How I Let Go of the Bottle Feeding Guilt
I felt a deep bond with my daughter since the second she was born. I was filled with a sense of responsibility, a need that I had to provide her with the best care. As time passed, I acquired more understanding of motherhood. I understood taking care of her was at times quite simple. Indeed, my response to her cries was instinctive. I understood her behavior better compared to others. However, at times, I was engulfed in doubt, mainly when feeding her.
In the initial days of motherhood, I had decided to breastfeed her exclusively. In my opinion, this was the right thing to do. Opting for other means of feeding would constitute as cheating. Furthermore, I felt that breastfeeding deepened the connection between my daughter and me. Indeed, I still remember those feeding moments fondly when the baby and I would be all by ourselves at strange hours, closer than ever as I fed her.
However, things started to somewhat change with time. Soon enough, I felt as though I was trapped. My life revolved around the feeding schedule of my daughter. I felt alone because I was the only one who could handle this task. No one could help me out even in the moments when I desperately needed some assistance. I was grateful that I could breastfeed my daughter without any problems. However, I also thought about the freedom I would get if I started her on bottle feed, even occasionally.
I was not sure about the results when I bottle fed her for the first time. I was worried about it causing stomach problems in her. There was also a possibility that she might reject the bottle in my mind. I was scared about the freedom I wanted remaining a fantasy. However, all the worries evaporated as I observed her responding to bottle feed with ease.
But there was one thing that I had not anticipated, and that was the rush of guilt I felt wash over me as I saw her feeding on the bottle. Was I wrong in depriving her of breastfeeding? Would she be confused if I ever decided to breastfeed her again? Was this a failure on my part?
After having a discussion on this with some friends, I realized that nearly all mothers experienced this guilt. However, I also realized that I had to let go of this guilt.
I should not feel guilty about breaking the exclusive connection I had with her. While I might no longer be the only one who would feed her at any time, others who loved her now had the opportunity of sharing this connection. Her grandparents, siblings, my partner, all could now get to form a bond with her. As I saw how feeding her made my husband happy, I was sure that my decision was right.
I don't have to feel guilty because my baby did not face any discomfort since I used the right bottle. Finding the right bottle did take some time, but once we did find the one, my daughter did not have to face any abdominal discomfort. Furthermore, I could now feed my baby whenever she felt hungry without having to wait for it. I acquired a lot of guidance from Dr. Brown as to which bottles and nipples were suitable for use as they mimicked the flow of milk during breastfeeding, thereby leading to the prevention of colic and spitting.
I am not guilty since I started enjoying motherhood again. The burden I had begun to feel on my shoulders was now lifted away. I did not have to trap myself to keep my baby nourished. I could thrive with her too.
We use both options now. Sometimes, we bottle feed her while at other times we do not. However, irrespective of which option we try, I don't feel guilty anymore.