Bottle or Breast: why the criticism?!

The big topic right now is breastfeeding. There’s all kinds of blogs, articles, and posts on social media about how breastfeeding is best for your child,  and shaming moms for everything from public breastfeeding to not breastfeeding at all. As a mother who knows how hard in some cases to breastfeed I’m more than mad, I’m outraged, and I couldn’t let it go.

There are so many reasons why mom’s can’t or don’t breastfeed. We all know how great breastmilk is. No one questions the health benefits for both mother and child. No one doubts the amount of bonding that happens with feeding your child (whether at the breast or the bottle). We all are aware of the options and reasons for both, and the mother’s that choose not to feed from the breast need to be cut a break. Why are we shaming each other?!?!

As a mom who had struggles with breastfeeding due to no fault of mine or my child’s I want to slap some people!

From the moment I was told I was pregnant to the moment I took my son home almost every medical professional I came into contact with either asked about breastfeeding or expressed an opinion. It was very pushy and overwhelming for a new mom who had lots of other worries to deal with. I wish I could tell you that it seemed more like encouragement than bullying but sadly that’s not the truth. There’s a reason my BP went up every time I went to see my lactation specislist. I used to call her the breastfeeding drill sergeant. 
(**she really was a lovely woman, just very to the point and direct, and at the time she scared me. I’ve thought of her a lot since and if I could I’d thank her for helping me realize I had postpartum I would. Moving on…)

Here’s the thing- you never know what people are going through!! Being a mom is hard for so many reasons! I watched an interview with a journalist who was shamed on social media for bottle feeding her son. She had breast cancer and a double mastectomy people!!! You can’t use what you no longer have! She shouldn’t have to explain that to strangers. It’s her choice every bit as much as having children in the first place is. Why are we being so mean to each other about it?! Where’s the respect of each other’s choices and decisions? Where’s the acceptance of a fellow member of the “mom’s club”? If you have kids, even if not natural born to you, you know there are lots of things that are so much more important that what your child ate from the ages of 0-24ish months (and of course I’m not judging those moms breastfeeding into their child’s 6th or 7th birthday! It’s a personal choice….). Why can’t we just support each other no matter what through one of the hardest things in life- being a mom?

All the things no one could tell you before you go through it yourself come to mind. No one told me how to “point the pee pee down” till Avery was almost 3 months old and I’d been changing his clothes about 4 times minimum a day since he was born. It’s not in any of the books either folks!! No one tells you that breastfeeding is not just about you, it’s also about how well your child nurses. There are so many things out of your control: lazy nursers, flat nipples, tongue ties, lack of production. We are all “in the trenches” from the moment we become parents. Where’s the hugs and love from fellow mothers?

Personally, I had always planned to breasfeed as long as possible. My breasts started leaking at 19 weeks pregnant, I took the breastfeeding class, I took all of the help offered possible, had all the supplies and the support of family and friends. I was really in a good frame of mind and attitude to be a long term milk factory for my son. Despite my best efforts he only got about 5 months worth of breastmilk and past month 4 he was getting supplemented formula to make sure he was eating enough. Our struggles were:
-he was born with a tongue tie
-I had to use a “shield” because of my flat nipples
-doctor’s made me stop breastfeeding him at 4 days old,  right after my milk came in, and then changed their mind’s after we were discharged from the hospital for the 2nd time
-my son was diagnosed with a protein processing disorder (lots of tests for the whole family and possibly an altered diet for him for life).

I went to a lactation specialist and did everything from fenugreek to almost having Canadian relatives send me otc drugs not approved by our fdc yet. I really tried and cried for a few weeks after I realized I had to give in and switch my son to formula. My stress level and our early struggles meant my supply tappered off drastically and I could no longer produce enough to feed my baby solely from the breast. I was fortunate that not a single person in my small circle of trust told me I had failed my baby because I switched him over to bottle-fed formula. My husband, best friends and baby sitter were all very supportive. Even my mother who is known for harsh criticism and judgement was surprisingly kind to me about the change.

Because of who I am and how closed off I can sometimes be I was fairly shielded from outside criticism, but that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t have happened if I’d told more than those closest to me about our lives and struggles. It’s incomprehensible to me why people are so judgemental of each other, but isn’t now a good time to be more accepting? There are so many things in life that are hard, and so many tough battles we as people face, can’t we find the kindness in ourselves for others? Can’t we just look at that mom in a restaurant or on a bench at the playground bottle feeding instead of breastfeeding and just tell her she’s doing a great job? Can’t we find some compassion and love in our hearts to replace the judgement and criticism?!

One thought on “Bottle or Breast: why the criticism?!

  1. It is the beginning of the challenges of being a parent, doing what you need to do to be healthy and caring more about your own family than what other people “think” about you and your family. The other people are out of line, period. They care more about their personal opinions than other people, it is a shame that people fall into this trap and struggle with the bonding process in the early days only to please people who have no empathy for either the parent or child. You hit the nail on the head, compassion makes for bonds between parent and child and create a nurturing environment. You are doing a great job and so is every other mother out there who ensures her child or children get the nutrients they need which includes LOVE.

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