World Breastfeeding Week is held August 1-7, so naturally many of you fabulous mamas boasted something you've chosen for your family, something you believe is best, something you've worked hard to do as a mother: breastfeed.
But then there's the other side to the breastfeeding discussion: formula and the mamas who use it not just to supplement but around the clock. I was this mom, and if we have another babe I'll likely be that mom again.
The formula feeding mom.
As much flack as breastfeeding moms may receive for feeding in public, formula feeding moms are catching just as much flack. I've become overly concerned by a vital pattern in this judging. You see, formula feeding moms are being judged not by outsiders of the mom community but by mothers themselves.
The breastfeeding community seems to be a tight-knit one and Lord knows to make it through that journey you likely need abundant support. However, shame as opposed to support is being given to those choosing to formula feed and often this shame is being brought on by other mothers.
This, my friends, is no small matter.
From the moment a nurse confirms your pregnancy something in you is changed as a woman; you're now a mother. And in that instant you begin to consult every book, every expert and even Dr. Google to ensure your child is given the best shot at this life.
Every mother is faced with the decision: breast v formula. Most of us throw caution to the wind and give it a go, others know from day one breastfeeding is not for them, and some have been waiting for the day they could nurse their child through breastfeeding. Every mom is different, every perspective is different and every mother's choice is her own to make.
So why the internal mom-fight over breast and formula feeding?
If you're a breastfeeding mom, I applaud you. But today, I'm here to show outward support for those who choose to formula feed.
There is no shame in choosing to formula feed. There is no reason or excuse you should have to give as to why you don't breastfeed. There is no person other than you, your partner and your pediatrician who can determine what is truly best for your child when it comes to feeding. There is no shame.
We're told of the ramifications of opting for formula as soon as that little line turns pink. From the most extreme accusations of formula ingredients, to sheer scolding of mothers for being lazy on the breastfeeding front, women who formula feed their children are at no less scrutiny than those who breastfeed.
The day I sat on our couch in tears, some crazy contraption suctioned to my boob, and a screaming baby who didn't want to latch I had an epiphany: I am no good to him if I cannot hold my emotions together. I am no good to him if he cannot be properly fed. I am no good to him if I keep asserting all of my mental and physical efforts toward breastfeeding.
In that moment, my husband handed me a bottle of Similac Sensitive and we never looked back. In my mind I thought I'd try again when my milk came in and my engorged self needed some soothing, but the milk never came. Not a single drop. No wonder my child wouldn't latch, there was nothing to be had. And truthfully, I half expected this as many women who've had breast reductions aren't able to breastfeed. I am one of those women; I am one of those moms.
The thing of it is, I went around that first year pleading this explanation to breastfeeding moms to ward off their judgment and side stares. But really? They did not need or deserve my explanation because I did what was best for me and my child just as every mother is expected to do.
Formula feeding moms, I'm here to tell you it's okay and your child still has a very bright future.
To my brother's embarrassment, I'm going to use him as my shining example of a formula fed child 23 years in the making. My mom formula fed my brothers, they're twins. Over the last 23 years each of them have pummeled through every stereotype a formula fed child has placed upon them.
Above is Jackson with his Uncle T. He has had no failure to thrive. He has been the smartest in his class since elementary school. He has never known a GPA lower than 3.9. He has an insanely strong immune system. He has excelled in sports across the board. He has been chosen as "best looking" among his peers. He has grown into a healthy, thriving, academically intelligent young man entering his second year of med school. And to think, his mother formula fed him!
Moms of the world, formula feeding or not, this is your choice. Do not feel pressured by society into something that is not meant for you or your child. Find what is best for your family and run with it. I promise you'll be a better mother for it.
I want to close out this topic by quoting a Babble article from 2006 which debunked several formula-feeding stereotypes and brought this breast v formula debate to light in a productive manner:
How about this? Let’s agree that breastfeeding is ideal. Let’s agree that public policies and workplaces should support it better. But let’s also acknowledge that bottle-feeding moms need encouragement too. Cruelty helps no one – not babies, not moms. Imagine if we took half the energy we spend sniping at the formula crowd and turned it, instead, toward making it easier for women who breastfeed to keep their jobs, and for women who formula-feed to keep their dignity.
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