I hear it all the time—“breastfeeding vs. formula-feeding”—like they are constantly in competition. People would ask how I fed my older daughter and I would say, “Oh she's exclusively breast-fed,” like it was some kind of badge of honour. Sure, it's a great accomplishment and we totally understand how amazing that is, but the other side of it is that I felt like I could never give a bottle of formula without feeling like I completely failed. Like if she had formula, I should just throw in the towel and stop breastfeeding altogether. Yes, I actually thought that at one point.
But the thing is that it doesn't have to be all or nothing. Formula-feeding and breastfeeding can coexist quite happily. You can give a bottle without feeling guilty. Whether you are working or taking a night off, you can give formula and then continue to breastfeed. It doesn't have to be one or the other: it can be both!
I want you to know that your self-care and your peace of mind has value. If you’re giving formula because you want to spontaneously go out with with friends, that's great! Just be prepared for the engorgement, because sneaking to the restroom during Earls happy hour to hand-express into the toilet is a thing. (Been there, done that!) But I will always remember a super fun night with my friends more than a little bit of lost breastmilk, because having a few hours to yourself is totally worth it. You can have a completely successful breastfeeding relationship with the addition of formula! You define what success looks like. No one else has that power. Success is whatever works best for you, your baby, and your family.
Whether that's exclusively formula-feeding, exclusively breastfeeding, or any combination of the two, don't let anyone make you feel guilty for a choice you made for your family. There are no sides, we are all just trying to do whatever's best for our kids while attempting to stay remotely sane. Whether that's formula so you can have a night out and a few drinks or breastfeeding your toddler in the morning so you can lay in bed for half an hour longer, trust me I've done both and it's all good.
There is way too much guilt in motherhood as it is. Do what's best for you and don't listen to anyone else. We're all just real moms trying to make it work and that's ok so just in case it wasn't clear. However you feed your babies, whatever that looks like for you, that's what we support. We will cheer you on no matter what. So in conclusion, do what you have to do and don't feel guilty. You’re an amazing mom. You’re doing the best for you baby because you are the best for your baby, and anyone that says anything different can shove it.