What Every Supportive Breastfeeding Mom Wants Formula-Feeding Moms To Know
There are too many ways women are essentially pitted against each other. This idea that we cannot get along and constantly have to faction off into catty, back-stabbing, undermining posses is artificial, overdone, and stupid. This goes, like, triple for moms. The worst part is that we've been fed this idea that we have to be at each other's throats so much that some of us have actually bought into it... but not all of us. So today I'd like to talk about what every supportive breastfeeding mom wants formula-feeding moms to know, because that's exactly what I am and I know I'm not alone.
Of all the battles most frequently fought in the so-called Mommy Wars, the one between formula-feeding moms and breastfeeding moms is particularly odious and bloody. And, honestly, it's so absolutely ridiculous. Because I can tell you that I have never had even the slightest interest in caring about how someone else feeds their baby. I mean, not to overstate my own importance but hello I've got small children in my life. I don't have time to care all that much about what other people are doing, especially when it's something that is absolutely not hurting anyone involved.
Still, I know just making a different choice than some other people can (in the context of all these arbitrary divisions) make it seem as though I'm against them. I want to reach across this artificially constructed aisle to assure my beloved formula-feeding mamas that there are supportive breastfeeding moms out there, and we all want you to know the following things:
I'm Not Judging You
At all. Why? Because there's nothing to judge. Whether you tried to breastfeed and it didn't work out or you knew right away that you wanted to go with a bottle, not only is it none of our damn business, but you chose a good option out of a field of good options. Your reasons are irrelevant to us, honestly. In the end we're just glad you're doing something that works for you and enables your baby to get all the nutrition they need.
My Enthusiasm Is Not Evangelism
Some of us are really into breastfeeding for any number of reasons. Maybe we actively enjoy it. Maybe we find it scientifically or socially fascinating. (You've got to admit that as far as natural phenomena go it's a pretty cool one.) Maybe we overcame a lot to get to a point where we could successfully breastfeed and we're justly proud of ourselves. Or maybe we're into it just because it takes up a huge amount of our time and energy and if we didn't have some interest we'd go insane.
Whatever the reason, it's a personal reason. Our own interest/excitement/enthusiasm for nursing should not be taken as a passive aggressive endorsement. Of course if you want to pick our brains we're happy to share, but we know breastfeeding is not the best decision for everyone and are just as happy to let you make your own choice. It's like, look, I love everything bagels with a passion and I'll sing their praises all day long, but if someone in line behind me orders cinnamon raisin I'm not going to fault them for it. You do you! (However, if you scoop that bagel we will have words because why even bother getting a bagel?)
I Know I Got Lucky
This isn't to say that a great number of moms who breastfeed didn't work tremendously hard to do so. But, even in instances when hard work, pain, and determination were required, we know there's luck (and, often, privilege) involved as well. Chance is a fickle mistress and she does not bestow her favors on all of us equally, sadly. So we fully acknowledge the edge many of us got that enabled us to reach any or all of our breastfeeding goals.
I Think Formula Is Cool
For real: it's a magical elixir that humans were able to concoct that mimics something it took millions of years of evolution for our bodies to develop. Science is amazing! It's been proven healthy, effective, and has successfully nourished generations of babies who have gone on to be successful, happy, robust adults.
Yes, breast milk is magic... but so is that formula stuff!
Any Issues I Have With Low Breastfeeding Rates Are Not Personal
Occasionally, you may hear some of us bemoan the lack of breastfeeding support out there, or wish that breastfeeding rates would be higher. That isn't a personal indictment of your choice (or necessity) to formula feed. It has everything to do with supporting as many options as possible and supporting women in their breastfeeding goals. Because many women who want to breastfeed are unable to do so due to short maternity leaves, lack of information, lack of support and resources, and/or any other number of undermining forces. And when someone makes a choice because other options are inaccessible, that's not really a choice, is it?
I Am Just As Annoyed By The Judgmental Breastfeeding Advocates As You
Not only are they just, like, offensive as humans, but they give people who breastfeed a bad name. I can assure you, supportive breastfeeding moms have no affiliation with those people or their smug, prescriptive agenda. We truly believe that they are in the wrong and missing a lot of what it means to be in a sisterhood of fellow moms. We believe other moms should support one another regardless of how we feed our babies. To quote Gretchen Weiners, "I mean, that's just, like, the rules of feminism."
I Have Used (Or Actively Use) Formula
No, really! We do! Breastfeeding is not an all or nothing game (despite what some aforementioned Judgy McJudgersons would have you believe). Both my children received formula. My second child needed it to adjust her low blood sugar shortly after birth, and my first regularly received formula supplements in his first month or so and then again once he hit about 10 months and I was done with pumping. We can recognize that formula can be a super-helpful tool, even for those of us who don't use it exclusively.
I Don't Think You're Lazy
I hear this accusation lobbed by mean-spirited, obnoxious people, but I cannot for the life of me figure out how anything about effectively caring for an infant is lazy.
Sometimes I Envy You
You, with your un-engorged boobies and ability to have other people feed your child, and not having to make extensive pumping and milk storage plans for even a short outing away from your child. Certainly we recognize there are drawbacks to formula (namely expense and the fact that many more people use it than would prefer to) but it is certainly not without its perks and, sometimes those perks look mighty tempting.
I Don't Think I'm Better Than You
Parenthood is so hard and all of us are usually too hard on ourselves. So we don't want to make that even worse by being hard on anyone else. We're doing what works and/or feels right for us, and we trust that you are doing the same. There's no need to make things any more complicated than that.
I Think Fed Is Best, Too
Bottle? Breast? It all ends up in the same place: your baby's tummy. And if the tummy is full and happy then the origin of the food really doesn't matter at all.