Choosing Not to Breastfeed, An Emotional Journey


After my experience trying to breastfeed my first born, I was emphatic about my decision not to even go down that road with my second born. After struggling to breastfeed my daughter, I learned that many women in my life had similar experiences, and many opted to formula feed their second borns because of how difficult their experience was with their first. I wish I had known all of that a bit sooner, but I’ll save my lecture on women vocalizing their struggles for another day…

All throughout my second pregnancy, any time someone would ask, I was always quick to say that I wasn’t planning to try breastfeeding. I would sometimes explain that it didn’t work out with my daughter, although I tried to resist justifying it, because a wonderful friend taught me that I don’t need to justify my decision to anyone.

Choosing not to breastfeed - mom bottle feeding babyI felt solid in my decision – or so I thought. 

I remember one particular conversation with a friend who had a similar feeding journey with her first, and was also expecting her second a few months before me. She asked me if I planned to try breastfeeding this time around, and if I felt any obligation to at least attempt it. I confidently told her no, I wasn’t planning to, and I didn’t feel any obligation to try.

After I delivered, the nurses at the hospital were all quick to provide their tips for how to prevent my milk from coming in. Wear a very tight sports bra stuffed with ice packs. Avoid the hot water stream in the shower. I usually interrupted them to say that my milk never came in with my daughter, so it wouldn’t be an issue.

Then it happened. On about postpartum day 5, my milk came in. Like, for real. The emotions started flowing like – well, you know. I was frustrated that I had tried so hard the first time and this time it just happened without literally any effort at all. In fact it happened in spite of my efforts to prevent it. I felt validated that my milk legitimately never came in after my previous delivery, and it wasn’t because I had done something wrong. I felt guilty that I was now going to opt my son out of breastfeeding when it actually was an option.

It turns out, I was feeling some level of obligation to try.

Apparently, I had been using my prior lack of milk production as my excuse, as a crutch. Now that I suddenly had the option to breastfeed, I felt an unexpected sense of guilt for turning down the opportunity. I considered actually trying to breastfeed, briefly, before ultimately deciding to stick with my original plan, but it took some serious heart-to-heart moments with myself to get there.

For my family, formula was the right choice, and it took me actually having the choice to fully embrace that it was a choice. I appreciate the flexibility formula provides us. In the early days, I felt a sense of security knowing exactly how much my little guy was getting, (especially when he wasn’t initially keeping up with his growth curve). I like feeling like my body is my own again.

This experience really helped me heal from the trauma of feeding my first born. Now having the option and still choosing formula was empowering in a way I didn’t expect. Once I had a chance to process my choice, I truly felt liberated. Formula feeding just works better for my family and I can say that now honestly and without reservation.


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