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How Formula Saved My Sanity

Today we have a great guest post on the blog. Shelby is writing about how formula saved her sanity. I breastfed my son for 5 months, and then had to switch to formula myself. It was a hard choice, but it also saved my sanity, and made sure my son was well fed. I think these stories are SO important to read. Read our story at this link, and continue reading for Shelby’s story below.

You are the most important person in your baby’s life and your health is important too.


Breast is best, right?

I think almost every new mom has heard the above statement, “Breast is best.” Those were my exact thoughts when I found out I was pregnant. Feeding your baby? That’s a no brainer! You should at least TRY to breastfeed. Why wouldn’t you want to do what’s BEST for your baby?

So that’s what I was going to do. I did all the research I could on breastfeeding. I had a Pinterest board dedicated to it, took breastfeeding classes, and asked anyone I knew who did it if they knew the secret- the secret to successful breastfeeding.

SO many people I knew had to switch to formula because breastfeeding did not work for them. I thought they just weren’t educated enough and hadn’t tried hard enough. Surely, if I learn as much as possible and don’t make their same mistakes it won’t happen to me.

Our Journey Began

Flash forward 9 months and I had just given birth to our beautiful baby boy, Benjamin. I explained to the delivery nurses that it was very important to me that I nurse him within the first hour. I had read that was essential in establishing a healthy nursing relationship.

I also told my mother I wanted her to photograph the experience because I also heard how magical it was and that I would want documentation of this moment. Yeah… that crap hurts!! Magical? For me it wasn’t.

How Formula Saved My Sanity
Ben’s first time nursing.

The nurses at the hospital helped the most they could. By the second day I had mastered every breastfeeding position imaginable.

Ben’s latch was pretty good despite his tongue tie, and nursing didn’t hurt THAT bad anymore. I thought, okay we’ve got this.

As they checked Ben’s vitals one nurse mentioned that Ben’s weight wasn’t quite where it should be. She suggested that I supplement him with formula and pump.

I was devastated and started to cry. What was wrong with my body? Why couldn’t we do this?

She syringe fed Ben formula and hooked me up to the breast pump. The flanges were double the size of my breasts it seemed. I mentioned that I didn’t think they fit and was told, “No, that’s how it’s supposed to fit.”

I felt like a non-profitable dairy cow.

I was blessed to work with the lactation consultant all day that day. She introduced us to the SNS which stands for supplemental nursing system. I also had to use a nipple shield. We had to hold a tube next to the shield that led to a bottle of formula.

This allowed my baby to get the nourishment he needed but also stimulate my breast to encourage milk production.

In the hospital, with the help of the nurse and lactation consultant, things seemed easy. The LC and nurse we had that day were so helpful. We began to feel confident with how to feed our son.

Breastfeeding at Home

Then we got home. No one was there to help us anymore. I was no longer in a hospital bed. I discovered that I could not comfortably sit on any surface in my house due to the soreness and stitches after delivery.

We nursed Ben the best we could. I then realized that I needed to use my pump (much sooner than I ever thought I would) but I had no idea how to work it! I also did not have correct size flanges. In fact, I had to specially buy some, because I needed the smallest ones they made.

Breastfeeding continued to be a struggle. It took both my husband and I to nurse our son. I held Ben and my breast and my husband had to hold the bottle and keep an eye on the tube.

The sns tube constantly slipped out or Ben would unlatch and we would have to relatch, which was a whole process. My son was born on the small side at only 6 pounds and weighed only 5 pounds 11 ounces when we brought him home. We were instructed to feed him every 2 hours 24/7. Talk about exhausted!

How Formula Saved My Sanity
My husband passed out after a feeding with Ben.

After about 5 days we had our first appointment with Ben’s pediatrician. Ben was only in the third percentile, but all was well and he told us we could feed every 3 hours!

We were elated to say the least! Wow, what would we do with all of this extra time? Haha.

This continued for another week but the feeding was beginning to take a toll on us both. All of the unlatching and re-latching and the tube caused a lot of gas issues for Ben. He screamed and cried often.

I did not realize the cause at first and just thought he had colic. I would pace the kitchen rocking my son, while I was topless and in mesh undies until I couldn’t stand any longer.

Then I would hand him off to my husband for him to take a shift trying to calm the baby. I also realized that my husband would be returning to work soon and I wouldn’t have his help any longer. I felt like a horrible mother.

Supplementing and Triple Feeding

After about a week and a half we quit using the SNS and began supplementing with a bottle. This worked out fine with my husband still home. However, this meant when he returned to work, that I had to nurse Ben for 30 minutes, offer him a bottle, burp him, lay him down for a nap, and then pump for 30 minutes.

By the time I finished it was time to feed him again! I quickly realized I could not go on living my life this way! I became extremely depressed. I would cry every time I had to feed my baby. I dreaded him waking up. I wasn’t eating, drinking, sleeping, or bathing (Ew, gross).

Add all of this to the HUGE adjustment of life with a baby, and my new body that I felt I didn’t know, and I was on a downward spiral to postpartum depression.

My husband ended up taking off an additional week because both of us were very concerned with my mental state and ability to care for the baby all day alone.

Time to Make a Decision

How Formula Saved My Sanity

Then a thought entered my head…what if I do all of this and my supply picks up? What if we no longer have to supplement? What if we got Ben’s tongue tie revised?

I would still have this weight on me. I would still be the only would who could feed him. I would be the only one waking in the night with him. Is this for me?

It took awhile for me to admit it to myself, but I knew that I couldn’t handle that load. I was having a difficult time adjusting to life as a new mom and breastfeeding was not helping. Yet, I still felt that if I stopped breastfeeding I was some type of failure. I wasn’t enough of a mom to tough out the next 2 months to see if my supply would pick up and regulate.

So, after 3 weeks of breastfeeding, supplementing, triple feeding, and even exclusively pumping, we switched to formula and never looked back!

What helped me make my decision was the love and support I thankfully had from my friends and family. But also, educating myself! I had done so much research on breastfeeding, but it didn’t help me in the long run.

I joined the Fed is Best Support Group on Facebook and learned the FACTS about breastfeeding and formula.

I learned that a lot of the benefits to breastfeeding are overblown to guilt moms into doing it. I also learned that formula feeding my child is not second best.

FED is best.

A HAPPY mom is best.

A HEALTHY baby is best.

As moms, we always want to put our children first, but you can’t pour from an empty cup.

Your mental and emotional health are equally as important. Switching to formula helped me become a better mother, and helped me better care for my son and ensure he could flourish.

How Formula Saved My Sanity

Hi, I’m Shelby a first time mom, teacher turned stay at home mom, and a line wife to my amazing hubby. Check out my blog to join myself and my friend, Hannah on our journey through motherhood!

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