As Tasha and Anna have previously commented on breastfeeding, and because we are all clearly pro-breastfeeding here, I thought I’d talk about another experience, formula feeding.
Throughout my pregnancy I was bombarded by midwivies, nurses, prenatal class instructors, the health system with information on why “Breast is Best“. I didn’t need any convincing, I was sold on the benefits long before the birth of my son. I’d read the literature, understood the benefits but there was one nagging worry in my mind – what if I have no milk?
My sister, didn’t have a drop of milk despite trying the best she could for weeks after both her 1st and 2nd child. By her 3rd she knew the mental anguish of trying wasn’t worth it and she brought formula to the hospital with her, despite being judged by the nurses. A friend with a similar issue also told me about how other mothers were very judgmental when they saw she used formula, and initially she felt guilty and horrible about her self, when all she was doing was trying to provide her child with the nutrients she needed to survive. I also remember other new mother’s with ample supply who judged our mutual friend so harshly for resorting to formula that our mutual friend’s mother had to ask her to stop talking to her daughter about breastfeeding. I have even met a mother at one of the parent and infant drop-ins I attend who was terrified that because she needed to supplement with formula there would be something wrong with her baby. In the Canadian public health system’s push to convince everyone that “breast is best” are we in turn ostracizing mother’s who must or choose to use formula?
What right to we have to judge mothers who use formula? NONE. So why do so many of us who breastfeed tend to see themselves as superior? Yes, I’m sure some of us have met moms who choose formula was they thought it was easier or hadn’t been bombarded with breast is best, but most moms I know do not use formula for that reason. They are using formula to some extent due to milk supply issues. I firmly believe that many of us judge because we don’t look past the formula to understand the entire picture, we are so caught up on “breast is best” that we forget that first comes ensuring our babies receive enough nutrients to grow and thrive and that formula fed babies can and do grow up to be healthy happy people. Mother’s who don’t breastfeed still bond and love their babies as much as breastfeeding mothers.
Think about it the next time you are happily breastfeeding your child and you see a mother providing a bottle of formula to her child. Don’t feel smug or judge her. We’re all doing the best we can to raise our children.