FFF Friday: “I never wanted to breastfeed.”

Welcome to Fearless Formula Feeder Fridays, a weekly guest post feature that strives to build a supportive community of parents united through our common experiences, open minds, and frustration with the breast-vs-bottle bullying and bullcrap.

Hey everyone! Happy Friday. Two years, countless hours, and  $70 to UPS for next day air service later, I can officially say that the first draft of my book is in the hands of my editor. Which means, of course, that my schedule just got a whole lot clearer, and will let me revive this dying blog. Starting this weekend.


To kick off a new, rejuvenated Fearless Formula Feeder blog, I want to share a submission I received from FFF Angela P.  I always love hearing from people who have been able to defeat the guilt and begin saying piss off to the Judgy McJudgersons of the parenting world, and Angela’s in-your-face attitude is pretty darn refreshing…
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!!WARNING!! Unconventional, unpopular truth comin’ right at ya.  I NEVER wanted to breastfeed.
“Don’t you understand what you are denying yourself and your baby?”  “He will be dumb, sick, and fat.”  Okay no one really said this but they (and by “they” I mean everyone) kindly informed me of all the studies that basically did. 
So what’s my deal?
I never wanted kids.  I never longed to be a mom.  I married knowing full well it wasn’t part of our game plan.  Did I even like kids?  I loved them and relished in playing, laughing, and caring for all my friends children.  We were that couple that everyone said, “awww they should have kids; they would make great parents; it’s too bad.”  Low and behold after many years of wedded bliss my amazing husband dropped a bomb on me: he wanted a family.  I too saw in him what my friends did; he would make a great father, and how could I deny us the unconditional love of a child?  We had more than enough love to go around and 7 months later we said hello to our little 3 lb 10.5 oz bundle of joy who couldn’t wait the extra 2 months to meet us.  He was just perfect and miraculously we were a legitimate family (Oh, a topic for another time.)
The road to here was paved with lots of doctor visits, constant monitoring, scary tests with bleak results, and various types of bed-rest for 5 months.  So now that he was here why wouldn’t I give my child the magical elixir?  Come on, I was well informed about all the benefits.  Every mother, father, whether I knew them or not, and nurse saw to it that I was in-the-know.  Why is it that people feel that it is okay to ask you if you’re breastfeeding?  No pressure!  I loved attending the required NICU classes where right out of the gate you’re shamed by having to be the only person in the room who doesn’t raise their hand when asked, “OK, by a show of hands who’s BREASTFEEDING (with the undertone of, “Yay you, you are sooooo awesome”)!  Then you have to sit there for a good long while listening to “pump-talk” while the other parents and instructor look at you, nod, and tilt their heads in your direction when they talk about all the benefits.  Tears streaming down your face with guilt and anger.  I felt like I was watching an after school special on peer pressure.   
So now you’re asking, “What’s her deal with breastfeeding, is she one of those people who are offended, appalled, and disgusted by the display?”  On the contrary.  I would dress somebody down if they dared to scoff at a woman feeding her child.  It is the most natural nurturing gift a mother has to offer her baby and if you have a problem with it, look within, something ain’t right with you. 
 
So what’s my deal?  Why did I choose not to breastfeed?  Does it matter?  Would it be justified If I told you it was because I was sexually abused and I harbored those feelings in my breast?  Or what if I just didn’t want to “ruin” my breasts?  What if it was a cultural thing?  Let’s be honest, if I told you I didn’t want to ruin my breasts you’d be on me like a spider monkey.  Why do I need to justify my decision, and why is it any of your business anyway?  Isn’t it more important now that he is happy, thriving, well cared for, loved, and for the most part healthy.  “Ah-ha! See he’s not healthy.”  My breast milk would not have “fixed” him.  He came into this world needing a little help.  He’ll grow out of it. Will you? 
CHOSE not to breastfeed and I reject your judgment.

Suzanne Barston is a blogger and author of BOTTLED UP. Fearless Formula Feeder is a blog – and community – dedicated to infant feeding choice, and committed to providing non-judgmental support for all new parents. It exists to protect women from misleading or misrepresented “facts”; essentialist ideals about what mothers should think, feel, or do; government and health authorities who form policy statements based on ambivalent research; and the insidious beast known as Internetus Trolliamus, Mommy Blog Varietal.

Suzanne Barston – who has written posts on Fearless Formula Feeder.


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15 thoughts on “FFF Friday: “I never wanted to breastfeed.”

  1. I love your post. I did some months of BFing and then choose not to anymore, and I got judged too. The hell with the judgement.

  2. WOW! Amazing post! I cannot thank you enough for posting thing! I've always felt like saying “No, i'm not breastfeeding, it doesn't matter why, you're an ass for asking! but never could muster the courage…even after 11months!

  3. Love this post and how confident you are in your choice. I have no idea why everyone cares so much to know if a mother is breastfeeding.

    It is like asking someone out of the blue if they are having sex regularly – does it really matter to them? Would they offer their boobs if you asked them? Probably not, so good for you for rejecting their judgement. (Love that line!)

  4. I love this post! When I'm asked if I'm BFing (and I agree… WHY is it your business and WHY do you care?!) I always feel like I have to justify my “no.” But you're right… no more justifying for me!!! Love this blog. Seriously, I do.

  5. You make about a great point about peer pressure. Parents are all up in arms about bullying in schools, and then they bully each other!

    Good for you for doing what you believe is best for your family. And frankly, if not pumping allowed you to take more time holding and caring for your child, I think that *that* is more important.

  6. Its none of nobodys business why I chose not to BF. I think one thing many of us FF moms need to do is stand up for ourselves more. Ive often found myself justifying when I was asked..those BF loons can scare the crap of us! I think if someone asks you ladies again.. just look at them firmly and tell them blunty but polietly “None of your business, now good day” I think if more people did that they would realize that their bullying tactics arent going to work.

  7. This is simply awesome. I think it will inspire at least a few FF moms to not feel as though they have to explain their decision to everyone. I love your strength!

  8. I came here as a breastfeeder willing to learn a bit more about how formula feeders see things. But this blog hasn't really done much for me – everywhere I see breastfeeders demonised: just take the “those BF loons” comment above, for example. If you want breastfeeders to stop judging you (and I think comments are too often interpreted as judgement when they really aren't: someone asking you if you breastfeed is probably just an innocent conversation starter, not a loaded question) then it would help if you stopped insulting women who do breastfeed. All that does is create division – surely something that none of us needs.

  9. Thanks so much for this post, Angela.

    I'm not sure whether I want to breastfeed my kids. Frankly, I'm not worried that exclusive formula feeding will hurt them. I am concerned about other people's disapproval– particularly from the hospital staff. Never attempting to to breastfeed your kids is kind of a, er, um, medically politically incorrect choice. Thank you so much for having the courage to to own it.

    No, I'm not anti-breastfeeding at all. I'm just very pro-having options and doing what works for you and your family. I think moms should have access to lactation consultants, rooming in (when medically possible), private pumping areas at work, the right to breastfeed in public, more maternity leave, classes, support groups, breastfeeding literature, all sorts of handy gear, etc. I also think formula feeders should be given similar consideration.

    How you feed your child is a personal decision. All new parents need lots of support. Congrats on your little one!

  10. Meryl, it seems to me that you're looking to be insulted. I see a ton of posts around here that are supportive of breastfeeding, but also express frustration and anger at the way formula feeding moms have been treated. That is a far cry from demonizing all breastfeeders.

    Most of us distinguish between lactivists who are just out to stand up for BFing moms and lactivists who, well, to borrow a phrase from FFF, make a boob of themselves. As far as Stephanie's comment, I took “those BFing loons” as synonymous with “militant lactivists.” And I think any lactivist who truly wants to achieve good breastfeeding rates would agree that the militants among them aren't doing them any favors.

    Years ago, it was socially accepted to formula feed; now it is not. Years ago, it was not socially accepted to talk about cancer; now people are more open. But it doesn't change peoples' sensitivity toward certain topics that truly are no one else's business. It's more accepted to talk about cancer, yet I would consider it rude to ask someone on the street wearing a wig or head covering about their chemo, even if I was planning on saying nothing but supportive words. People with severe and chronic diseases are still judged as if they did something to deserve it, after all. Not by all, but by enough people that people with cancer often fear others' judgement. By the same token, asking about someone else's breasts is considered by some people to be wholly inappropriate (and I felt that way even when I was breastfeeding). Because of the bullying actions of some lactivists, most FFing parents expect a verbal slap when we're asked.

    I'm sorry if that offends you; I believe that it speaks more about the great harm militant lactivism has caused than about breastfeeding moms in general.

  11. Awesome post! And if you say you're not BFing to avoid possible changes to your breasts, you'll get no lectures from me. Still your body (/boobs), your baby and your decision.

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