It wasn’t long after the delivery of my first son that I was approached by the hospital’s lactation consultant. When I explained to her that I would be returning to work full-time in nine weeks and needed to get into some sort of pumping routine before then, I could feel her soul dying a little inside. “No, that’s not a good idea at all. You need to breastfeed exclusively unless you’re otherwise incapable,” she told me. I understand that her job description requires her to educate new moms on the benefits of breastfeeding, but I’m pretty sure that description stopped short of bullying and guilt tripping.
Again, I explained that what I actually needed to do was get back to work because I was on unpaid maternity leave and the electriccompany couldn’t have cared less about my new bundle of joy. I gave breastfeeding my first son my best shot but admittedly I was an underachiever in that department. He began bottle feeding at eight weeks old and he’s continued to rank in the 90th percentile for his height and his weight since birth. He’s happy, healthy, and thriving despite having been fed formula since he was still an infant. Imagine that!
And to be clear, formula feeding your baby isn't just an "OK" back-up plan if you "can't" breastfeed. There are plenty of studies showing that formula feeding doesn't significantly disadvantage children compared to breastfeeding. Like, formula is not a "you failed at giving your kid ~the good stuff~ but don't worry, he'll live" situation. It's absolutely a great way to feed a baby, and there are a number of very valid reasons why moms might choose it.
If you are able and willing to exclusively breastfeed your babies I applaud you. Seriously, I’m stepping away from the keyboard to stand up and start a slow clap for you. You're feeding your babies too, and that's, ya know, important. I even somewhat envy you and definitely respect you, because breastfeeding is hard work. I support the normalization of breastfeeding and I think you’re a complete and total badass for what you do. But I hardly believe any of that merits the shaming me or any other woman who chooses to feed her baby with formula. We’re badasses too, I promise.
I don’t know about the rest of the formula-feeding mamas out there but there’s some things I’m getting tired of hearing about my chosen means of nutrition for my boys. Some of these accusations just need to stop, like yesterday.