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.
Please note, these stories are for the most part unedited, and do not necessarily represent the FFF’s opinions. They are also not political statements – this is an arena for people to share their thoughts, and I hope we can all give them the space to do so.
I stumbled across this brilliant post from Brian Smith on his own blog, and promptly begged him to let me reprint it here. If you dig it as much as I do, make sure to to stop by his own corner of the internet or follow him on Twitter (@briansmith31681) and tell him so.
Happy Friday, and a very happy Mother’s Day to all the fearless ones out there….
My support of breastfeeding and of breastfeeding moms–including the right to breastfeed in public–is well known. My post back in January and numerous tweets affirm this. One friend of mine (@fakegimel, I’m looking at you) even once described me as a militant supporter of breastfeeding.
While I have been quite vocal in my support of breastfeeding, it isn’t because I believe “breast is best”. While research has indicated that there are benefits to breastfeeding for both mom and baby, my defense of breastfeeding is rooted in my support of moms (and dads, too) to do what they feel is best for their baby. I support breastfeeding–and, by extension breastfeeding in public–because I support parents to make decisions for their children, largely free from interference from others. My wife used a cover when our kids nursed because that’s what made her comfortable. And I supported her decision. But, I would have been equally supportive if she didn’t think a cover was necessary. My wife used a cover not because she was trying to avoid offending anyone but because she didn’t want to be gawked at.
My wife tried to pump once she returned to work after our first child. However, she never could extract more than a few ounces. Her disappointment was evident every night when she came home and put the extracted milk in the freezer. At 3 months, we could no longer exclusively feed our son breast milk and had to supplement with formula. At 4 months, my wife was barely able to extract more than a couple of ounces a day and we had to begin formula feeding the Bug entirely.
With our daughter, my wife’s supply simply could not keep up with Em’s demand and we started supplementing with formula after 6 weeks. By 3 months, she was being fed entirely formula and again, my wife felt a tremendous sense of disappointment.
The point I am trying to make is that for some mothers, breastfeeding isn’t an option, even if she wants it to be. It is, then, disheartening to read the vitriol found on many breastfeeding websites and forums directed at parents who formula feed instead of breastfeed. And, while I am willing to concede that you likely won’t find many people using social media to complain about a mom formula feeding her infant in public, you will find breastfeeding advocates attacking parents who formula feed.
What these “militant” breastfeeding supporters don’t seem to understand is that the very thing they want from others–support for feeding their child–they often times fail to give to other parents. Read an article about breastfeeding and you’re likely to see the words “dangers of formula” or “evils of formula” somewhere in the text. Now, imagine that you’re a new mom trying to breastfeed, going back to work soon, unable to pump, and upset at the prospect of having to supplement with formula. Is the language affirming? Does this language support moms (and dads)? Of course not!
Further, when breastfeeding advocates attack the companies that make formula–calling them evil and questioning the safety of their products–they damage their own cause. Yes, more needs to be done to provide support to mothers wanting to breastfeed and to remove the stigma of nursing in public. But, the pursuit of these goals does not have to come at the expense of formula feeders. It is not a zero sum game.
I have been known to engage in online arguments with those who would seek to shame, embarrass, or otherwise harass mothers choosing to breastfeed in public. My position has always been that breastfeeding in public–whether covered or uncovered–is no big deal. It’s a boob. Who cares?!? But my support for breastfeeding is based on my belief that moms deserve to feed their children as they see fit without interference from others. This belief extends to mothers–like my wife–who have chosen, for whatever reason, to formula feed. Just as breastfeeding moms don’t need to be shamed because they’re nursing in public, formula feeding moms don’t need to be shamed. At the end of the day, it comes down to are you being supportive of moms and the choices they are making or are you seeking to create division?
Like what you read? Hate it? Let me know in the comments. Follow me on twitter: @briansmith31681
My blog is at http://briansmith31681.blogspot.com
Are you fearless? Working on it? Send in your story – it’s a step in the right direction… email@example.com.