I had no desire to breastfeed my kids. All my life the concept of breastfeeding made me uncomfortable and wasn’t something that I wanted to do. I thought, why would I want to breastfeed when I could be perfectly happy giving my baby a bottle of formula. After we found out we were having our daughter, I broached the subject with my husband. He is a surgeon and asked if I would just give it a shot for the health benefits of breastfeeding. I told him I would give it a shot, but no guarantees. What ended up happening was far beyond what I thought; there was an option to formula feed and breastfeed my daughter.
Fast forward several months and my daughter was born prematurely and was in the NICU. She was so little and helpless, weighing only 4 pounds. I was still uneasy just because of how tiny she was. It wasn’t until I talked to the nurses in the NICU that I realized we could give her formula and I could try breastfeeding. I swear in all the mommy blogs I read, no one ever offered this as an option. It was always, breastfed or formula fed but never an option to combine. To use both as a hybrid was our best option at that time. I would come in to visit and try to breastfeed for as long as she was able and willing too, but if I wasn’t there and we were out of pumped breast milk, they formula fed her. In fact, her first feed outside the womb was formula because I wasn’t cleared to come down to the NICU. And as crazy as it was, I look back and know that it was okay. Sometimes its hard to trust that anyone but us has our child’s best interest in mind, but let me tell you that those NICU nurses had my daughters best interest in mind.
They wanted me to breastfeed, to pump when I could, but they also gave my daughter formula when she was hungry. It was okay to use the formula and it was what was best for her. Having formula that helped fill her tummy allowed her to grow incredibly well and leave the NICU after just nine days, a miracle as she came 6 weeks early! Breastfeeding didn’t come easily as I’d never done it before and didn’t know if it was working, what to do, etc. As heartbreaking as being in the NICU can be, having on call lactation specialists was a huge blessing. They spent several hours by my side helping me and Mia and for that I couldn’t be more grateful. My daughter is a healthy, happy and thriving 5 month old baby and that is due to all the people in the NICU who were kind and graceful.
My biggest takeaway is that they WANTED us to continue giving her formula when we left the NICU. It’s not like they were saying breast is best so screw formula. They said, hey breastfeeding has a ton of great benefits, but so does formula. Formula helps keep my baby full while my supply increased, it allowed me breaks from feeding, it allowed my daughter to grow faster as she had a fuller belly. It also gave me such peace that if breastfeeding were to go south or we were to struggle that I would have another option. Because ultimately all I cared about was that she was healthy and growing, breastfed or formula fed was less important. So for the next 2 months we did a hybrid feeding system and it worked well! We supplemented with formula every once in a while but in general we did mostly breastfeeding.
Now we are almost at 6 months and she is exclusively breastfed which is something I would have never thought I’d do, let alone enjoy doing! You never know what your baby feeding journey will look like, but just have faith that there are endless resources, doctors, nurses and lactation consultants willing and able to help you. Whether you formula feed or breastfeed or combo hybrid feed; your baby will be just fine and love you just as much! You’ve got this mamma, stay strong!
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