The Mighty Logo

Why I Didn't Try Breastfeeding and Felt No Guilt

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

I want to start this blog, by going ahead and saying that I am not discouraging breastfeeding. I admire women who are able to successfully, because it is hard. If you think you and/or your baby get some benefits from it that make it worth it, then more power to you, and if you love doing it, even more power to you! However, formula is often presented as some horrible last resort back up choice.

First of all, before formula was invented, babies often starved to death, because women tried, and either could not breastfeed or could not produce enough milk. Formula saves lives. Formula is also better made now than it was even then. My daughter is almost 13 and is smarter and healthier than average. The only benefits I feel I may have missed out on by not breastfeeding is the bonding and possible health benefits for myself. I often wonder if doing so might have helped prevent my postpartum depression, which would of course also have benefited my daughter, and husband and everyone else around me, but I know many women who breastfeed who got postpartum depression as well. In many of those cases, the stress of breastfeeding even contributed to it.

So, you can get postpartum depression whether you breastfeed or not, but I am currently trying to get pregnant again and would at least consider trying it next time. You know if I do try it, you will see my experience in a blog and/or my next book. My general doctor and OB-GYN have both assured me my OCD and anxiety medication is still safe to take while breastfeeding and pregnant, if needed at those points. If it did start to take a toll on my mental health though, I would not hesitate to stop for the sake of my child, myself and again, everyone else around me. There is no benefit breastfeeding offers that I feel trumps the mental health of the mother, but I have seen mothers sacrifice their mental health to accomplish it for a certain amount of time for some reason. Maybe they see more benefits than I do, or maybe, it just due to societal guilt or guilt from those around them. Before I had my first child, I had been around other women breastfeeding and they always seemed to stressed out. Even being around them trying to do it stressed me out. It gave me so much anxiety that I did not even try it. I can honestly say no one gave me a hard time about it. My doctor and hospital never said anything about it and were very supportive of us bottle feeding. Maybe it was because I told them it was due to anxiety, but my family, husband and friends were supportive as well.

Although I would not realize until my daughter was two years old, just how severe my OCD and anxiety were, I knew that I had some OCD and anxiety symptoms. At the time, I just knew for me, that not breastfeeding felt like the right decision. I came home from the hospital looking like Pamela Anderson. Thanks to advice from my sister, based on what she did when she was done breastfeeding, I put a bunch of pads under a sports bra, and wrapped a lot of cloth bandage or tape around it I believe, very tightly to prevent pain. As I just typed that I realized that the hospital never advised me on that. I did not ask either, but of course I did not think to in the midst of everything.

Another benefit to bottle feeding was that my husband, or anyone else could help at any time. Some who breastfeed also pump to get this added benefit as well as other benefits. I would have had to pump to return to work like I did when my daughter was 12 weeks. One perk of breastfeeding over formula can be the money saved, but that depends on how many breastfeeding products you buy, like a pump for instance. If you google breastfeeding products, you will quickly see how quickly they can add up. With the next child, I would even consider trying cloth diapers. I know I would still probably use the disposables some at times, especially for travel or for daycare, etc. but those are something else that has improved over time. You have to invest some money initially to get some really nice ones, but still overall you can still potentially save a lot of money, and the environment in the process. Watch out for a blog on that in the future as well.

Photo credit: O_Lypa/Getty Images

Originally published: March 21, 2021
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home