I never planned to be a formula-feeding mom, so I wasn't prepared. I didn't buy any formula, and I didn't ready myself for the constant criticism and shame for eventually using formula, mostly from breastfeeding moms. It hurt, a lot, because I used to be one of them. But as my confidence grew I became more angry than sad. I mean, can we stop the mommy already?
In an attempt to finally squash this "us" versus "them" thing, I think it's time someone highlight the things formula-feeding moms want breastfeeding moms to know. Now, please don't misunderstand, I totally support breastfeeding moms, and I know how hard breastfeeding can be. I am able to see this issue from both sides, having been both a badass breastfeeding mom and a fearless formula-feeding mom. So, I know first hand that both are awesome ways to feed babies and are challenging in their own ways. So if you love breastfeeding, and it works for your family, that's freaking awesome. Right on. But when it comes to other parents who formula-feed? Their choices have nothing to do with you at all. In other words, leave them alone.
So yeah, a lot of us formula-feeding moms are fed up, and for good reason. It's completely unfair to be shamed for how you feed your babies. Being a mom is hard enough without feeling like people are judging you at every turn. And honestly, how you feed your baby is just one decision in an endless list of decisions we will all make as parents. Instead of judging other people for how they feed their babies, we should start supporting all parents in feeding their babies the way that's best for them. That, I think, would be amazing.
My Formula-Feeding Has Nothing To Do With You
You decided to breastfeed based on your personal desire, ability, and circumstances, and the same is true for me and formula-feeding. We are not as different as you might think. I honestly hope you love breastfeeding your babies and are able to continue doing so for as long as you'd like. Could you please stop implying that formula-feeding is inferior, though? When you go on and on about how every drop of breast milk is a precious gift that you are giving your baby, it's more than a little offensive. Breast milk is awesome, but formula is awesome, too.
We Don't Owe You An Explanation
I don't know about you, but I seriously hate talking about my personal life or medical history with strangers. But that's exactly what you're making us do when you ask us why we chose to formula-feed or if we at least tried to breastfeed. It's inappropriate. We don't owe you, or anyone else, an explanation.
Could You Please Stop With The Shaming?
Can you please stop telling us that "breast is best" or that we can try again "next time" to breastfeed. Those things aren't helpful and feel shaming, invalidating, and hurtful. When you exalt the benefits of breastfeeding to people who don't breastfeed, it hurts.
It gets worse, though. Telling us things like formula is going to make our babies fat, stupid or unhealthy is unkind, not to mention untrue. Besides, it's none of your business how we feed our babies. I mean, we don't judge you for breastfeeding, why do you judge us for choosing formula?
Formula Is Amazing
Formula is awesome. Seriously. Formula is safe, healthy, regulated, and it's getting more awesome by the minute, with new options available for different babies' needs. So many breastfeeding moms act like formula is the enemy, or say that they feel sorry for formula-feeding parents, it's not only hurtful, it's inaccurate.
Formula is amazing, especially considering that if my baby was born before formula was invented, he might not have survived due to my undersupply and his food intolerances. So, please don't look down on me or feel sorry for me. I'm happy, my baby is fed, and we're both thriving thanks to formula.
Breast Is Not Best For Everyone
I can think of about 100 reasons just off the top of my head why somebody might not be able to and/or want to breastfeed, and they are all perfectly legitimate. I don't claim to be an expert in other peoples' lives, and you shouldn't either. What's right for one person might not be right for another, and that's OK. What's important is that we feed our babies. Period. Fed is best.
We're Not Lazy Or Selfish
Now, I am not saying that formula-feeding doesn't have it's benefits, because it totally does. I love being able to know how much my baby is eating and to get a break from being attached to a baby once in a while. That said, formula-feeding moms aren't lazy or selfish. We aren't. Caring for a newborn is hard work, no matter how you feed them. Also, motherhood doesn't have to mean martyrdom, so it's totally OK to do things that make your life easier, including using formula.
We're Jealous Sometimes...
Yes, I admit that some of my insecurity about formula-feeding was born from jealousy. I wanted to breastfeed exclusively, and was jealous of my friends who could. But as my babies thrived and grew, I grew more and more confident and realized that formula was best for them.
I wish I was able breastfeed but, unfortunately, I am not. Just like you might not be able to run a marathon. I would never insult you for not having the physical abilities that I have, but that's exactly what you are doing when you judge a mom who can't breastfeed.
... But, We're Also Happy With Our Choice
I'll tell you a little known secret: formula-feeding is pretty damn awesome. I mean, I can share feedings with my husband, I don't have a baby attached to me for hours, my baby is thriving, and I'm thriving, too. After a few years a feeling shame and guilt about what was and was not coming out of my breasts, I'm over it. I wish breastfeeding moms would get over it, too.
Motherhood Is Not A Competition
I love that breastfeeding moms are proud of breastfeeding, but wish that they didn't feel the need to shame formula-feeding moms in the process. All moms deserve to be proud of feeding their babies. Period. Life is not a competition, and when we constantly put each other down, we all lose.
It's OK If You Want To Stop
As an infant feeding advocate, I hear from parents every day who desperately want to stop breastfeeding, but feel guilty about stopping or are afraid that people will judge them if they do. If you are one of those parents, please know that in order for your baby to thrive, you need to thrive, too. If breastfeeding is no longer working for you, it's no longer best. Try to let go of the guilt. I know how hard it is because, well, I've been there, but you can bet that some formula-feeding moms are here if you need support.
We Support You
There's so much more to motherhood than how we feed our babies. If you choose to breastfeed, I support you. If you choose to formula-feed, I support you, too. If you choose to exclusively pump, I support you. If you choose to supplement with formula, I support you. If you feed your babies, I support you. Motherhood is freaking hard, and we all deserve support. #FedIsBest #ISupportYou