When Breast Isn’t Best

| April 26, 2013 | 7 Comments

babies-are-such-a-nice-way-to-start-people_lI am frequently greeting with stares from other new mothers when I pull out a bottle to feed my newborn. Some of the stares are questioning, a few confused, some envious, but too many of them are judgmental  It is not uncommon for someone to say “Oh, you’re not breastfeeding?” Their tone implies that I if I am not breastfeeding than I am not doing what is best for my baby.

Advocates of breast feeding have done an excellent job of promoting breastfeeding as being the best choice for babies. However, the constant bombardment of pro-breastfeeding messages to new mothers can result in guilt among new mothers who can’t or choose not to breastfeed. The reasons a mother may choose not to breastfeed are diverse. Breast is not always best or possible.

I shouldn’t take the judgemental stares and comments of other mothers to heart. I don’t usually participate in the “mommy wars” and am quite confident in my parenting choices, no matter how unpopular. However, when it comes to not breastfeeding I am already carrying around my own guilt and feelings of inadequacy.

The truth is that I would love to breastfeed my child, but I choose not to. I am formula feeding because breastfeeding may actually be dangerous to my baby because of the medications I take. There is no evidence that the medications are safe or unsafe in the long-term for the child, but I am not taking the chance. Formula feeding also means my partner can take the night feedings to allow me to get proper rest – something I need to keep my bipolar disorder in check.

Other women choose not to breastfeed for many reasons. Some are physically unable to due to prior illness or injury. Some have tried breastfeeding and were unable to do it successfully. Some just choose not to and that, in my opinion, is okay too.

I am not saying that we should promote formula feeding over breastfeeding. Breastfeeding has many benefits that absolutely cannot be gained through formula feeding. However, the need or desire to formula feed does exist.

New mothers who formula feed should be given support rather than being shamed or made to feel guilty. We should be willing to provide these new mothers with the information needed to properly bottle feed their babies. For example, there is very little or no information given to moms about how to properly bottle feed or how to overcome common problems with bottle feeding (constipation, etc.).

Meanwhile, I am more than willing to take all the formula samples my pediatrician and family doctor’s office want to give me. It is quite a lot because, after all, not that many new moms formula feed anymore. That, at least, works out in my favour.

Photo credit: katerha / Foter.com / CC BY

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Category: Babies & Toddlers, Family, Moms

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Comments (7)

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  1. Rene says:

    Thank you for this post. While I BF almost exclusively, I don’t hesitate to move to formula in some instances and believe that mothers should not feel shamed or judged regardless of their parenting choices. None of us knows another’s story completely.

  2. rbeeyswan says:

    U KNOW THIS IS TRULY SOMETHING 2 GIVE *Much* THOUGHT 2:D! EACH TIME I NURSED(my 4 b Loved Babes) I RAN N2 PROBLEMS..:( YES, I AGREE AN INCREASING NUMBER OF MORE SUPPORT IS NEE:D 4 MOMS WHO FACE SO MANY UNEXPECTED CHALLENGES.MORE OR LESS AT TIMES WITHOUT A HOW 2 MANUAL ..MOST MOMS WING IT. THEY TRY 2 DO THE VERY BEST THEY CAN WITH WHAT KNOWLEDGE OR COMPREHENSION THEY OBTAIN ALSO OFTEN (times) DEEP N BEDDED ,SEATED, HIDDEN GUILTY FEELINGS R N SIDE..((sigh))sooooo Many mix emotions & Hormones racing through a recently delivered/New *Precious* Mom..:)

  3. Janine says:

    There are totally legit reasons not to breastfeed, and obviously you are making your decision based on your child. The problem is that the majority of formula moms seem to have only selfish reasons, and that makes the whole bunch look bad.

  4. Jackie says:

    Great article! I formula fed right from day one since my baby was a little underweight. I tried pumping, but gave up after three months and exclusively formula fed from then on. I know the looks and comments you’re talking about, ignore them and do what’s best for you and your baby! Breast or formula, as long as you’re both happy and healthy!

    Janine, not to start an argument here, but how could you possibly know why all formula feeding mothers choose to do so? The majority do it for selfish reasons? What are these selfish reasons? I formula fed because it was easy. I formula fed so I could get some sleep. I formula fed because I didn’t like the feeling of breast feeding. In the end I have a happy, healthy child who has a happy healthy mom. Like I said above breast or formula who really cares if it’s best for you.

  5. Jim says:

    I would have to agree with, and give anectdotal support to, Desirea that it is certainly not uncommon for breast feeding mothers to give the ‘holier than thou’ look or comment. If, for ANY reason, a mother (and father who may very likely play a role in such a decision) decide to bottle feed, then it is their decision! A very large portion of our generation (late 60s/early70s) along with my children, were bottle fed (no reason to share) and are super healthy – in fact, it appears they suffer MANY fewer ailments than many of their classmates/peers!!

  6. Desirea says:

    Thank you for the comments! I was a little hesitant to write this as so many people have strong opinions on this topic.

  7. kathy downey says:

    Great article!

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