Aug 7, 2015

Mommy Wars: Breastmilk & Formula

Formula or breastmilk...with a side of judgement

To speak frankly, I don't understand this trigger point in the large scheme of things. Whatever the medium in which a person chooses to do to feed their child, is their own personal choice. The only reason there should ever be interference is if there is harm being done to the child, but if the parent is choosing formula or breastmilk and the child is thriving, honestly what is the hang up? And when something is in a bottle (whole 'nother argument) who are you to assume what is in there?  Why are we as moms so enraged if a mom chooses formula or to breastfeed in public. It comes to being none of our business but is a HUGE point of argument and mommy-shaming in the mommy community, and frankly, we are becoming the monsters we warn our children about. 

From what I've seen, a lot of the formula-shaming comes from the moms who are considered the most "crunchy" but this judgement can come from anywhere. In a grocery store, in public, in your own mind - many women think "fuck I'm a failure because I went for formula" but the truth is, anyway that you attempt and succeed at taking care of your child is the RIGHT way. Who cares if it's milk from a breast or from the formula companies - you have to do whats by your kid. The same goes for the mom who has to nurse or pump on-demand. Your life is now dedicated to your milk production you are doing what is right.

via Mama by the Bay, the "I Support You" Project says it best...

“The I Support You movement is a respectful, empathetic, compassionate exchange between parents. We all feed our children differently, but we are all feeding with love, and in ways that work for our individual circumstances and family dynamics. I Support You is the first step in helping formula-feeding, breast-feeding, and combo-feeding parents to come together and lift each other up with kindness and understanding. We have chosen to announce this movement during World Breastfeeding Week, to honor the commitment of those who fight for better support for breastfeeding moms; we are inspired by this, but believe that by changing the focus to supporting all parents, we can truly provoke positive change without putting the needs of some mothers above the needs of others. The “I Support You” movement aims:
1) To bridge the gap between formula-feeding and breastfeeding parents by fostering friendships and interactions.
2) To dispel common myths and misperceptions about formula feeding and breastfeeding, by asking parents to share their stories, and really listening to the truth of their experiences.
3) To provide information and support to parents as they make decisions about how to feed their children.
4) To connect parents with local resources, mentors, and friends who are feeding their children in similar ways.”
-Suzanne Barston and Kim Simon
The problem is not us, us mothers just trying to do our best for our babies, us mothers desperately seeking a tribe, a source of support, a group to someday drink sangria with and laugh about how tough those first few weeks were. The problem is with how breastfeeding has become the antithesis of formula feeding; the problem is with how the two are set up as black and white, as polar opposites, as competing interests – 
rather than as two entirely independent, 
valid ways to feed children. - via

While I understand the movement to make people see that breastfeeding is what a lot consider the most natural way, there are just as many people who feel like breastfeeding is unnatural to them or cannot do it. I can remember vividly the profound struggle I had the first week of sweet little A's life and the relief that came with learning that I could exclusively pump. Granted, had that not worked either I would have gladly welcomed formula into her life because well, that is what was needed to be done. I can admit, I wouldn't spend hundreds on lactation consultants or pumped every 2 hours to simply make a few ounces, I am happy I was able to feed her breastmilk for 10 months and will feed her frozen for the last two but had that option not been for me - I would have done what's best for her and got formula. 

I've gotten weird looks and received judgment on my part for being an EPer and heard things like "did you try to get her to latch?" and "did you consult a LC?" and that was just frustrating. We as moms need to become fighters and supporters of each other instead of the constant questioning of a person's decision. Two of my closest friends have kids, one breastfed and one formula fed and they are both incredible moms who frankly did what was natural and best for both them and their child.

It's upsetting to see in a world where we have become so knowledgeable on so many things and yet we are as women and moms continue to tear each other down. One mom posted how someone yelled "formula is poison" at her when she went to feed her young son - like, that is the craziest thing ever. 

If we continue this path of forcing moms into the shadows where they feed their child in shame and hidden away we are doing ALL of us a disservice by going down this path. Personally I always try to just do my thing and not let anyone bother me. I am proud of the amount of breastmilk I have pumped and the hours I have put in and I know no one can take that from me. Nursing didn't work out so I found something else. Formula is a great alternative or first choice for moms who think that is best for them. We are not in someone else's life and well, formula wouldn't be on the market if it wasn't perfectly safe. Formula is highly regulated by the FDA so it is a perfectly good choice if that's what the mom wants to do.

I know this may sound that I more pro-breastmilk than not; however, I am pro-what I was able to do. I was able to pump for my daughter and provide her enough milk that should last her to one year. I am proud of what I did but I think it is just as good as the mom who chooses to feed their child formula. 

It is all about what feels the most natural for you, the mom (and dad). 

Hopefully with each blogger and mom speaking out against picking on parents for simply feeding their child we can try and correct this outward cry of battle against each side.We as parents and as people need to do better and create less judgment in the world. We're raising little humans to take over in our place and with every hateful troll-like comment that is spewed on the internet, we are becoming the monsters we warn our children about.