Sticks and stones: A collection of the worst formula-related insults and misconceptions

Over on my Facebook page, FFF Alexandra posted the following comment:

I was thinking just yesterday actually that maybe FFF needs to allow us a thread on the blog to list the MOST ridiculous insults ever lobbed at us – seeing them “en masse” like that should enable us to laugh at it all and hopefully give strength to those newly struggling with residual guilt.”

I love this idea, and am therefore inviting you all to post in the comments section and get this party started. What have been some of the worst reactions you’ve seen/heard about formula feeding? Have people been nasty to your face, or has it mostly been faceless, nameless, (gutless) folks on the Interwebz? I’d also like to open the thread up a bit, to include the most aggravating misconceptions you’ve heard about bottle feeding moms.

You know, it’s interesting – I can’t recall any fellow moms in my “real” life saying anything intentionally cruel about the way I fed my kids. My angst was more due to well-meaning friends saying things in my presence about people who didn’t breastfeed, or about formula, or alluding to the fact that I must be so devastated about not breastfeeding… I think this qualifies more as ignorance than rudeness or animosity.

Sometimes, though, I wished that people would drop the act and say what they really felt. It is far easier to deal with rudeness than pity. It’s the pity that killed me. I was proud of how I was feeding my children. In FC’s case, I was proud I confronted my own desire to breastfeed and realized that it was about me, and not him; proud that I figured out what was wrong with him and filtered through the formula-antagonistic propaganda to find a solution. As for Fearlette, I felt proud that I fought my guilt-demons and made a strong, confident decision to do something to ensure I could be present for her.

But I feel I can’t explain this to many of my friends. They stare at me blankly when I try, or get this look in their eyes…and I don’t feel like it’s useful to anyone, me or them, to push the issue. They have been told by “professionals” that formula is poison; that breastfeeding is the most important thing they can do for their babies. I can’t undo that kind of brainwashing, and as long as they don’t get in my face about it, I don’t get in theirs. That’s friendship, you know?

All the blatantly nasty comments I’ve heard, I haven’t heard at all. I’ve read them, online or in books. But in some ways, I find these comments from random strangers far more disturbing than if they came from my real-life friends – because these words are read by impressionable multitudes, rather than heard by a few sensitive ears. One cruel comment on a respected blog, or a disturbing anti-formula-feeder thread on a popular message board, can do a heckuva lot more damage than some obnoxious half-wit in line at the grocery store. Not that this means a whole lot if your understandably sensitive ears are the ones in question, of course!

And speaking of… let ’em rip. Gold star goes to the person with the most smack-em-upside-the-head-iest comment…

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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62 thoughts on “Sticks and stones: A collection of the worst formula-related insults and misconceptions

  1. “Formula is like feeding your kids cheetos and pizza.”

    Nevermind that Cheetos and pizza are still better than not eating (even if that comment is horribly misguided).

    I also hate when people act like FF babies are overweight, and the formula is to blame (not true for my skinny boy). But if he were chubby and breastfed it would be because of how wonderfully nourishing breastmilk is.

  2. These comments are great (well the quotes are hideous but you know what I mean). I was on a thread about breastfeeding/formula the other day when someone posted this:

    “PUKE! So thankful to God my babies never had that shit in a can.”

    I found this so degrading, belittling & cruel. I ended up screenshotting it (along with a host of other nasty comments) to make a blog post about the damage these comments are doing, & how they are totally counter-productive to breastfeeding advocacy.

  3. I'm waiting to use a line if someone demonizes me for formula feeding to flat out make them feel so terrible “I have cancer in my breasts. Thanks.” It's lie, but it would sure make them wish they'd never opened their mouth.

  4. My girl is teeny-tiny. People told me that breastfeeding would make her gain weight better. Never mind she wasn't gaining weight (in fact she was losing weight) while I attempted to breastfeed. You can't have it both ways, people: Either formula isn't nourishing enough to make my kid grow or it's awful swill that will make her obese. Make up your minds.

  5. The biggest lie of them all is how breastfeeding will “cure” post partum depression because it contains oxytocin. Like its nature's anti psychotic or something.

    It's like they want to seem all compassionate by acknowledging PPD exists, then they say something really unrealistic like how you just need to nurse more and the baby blues will go away.

    Almost as dangerous is when they say things like “its a myth that new moms need to sleep. breastfeeders get more sleep anyway?”

    Oh really? I was nursing every hour for twenty minutes. Then we started formula. Guess who slept three hours straight?

    Its like they ignore all the evidence that proves how sleep deprivation can aggravate depression

  6. First off-what the hell does surgery on your colon have to do with breastfeeding?

    Maybe breastmilk doesn't have “bug juice” but it's been proven by scientists in actual labs to be full of environmental toxins/pesticides (from what mom eats). I'm not sure of the actual link but if you google it I'm sure it will pop up. Not saying that I think babies shouldn't get breastmilk because of this (or that this would be overly harmful) but it just argues the point that breastmilk is certainly far from perfect and pure and I'm sure bug infested Similac is not significantly worse for infants.

    As far as the cashier from Target goes, I'm with Teri 100%. A cashier's job is to ring up your purchases, not make comments on them. More than fair to report whoever that is to management (and corporate) and if they lose their job or get disciplined, oh well. Keep your mouth shut next time!

  7. Did you complain to the management about the cashier? Or corporate? Comments like that show a lack of maturity and empathy, which would make me as an employer question whether that employee was the right fit for my company…

  8. I, like many of you, went through a crap ton of agony while breastfeeding. Pain, undiagnosed thrush, pain, sleep deprivation, pain, sore nipples, pain, and did I mention pain? I've finally stopped pumping for the little guy at 7 months and we are exclusively on formula now. My last pump was a week and a half ago and just now the engorgement has gone away, the extreme sensitivity is gone, and also my hip pain is gone (??? I think from hormones normalizing) and I have my body and my boobs back. ahhhhhh….. I hated breastfeeding and I persevered through some very painful, depressing frustrating ordeals. But why does anyone else has to torture themselves in the way I did or the way many other women do just to get a by-your-leave to formula feed? Why do you have to go through all this agony and be positively, absolutely at the end of your rope with a starving half-dead baby to feel OK about making a different choice? Answer – YOU DON'T. I don't care if you take one look at the immense challenges facing you on an uphill battle to breastfeed – and then pick your battles elsewhere. God knows motherhood is full of them. I think its totally fine to reserve your fight, your energy, your sanity for another battle another day, and just relax with a bottle and a happy well-fed baby and just be at peace with it. It's OK. It so is.

  9. Reading all these terrible comments makes me wonder where the hell these women's parents were in regards to being polite and teaching them “You don't always have the right to say what you think you have the right to say.” I have never had a Mom really demonize me for formula feeding in person. Message board forums are terrible. The BBC boards are a nightmare of estrogen and people thinking they have the right to bark orders at everyone else. However I think anyone who knows me in person, would know that if you start that war with me, I will finish it. I remove myself from the message boards and will tell anyone who says I'm a bad Mom for formula feeding to “eff off and mind their own damn business.”

  10. I've been lucky enough to never have anyone in real life say anything negative to me. It's all been Internet Moms ™ – especially those on LiveJournal. They are a totally different brand of Mean Mommy. I've heard it all from “you didn't try hard enough” to “you don't care about your kid at all” to “you might as well just feed her a Big Mac every day”. It's ridiculous.

    The misconception about formula feeding that bothers me THE MOST is that we somehow don't bond with our babies the same way breastfeeding mothers do. The idea that we're all propping bottles and walking away to smoke crack and gamble or whatever they think we're doing… it drives me nuts. I hold my daughter close at EVERY bottle feed. I would never ever prop her bottle. And we are so bonded.

  11. (A few from me, paraphrased.)

    From one of my dearest friends, after telling her my harrowing story of trying unsuccessfully feed my infant who was losing too much weight and starving to death:
    “Well, breastfeeding takes a lot of commitment. You're just sitting there feeding for many hours per day, and it's hard to do anything else in the beginning. But I'm just not sure if you were willing to do that.”

    From a friend's FB page/comments: “I can't believe some mothers feed their babies that poison. They must not love their children as much as breastfeeding mothers do.”

    From my midwife: “I know you can breastfeed, because I saw milk come out when I was showing you how to pump.” Nevermind that when I was pumping at home for 30 minutes I only got 1 oz. from each breast. She knew I was just being lazy.

    From a friend: “When I was struggling with breastfeeding, I told my baby, 'it's either this, or you starve.' ” Well forgive me, I wasn't willing to let my baby starve.

  12. I was told by someone I know via Facebook, that choosing to give my son formula, was equal to getting drunk every day, putting my son in the car with me and driving around drunk. Apparently she said the risks were the same.
    Makes me laugh 🙂

  13. Katy, really? I would say that FFF is one of the least “pity party” websites I've come across. I also guess you didn't read FFF's post at all, given the fact that she actually pointed out that pity isn't what she (or generally the rest of us) want…

    I've not had very much aggro in real life for bottle feeding. Had someone at a baby group once tell me that she didn't have any time for people who didn't even try to BF, and I replied that I didn't have any time for mothers who think they have the right to judge other mothers' choices.

  14. I got the “Well at least you tried and every little bit counts” comment… It kinda bothered me. What I'm doing now is just as important. I'm feeding her. Doesn't matter how.

  15. A chick on a message board once listed about 99 reasons why I was killing my kid by formula feeding. One of them being about the “inferior plastic breast.” I will never forget it. At the time it really burned my britches, but now I just laugh. Who calls a nipple a “plastic breast” anyway?

  16. I very nearly threw my mother out of my apartment when she laid this lovely gem on me:

    “You never wanted to [breast]feed her — you just wanted boobs!”

    I know that this pales in comparison to some of the horrible s*** that other people hear, but my mom KNEW that I couldn't breastfeed — she saw firsthand what I went through. Yet she still had the nerve to say that. Ugh.

  17. I was at a baby shower once (before I had my baby) and another mom regaled us all with a story about how a woman approached her at the grocery store and asked her if she knew where the baby formula was. My aquaintance responded with, “How would I know, I would never feed that poison to my baby.” Even though at the time I was sure I would bf my child, that sounded incredibly cruel. Her aunt reminded her that some women can't bf. I myself was super nervous about seeing this woman a couple of months after my daughter was born and I was ffing due to low milk supply caused by IGT. She didn't say anything to me, but I felt her eyes on me as I prepared a bottle.

  18. This is the one that's really been bugging me lately. Paraphrased but said by several different people on a message board.

    “I can't stand when people say they couldn't breastfeed when they chose not to. I managed to keep breastfeeding despite pain/poor latch/bleeding nipples/low supply, etc. So you could too.”

    Honestly I don't think there's anything wrong with choosing to formula feed. But I think doubting women at their word when they said they tried as hard as they could to breastfeed and failed is really rude.

    This gem was a comment on a post linked to from the Facebook page.

    “Postpartum depression is a lousy excuse for not breastfeeding.”

    A few more from a vegetarian site I used to frequent. Also paraphrased, this was several years ago:

    “You shouldn't have kids if you know you can't/don't want to breastfeed. Breastmilk is every baby's right.”

    “Formula feeding is like smoking while pregnant or feeding your baby brownies and McDonalds.”

    “The human brain can't develop properly without breastmilk.”

  19. In cleaning out some old paperwork, I found a booklet that we received during our hospital-sponsored Prepared Childbirth Class. There's one whole page listing (in large font) the complete contents of a can of formula (hypoallergenic, I think), then a message saying something like “Why would you give your baby these ingredients?” It didn't register as problematic at the time, but looking back I realize how self-righteous and short-sighted that is. Baby-friendly or not, hospitals should be in the business of fostering health and development, not guilt-trips.

  20. I haven't really had a whole lot of vitriol spewed at me, but I DID overhear a maternity nurse call me a selfish b**** for having a reduction before I was done having kids, because it REDUCES the odds of being able to breastfeed. I think it's pathetic to have a health professional be that uneducated on lactation issues and show themselves to be so ignorant.

  21. My mother in law was feeding my sister in law's baby a bottle of pumped milk and said, “Pumping is hard but it's worth it. Formula is only for lazy selfish moms!” My husband swears she didn't mean it as a slam toward me, but I gotta wonder…

  22. I love that one..and it's always lazy AND selfish. If you (not you Samantha, general you) want to believe I'm selfish because I have needs too, that's your right. But I really hate being called lazy (even though no one ever called me lazy directly, just the “FF moms are lazy.” ) I work a full time job, raise twins, maintain a marriage and a house…how could that ever be classified as lazy? If so, I'm one lazy mofo, and would be regardless of how I fed my children, no?

  23. I came across a judgy playground mom when my son was about 8 months old. He weighed 22 lbs at the time and this mom's 16 month old son weighed the same. We were making small talk and then she asked if I breastfed, using a tone that implied that formula feeding causes babies to be bigger, overweight, obese, etc. Even though I shouldn't have to explain to anyone why I feed my baby formula, I explained about his MSPI and him being on hypoallergenic formula. Then she said, “Well that stuff must really stick to the ribs….blah, blah, I stopped listening because I was mad”. She just casually called my baby fat and simultaneously blamed me for it.

  24. Awesome. I don't have any customers at my job, just coworkers, and since all the mothers there are working mothers, these kinds of comments don't come up there. I really feel for you and for any woman who gets cornered by a complete stranger (or a family member/friend for that matter) and “educated” about why she's such a crap mom. I know the plural of anecdotes is not data, however, with a little critical thinking, it can be gleaned that formula (and this was before formula was as good as it is now) did NOT kill the vast majority of Americans born between 1940 and 1980.

  25. I haven't had any direct attacks online, but alot in person.
    Hospital was hell – my story is up here somewhere. Plunket treated me like crap and really made me doubt myself as a mother too, but my most favourite two were:
    1. once when someone asked me why i 'bothered to have children if I didn't plan on being a proper mother to them?'
    and 2. Was when I was serving a patron at work (I'm a librarian) and we got talking about my nails because I had just come back from maternity leave and they hadn't been chipped to shreds yet (occupational hazzard). She was saying how lovely they looked and I told her why so she asked questions about my son and how breastfeeding was going since I came back to work 'so so soon'. I told her that my partner stays home with the baby and its not going because we formula feed. She ended up standing at the counter for about 5 minutes just going on and on giving me 101 reasons why I'm being selfish all the while people queued behind her staring. Bliss.

  26. My son is 8 months old and probably about 22 pounds. No one has actually come out and suggested that it's because he's formula fed, but everybody comments on his size. He's a big boy, but that shouldn't be surprising — he looks just like his daddy who is 6'2″. No amount of breastfeeding would have changed the fact that he has big parents and he's probably going to be a big boy.

  27. I think my favourite of all time (to date!) was posted on a very well respected British-based parenting site, allow me to paraphrase:

    “If you won't breastfeed the kindest thing you can do is to just let the baby go”. (!)

    The implication being that if you're going to use formula it's kinder to just let the baby die! 😉 To this day it makes me giggle as I consider going upstairs to lie down and never getting up because of what my mother did to me.

  28. Most of the comments directed to me in person have been of the “Oh, you must be so devastated about having to formula feed” variety. (Yes, I'm absolutely devastated that I was able to feed my daughter. I would have much rather let her starve. At least then I could say she never had a drop of formula. Sheesh.)
    I did, however, have a mom say that she couldn't believe anyone would give their kids “that junk.” “Why even bother having kids if you can't even be bothered to lactate for them?” She didn't know me very well and didn't know I had been (gasp!) a formula feeder. So, it wasn't directed at me, but still… And even worse, my friend, who adopted her daughter, was there, too. (You know those adoptive parents, just full of the selfishness.) It was a double-whammy of clueless.

  29. I love those comments because they are so nonsensical. It's like if you told a mother not to take her baby to the doctor when (s)he's sick because “maybe it would just be kinder to let whatever happens happen.” Or if you told a woman in labor whose baby is in distress “we're not going to do a c-section because clearly this baby is just not meant to live if it can't be born vaginally.”

    I think the only response to that sort of things is “If your mother couldn't be bothered to teach you simple manners like thinking before you speak, it would have been kinder of her just to 'let you go'.”

  30. You know in the beginning I used to feel like I had to explain myself for ffding eventually thank goodness I gave up doing that. However, in those early baby days I would tell my friends or other moms about the reoccurrent mastitis, low supply, flat nipples, blah blah. Some were sympathetic, but the worst comments I would get was “Well, bfing is really hard work you know.” Eventhough I am sure they didn't mean for that to sound so bad or perhaps they just ran out of something to say, it used to just cut me as it always seemed to imply that I did not put what they would deem as enough effort into it. Didn't matter that my so called lazy effort almost sent me to the brink of post-partum depression.

  31. I once came across a post on the local breastfeeding support board in which a woman was asking for advice how to stop her milk production immediately after birth, because she had decided not to breastfeed. In the first sentence of her request she asked respondents not to try to convince her to breastfeed, saying she had made up her mind and she had her own reasons for that. She was just asking for technical advice. Nevertheless, the first few answers she received and probably about half of all answers altogether admonished her to rethink her decision (without, at the same time, addressing her question). The respondents were not nasty to her, but it was clear they thought she made a detrimental choice. I wondered why these people so easily disregarded her request. I remember actually agreeing with some of them internally (some said “please at least give the baby the collostrum”), but I would never offer advice where it is so clearly stated that it is not wanted. I also wondered how annoyed she must have been – good-intentioned as they were, didn’t her respondents understand that the message they were giving her was “you don’t know what you are doing”?

  32. I supplemented briefly and never recieved any criticism, however, I became very upset reading a favorite blog of mine of a mother posting her birth story.

    After attempting to breastfeed and failing, she had to sign a hospital waiver! Essentially it stated that she acknowledged that the hospital staff informed her of breast milk being the better choice, and that by providing formula she could not hold them liable, blah, blah, blah.

    She was in tears. I was pissed. Wrong, wrong, wrong!

  33. Reading these comments I realize how lucky I've been overall. I have also read nasty things online, but haven't had anyone personally berate me. I have a hard time with pity, but feel that the pity and sympathy (from friend mainly) comes from a loving and well-meant place overall so I wouldn't put it in a “stick and stones” type of post. However one of my pet peeves is when total strangers ask “are you breastfeeding?” Especially when because it is usually the second question following “how old is your baby.” Too personal, not okay, and none of your business.
    And this little gem of a story from the breastfeeding class I attending prior to birth. I know the educator wanted to 'inspire' but talk about adding to the guilt when it all fell apart. Now just get irritated when I recall it [paraphrase]: “A man was left on his own to care for a newborn. He was a farmer and saw daily how important that milk comes from a mother, so when he was left with this young baby to care for he talked to lactating mothers in his community and took that baby from home to home so that baby could have milk. If he could find a way to succeed at breastfeeding surely you can too.”

  34. Geeze! I wish my daughter would “struggle” to digest the formula and sleep. >.< Gaaaa... I hate judgements and generalizations. My girl still wakes up 4-5 times a night and still eats 2 times a night... Why can't she sleep because of formula too? *hurmph*

  35. A lady in my running clinic was told to try harder by “don't you love your child”

    I personally hate it when people say stuff like “I had low supply, mastitis and a zillion other obstacles and my child never touched a bottle, everyone can breastfeed if they really want to”. The same person's baby was gaining a pound a week so I am sure she understood my problems well :$ 

    Calling formula poison, sludge, chemical crap and junk to name a few.

    Calling formula fed mothers, misinformed, uneducated, lazy, excuse makers, corporate whores, sheeple, selfish, uncaring, unloving, nitwits, alcoholics to name a few.

    Women told that any health issue their kid has is due to formula.

    Telling women that they aren't responsible parents.

    Telling women that if they don't want to breastfeed why on earth did they have children?

    This isn't a pity party for me, I get anger seething through my veins. I don't feel sorry for myself. I am pissed that way too
    many women online feel they can say cruel things to women based on overstated information and feel they're “right to” because formula is risky and inferior. Also if a formula feeding woman is offended it's her reaction to the truth and not the way the message was cruelly delivered.

    Equating formula feeding to child abuse.

    Equating formula feeding to
    Smoking.

    Formula feeding moms don't get the maternal hormones to bond properly.

    Low supply is an excuse, women in Norway or wherever don't have. That problem.

    We evolved to breastfeed. 

    I think the worst comment aimed at me in regards to my child sleeping “the reason they sleep so long as infants is because their bodies are struggling to digest the formula”.

  36. My mother in law was visiting when I gave my baby his first formula and I hid in the corner making the bottle and told my husband not to tell! I knew they were would be a myriad of judgements if she found out.

  37. Next time somebody tries to tell one of you FFing mommas out there its “such a shame” you child is FFed perhaps you should sweetly say something like this:

    “I realize BFing is great for a lot of people, but formula was a better choice for us. I think the real tragedy would be if I let people pressure me into something that wasn't right for my family.”

  38. Really my Mom kept telling me that it's too bad that I didn't keep nursing Matt because he wouldn't be so horribly skinny. She still likes to take full credit for my brother and I being well into the 99th percentile for weight(and height) till we were 12.

    I just find it funny that I go online(or in your case in person) and people tell you that your making your kid fat with the stuff and then I get cornered by my Mom for making him skinny.

  39. I'm with Lililly on the Plunket comments. I'm not sure what they make those Plunket nurses out of but it must be strong stuff to be able to berate a sobbing 4 week postpartum woman because she combo feeds.[sarcasm]

    You might be amused to know that once you get to 8+ months with breastfeeding they start telling you how worthless it is and how you need to stop.
    Let's see, My midwives we're on the because I had a c-section I really needed to exclusively breastfeed (despite my insufficient supply) because I was going to ruin her already ruined (by the EMCS natch) gut with formula.

  40. I was lucky enough to choose a hospital that was baby-feeding friendly (if you wanted to BF they would support you in any way they could, but if you couldn't BF or didn't want to, they would not hassle you about it). I found a pediatrician with a similar attitude (I even recommended her to a mother I met in the formula aisle one day, she was almost in tears and confused because her pedi told her she had to only give BM and nothing else… her 6 week old son was barely 6lbs, and was only back up to his birth weight because she went against doctor's orders and supplemented with formula).

    Well, the comments I heard have been to friends from my online mama's group.

    1. One boy had an allergy to corn. It took forever to figure out, there was corn syrup in the hypoallergenic formula the pedi put him on, there was a lot of trial and error. He was allergic to his mama's breasts.
    Well, after that was all figured out, he needed some medication. She called the pharmacy to ask if there was corn syrup in the medication. The pharmacist asked how she could possibly know he was allergic to it. When she told him it was by formula trial and error while working with the pedi, he tore in to her about how it wouldn't have happened if she'd just kept breastfeeding. Dude, he was allergic to mama's milk!

    2. Another woman in the group had fallen pregnant with #6 when her son was less than 4 mo old. One day she opened up to the group about how she just didn't feel she could breast feed this time. #5 had so many GI issues that she had to stop in order to make him healthy, she just couldn't do it again.
    I wasn't as offended by women who begged her to at least try (I just rolled my eyes at those). But one woman had the nerve to say something along the lines of:
    “I believe in science. Science says that breast fed children are smarter than formula fed children. What will you tell this baby when she finds out you didn't want her to be as smart as her brothers and sisters?”
    Excuse me?

    Of course there are the little comments about how breast fed babies are so much healthier than formula fed babies (who get sick “all the time”). Funny, my child had her first illness (an ear infection) at 10 mo old. Yet the same mom's saying that had gone through two or three in that time.

    Brittany, my sister was actually formula fed for that reason, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 8 1/2 mo pregnant (back in '79). Still didn't stop people from making her feel guilty about using formula. You'll probably just get unsolicited advice about expensive milk banks.

  41. Most of the mean comments I've gotten have been online except for WIC but there has been a few things. When I stopped breastfeeding apparently he no longer has real baby poop according to my Mother in Law. The one that still bugs me is when she told me that she couldn't make him a bottle because she can't understand the formula can despite her 4 year degree in english language,then 2 months later proceeds to tell my sister in law how to make a bottle FROM MEMORY but still insists that she can't understand the can to this day.

    Oversupply is easily fixed you just didn't try hard enough, breast milk can't hurt babies(another one from my MIL),fine but you can't tell me I didn't warn you when he dies of diabetes(WIC nutritionist),pain is always worth it for your child, and my favorite pain is part of motherhood you already put him through an unneeded c-section(he was breech) now you want to make him suffer because feeding him the RIGHT way hurts you too much.
    I would also like it if I could never hear the words bottle feeding culture again or at least till I no longer live in Utah,land of 80-95% breastfeeding rates depending on your city. If you don't count mine I've only ever met 3 kids that weren't at least combo fed and I worked child care for 8 years.

  42. Yeah, that's an odd double standard. My boys have always been in the 5th percentile or below—between prematurity and having small parents, they wouldn't be big boys no matter what they ate. As it was, they were a good weight for their height–neither skinny nor anywhere near obese. I know that is just an anecdote, but I really don't think FF or BF is a direct cause of fatness or skinniness, as a baby or as an adult.

  43. With my first son, it was mostly the online witches:

    (in response to a post I made about FF moms being judged)
    “I agree with them. If you use formula, you deserve to be judged. You're already getting off easy by using a bottle, why should we feel sorry for you?”

    “I am not judging you, but I would never give my baby that crap.”

    “You're obviously uneducated, so I won't even go into why breastfeeding is best, because you probably wouldn’t get it anyway.”

    “I hope you plan on feeding your child a healthy diet, to offset the effects of formula.”

    When I had my second son, I was amazed that I actually had to put up with comments from real life people. Maybe it's because “alternative” moms are everywhere here. Some of the gems I've heard:

    (During my 6 week post-partum visit):
    Midwife:”How's breastfeeding going?”
    Me: “I am no longer breastfeeding.”
    Midwife: (with a little edge to her voice) “Why is that? When I saw you in the hospital, he was doing great!”
    Me: “I didn't have any physical problems, it just wasn't for us.”
    My midwife then, for maybe a minute, a minute and a half, began to pry an answer she thought was acceptable out of me, because “It wasn't working for us” just wasn't cutting it for her. When it was clear to her I was a selfish bitch who just didn't want to breastfeed she said:
    “Well, I guess people just have different priorities.”

    When a friend of mine came to visit us shortly after the baby was born, and saw me feeding baby a bottle she said:
    “Wow, formula huh? Such a shame. He's so little, it's sad to think he won't be getting the good stuff at such a young age.”

    I've had various looks from people when I took the baby to my school, and one brazen beeoch actually asked me to put the bottle away or leave, as my formula feeding was disturbing. (I didn't take that one too personally, as my school is rampant with extreme hippies, and I've heard some crazy shit directed towards me. My response is usually to either ignore the crazies to tell them to fuck off. Both work pretty well.)

  44. To Jennifer & Liz – I have twins who I am nursing (I am on this site because I have to supplement sometimes and this makes me feel good about both choices) and one is 7months and 20 pounds and the other is 7months and 15 pounds. So i get the “He's so big” (actually they say “he's going to be a Sumo Wrestler” which is really racist because my hubby is Chinese) and I get “WOW! Hes sooo small” about my 5% baby. So whatever. People just like to dish it, coming and going.

  45. Lisa, that's totally true. My cousin's son is enormous – 24 lbs, 7 months old. His rolls have rolls, and he's entirely breastfed. When people comment to her on his size, they always say that the fat is because he's SUCH a breastfed baby. I guess they discriminate now based on the type of fat rolls the baby has and what food causes them. I didn't realize breastfeeding fat rolls were good and formula ones bad. Oops, silly me:)

  46. My baby's first pediatrician had a consultation with us before our baby was born in which he went on and on about how there is ZERO breastfeeding failure in developing countries like India and in places like Africa. Stupid me, I didn't question it at the time. He went on and on that with a family history of allergies like I had described to him, breastfeeding was absolutely life-saving and would be more important than anything he could do for her health. No pressure, there.

    At first, my baby largely refused to breastfeed; she'd fall asleep at the breast. The LC in the hospital was one of the most horrible people I've ever met and told me my priorities were mixed up because I she had woken me up 6 hours after my baby was born (the least sleep I think I've ever gotten in 6 hours; prior to the birth I was in labor almost a full day) and I wasn't bright-eyed and bushy-tailed ready to talk about proper latching. The ped's LC kept telling me that breastfeeding was the only “cure” for allergies and asthma. She referred me to another LC closer to me who made it clear that I wasn't trying hard enough even though it was my baby who was refusing to suck and my prior medical history was starting to come into play.

    When that old condition finally reared its ugly head, that LC made it sound like only people who give formula are those who are not tough enough. Excuse me, but I climbed the Mount Everest of medical toughness, toughness was not an issue for me. I saw another LC who figured out what was wrong and told me to stop BFing because it was exacerbating my condition. When I gave up breastfeeding, my baby's ped refused to speak with me. I was told by his nurses that they only gave a little formula information “if they must” because it's considered a “booby trap.” Educating women about bottle feeding was a “waste of time” because it was the “easy way out” and there was nothing to preparing bottles. I'm sorry, but there's a LOT to know about properly preparing bottles, and because there's been such BFing bullying, there isn't enough research done to determine what are the best practices for bottle feeding! I had to call up sobbing before anyone would even return my phone calls, even if the issue wasn't feeding-related.

    My baby's second ped was okay but I rarely got to see him, mostly one of his colleagues, who was of the opinion that homemade formula was vastly superior to “that corporatist cow milk junk” and that my best bet was a unpasteurized goat milk base. Someone in my family died from drinking unpasteurized milk. That's how ridiculous the naturalist parenting/breast is best idiots are, recommending that for a baby with an immature immune system. When I brought up this issue, she told me that “well, formula fed babies get sick anyway, so what's the big difference?”

    Finally found a ped who supports moms no matter what, has an on-call LC if you need one, and is very averse to scare tactics. My baby is not a big girl; her weight is between 10-20th percentile, and when I started to get upset about it, she shrugged and said “SOMEONE's gotta be on the skinny end of the bell curve.” She said it's genetics, not formula.

  47. God, I hate that “it only hurts because you're doing it wrong” line. I hate that the most. And I know it's not true based on personal experience. I did it the same way both times, and the first time I stopped after 6 weeks of horrific, non-ending pain and the second time I stopped at 6 months when the completely pain-free breastfeeding baby weaned herself. Neither of my kids had tongue tie; both had “good latches,” according to all of the lactation consultants I spoke with (and with the first I saw my LC at least once a week). I know I did nothing wrong the first time, and I didn't do anything differently the second. Just different kids, and sometimes it's just a horrid, painful experience.

    The other thing that bothers me about that statement is that it's almost victim-blaming (although calling a breastfeeding mother a victim is a stretch) – you're in pain but it's ALL YOUR FAULT. You're doing it wrong. You hate it because it's painful? Your fault. All on you, couldn't be anything else. Just what a woman who just gave birth needs to hear, huh?

  48. OMG where do you live that the pediatricians are like that?! That's crazy, that you found not one, but two who would essentially deny care to your child because of a perfectly reasonable choice you made. It really is equivalent to the pedi saying, “no, I don't care if your baby is sick, you choose vanilla ice cream over chocolate and I can't get behind that. Your baby should suffer, because I don't like the ice cream you are eating.”

  49. I find it extremely frustrating that there is barely any mention of problems when it comes to breastfeeding. If you take a class, talk to an LC, research bf online, etc they only say “if it hurts you are doing it wrong, it shouldn't hurt” or “breastfeeding is natural” or “just keep trying and you'll get it”. It was as if my problem didn't exist. That made me feel even more horrible. So it really was just my fault and I was doing everything wrong and/or I had a terrible 2 month-old baby who hated me. It was a nightmare. A baby with a terrible latch from birth? A kidney infection in mom and a UTI in baby? Never-ending pain and frustration when nursing? A 2 month-old screaming every time she was put to the breast? A newborn nursing strike? It just doesn't happen. “Babies are born to be breastfed,” right? Apparently not my baby. Everyone has their own limits. Just because one Mother was able to push through the problems and succeed doesn't mean we all can. Those comments hurt the most. I read them online, thankfully, so I could just sign off, but how dare someone suggest that I hadn't done my best. After all I had been through? And from a mother who should have understood!

    I was very blessed that my family and close friends were supportive and never made any negative comments. The only comment that bothered me, I got in person from a woman (complete stranger) who asked me at a baby shower (when my daughter was about 9 months old) if I was breastfeeding. I was shocked that someone I had never even seen before would ask me such a personal question. I must have given her a funny look because she didn't press me. After the nightmare of bf ran through my head, I realized I didn't want to and didn't have to explain myself to her and simply said, “We did in the beginning.” Then I looked away, ending the conversation. I realize now that I have been very lucky not to get a lot of crap comments like so many of you strong and wonderful mothers out there. Why oh why can't we just be supportive of each other?!

  50. Ugh, horrible people. I get a lot of the 'aren't you feeding him yourself?' comments. Um, yes, I am – who do you see holding the bottle right now? Probably the most frustrating experience I've had around FF prejudice was from a mummy friend when we were out walking with our babies recently. I had a very traumatic birth, pain etc – my story is up here somewhere on a FFF – anyway, she knew all about my BF struggles. But there she was, merrily gossiping to another mum with is about her best friend (lucky best friend) who had an elective c-section after her previous pregnancy ended in miscarriage. Said friend was planning to bottle feed because she felt the pressure to bf would exacerbate her risk of PND. So, what was her 'best' friends take on that one?
    “Honestly, I think people who have c-sections simply have NO EXCUSE for not bfeeding. It's just pure lazyness, I mean what else do they have to do? It's not like they won't have people running around after them while they lie around after the operation. She isn't even TRYING to push it out.”
    (I was cursing her inside) Right, because major surgery is something 'lazy' people have. And being in pain is clearly not a good enough reason – physical or mental pain. I honestly almost got up and left. In the end, I just pointed out that actually, she was very blessed to have had the uneventful birth she had, and had no business judging anyone else's choices when she had no idea what kind of pain, grief or stress they were going through.
    Yeah, there was an awkward silence after that… but I doubt she'll go slating us 'lazy' mums again.

  51. I know, it's so demoralizing, especially when you've go this brand new life to take care of and you are questioning everything you are doing anyway! (not to mention all the crazy postpartum hormones)

    I am so glad to hear your second child nursed pain-free, that gives me hope for the future! 🙂

  52. My son was born 11 weeks premature. I pumped endlessly for a month, going so far as to smell his used NICU blankets to ignite some sort of hormonal response (granola lactation consultant's reccomendation.) I returned my rented hospital pump after it became clear that I could not produce enough breastmilk to exclusively feed him and the switch between breastmilk and formula was upsetting his digestive system. The lactation consultant looked at me coldly after a long attempt to convince me to stick with it and said, “If this is how you treated your baby's health while in the womb, it's no wonder he is in the NICU.”

  53. Melstutzman what a horrible thing to say!! Were you supposed to starve your boy instead?? We had 8 days on NICU during which I pumped with reasonable success but my boy just couldn't get his tiny mouth latched on to my flat nipples and started loosing weight when he had none to loose. Pumping just couldn't keep my supply going, Thankfully my experience here in the UK is not nearly as bad – breast is best is pushed during pregnancy but once I made the decision to actually feed my baby I haven't had any nasty comments, but I stay away from those internet forums!

  54. I was told that I bottle fed because I just wanted to go out and party. Yes, there's nothing like being sore and post partum while waking up every 3 hours to mix and clean bottles that brings out of the raver in all of us!

  55. I am currently pregnant with my 4th baby. I’ve been asked already how I’m going to feed him. I say formula and most people are ok, but I do get the occasional person lecturing ( or trying to) about how breast is best and all that. These days I just let them know that I don’t need their unwanted advice or comments. With my first child I did bf for 2 months. I hated ever minute of it. I continued because everyone else kept telling me and making me feel guilty for even thinking about stopping. When she was about 6 months old, I joined up at a playgroup. Well one mother there had a baby a little bit older and she was happily breastfeeding. I was bottle feeding..she looked over and said “aren’t you breastfeeding?” I said ” no” she said “what, you didn’t even try?” I said “yes I did actually but it didn’t work out, not everyone is perfect like you” she shut up then lol

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