There is no shame in formula (and other truths about motherhood)

May 20, 2015

View More: http://ginazeidler.pass.us/ainsleynewbornPhoto by Gina Zeidler
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I really don’t mean to stir the pot with the title of this post, but I’ve had so many thoughts flying around in my head as I reflect on the first 12 weeks of motherhood. Those first months are full of self-doubt and questions, especially when your baby doesn’t go “by the book” the way you had planned. Ha! Does any baby? For me, when things with Ainsley weren’t going the way I thought they should go I started to stress out and worry and try to force something that just wasn’t working instead of trusting my momma instinct. Note to other mommas: Always do what’s right for your baby, not another person’s baby or the theoretical newborn in the parenting books you read. That said, here are a few truths I’ve come to in the first three months of motherhood:

1. How you feed your baby doesn’t really matter. 
For the first few days I agonized over the fact that Ainsley wasn’t breastfeeding well. She was hungry and cranky and losing weight and I kept trying to force the issue. I felt SO guilty when I introduced a bottle of breast milk, but she took to the bottle so well that I knew we were doing the right thing for us.

2. There is no shame in feeding your baby formula. 
I have been so blessed to be a part of a new momma group that met during the first few weeks of Ainsley’s life. The moms in that group varied widely in their breast feeding experiences. Some had babies that were allergic to breast milk and required special formula, others had supply issues and supplemented with formula and still others just didn’t want to breast feed long-term and were making the switch to formula before heading back to work.

Personally, I’ve been introducing some formula into Ainsley’s diet for the last couple weeks, and it’s been going great. At first I felt incredibly guilty about the whole thing; my supply was ample and Ainsley was thriving on breast milk, so why wouldn’t I continue? But 11 weeks of exclusively pumping was exhausting and I felt it was better for my mental health to cut back, even if that meant introducing formula. Sure, breast milk is the perfect food for baby in most cases, but formula is pretty good, too.

3. Say “yes” to the paci if you want, when you want. 
Nurses in the hospital might make you scared about nipple confusion and all that jazz, but I’ve had enough momma friends who have recommended giving your little one a paci when you want, even if it’s sooner than the magic 4 to 6 weeks.

4. Find a Facebook group for your parenting style. 
Seriously, I don’t know how our parents did this newborn thing without social media. There are so many great groups on Facebook for almost every parenting style or infant issue you may have questions about. There are groups for exclusively pumping mommas, faith-based groups and the like. I’ve joined a group for moms following BabyWise as well as a few other momma groups. It’s been great to have a supportive place to ask questions and throw around ideas about feeding and schedules and sleep issues.

5. Be prepared to buy and try every sleep contraption on the market. 
In just three months of life, we’ve spent a ridiculous amount of money on sleep solutions. When you’re a tired and weary parent, you’re willing to do or pay anything for a couple extra hours of shut-eye. We’ve used a flannel swaddle, Ergo swaddle, Halo Sleep Sack, Miracle Blanket Swaddle Up, Woombie and Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleep Suit. For us the Halo Sleep Sack and Merlin’s Magic Sleep Suit have been the two that have worked the best, but it varies from baby to baby.

6. Don’t expect to get all the things done on maternity leave. 
In fact, expect to get none of the things done on maternity leave. Cuddle your baby, be invested in your little one and don’t put too much pressure on yourself to get everything done. Maternity leave is for baby bonding and healing and adjusting to a new normal, not proving you’re some sort of super momma who can bounce back in a second and do a thousand tasks.

7. Take developmental milestones with a grain of salt. 
I remember one morning sitting on the couch and crying to Joe early on because I thought Ainsley might be blind. (Really?!) She wasn’t tracking objects well at the point when one book told me she should be able to track and follow things in front of her face. A week or two later she started tracking well and I felt incredibly silly for overreacting. Babies develop differently and different times and paces. Don’t get too stressed. And if you are worried? Ask your doctor, not the internet.

Mommas, what other words of wisdom would you add to this list?

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  • Reply DessertForTwo May 21, 2015 at 1:12 am

    Hallelujah! I needed to read this! It all resonates with me. We’re currently freaking out because Camille is WIDE AWAKE during the day. She naps about 4-5 hours a day. She sleeps pretty well at night (two 4-hour stretches), but she should definitely be sleeping more than 4-5 hours during the day, right? Ahh! We’re stressing, haha.

    • Reply Heather Disarro May 21, 2015 at 1:28 am

      Girl, Austin has been doing the same thing, but one of my local friends’ little girl is a week younger than him and has the total opposite schedule. It’s normal for it all be abnormal!

  • Reply Heather Disarro May 21, 2015 at 1:29 am

    Amen! Especially to the developmental milestones. They all progress so differently, and even when they hit them all they’ll be stronger in some than others. That’s part of being human, amen? We all have different gifts and passions and abilities, and it starts young!

    I remember feeling like crap when Wes boycotted nursing and I caved and started doing formula instead. It felt like I had “lost” but what I ended up gaining was a happier way to feed my boy and more freedom to enjoy him rather than living in frustration that he wasn’t nursing!

  • Reply Jamie May 21, 2015 at 4:37 pm

    This is great! thank you! My first baby just turned 5 months old. I have been exclusively pumping since 8 weeks! My little one decided one day not to eat from me. It was hard when she would just cry as I brought her up to eat. Give her a bottle and she eats like a champ! Pumping is so much work, its worth it but alot of wrk and hard when you are busy on the weekends! My little girl takes most of her bottles during the day with half formula and half breast milk. I keep telling myself as long as she is happy and healthy it doesn’t matter what “kind” of milk she is getting! Keep up the good work! Now if only they could write a book for every different type of baby out there 😉

  • Reply NSU May 21, 2015 at 7:55 pm

    This is great advice and reflects why parents shouldn’t be too judgmental about other parents and particularly to give ourselves a break! Also once the newborn phase is in the rear view and your baby becomes more autonomous and less completely and utterly dependent on you, it’s easier not to take everything so personally. They are their own people and it’s a good rule of thumb to let them be as much as possible (though once things calm down, it will be time to investigate toddler discipline!). Glad to see you figure these things out–we all have to at our own pace, but it’s such a relief, right?

  • Reply Katie May 31, 2015 at 10:18 am

    Hey Madison 🙂
    I’ve followed your blog for a couple years and just haven’t commented much. I just wanted to share how much we have in common- I love your approach to healthy eating and habits. I’ll be 27 this June so I think we are about the same age and from what it sounds like you are also a Christ-follower. I just had a baby girl (my second) 9 weeks ago and we are really struggling with breastfeeding- Elyse developed an aversion to breastfeeding due to painful gas and the past couple weeks have been up and down. Recently down as she doesn’t want to breastfeed at all and has lost weight. Needing to bottle feed… and gosh, yes pumping is a lot of work!
    Anyway, I just wanted to reach out and say I love your recipes and writings- I can identify in a lot of ways.
    God bless you and your family.

  • Reply Jacqui MacKenzie June 11, 2015 at 1:20 pm

    I love this post! My son was in the NICU for 10 days so he started out mostly on formula and breast milk when I was able to nurse. Honestly I never understood why people are so against formula, but at the same time I have been at that point where I became a crazy person because I was obsessed with getting him exclusively on breast milk. But exclusively pumping… that has got to be tough! I pump three times a day and I want to throw my pump against the wall, I hate it so much. And yes to #6 – my husband is a teacher and just started summer break, and he has these lists of things he wants to get done and I warned him to not expect to get any of it done. He’ll just feel defeated and unproductive at the end of the day but really, the quality time he was able to spend with our kid is the most important thing. And keeping the kid alive, haha. 🙂

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