I was one of those moms who formula fed her baby for the majority of their first year of life. With breastfeeding (especially in public) being so stigmatized and judged, I was surprised at just how many people said something rude to me about my decision (and, sometimes, without even realizing it). Sadly, as the #NormalizeBreastfeeding moment has gained public momentum, many formula feeding mothers are facing scrutiny and judgment. Because "breast is best" has become synonymous with feeding babies, people don't realize they are angering moms who formula feed by saying and doing certain things.
When my daughter was born, I tried to breastfeed. It was difficult, to say the least, but I stuck it out and and was finally able to feed her breast milk. I knew about the many benefits of breastfeeding, and so badly wanted to be able to breastfeed my daughter for at least the first six months to one year. Life had other plans for me, though. My supply completely dried up within six weeks (from a combination of stress, anxiety, and deciding to pump too late). I had no other choice but to formula feed my daughter from then on.
When I began telling people she was on formula now, I received dirty looks and rude comments, forcing me to realize how much our culture praises and puts breastfeeding on a pedestal, while demeaning formula feeding. What made it worse, sadly, was that those looks and comments came from people I considered friends, my sorority sisters, and people who didn't know anything about me, personally.
I know I'm not the only formula feeding mom who has experienced judgment and shame. There are plenty of women out there who choose or find themselves relying on formula and, honestly, that option is there for a reason. For some, breastfeeding may be better. For others, formula feeding may be best. Try to watch out for these things you might be doing that anger moms who formula feed, because every mother, regardless of how she chooses to feed her child, should be supported.