Breastfeeding, when it is easy for mother and child, has many benefits. Increased immune protection for the baby, endorphin release for the mother, an instant and portable food supply. I know that breastfeeding can be a painful and frustrating struggle for many women, and I am thankful that I enjoy nursing little Hayden.
However, exclusive breastfeeding would tie me to Hayden, only giving me a two to three hour window before I would have to return to feed him. This is tough on the mother, but it also excludes the father. Adrian would be unable to regulate Hayden’s schedule, and incapable of responding to his hunger. The mother is forced to be the primary caregiver, and the father into a secondary role.
Adrian and I have found a great parenting balance by feeding Hayden both breast milk and formula. Hayden had his first taste of formula when he was four days old. It was 4 AM, my milk had not yet come in, and Adrian had spent the past four hours pacing the maternity ward corridor with a screaming baby in order to give me some time to sleep. One of the night nurses told him he was not permitted outside our room, and ordered him to return. We were at our wits end, when another more sympathetic nurse suggested that he might be hungry, and asked us if we would like some formula. We readily agreed, and she fed him 30 mL (1 oz) in a tiny cup. He instantly calmed down and then slept for over four hours. From this moment on, baby formula has held a special place in my heart.
We now have our own supply of powdered formula at home. Adrian takes Hayden to work several times a week, leaving me to rest and relax (and pump) on my own. In addition to my expressed breast milk, he takes a few aliquots of formula, knowing that he will have enough milk to feed Hayden even if they stay out drinking until midnight. He can be confident that he is able to respond to all of Hayden’s needs. Hayden has shown no nipple confusion, and happily takes whatever is on offer. Furthermore, the formula we use contains the probiotic Bifidobacterium animalis, fish oil, as well as vitamins and minerals. Hopefully the combination of breast milk and formula should ensure that he is receiving a complete and nutritionally balanced meal over the week.
In this way, both Adrian and myself can assume the role of primary carer when we choose, yet also take a complete break if we need some space. Hayden will grow up with two parents who both feel that they are equal partners in his upbringing and are both able to understand his moods and answer to his needs.