The first time I bottle-fed my daughter outside of our home, I hid in the bathroom to mix her bottle. I was so ashamed. I thought "breast was best," and feared my breastfeeding friends' judgment. Later, I learned to mix bottles before leaving the house, so people might think they were full of breast milk and judge me less. It sucked. Finally, after bottle-feeding three babies to various degrees, seeing them thrive, and finding myself thriving, too, I'm over it. Seriously, I won't apologize for bottle-feeding my baby for so many reasons, and I am so done feeling shame about how I feed my baby.
Don't misunderstand, I'm a huge advocate for breastfeeding, but I don't see it as something that's superior to, or mutually exclusive from, bottle-feeding. After I wasn't able to make enough breast milk, and accidentally starved my daughter, I felt so much guilt and shame. I ended up doing things very differently the next time. I combo-fed my older son, breastfeeding him at home, supplementing with formula, and having my day care provider bottle-feed him during the day. I have ended up mostly bottle-feeding my youngest hypoallergenic formula, due to his food allergies. And it might surprise you to hear that I have absolutely loved it.
I have realized that being a good parent has literally nothing to do with how you feed your baby. It's a personal choice and not something anyone should be expected to explain or apologize for. Full stop. Whenever I see a parent feeding their baby, I tell them they are doing a good job, no matter whether it's breast, bottle, or both. It took me a long time to get over the shame, mostly because of all of the shaming I endured, and I am so done apologizing for bottle-feeding for the following reasons: