I run with a pretty crunchy, granola crowd. We practice (mostly) attachment parenting, and my circle is populated with cloth-diapering, babywearing, active, outspoken moms. Who breastfeed.
Which is great, and I applaud their investment of time and energy. I *know* breastfeeding is Not Easy. I’m pretty sure I have a little PTSD from my experience with Cole, and my determination to put in no less than a Herculean effort with Lulu cost our family thousands of dollars, and no small amount of tears. Cole will be 5 next month, Lulu is over 2, and no one even would consider nursing around here anymore, so I’m (mostly) over it. I spent Saturday morning at a Big Latch On event, and felt more positive energy for the amazing women around me than residual pain at my own inadequacies.
I LOVE and support my breastfeeding friends. I am so impressed with my friend who exclusively breastfeeds her twins, seemingly effortlessly. I LOVE and am so proud of my friend who produces *extra* milk and is able to donate to women with less. While I am *positive* their breastfeeding relationships did not come without struggle, in my (pretty crunchy, granola) crowd, these struggles seem to be minimized. Breastfeeding is put on a pedestal – BREAST IS BEST, after all – and that comes at the cost of occasionally alienating those who cannot breastfeed. Or who choose not to.
In my pretty crunchy, granola crowd, I cannot think of a *single* time when a formula-feeding friend looked down upon a breastfeeding mama. I know, I know, I KNOW there are women who have been asked to leave stores and forced to cover up, and we need to normalize breastfeeding and all of that – but in *my* personal experience, I cannot think of a formula feeding mom who felt the need to bash a breastfeeding one.
And that just doesn’t go both ways.
In the effort to promote breastfeeding and offer support to those who are trying to and might need help, we have managed to lose sight of supporting ALL moms. Moms who are trying their hardest, regardless of what way they choose to feed.
I will never forget standing in the local Babies R Us, trying to sort out my coupons and work out which formula I needed, and a passing woman remarked to her friend (intentionally loud enough for me to hear), “Ugh. I would never give that poison to my baby.”
Okay, so yes, breastmilk is best. There are no chemicals or preservatives, it’s free from the tap, automatically adjusts to your baby’s health needs, and gives your baby their first tastes of a wide variety of flavors based on whatever you eat. That’s awesome.
You know what’s not so bad? Formula. My kids are both healthy and strong, and if formula didn’t exist then they would almost certainly not be. Thank God that formula exists, and my family lives in a country where we have access to it, and the means to afford it. I get it. Breastmilk would have been better. But no one feels the need to tell the man with an amputated leg how much easier it would be to run if he had both. Clearly two legs are the ideal. But when two legs are no longer a reality? A prosthetic is a pretty great solution to just sitting there immobile.
Most of this is a response to a single quote in my FB Newsfeed this week:
“Bottles fill his stomach, but breastfeeding fills his soul.”
The sentiment, for a breastfeeding mom, is beautiful. I resent the unattractive comparison to bottles, however, and the implication that my children are somehow soulless because I was unable to produce enough milk for them.
Let’s lift everyone up, rather than tearing others down. Let’s support each other’s choices, and help all parents find what works best for them.
And let’s mind our own damn business before making snarky comments about “poison” in the formula aisle, mmkay?
Not much more to add than a simple AMEN. I have friends who were unable to breastfeed and have beaten themselves up about it …but in reality it was really society beating them up. Its a hard thing, harder than I’ll ever know (til i experience it myself one day). So I 100% agree with this. 🙂
Thank you, Dara! I hope that whatever way you choose to feed your future, hypothetical babies goes smoothly for you. <3
Whether a breast or a bottle fills their belly, LOVE fills a baby’s soul. Love you Sarah! You’re one of the most loving moms I know! (Albeit a crazy busy one, too!)
Adrienne, you just made me tear up. You are so amazing – thank you. xoxo
I know breastfeeding week has long since past, but still. Commenting:
The rage, RAAAAAGE from that facebook status/comment/whatever. OMG.
A breastfeeding PSA brought me to tears when The Munchkin was younger because we were unable to make it past his first month breastfeeding. He had latch problems, I wasn’t making much milk, and he wasn’t gaining weight. I tried only supplementing formula at first, but once he had the bottle; once his tummy actually started to feel FULL, he never looked back to the breast. And you know what? His personality changed IMMENSELY. The angry, unsoothable baby I knew became a happy little smiley guy who was big into snuggles. All because he wasn’t hungry for the first time in his tiny life!
Yet, the guilt caused by the breastfeeding activists going on like breastfeeding is the only way hurt. My son was doing better than ever, but to them it wasn’t enough.
That needs to stop. You’re right. They’re movement has gone too far and we all need to support each other.
I had a CRAZY Twitter fight after this post – someone accused me of undermining breastfeeding by not proclaiming formula as the root of all evil. Talk about rage! Then she linked me to this truly offensive article as to why anyone who supports formula feeding moms is defensive and The Enemy. I keep thinking about writing a follow-up post, but not sure if it’s beating a dead horse.