Ever since the "normalize breastfeeding" movement began, mothers all over the world have taken to social media, proudly sharing photos of themselves breastfeeding their children in an attempt to de-sexualize a normal, healthy act. The movement has the best of intentions and I, for one, admire the bravery of so many women, especially when they know that they'll likely be shamed for breastfeeding in public. Still, a (sadly) negative reaction to the movement has been the shame formula feeding mothers experience. While there are things mothers who love breastfeeding want people to know, there are things women who hate breastfeeding want you to know, too, and those things are worth just as much attention. While there are women who are unable to breastfeed, there are also women, like myself, who simply hate breastfeeding. My disdain for breastfeeding has forced me to deal with judgement and shame, much like the women who love breastfeeding and choose to breastfeed in public.
The benefits of breastfeeding are undeniable, but formula feeding your child doesn't make you a bad mom. It sometimes seems like, in today’s judgmental world, we’re damned if we do and we’re damned if we don’t. If we breastfeed publicly, we're told to cover up, but if we don't breastfeed at all, we're judged for giving our children what some assume is a sub par product. The fact that any mother has to justify the means by which she feeds her child, according to her own unique situation, is beyond baffling to me, but here we are.
People gets things wrong about breastfeeding moms all the time, but since I'm not a member of that demographic, I'd like to point out a few misconceptions about moms who hated breastfeeding all together. I could go on for days, but for the sake of your hungry child, I’ve narrowed my list down to seven things that moms who hate breastfeeding want you (and everyone else) to know.
We Aren't Lazy
I’m pretty sure keeping a tiny, defenseless human alive requires our-around the-clock, undivided attention, whether we’re breastfeeding or bottle feeding. It’s not like we’re off playing bingo while our kids fend for themselves; we’re just holding a bottle, rather than attaching our kid to a boob. Any mom that has ever formula fed an infant knows that packing a diaper bag with enough supplies to sooth that hungry munchkin is like packing for the apocalypse.
We Love Our Kids Just As Much As Moms Who Breastfeed
I am the proud and mostly sane mother of two boys. I breastfed one of them for two months and the other for two days, and I can most definitively assure you that I love them both equally as much as a woman that breastfed her children exclusively and for an extended period of time. Feeding a child formula is no indication of how much a mother loves her baby. Trust me. I log a lot of hours watching them sleep like a total creep. I'm obsessed with them.
We Bond With Our Babies, Too
I spent an embarrassing amount of time watching my son breathe both before and after I stopped breastfeeding him. Besides that, I wouldn’t consider the time I spent breastfeeding my son, an ideal bonding scenario. If anything, I might have even been slightly resentful of him for needing to be physically attached to me every hour of every day. I’ll be honest, having the option of doling out feeding duties to my partner while I shoved ice packs inside my bra was a godsend, especially during the days when I was so tired that I was on the verge of sticking my head inside the oven. Getting a break from my babies helped me to appreciate them more and to be more emotionally and mentally present during my time with them, which absolutely helped us to bond better.
We Aren't Selfish
For some of us, breastfeeding was not only physically painful but emotionally disconcerting. For me, it was the realization that, mentally and emotionally speaking, I was not okay. After a few weeks of feeling relentless, heartbreaking guilt over deciding to give up breastfeeding and get myself the help I needed for my postpartum depression, I finally realized that I was a better, more patient mom when I began bottle feeding. I think it’s more important for my kids to have a mom that is mentally healthy, than it is for them to be breastfed, and that does not make me, or any other bottle feeding mom, selfish.
We Didn't Fail Our Children
We read the books and were subjected to the lactation consultant, just like a breastfeeding mother probably was. The nurses invaded our lady bits, to no avail, and after a full day (if not longer) of suffering through a losing battle, our kids were starving so we did what any loving mother would do: we fed them formula.
For every mother that tried but was unable to successfully breastfeed, is a mother that has no interest in trying at all, which is completely okay. For whatever reason, whether it be professional, physical or personal, some of us didn’t feel the need to breastfeed, and we shouldn't be judged for that. Breastfeeding is hard work that requires your boobs to be readily available 24 hours a day. Not everyone has that sort of availability and not everyone wants to be the sole provider of nutrition for their children, and that's totally fine!
We Are Giving Our Babies Our Best
We still deserve a parental pat on the back, even though we’ve chosen to forego the sometimes tortuous task of breastfeeding (admit it ladies, it’s hard sometimes). We’ve made a well-informed and conscious decision that bottle feeding works best for our family and we still work damn hard at ensuring every single one of their many needs are met. We’ve all got different versions of what we consider the “best.” Our versions may differ slightly than someone else's, but that doesn’t make them any less worthy of praise.
We Support Breastfeeding
Just because we weren't able to, or chose not to, breastfeed, doesn't mean that we don't support the women that are willing and able to do so. We definitely support those women and all of their efforts, and we want to do anything we can to help them on their breastfeeding journey. We support the normalization of breastfeeding just as much as the moms that do breastfeed. We don't think a woman should be shamed for breastfeeding in public, just like the moms that do breastfeed. It might not have worked out for us and our families, but we want to help make sure that it does work out for the women that choose to go that route.