Posted by: Morgan | March 9, 2011

A Letter From a Formula Feeding Mama

Dear Breastfeeding Mom Friends,

Hi. I have to admit I’m a little nervous about writing this letter. I know you’re so dedicated to breastfeeding and so passionate about helping other moms breastfeed, but sometimes I feel intimidated by you. But I had to have a voice, and screaming at you didn’t seem like the appropriate thing to do, so here is a letter.

First off, I want you to know that I am actually happy for you and your baby because you’re breastfeeding. Although I may not even have ever known as much information about breastmilk and nursing as you seem to have memorized, I have gathered that breastmilk is a super wonderful thing for a baby and breastfeeding is really good for both mom and child.

There are some families that choose to start with formula, but most of us using formula actually wanted to try to breastfeed when our baby was born. I often see or hear breastfeeding moms comment on how those in my situation didn’t really try, because if we had we would still be breastfeeding. I’ve heard the comments about how our doctors were wrong when they told us we couldn’t produce enough milk, so we should supplement. I get the looks when I comment about the mastitis I had that are accompained by a small “You could nurse through that”. But you know what? I didn’t know that then. I wasn’t as lucky as you are to have the support of people around you to keep going. I trusted what my doctor told me and did what I thought I needed to do to keep my baby fed. Look at it from my perspective, if you will. I was being told that my body couldn’t support my child on its own, by the medical professional I trusted. Have you ever experienced the crushing blow of being told you’re not good enough for your own child? You may say that it wasn’t true, but it was my reality at that moment. I had to make a decision of how to continue to feed my baby with the tools I had.

Breastfeeding advocates focus so much on the breastmilk and its amazing properties and breastfeeding and its amazing benefits, that sometimes (a lot of the time, it seems) they forget the people behind the decision to use formula. I don’t hate my baby. I’m not trying to poison him or cause him to have major health problems in the future. I want him to be a happy, chubby baby, learning and growing into a healthy child. I want the very best that I know how to give him. Please stop making me the villain.

And while what a child eats is definitely important, it is not the only thing that influences how my child will grow. How many of you breastfeeding moms allow your kids to watch TV before they’re two? How is raising a child on screens any better than feeding a child a man-made formula when the natural one isn’t available (for whatever reason)? What about giving your toddler candy, lots and lots of sugary juices, and foods so processed their shelf-life is 10+ years? Even inconsistent discipline (no matter the form of discipline you choose) can have serious repercussions later in a child’s life. My child would probably have benefited from having breastmilk as an infant, but it won’t ruin their life that they didn’t.

 

I also wanted to talk about nursing in public, because it seems related. I know that there are many breastfeeding moms who don’t like to nurse in public or who are very discreet while doing so. But I also know that there are many moms who seem to want to fight for their right to nurse without a cover, stating that breastfeeding is natural and it should be accepted in public. Like I said before, I’m very happy for you and your child that you are breastfeeding. I’m just not super comfortable with seeing your exposed breast. I’m not even saying you shouldn’t breastfeed in public like you do, but please stop getting upset at those of us who are just letting you know that we’re uncomfortable. I have a friend who, in response to me telling her I was uncomfortable, saying that she is showing less than some women do in bikinis. Well, I’m not friends with any of those women, and if I was I would be just as honest about how I felt when out in public with them. Once again, I’m not saying you have to stop nursing how, when and where you want, but please stop getting defensive when someone tells you they’re not personally comfortable with your choices.

And honestly sometimes, at the beginning, it was really hard for me to see moms so obviously doing something that I could not do. Again, this is not a reason to stop, but I just want to tell you why sometimes I’m bothered by it.

Thanks for listening for a moment. This was just a few of the things that have been fighting inside me recently. Please don’t be angry. Please just think about moms like me the next time you are talking to a formula-feeding mom.

 

Sincerely,

A Formula-Feeding Mom

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Responses

  1. I wish I had written this myself! I mean, not specifically to you Morgan, but in general. I suppose if I didn’t know you that well I’d be intimidated, but I do know you so I’m not, sorry ;).

    Anyway, IN GENERAL, this is pretty much how I feel too. It’s nice that I’m not alone. I’m really super glad you posted this. Thank you.

    • I’m really glad you were encouraged by this. I thought of you as I was posting it and felt it was similar to how I know you are.

      I’m super glad that posting this has benefited someone!


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