Do any of my other formula feeding moms feel like we need to start our own support group? When it comes to mom shaming, nothing is worse than those crazy breastfeeding moms… and I think most breastfeeding moms would agree they aren’t giving breastfeeding advocates a good name. Instead of promoting what they love, they are bashing what they hate… and that is us. I’m talking about those few that treat us like they are five seconds away from calling the Department of Children and Families on us for breaking out the Enfamil or Similac.
I don’t know how many times complete strangers would ask me in the grocery store if I was breastfeeding. At first, I was shocked. Then, I thought – maybe I know this person and just don’t recognize her because a complete stranger wouldn’t stop me and ask me what I’m doing with my boobs when she’s not around. Then, I became a mom and realized some other moms are just crazy. If you don’t feed your kids what they think you should feed your kids, all hell breaks loose. It’s the weirdest thing. Then, when I would tell these nosy, judgmental moms that I don’t breastfeed, you would’ve thought I just said, “I give my kids straight vodka in a bottle.” At least, that’s what their facial expressions said. (Sad part – a lot of these moms believe formula is the equivalent to vodka, or Coke or juice.) Then they would ask why… like it was their business.
I’m not saying formula feeding is the healthiest option. We all know breastfeeding is. We’ve heard just about every mom and doctor say it. Over and over again. Then again. But that doesn’t mean we all have to do it. It doesn’t mean we all can do it. It doesn’t mean we all want to do it. While breast feeding may be healthier, that doesn’t mean formula is unhealthy. Is there anything wrong with a toddler eating carrots if broccoli is healthier? Nope. (Sorry, that’s the best comparison I could think of.) Do I believe breastfed babies are smarter and end up making more money in adulthood? No. I’ve seen “studies and research” that show that, but I think it’s laughable. If that’s the case – then spike my chocolate milkshake with some breast milk and let me put that diet option on my resume. Laughable, right?
So, for a fraction of you breastfeeders who are little over the top: Stop making every conversation about breastfeeding. If you are proud of yourself for doing it, good for you. I’m so proud of you too. (Well, I will act like I am, but the truth is I don’t care what you feed your kids – as long as it’s not really vodka.) It’s also not necessary to say things like, “I don’t need to buy bottles because I breastfeed” in a condescending tone. (You can put breast milk in a bottle. You know that and I know that, but you thought by saying that you’d make me feel guilty for something. Try again. You aren’t making me question my parenting skills.) Also, you don’t have to remind me how much money you save by breastfeeding. I know how freaking expensive formula is. I buy it all the damn time. Stop acting like breastfeeding is a choice. Sometimes, it’s not. And here’s the big one… you aren’t better than me. You aren’t a better parent than me. You just feed your child something different. It’s not really as big of a deal as you are making it out to be. I know many formula fed babies who grew up to be completely normal, high functioning adults. Breastfed babies are in the same boat, but I bet none of them attribute their success to being breastfed as a 6 month old. I bet some other life experiences were more prominent.
Now, I’m not going to say anything bad about breastfeeding, because there is nothing bad to say. Just like there is nothing bad to say about formula feeding.
Don’t believe me? Believe Sara Connolly, MD, FAAP, Bundoo Pediatrician… who helped me out with these facts:
Infant “formula” got its name because it is based on a formalized set of standards of ingredients that are added in the same way each time. The “formula” that each and every manufacturer attempts to mimic is the composition of breast milk and is something formula manufacturers have been doing since the 1800’s! People have understood for many hundreds of years that human milk was best for babies. Before the advent of formula mothers who were unable to breastfeed often hired wet nurses as sources of food for their newborns. Mothers without access to wet nurses resorted to a whole host of substitute nutrition, often with fatal results.
Formula today is very different than in the late 1800’s. Today, we know that in addition to carbohydrates, fat, and protein (the macronutrients), formula needs to contain a myriad of micronutrients in addition to the correct types of macronutrients to be healthy and effective for babies’ growth and development. As a result, formula companies are constantly studying breast milk and making small but important changes to their “formulas”.
In addition, since The Infant Formula Act of 1980 authorized the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to assure quality control of infant formulas, the manufacture and distribution of formula is closely monitored for safety and consistency. So while there may be very slight variation from one company to another (for example, the carbohydrate used may vary), the overall macro and micro- nutrients need to be up to industry standards.
While doctors still prefer breast milk when possible, access to formula has no doubt saved millions of lives. For example, in babies born to mothers who are unable to breast feed due to illness and those who are separated from their birth parents benefit from access to formula. In addition, specialized formulas are often lifesaving for infants with special dietary needs such as severe and multiple food allergies, homocystinuria, phenylketonuria (PKU), maple syrup urine disease (MSUD)