Mama, Mama, Mama… we need to have a talk. And since the subject of feeding our babies is so touchy for most of us, maybe you should make a cup of chamomile tea, grab a seat, and take a few deep breaths.
Feeling calm? Okay, here it goes. All of us mommies need to cut the shit. So many of us have this “holier than thou” mentality about feeding our babies, but we all like to pretend we aren’t little miss Judgy Judy. Stop. Just, stop. Stop telling other mothers what to do. Stop trying to make each other feel bad. Stop feeling guilty and defensive about how you feed your own baby. Ultimately, it is up to the mother how she will feed her little one. Motherhood is hard enough without us all shitting on each other. Whether you formula feed, breastfeed, or expressed breast milk feed, you’re a good mommy. Your baby is alive, healthy, and loved.
And I’m not saying to never give your opinion- opinions can be useful as long as they are asked for and are coming from a place of love. And I’m not saying to never ask questions- when I was pregnant, I asked many of my friends about their experiences with breastfeeding and how they fed their babies. I wanted to learn from their encounters and absorb as much information as possible.
Many times in my (difficult) journey to becoming an exclusively breastfeeding mama I heard some very nasty, discouraging, and hurtful things come out of the mouths of people who were groundlessly “just offering their opinion”. So, I’ve composed a list of things we need to stop saying to each other…
1) “Breast is best!” Well, no fucking shit. As if we didn’t hear that enough during pregnancy and beyond. And, actually, breast is NOT ALWAYS best. If your baby has classic galactosemia, breast milk is very bad. Deadly, even. When baby Ant was suspected of having galactosemia he was on Pregestimil, a predigested cow’s milk formula for babies with fat malabsorption problems. I reached out to some fellow moms on Facebook because I was pumping until I got the OK to continue breastfeeding. I needed advice on how to produce the most pumped milk. Instead I was shamed for giving formula to my baby, told over and over that “breast is best”, and very little useful help. Every mom knows breast is best. But guess what, its her choice if she wants to give her baby formula. No one has the right to make a mom feel bad for it. Any nurse or doctor will tell you formula these days is very high quality and safe for babies. Now- I’m not advocating formula over breastmilk. I understand that breast milk is digested much more easily and, unlike formula, it has the perfect combination of what baby needs, nutritionally. And I know formula CAN make babies very ill. But, tons of babies are formula fed and live to tell the story.
2) “My children were formula fed and were perfectly healthy.” Okay? And? What is the point of saying that? All I have to do is mention breastfeeding and sure enough, some one has something defensive to say about why they formula fed… usually its some sort of underhanded comment about how they worked and I don’t. Why must we be so nasty to each other?
3) “You may not be able to breastfeed.” Well, jeez. Thanks for the vote of fucking confidence. If a mom is stressing about her milk production or her baby not latching properly, the last thing she wants to hear is a discouraging remark. No matter how we choose to feed our babies, we all need support as new mothers. If any one tells you that you may not be able to breastfeed, they are fucking wrong. My son was in the NICU for 13 days with tubes down his throat and nose. He was on TPN and lipids for the first week of his life. He was fed my breast milk through a tube for three days before he was fed with a bottle, and even after that I had to wait a day before I could attempt to breastfeed him. Until that day I pumped every four hours. When he was on Pregestimil for two weeks, I had a hard time keeping up with pumping (he had thrush, so I had to sterilize his bottles before each feeding, prepare the formula, and then it took him an hour to eat). He was readmitted to the hospital at five weeks and I was told his inability to keep the formula down was causing his poor weight gain, and that I should resume breastfeeding. I needed to get my milk supply up so I pumped every two hours and started eating oatmeal daily, taking fenugreek supplements, and drinking Mother’s Milk tea. When we got home from Ant’s five day hospital stay he went through a growth spurt. Since my milk supply wasn’t where it needed to be at the time I had to supplement with formula. It was very stressful, but I now exclusively breastfeed. Now Ant is at a very healthy weight. He gets plenty of milk from me and he is always so grateful when I feed him. If you want to breastfeed, you CAN do it. If you need help, reach out to professionals.
4) “I would never give my baby formula.” Good for you? You can try to act like that isn’t a judgmental thing to say, but it totally is. Unless some one asks, keep it to yourself please.
5) “Your boobs are too small, you will starve your baby.” No. Just, no. If you know nothing about breastfeeding and feel the urge to express your opinions about it, just don’t. You will only sound like a moron.
6) “Breastfeeding into toddlerhood is disgusting.” I recently read a beautiful piece on Scary Mommy about breastfeeding toddlers. I think it may have been taken down, probably because there were a lot of hurtful comments on the post. One reader said something like, “I would never let my child breastfeed past one year, but to each their own. I’m not judging.” Um, yes you are. Here is some information for those who are ignorant about the benefits of breastfeeding toddlers: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding “until at least 12 months of age, and continuation of breastfeeding for as long as mutually desired by mother and baby.” Breastfeeding into toddlerhood and beyond is perfectly normal and natural. In fact, the global average age of weened children is 4.
Basically, what I’m saying is don’t be an asshole. Avoid saying these things to other moms, please. It only causes tension and hurt feelings.
Has anyone given you unwarranted parenting advice? Please share with us!