As soon as that plastic stick tells us we’re going to be mothers, the decision making begins.
Who should be our OBGYN? Should we find out the sex? What names do we like? What should we eat? Should we birth at home or the hospital? Do we ever want to do this again? Like, ever?
One of the decisions that divide many mothers, sometimes in a not-so-nice way, is: bottle or breast? I did not breastfeed my child for more than a few weeks, and I wish I hadn’t attempted at all. Those first few weeks with my daughter would have been a lot less stressful for the both of us.
However, that statement alone can send breastfeeders into a frenzy. The fact that one would choose against breastfeeding their infant actually appalls some people.
So, in defense of the formula feeders out there, here is a list of misguided judgements that can sometimes come from deciding to feed formula to our babies.
Whether it be lack of milk production or wanting to keep your claim on your breasts, formula feeding is not selfish. Whatever decisions we make as mothers only become selfish if the child hurts from it. And while many believe breastfeeding to be superior, it isn’t the only way to raise a happy, healthy child.
We will be less bonded.
I am 23 years old and I call my mom when I see a good television show, or when dinner is over, or when I’m on the toilet. I still cuddle with her. She is my best friend. I was never fed a single drop of breast-milk in my life. There are many ways, including skin-in-skin time with a bottle, to bond with our babies.
We’re not “crunchy.”
Okay, some mothers may not be considered “crunchy mamas” whether they breastfeed or not. However, many mothers formula feed and still carry their children, co-sleep and feed only organic products. We’ve come a long way since formula was first thought of as a replacement for breastfeeding. There are many organic, healthier formula options out there.
Our babies will grow up obese.
Whether feeding from a bottle or a breast, if a child feeds for comfort, the wheels for childhood obesity are set into motion. The way we parent will dictate whether our children have healthy eating habits or not.
We gave up.
Breastfeeding is really hard, especially for being something that is considered instinctual. It hurts, it’s hard to monitor, it can make our breasts look like sea monsters. Many mothers choose to breastfeed and then switch to a bottle when they deem it time to do so. Personally, my daughter wasn’t gaining weight, wasn’t getting the nutrients she needed and cried more in those first weeks than she has the rest of the eight months she’s been on this planet. I switched to formula to get her healthy and happy. That’s our main goal as mothers, isn’t it?
It’s child abuse/neglect.
Not all breastfeeders go as far as this. However, some mothers have the notion that if you know something is good for your child and you choose not to do it, that is considered child abuse/neglect. This entire idea is ridiculous. If trial and error, mistakes, tough decisions and questionable choices aren’t part of parenting, then I’m doing it wrong. There are thousands, if not more, ways to raise a child. Each culture is different, each family is different. Each mother has a “right” way.
To parent any differently from the next mom is not, I repeat not child abuse.
Breastfeeding is awesome. It’s so good for babies, it helps the mother lose weight faster, and it’s much cheaper than feeding formula. It’s just not right for everyone. Many mothers feel pressured into breastfeeding even when it’s not working, and are made to feel inferior if they choose to feed formula, creating one of the largest gaps between moms that exists.
Let’s end the misconceptions. We are mothers. We are doing our best—let’s close the gap.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Bryonie Wise
Photo: elephant archives