I can't buy formula for my baby online (from the supplier's own website), unless I click that "I understand" that breastfeeding is best for babies.
Every time I click that button, I'm being forced to tell a lie.
I know this makes me susceptible to all kinds of messages from keyboard warriors and sanctimonious mums. But I also feel like it's important to say this, for the sake of all new mothers out there struggling with feeling guilty over the messages they're bombarded with: breastfeeding is not always the best option.
• Not all women are able to breastfeed. I think we can all agree they are not worse mothers for it.
• Not all women want to breastfeed. We should all agree they are not worse mothers for it.
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I had to abruptly quit breastfeeding fairly early on, for health reasons, and, to be honest, wasn't all that bothered about it. I didn't plan on it happening - I had the breastfeeding pillow, the breastfeeding bras, the breast pump, the whole lot. In the end, it became a choice between getting myself healthy or breastfeeding my child.
I will straight up fight anyone who says I'm a worse mother because of it. I am a kickass mother who adores her daughter beyond belief and who is smart enough to know that formula made sure my daughter gained a healthy weight and got the nutrients she needed when I couldn't feed her myself. You can argue against that but you're just going to have to be wrong.
Breast is not always best
Repeat after me: fed is best, fed is best, FED IS BEST.
Any mother who feeds their child until they're satiated is doing the absolute best for them.
Sure, you cannot beat the benefits of breast milk. But science has come fairly close to replicating those with the array of formula available out there - which, in many cases, literally saves lives.
Also, the "breast is best" brigade assumes breast milk comes easy for everyone. That is biologically not even a little bit true.
Breast is not best when your baby is getting dehydrated because of your short supply.
Breast is not best when it gets so tough that it sends you down a depressive spiral and stops you enjoying motherhood.
I was incredibly lucky to have a strong support network around me, from family to my midwife and the Plunket nurse who knew I was doing the absolute best for my daughter, for myself, for our family.
Formula-feeding is not lazy
Anyone who is up in the middle of the night mixing bottles, washing bottles, sterilising bottles, boiling water for bottles will tell you the honest-to-god truth: formula feeding is hard work.
Formula-feeding is not selfish
Have you even seen the price of formula lately?
In all seriousness, formula-feeding can be the least selfish thing you can do for your baby. If your mental health is at stake and you are at risk of not being the best mum you can be (because, hello hormones, you heartless b***hes), a bottle of formula can save you, your child and everyone around you.
Mothers who formula-feed are not failing their babies
Mothers who, whether as a want or a need, give their babies formula are not failing. They are doing the best they can to help their baby grow.
It's time we stop shaming mothers for trying to feed their child the best way they can. In fact, new rule: let's stop shaming mothers altogether.
Bottle-shaming hurts. It hurts people who are already hormonal, scared and vulnerable, trying to do the best they can and being violently judged for it. Stop bullying mums, telling them their child will grow up obese or dumb or some other ridiculous mythical side-effect of being fed perfectly nutritional formula.
When you judge a mother for formula-feeding, you are judging a human for doing their absolute best for another human. That makes you a bit of an a**hole.
In case my words weren't as convincing as they should have been, here's a really good video summary of why formula is an amazing creation and you need to stop being such a judgemental so-and-so.
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