Being a new mom is difficult, to say the least. You're tired, overwhelmed, depressed, anxious, and then, when you're at your most vulnerable and out in public with your baby, people will shame you. Everything from picking up antidepressants at the pharmacy to breastfeeding your baby at the zoo is cause for faux outrage, apparently. And sadly, for me, being shamed for bottle-feeding in public was the most demoralizing experience; an experience I never should have been forced to endure as an exhausted parent.
I felt so much pressure to breastfeed, and when I couldn't exclusively breastfeed I felt so much shame. So when people asked me why I wasn't breastfeeding I immediately wanted to explain that I had tried to breastfeed, then give them a play-by-play of my numerous attempts. I wanted to explain my entire medical history, in detail, just so they would understand. I didn't, and couldn't, though, so when people said things like "you're hurting your baby" I believed them. Eventually, I started feeding my baby in public bathrooms to avoid shaming.
I've heard similar stories when talking to other bottle-feeding parents. Some of us felt so much shame for bottle-feeding that we never left the house. Some of us had crippling postpartum depression (PPD) or anxiety. Some of us refused to supplement with formula when our babies needed it. Some of us felt guilty for feeding our babies a certain way. All of us deserved a damn break. Shaming bottle-feeding moms is hurting new moms and their newborns. Like, who doesn't want hungry babies to be fed?
If you are a proud public breastfeeding mom, that's awesome. I support you and your right to nurse anytime, anywhere. Same goes for the pumping moms, tube-feeding moms, and combo-feeding moms. I say let's feed all the babies all the ways. I just think it's time for people to mind their own business and recognize that they literally don't know anything about someone else's life, especially when they shame them for bottle-feeding a baby in public. And if the following stories don't highlight how detrimental judging other parents can be, I don't know what will: