Tuesday, September 6, 2016

What I Want to say to Formula Moms

Every single time I meet a formula mom they apologize to me for feeding their baby. This has always struck me as odd. There I am, usually, quietly feeding my baby. There they are quietly feeding theirs.

And yet every single time I have been in this situation, the formula mom always tries to explain herself. Like I am sitting there thinking she's a horrible parent for giving her son or daughter a bottle while I give mine a breast. Like she's internalized that breastfeeding is natural and "more right" and formula is "unnatural" and shameful.

These are some things I've always wanted to say to these moms.

1) Formula is not evil. Every "formula mom" I've met has a story of how they tried to breastfeed and how for some reason it didn't work. Sometimes it's not enough support. Sometimes its because of misinformation their doctor gave them about breastfeeding. Sometimes its because they have PCOS or diabetes and their illness didn't allow them to breastfeed. Sometimes they fought tooth and nail to breastfeed but it just didn't work. So they now use formula to feed their babies. But lately we act like formula is the new evil. Like moms who choose formula are choosing to feed their baby poison instead of food manufactured to be fed to babies when breastfeeding doesn't work/isn't desired.

2) You are not a bad mother. You are also not "lesser" of a mother by using formula. I don't know why we have this reverse shame thing going on. Years ago breastfeeding moms used to be the ones ridiculed. For the most part our American culture is very accepting of breastfeeding. But we can't have a culture that accepts breastfeeding to the degradation of formula feeding. We should support moms regardless of how they feed their kids.

3) If I can feed my baby anywhere, you should be able to feed your baby anywhere too. Without being shamed by anyone. Without having to explain yourself to me or any other person. People who are feeding their babies should not be lectured on what form or method others think may be better for their little ones. Obviously, if I am feeding my tot in Target, I've already made an informed decision on how to feed my little one. Same goes to those who bottle feed. I don't think telling a formula mom that "breast is best" is supportive in any way. Save those kinds of talk for when she is in the midst of making that choice. After the choice is made, that kind of thing will only shame her. Trust me, all the formula moms know. They don't need to hear it again. And again.

You are a mom. I am a mom. Let's not divide ourselves like this. I am not a "breastfeeding mom". You are not a "formula mom". We are just moms and we are equipped to make decisions for our offspring. Every mom knows what is best for their own bodies and for their own children. I think we should offer sound, evidence based advice free of misinformation and expectations and empower all moms to make their own choice.

Let's keep on feeding our babies and take the stigma out of it.

I will if you will. And there is no need to apologize.