to nourish his body. We were connected in the most intimate of ways. Natural. Magnificent. I was a mother caring for her child the only way I knew how.

Shortly thereafter, the anxiety started to settle in. Quickly followed by depression. I didn’t know who I was anymore, the person I had become over my 34 years was lost, stripped away. I felt compartmentalized. I was Jaime, the mother, and nothing else. I started to fall apart.

I’ve had a lifelong battle with an eating disorder. An old comforting behavior, a lifelong friend I could rely on to get me through those times I could not face alone, it would be the insurgence of my eating disorder that ultimately prohibited me from continuing to breastfeed. It was a connection I wanted more than anything to bond me with my child. But three weeks into motherhood, I needed to acknowledge my mental health was deteriorating, and that I had succumbed to the anorexia.

Watching my baby lying there, lethargic, grey, I knew that the little nutrients I was offering were inadequate to his survival. Him nursing left me depleted, as there was nothing left for my body. The process ultimately made me sick, and the little amount I could offer to him was simply not enough. It came time to accept that I would need to rely on the aid of medication to help get me through the postpartum period. And that was the day my son become a formula-fed baby.

Within minutes of his first formula bottle, his skin started to change back to that beautiful shade of pink. He perked up. His light was ignited. Eyes opened. He was ready to face the world. I knew, without question, I had made the right decision. His response would only further validate my decision with each day.

This decision came with a lot of shame. It came with a husband up in arms, fighting the battle on behalf of his baby. It came with a tremendous amount of personal judgments that I had for the formula industry. But at the end of the day, none of that mattered.

And yet, the day of his final bottle couldn’t come fast enough. It still pains me to know that I will never have the breastfeeding experience with my son ever again. When he lays close, I still yearn for that connection, even 17 months later. But the gratitude that I was able to nurse him for those first three weeks overcomes the longing. He has grown into a magnificent, strong, intelligent little boy. And me? I have found my roots, bid farewell to the medication, and rediscovered my recovery.  

There are times where I have felt resentment that I wasn’t able to honor my body the way I needed to in order to be there for him the way I intended. That perhaps I am not a great mother as I wasn’t able to “put him first.” But that is met with relief that I was able to make a heartbreaking decision in order to do what was best for us. That if I wasn’t a great mother, I wouldn’t have been able to let go of my values in order to get better. That if I wasn’t a great mother, I wouldn’t have gotten out of my own way — immediately — in order to get us healthy.

There’s a lot of judgement around breastfeeding, but it’s hard to know someone’s personal circumstances. That other mother over there with the bottle? She doesn’t need to feel ashamed. She needs to feel supported. Just like I did. I hope those mothers who are facing a similar experience to mine — or an entirely different one — know they are not alone. And I hope that those who place their own views on the heads of others know most of these decisions were not made lightly. So please, before passing judgment, take a walk in someone else’s non-breastfeeding shoes. And instead of criticizing and judging the actions of other mothers, offer nothing but unconditional love and support as we all walk through this thing called motherhood, together.

Photography by Jonica Moore for Well Rounded NY.

Jaime K. Teich Krinsky

Jaime K. Teich Krinsky

When she’s not immersed in the world of marketing, Jaime can be found meditating, having a dance party with her family, or simply enjoying all that life has to offer. Inspired by her mama glow, Jaime has refocused her freelance writing efforts in supporting new parents on their journey to parental empowerment.

Comments {11}

  1. You should have been charged with neglect.

    Truth
  2. No judgement. I had to supplement with formula after I wasn’t able to produce enough breast milk. My baby boy was always hungry and I simply couldn’t keep up. The breast feeding brigade is vicious and unforgiving and it needs to be talked about as much as enforcing breastfeeding. Women need to feel supported at all times.

    Maria
  3. I had the same issue as Maria, above. I was able to breastfeed my daughter for almost 5 months but now I am not producing enough milk. I’ve never even been able to pump enough to freeze! I have been supplementing with formula for 3 weeks now and she is satisfied after every bottle. My baby had issues with latching right after birth so it was saddening to have to turn to formula but I’m glad I did. Her doctor said she is healthy and gaining weight at a good rate. I was one of those moms that swore I would only breastfeed for at least the first year. I was obviously very optimistic! You never know what could happen or what another mom is going through. Moms should not judge other moms on formula over breastmilk. What matters is that the baby is getting fed enough.

    Johana
  4. Hey Truth, how is it neglect? She was feeding her child and she has post partum! You must not understand what that is like. She was trying, she was struggling. Even when you struggle to breastfeed Dr’s and lactation nurses tell you to keep trying to breastfeed first. They monitor your baby’s weight and if things get bad they tell you to supplement or stop nursing and give just formula.

    T
  5. No judgement on switching to formula as it sounds like that was the best decision for both you and your baby. One thing that wasn’t clear was whether you stopped breast feeding because of the medications, as I wouldn’t want people to think they have to give up bfing if they go on meds bc with many of the Medications it’s not the case and this is often a reason women don’t seek help for PPD. You can BF and be on meds! Anyways, people do need to get over passing judgement on others for decisions like bfing and also make it easier for mamas to get help when they are suffering.

    Marie
  6. Kudos to you for recognizing you had a problem that was not only affecting you, but your son, as well. Congratulations for letting go of your own judgement, and doing what was ultimately right for your family.

    Bethel
  7. All i can say is that a woman should never be judged on how she feeds her child let it be by nursing or formula. As a woman, we should not judge each other but stick together as one…for shame who judged this woman and the decision she made. We should celebrate our gender and not tear each other down.

    Katie Sabers
  8. @KatieSabers, @T and @Maria: I am honored to be in the sisterhood with you!
    @Bethel: Thank you for your support!!
    @Marie: I stopped BFing due to the lack of nutrients. I medicated to help through the PPD.
    @Johana: What a blessing to share 5 months with your daughter. I empathize and support you through your journey!!
    @Truth: I wish for you, through all situations you may face, that you are met with love, compassion and support.

    Jaime K. Teich Krinsky
  9. Breastfeeding is one of the hardest things a woman can do…and it’s not easy and everyone has different experiences. I too had to supplement with formula when nursing my twins because at times I did not have enough to feed both. In the end, you have to do what’s best for you and your health. We are useless if we don’t listen to our bodies…formula fed or breastfed as long as our little ones are loved that is the most important : )

    Chrissy
  10. Amazing article! I had to make the decision to formula fed prior to my daughter’s birth for depression meds, and then once she was born wow post partum anxiety made things worse where I would have been able to Brest feed if I wanted too. People always look at a newborn and a mother when bottle fed with that disapproving look. Glad to know I wasn’t alone!

    Jen
  11. The person calling him/herself “Truth” should change their name to “troll” for saying this woman should be charged with neglect. Outrageous, ignorant, and disrespectful. Kudos to this woman for doing what is right for her and her child. And for having the courage to share her story.

    Jessica

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