This is such a difficult subject to talk about with other moms. You find two types of reactions (from formula feeding moms): guilt and anger. I recently went to visit an old friend from High School. Breastfeeding isn’t something I’m just going to start preaching because I believe every woman has the right to choose (though I will try to have you make an informed decision), but when I started breastfeeding Peanut, she started talking. She told me about how she tried and tried and it just didn’t work. She felt so guilty. She wishes she would have tried harder. It breaks my heart to have to hear this. I never, never think that it is the mothers fault when they actually tried to breastfeed and it didn’t work. Society is not geared toward the breastfeeding woman, formula companies are constantly pushing their product on new mothers, and most mothers don’t get the support they need from doctors, hospitals, or even their family.
The second emotion is anger. Though I would have thought that guilt and anger coincide, they generally come from two completely different people. I’ve only experienced it a few times, but it has happened. Sometimes it’s an angry glare from another mom when I’m feeding my daughter in a public place, sometimes it’s angry people on the internet (it’s amazing what people say when you can’t see their face) and I’ve even experienced it from my own mother (who breastfed exclusively with me until her doctor misinformed her). I do feel that the anger stems from the guilt, but that’s another story.
The sad thing about most women who don’t breastfeed is the ignorance. They don’t know all of the benefits of breastfeeding: from the little things like better smelling poo to the big things like less ear infections and higher IQ. They don’t understand the bond that me and my daughter get from the fact that I sustain her life with my own body. I feel that it’s other women’s anger and guilt that make breastfeeding mothers get ridiculed for feeding their children in public, why women get arrested for offending the officers, why I no longer speak to someone who was a very dear friend to me.
Don’t get me wrong, formula has it’s place (though I agree that a milkbank would be better). One of my friends supplemented while her milk came in for her adopted child, another friend couldn’t breastfeed for weeks because she almost died while giving birth, so many stories where formula was a life saver. That’s what it was invented to be: a life saver. Instead it is used as an easy way out. It is devastating to our future.
Inform yourself. Be ready for adverse reactions. Know your facts and you will do the one of the best things you possibly can for your child. Breastfeeding doesn’t make you a better mom, formula feeding doesn’t make you a worse mom. It’s simply knowing what’s best for baby.