How about this? Let’s agree that breastfeeding is ideal. Let’s agree that public policies and workplaces should support it better. But let’s also acknowledge that bottle-feeding moms need encouragement too. Cruelty helps no one — not babies, not moms. Imagine if we took half the energy we spend sniping at the formula crowd and turned it, instead, toward making it easier for women who breastfeed to keep their jobs, and for women who formula-feed to keep their dignity.
I say all this to let you know that if you are going through a similar experience, you are not alone. If you or a new mom you know has had or is having these kinds of thoughts or having a hard time bonding with your new baby, I sincerely urge you to ask for help. Speak up. People are there to help, I promise.
Please don’t suffer in silence.
There is no shame in admitting you need help and seeking out the necessary treatments to make you a happier, healthier woman and mother. The sooner mama gets better, the sooner everything gets better.
The title of this post is misleading. I’m not going to preach at you– chances are someone has already done that. Nor am I going to list all the health benefits of breastfeeding– I know plenty of people have done that.
Actually, I’m going to tell you why I think it’s totally fine if you don’t breastfeed. Or use cloth diapers. Or have natural childbirth. Or wear your baby. Or do any of the other things that somebody is probably telling you you should do. And why you should think the same.
What really bothers me about a lot of what I hear lately is that these people apparently think that we’re stupid. Many of them really seem to believe that just because THEY said that milksharing is not safe (in their opinion), that we shouldn’t do it.
Here’s the truth: Those of us who feed our babies donated breastmilk are not a bunch of overzealous lactivist lunatics. We are parents who want what is best for our children, and our view of what is best obviously differs from that of some people.
There is nothing I admire more than someone who has lived through tremendous difficulties and is willing to fight battles to ensure that others don’t have to go through the same thing. I know that is a hard thing to take on and that it re-opens wounds continually, but it is incredibly admirable and courageous. It helps change the world for the better. Some people can do that and others can’t and I understand that.
Whether you can do that or not, as others go about advocating for change, please remember…
It is hands down the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. If a magical fairy showed up at my doorstep tomorrow and said, “You never have to breast feed again and your baby will magically get your breast milk and all the nutrition, immunity and awesomeness that goes along with it. BUT…in order for this to happen, you have to go through labor and birth again.” I would without hesitation give birth again in a heartbeat.
I don’t say this to be negative, but rather to be realistic. I wish I’d realized just how difficult breast feeding could be before I was thrust into it. Apparently I should’ve spent a little less time reading about birth and a little more time reading about breast feeding, because I’ve definitely had my challenges.
So please, continue to let new moms know that breastfeeding is absolutely amazing. That is unbelievably the best thing for a baby. Share with them tips and support. But stop making the non-breastfeeders feel like failures.
I did not fail my three babies.
I DID NOT fail my three babies.
I am not a bad mom.
If you are pregnant or are a new mom, I encourage you to breastfeed. Try. Talk to lactation consultants. Not just one. Ask a friend. But ultimately, do what is best for you and your baby.
You are not a failure. You did not fail your baby! You are not a bad mom!
If some pumpers sound vaguely defensive, it’s because they’re tired of explaining their choice. Women who have only nursed their children can have a hard time understanding exclusive pumping, which many see as an overly mechanized chore to achieve a natural end. Others, including husbands and relatives, urge these women to use formula rather than embark on a grueling pumping schedule. Even doctors may be less supportive of pumpers, who nevertheless feel they’re making a medically responsible choice.
Ah, breastfeeding and formula. It seems like forever since we’ve been able to talk about infant feeding without immediately getting sidetracked into the explosive meta discussion about how we should talk about it, or, more often, how we shouldn’t.
The ability to discern between truth-telling and guilt-tripping seems to get a little hazy to all involved sometimes. In the interest of lancing the boil I present the following cheatsheet on how not to become a breastfeeding Nazi—and how not to see them where they are not.
The whole breastfeeding “debate,” such as it is, is a tempest in a sippy cup. Arguing about which scientific studies prove what — even if one side someday clearly “wins” — is an academic exercise, utterly divorced from women’s real, everyday experience. Because we don’t read the Journal of the American Medical Association to decide whether, or how long, to breast-feed. We consider our bodies: Are we physically able to nurse in the first place? Or are we plagued, as I was with my first child, by plugged ducts and serious mastitis? We consider the child: Did we, luck of the draw, get one who just says no to latching? We consider our workplace: How long is our maternity leave? Where can we pump when we go back?
New mothers are told again and again that breast milk is the healthiest food for babies. But not all mothers are able to nurse.
Some of them have discovered they can still give their babies the benefits of breast milk by feeding them milk donated by other moms. And they’re finding those moms on Facebook. The federal government thinks that’s a bad idea, but that’s not stopping the milk-sharing.
"So many devoted moms think that no matter what they do for their children, it’s not enough — and our culture plays into that insecurity," says Susan Douglas, Ph.D., coauthor of The Mommy Myth: The Idealization of Motherhood and How It Has Undermined All Women. But you can end the self-flagellation. Here, the top reasons that new moms feel guilty, and what you can do to get beyond it.
In this video, Summer talks about her feeding choices for both of her children.
Oh man. My favorite topic. I love to talk about breastfeeding. I mean, you know, just as much as I loved doing it. Which was not at all. And before the Le Leche League comes after me, I should say that I really did give it a fair shot. But, Taylor. Oh, sweet Taylor…. he just had this intense latch. (Come to think of it, he has an intense everything!) And my breastfeeding parts couldn’t seem to handle it. Actually, it might be better for me to explain this in person…
Lizzie: So with my second baby’s birth approaching in the next 2 months, my thoughts are not far from breastfeeding. I feel nervous and excited at the same time. A new chance to give it a go, but also so much concern in case it doesn’t work out. Any other mummies in my position? May well be posting some ideas on how to help increase the chances of breastfeeding, but nobody is allowed to use them as an excuse for feeling guilty…. It honestly just doesn’t work out for everyone, no matter what we do! I will keep the blog updated once baby arrives with my experiences. I would love to offer mutual support to others in a similar position! Xxx
As the mother of my children, I naturally know what’s best for them. Every decision I make is not based on a lack of knowledge or a snap choice. Despite the fact that Elias and Matthew are my first children, I know what I am doing. When I don’t know, and I need help, I will ask.
I’ve got something on my mind, and its been there for awhile now. I keep thinking about writing about it, and then I get busy doing other things, but its always there lurking. I’ll think about it when I’m in the shower, or when I’m falling asleep, or when I’m waiting in the checkout line at the store.
This has to do with breastfeeding, and It probably qualifies as soapbox standing, but whatever - you can read more about it after the cut if you like, or if you’re squeamish about the boobies you can just scroll past and keep the dash happy :)
For mothers who simply can’t make it work, the guilt can be overwhelming. They desperately want to nurse their babies, but aren’t having success. They’ve read books, sought help from lactation professionals, struggled and persevered. In some cases, they’re sacrificing their own health and sanity in the attempt. Women whose multiples are the result of treatment for infertility may feel like their body is betraying them yet again. They feel dysfunctional. They feel like a failure.
Guilt about breastfeeding isn’t productive. It doesn’t help the lactation process and it doesn’t generate any benefit for mothers or babies. If you’re feeling guilty about not breastfeeding your twins or multiples, release it.
Remember: Not all mothers who are able to breastfeed and are proud of that ability are “breastfeeding Nazis.” All mothers, regardless of the way they feed their babies, should be treated with respect.
The campaigns touting the wonders of breastfeeding have been so successful that some women feel ashamed and guilty that they can’t breastfeed. Often they encounter breastfeeding Nazis — neighbors, co-workers, lactation specialists, or even random strangers, perhaps well-meaning — berating them over the use of a bottle.
do you support mothers who CHOSE not to breastfeed?
We support mothers (and fathers), period. Parenting is already a daunting challenge, no matter how you feed your child. We believe parents should be supported and educated on the most current recommendations so that they will make the best parenting decisions for their family.
Who said that life is black or white? Breast or bottle? Exclusively Pumping mothers or pumping mothering are providing their baby with the best nutrition out there. It is unfair that people do not talk about this enough or that at hospitals it is not given as an option because it makes a big difference.
Everyone has their story and their reasons, the important fact is that you are working hard to give your baby the BEST. Kudos to you for all your efforts! I can tell you it is hard work to exclusively pump.
I want this site to be an open forum for everyone to share information on all topics from information on topics to questions that we can all help support each other.
I just wanted to say that I love what you are doing. I was unable to breastfeed my twins, and unable to afford organic formula. After they were about a month old, and after never feeling like they were getting enough milk, my milk supply completely disappeared. I was never very strong in the first place. I would pump and pump and pump and only get an ounce, even if it had been a few hours since the boys had eaten.
I’m so glad that our blog could help support you. It is definitely a difficult decision to switch over to formula, but it is obvious that you are a very strong mom and woman… and absolutely do your very best to provide for your precious little boys! :) Thank you for sharing your own story here!
Also, I am not sure if you are interested in the suggestion, but I know that Walmart sells an organic milk-based formula that is much cheaper than Earth’s Best organic formula (and it has the same ingredients and nutrition, I believe). It’s called Parent’s Choice Organic.
Worse was the guilt and anxiety. None of it made any sense, but thankfully, it’s over. I was not able to breastfeed Stella past 11 and a half weeks and I am officially 100% okay with that. I feel a new sense of freedom and confidence. I really, really do. This can only be very good for me and Stella.
It is not uncommon that nursing mothers receive negative comments from their relatives, friends, or even complete strangers about how they feed their baby. Some people (mistakenly) think it is “gross” or that it shouldn’t be done in public, etc. Moms hear comments like, “Are you STILL doing that?” or “Didn’t you just feed her an hour ago?” or “He’s not gaining enough, you better supplement with formula” from people who don’t just understand the breastfeeding process.
Then on the other hand, some health care workers and well-meaning but not so tactful breastfeeding activists sometimes condemn formula-feeding mothers and try to “lecture” to them about the better way in a pushy manner. These mothers often end up feeling guilty after such attacks if they couldn’t/didn’t breastfeed.
Breastfeeding loss is the mourning process that happens when a nursing relationship is lost or never achieves the expectations of the mother. Maybe you never nursed and have lingering feelings about it. Maybe your didn’t nurse as long as you wanted. Maybe you did nurse as long as the child wanted but you weren’t ready to quit and you have unresolved emotions about it.
Welcome to our world. The world of survivors of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, like postpartum depression, who have decided to have more children. Some of us are well down the path with those additions, and others are waiting. You’ll learn more about that later. For now, I invite you to sit back, relax, maybe even grab a cup of tea and meet the women who changed my life…
Now don’t get me wrong — I wholly support efforts to promote breastfeeding. It’s a good thing (which is why I chose to do it), and there are many things in our culture that prevent more women from breastfeeding that should be changed. But the debate still weighs on me, and I had to vent with these four. I know I’m not alone in my frustration.
The term “nursing” means comforting and nourishing, whether by breast or bottle. Feeding time is more than just a time for nutrition. It is also a time for special closeness. The mutual giving that is part of breastfeeding should also be enjoyed during bottlefeeding. Besides giving your infant a bottle, give him your eyes, your skin, your voice and your caresses. Baby will return to you more than just an empty bottle.
It’s about time we stopped beating up bottle feeding mothers. Far from making me a bad mother, as the pro-breastfeeding lobby would have me believe, I am quite sure that choosing to bottle feed made me a better mum to all my sons.
While the reasons for doing it may be varied, the condemnation many bottlefeeding mums feel seems to be universal, and today an increasingly vocal breastfeeding lobby leaves many bottlefeeding mums cringing with guilt.
This horrifies Dr Heather Wittenberg, a parenting psychologist who runs the website BabyShrink. “For some reason, people – especially other mums – feel entitled to criticise other families’ feeding choices,” she says. “But often they’re not choices, they’re decisions driven by necessity. I can’t tell you how many mums I hear from who, despite the best efforts of midwives and lactation specialists, simply can’t breastfeed. Why should these mums feel like a failure? What a terrible disservice to mums and families, and what a difficult way to start out a baby’s life!”
Rather, I think — and let me not mince words here — that bullying women into breast-feeding and vilifying those who don’t is disgusting. It is, I believe, profoundly wrong to make mothers feel that because they bottle-feed or bottle-fed their babies — from birth, as a supplement or after a return to work — they are unnatural, negligent, selfish idiots.
That’s what I wish would go through other people’s heads when they’re watching me feed my girl. No, that formula isn’t full of all the incredible goodness of mother’s milk, but the whole time Isabel drinks a bottle, we are looking at each other and she is tapping her fingers on mine and she is curling into me while I’m rocking her gently. It’s very, very sweet and intimate. It’s wonderful. Heavenly even.
Most moms know that breastfeeding is best for baby and for the moms that decide to breastfeed (it is a choice) there are a lot of great support groups online. Breastfeeding.com provides an online community that helps support moms and Baby Center has many articles for new mothers to help them learn the benefits of breastfeeding and the how-to’s to help moms problem solve. The support and encouragement to breastfeed is certainly more common then it used to be but what about the mothers who do not breastfeed their babies? Is there support and guidance for those mothers on the formula to choose, safe BPA free bottles to use, how to prepare the formula and how much to feed the baby? I am sad to report my findings are showing there’s very little out there.
If a baby is starving because of neglect then judge away, get outraged beyond comprehension. But if a mother is doing everything she can to make sure her child is happy, healthy and fed, don’t you dare judge her for it.
This was an article from The Leaky Boob that Lucas’ donor milk mom shared with me recently. As she put it: “[This is] why I donate… this article pretty much sums it up. I am so glad that I am able to help my ‘milk baby’ grow and get the nutrition he needs!”
Every human baby deserves to have the normal nutrition for a human infant: human breastmilk. To every lactating woman, past, present and future that has ever shared or will ever share even a drop of her milk with another woman’s baby I thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. Whether you give through safe direct donation or through an established Milk Bank such as one approved by the Human Milk Banking Association of America, I thank you.
This is a story about a woman who had something negative said to her about breastfeeding in public; however, I believe it can apply to any parenting situation!
We’ve all had those moments when someone said something hurtful or insensitive, or downright rude that just shocks you to your core, and you’re stunned in to silence. If you’re at all like me, afterwards you go home and think of the thousands of things you would have loved to say to the thoughtless person.
Life didn’t go as planned. I came home from the hospital feeling as though every other mother was looking at me and judging me. Those who were not yet mothers made comments that made me feel as though I were weak. Older mothers didn’t understand why I couldn’t just “deal” with his colic and move on. And mothers who were my peers who had never struggled with breastfeeding didn’t get it. I was so ashamed of having to bottle feed my son that I wouldn’t do it in public. I actually hid the box of formula so people wouldn’t see it if they visited. I have only one photo of myself giving him a bottle… I’m crying in it. During that time, I had friends who were still breastfeeding their babies who were unable to grasp the difference in our lives. One friend did not speak to me for 3 weeks and quite honestly, our relationship has never fully recovered. Other friends who had stopped breastfeeding earlier than I did welcomed me with open arms into the circle of moms with bottles. And there was one friend who stood by me, no matter how many bottles I had to feed in front of her.
Mama-bashing is like a playground fight. The sides gather, drawn by a controversial opinion – often genuine, sometimes trollish. If our children were involved in such vicious behaviour, we would not find it acceptable.