Unfortunately, it seems as though some people are so focused on promoting breastfeeding as the "best" choice for feeding babies, they think it's OK to say just about anything to formula-feeding moms. When I say anything, I mean anything. I've heard it all. Things like, "You must not know any better," and "Don't you want what's best for your baby?" and always, "breast is best." There are so many things people feel fine saying to moms who use formula that just aren't kind, necessary, or true.
The first time it happened to me, I was standing in the formula aisle at the pharmacy up the street from my house. My partner and I had stopped on our way to the NICU to pick up our newborn baby and finally bring her home. She had to be re-hospitalized for jaundice and dehydration because my milk didn't come in right away. When it did finally come in, it wasn't enough. I was feeling all the things, including relieved, worried, happy, scared, exhausted. I also felt lost, because I knew nothing about formula. I held two cans next to each other and tried to decide which one to buy, muttering to myself, "Which one is better? The one with probiotics or prebiotics? Should we use a regular formula or a gentle one? What's the difference?"
I was relieved when I saw a woman with a baby turn the corner. I remember thinking, "Great, maybe she can help me." Instead, she said, "You really should breastfeed. Breast is best for your baby." My face reddened. I quickly said, "Oh, I am breastfeeding, I just need to supplement." I didn't want her to think I was a bad mom, so I grabbed the most expensive option and cried my way to the check out. These days, I probably would have told her to mind her own business, sung the praises of formula, or uttered a rebuttal with the word "inappropriate" in it, and walked away. We're all doing the best we can, whether we feed our babies formula, breast milk, or a combination of both, and some things should really be left unsaid.