The Empowering Tip Every New Mom Choosing Not to Breastfeed Should Know
You've made the decision to formula feed from the start. The reasons why are no one's business but your own and require no explanation or justification. All that matters is that you're doing what makes the most sense for you, your body, and your baby. So how do you communicate your decision to the hospital where you plan to deliver in a way that shuts down discussion and doesn't leave you open to judgement, shaming, or harassment at a time when you're most vulnerable?
Although every hospital's policies and attitude toward formula are different, a universally good place to start is to write it down. By putting your personal preferences in writing and solidifying your choice on paper in black and white, it saves you from having to repeat it over and over again. It also gives you somewhere concrete to point if you find nurses questioning your decision or a lactation consultant continuing to visit.
"We will be bottle-feeding exclusively and will not reconsider this decision. We do not wish to discuss this or to be contacted by any lactation experts," should be enough.
A birth plan is the ideal place to document your formula preference as you're already expected to hand out copies to all pertinent hospital staff you encounter, and they will be referencing it throughout your labor and hospital stay. A simple, no-nonsense one-liner on your birth plan, such as "We will be bottle-feeding exclusively and will not reconsider this decision. We do not wish to discuss this or to be contacted by any lactation experts," should be enough to get your wishes across.
Around the time you're packing your hospital bag, it's also wise to call up the hospital and find out what formula-feeding supplies they have on hand. While most hospitals are equipped with tiny premixed newborn bottles that you screw single-use nipples onto, those facilities that are part of the controversial Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) will not distribute any formula samples whatsoever. Your obstetrician or a Google search should be able to tell you if your birthing location is part of BFHI. If your hospital does not keep any formula supplies on hand, you'll want to bring your own with you.
You'll also want to bring your own if you have a formula brand preference that differs from what the hospital supplies — for example, if you want your baby on Similac but they only provide Enfamil.
While it would be nice if you could label your hospital room a no-judgment zone, the best you can do is demand that the hospital abide by your wishes to formula feed. You can't eliminate individual staffers' personal biases, so if faced with passive-aggressive disapproval, ignore it entirely. Be confident in your choice, and take solace in the knowledge that you've put much thought, research, and consideration into making your right decision. While it seems all-consuming in the moment, deciding whether to breastfeed or formula feed is only the first in a lifetime of seemingly impossible parenting choices you'll have to make; trusting yourself to make the right decision for your unique situation — especially when it's not the most popular decision — shows that you're already a wise, strong mama.