This is in response to an article on Yummy Mummy Club yesterday that I found to be fantastic: http://www.yummymummyclub.ca/blogs/maureen-turner-we-are-family/breast-feeding-vs-formula-a-rant
This mother ranted about how she formula fed her child due to being unable to breastfeed and is sick of being made to feel guilty about it. I enjoyed the article very much, however I still feel like we only hear from women who “couldn’t” breasfeed. Time for me to come clean and tell it from yet another side…
I CHOSE to formula feed my children.
I know, it’s shocking… why on earth would a woman make this choice? “Breast is Best”, it’s been screamed from the rooftops, preached by friends & family and gloated by those who chose to breastfeed for weeks, months or even years. Unless you live under a rock, you have heard it. No one is going to argue it and I’m not here to do that.
This is the point where I had originally typed the entire story of why I chose not to breastfeed… but upon re-reading this post, I have removed that portion. Because the reason doesn’t matter to any of you. It’s my business and we should not feel required to explain our choices as mothers. I am confident in my decision. So that will remain between me, my husband and our doctor.
I am perfectly fine with my choice. I have healthy, happy, growing children. What more could a mother ask for?
However, I did feel a sort of embarassment. Embarassment to admit my choice. For a while, I thought maybe that was some sort of guilt setting in… however I came to realize the embarassment was solely due to the pressure put on mothers to breastfeed and had nothing to do with how I felt about my choice.
CHOICE… because we all know it’s out there… the “OTHER” option which is so taboo these days that mothers like me need to be shamed for even making the decision. Let’s guilt mothers into doing something they may not be completely comfortable with. Let’s make those who can’t feel like failures.
I will say that I did give my son his first few feedings by the breast and he did very well. It was not a physical problem for me or him. That may shock you even more… that I made this decision even after finding out that I was perfectly able to breasfeed and my son was perfectly able to latch.
I didn’t even try to breastfeed my daughter. Not once. This line was on my birth plan with the hospital:
“I will NOT be breasfeeding and would appreciate if the nurses would refrain from attempting to pressure me to change my mind. My doctor is well aware of my choice”.
I fully admit that the embarassment I once felt has even caused me to lie, saying things like “he just wouldn’t latch” or “I wasn’t producing enough milk”. If you were one of the people I told this lie to, I appologize deeply. At the time I just didn’t want to get into it. I didn’t want to be judged, even secretly in the back of your mind. However, now, I have come to the realization that I don’t care. I am confident in my decision and that is all that matters. I know how near & dear my friends are and I should have trusted that they wouldn’t turn on me because of this decision. For everyone else, go ahead and judge away.
When it comes down to it, I would NEVER say “breast is bad” or put down breastfeeding. It’s the attitude that I have a problem with.
I understand that the idea is to educate, raise awareness, get the word out to anyone who does happen to live under that rock. I recently took to having conversations with several my breastfeeding advocating friends… the common theme: “If I get through to just ONE woman, it’s worth it”. But I must question what does that even mean? “get through?”… like formula is the devil and if that woman chooses simulated over real, she’s somehow damning her child to an eternity of sickness and misery?
I would completely understand if you were telling me information that wasn’t already out there. Some of you do, and I am not talking to you. New information is great – Facebook & Twitter is full of mothers doing this! Linking to a new medical study or some other new information that might be beneficial for a new mom to consider when making her choice, fantastic! Talking about your struggles and how you got through it, great! Support & information is amazing.
What I am talking about is those who simply talk about nothing – The ones who give you the look, who make comments, who try and “convert” your choice like it’s somehow their business. Who have nothing new to say but act like they should be put on top of a podium because they are the “Worlds Best Mom” simply because they breastfed their babies. I know you meal well…. but….
As someone on the other side… as your target audience, I’m here to tell you that your message, although well-meant, is not coming off how you think it is. It didn’t when I was pregnant, when I was a new mom and it still doesn’t today. It doesn’t make me want to make that choice. It makes me feel like if I don’t make that choice then I will be shamed. And based on my experiences bottle-feeding in public, that’s exactly what happens. Breastfeeding mothers who don’t even know me, giving me looks and making comments openly to me in public. The automatic assumption that I was physically unable to breastfeed. The shock and horror on the face of those who found out that I openly made this choice. The worst of it, the mothers who tell me that I should be ashamed because they couldn’t breastfeed and wanted to so badly, and me who was perfectly able to gave up that opportunity. I’m here to tell you that it has nothing to do with you. It’s not your business. I am the mother of my children, not you.
So I’m calling all of you formula feeding moms – maybe you formula fed exclusively… maybe one child but not another… or maybe you gave up breastfeeding earlier than your friends told you you should. Whatever your formula story… don’t be afraid, don’t make excuses. You are not required to tell anyone your reasons. You are not required to explain yourself and you should never feel embarassed to admit your choice, should you choose to disclose it.