Then I was then engaged in a not entirely unexpected discussion with friends on my page. Above is a list of things we "know better about" in our modern age from car seats and TV time to breastfeeding/formula feeding. I'm sure it's no surprise what the following FIFTY-SIX comment conversation was about. Breastfeeding. I was horribly distracted all morning engaged in the discussion, which was not hostile, nasty, or angry. It was just a discussion.
Then a few days later, I was browsing a fairly interesting blog, starting with All Aboard The Breastfeeding Bus and then Exploding the Breastapo Myth, Once and for All. Perfect follow-ups to the mile long conversation about infant feeding choices. I'm frequently informed by friends who chose not to breastfeed that breastfeeders are judgemental, hollier than thou, and that my support of breastfeeding is automatically a judgement and attack on formula feeding moms. I've yet to meet this mysterious heinous b**** breastfeeder, and I know A LOT of breastfeeders! I have, however, met the formula companies henchmen...the moms who think that babies should have formula, the care providers that think babies should have formula, those that don't believe that breastfeeding is better and that it's no big deal and are sure tell me and other breastfeeding mothers - especially those encountering challenges for which adequate support would make all the difference - at every little turn and bump in the road.
I am, apparently, part of this Breastapo, as are my friends. Like the author at Acorn said "So why don’t we talk about the formula police, the formula mafia, the bottle Nazis?" Because we don't! We don't ever talk about how hard it is to breastfeed with the pressures just to "give the baby a bottle," and "you should be giving baby a bottle, what if s/he refuses later when you need him/her to take a bottle." No one ever gives nasty, hateful labels to the women who pressure us to feed formula, introduce early solids, put cereal in a bottle to make baby sleep, less dependent, whatever. Why is it that mothers who formula feed insist on repeating "well my baby is fine" to breastfeeding mothers over and over again? Why do these people get away with questioning a breastfeeding mother's choice to feed her baby for 6 months, a year, longer (god forbid, clearly it's not nutritionally sound after a year...)? The fact is, women like this are far more forceful than any breastfeeding, fact-toting mother is. Often times they are defensive and pissed off. Why? I thought you were confident in your choice to bottle feed, no? Yet somehow you are feeling the need to repeatedly defend yourself to me (although I'm not even attacking you) for your choice. I never said I didn't respect your choice at all. Promoting breastfeeding and providing information is not putting pressure on YOU to breastfeed your baby...but if the formula companies can march around handing samples out, touting how superior their formula is to other formulas and how it's pretty much JUST LIKE MOTHER'S MILK, why can't I be out there supporting my breastfeeding sisters by dispelling these lies, trying to throw out some breastfeeding tidbits along with support without being made to feel like I just shattered your ego and tried to make you feel guilty?
Acorn made a good point...promoting breastfeeding without then supporting women in doing so, providing REAL, ACCESSIBLE resources and information is wrong. Giving women the impression that they should breastfeed at whatever cost, and leaving them heartbroken and guilt stricken because they struggled but had NO support when they hit roadblocks is wrong. It breaks my heart when I meet mothers who wanted to nurse their babies but ran into trouble and either didn't know where to turn, or actually had nowhere to turn. When these women wanted to, but when reaching out to the care providers they trusted to have their best interests at heart are met only with ignorance about supporting breastfeeding women, and a lack of understanding of the importance of breastfeeding. This happens too often.
I've said it before, I'll say it again: FORMULA IS NOT POISON! The number one rule is to feed your baby. So make an informed decision, be straightforward, and feed your baby. Despite what you may be thinking, MOST people who breastfeed and support/advocate for breastfeeding and breastfeeders are not automatically judging you for giving your baby formula supplements or for exclusively formula feeding your baby. Are there some people out there who are like that, yes, supposedly, but not all are. Just like there are people out there checking out your butt in public, remarking internally how it looks in those pants, but most people don't care, don't notice, and don't say anything. By constantly getting defensive about your feeding choices, you appear as if you feel guilty...this puts everyone in a difficult position.
Furthermore, to quote...someone, I don't remember who I heard this phrase from: "Of course I think my choice is the better one. Why else would I do it?!" Breastfeeding is the better choice FOR ME, and I face a lot of DIRECT, vocal, in my face (and on the internet) flack about it, as do many of my mama sisters.If bottle and/or formula feeding was the better choice for you, that's fine! Communities like ours here at The Good Letdown aren't about judging mothers for their choices, making mothers feel guilty, or trying to force our ideals on mothers. We are about education, support, and normalizing. Do we hope that by providing education and support that we will help get more babies to breast and keep them there? ABSOLUTELY! It certainly doesn't mean we are all sitting here hating on formula feeders and trying to force an agenda. We support mamas, families, and babies, no matter what.