Breast Milk, Formula & The Social Judgment

Today marks week 5 since we’ve been blessed with baby Bella and in those few weeks I can’t tell you how much times I’ve been asked the age-old question: “So are you breastfeeding?” It actually sometimes comes as a statement more than a question in the form of: “You are breastfeeding, yes?” When I first respond yes, through the questioner’s eyes I can see a silent stamp of approval..that is until I follow my yes with a and no,” adding that I also formula feed. This response almost always gets me a “you are not worthy” look of silent judgment.

Let me be the first to say that I am a firm believer in the benefits of breast milk, whether expressed or straight from mommy. It has been researched and proven that it is awesome for your baby as it provides all the nutrients your little one needs and it protects your baby from certain illnesses (the antibodies present in mommy’s body transfer to baby so it protects them from many unwanted attacks). It also helps with constipation (breast-fed babies are almost never constipated as the milk is thinner and easily digested, making bowel movements easier). I can go on and on with the benefits of breast milk and most mothers do decide to breastfeed. For some reason though, even breastfeeding mothers are judged every time they decide to whip out that poncho or feeding blanket to nourish their baby in public. The “please get a room” off-glance look that mommies¬†sometimes receive is ridiculous, unwarranted and just plain silly. It’s just a mommy feeding her baby!

Although breast milk has been dubbed as best for your baby, this in no way, shape or form should validate the judgment that a mother who decides to formula feed her baby receives. Baby formula carries with it all the nutrients a baby needs to grow and be perfectly healthy (including some vitamins that breastfeeding babies may need to have supplemented). It’s a convenient and healthy alternative and it gets the nourishment job done just as well. You can also bond with baby just the same as he/she can still be in your arms as they’re being fed.

For me, I’ve been on all ends of the spectrum – with my first daughter I breastfed mostly and supplemented at times until she was 6 months and then she was strictly formula fed after; with my son, I exclusively breastfed (he refused to take any formula at all) and this was until he was a year and a half; with our latest addition I have decided to do both for now and will formula feed her exclusively when I feel the time is right. I was no more a better mom when I exclusively breastfed than when I supplemented with formula. All of my babies are doing well – two of them are grown kids and they’re all awesome.

The decision to breast feed or formula feed is completely up to mommy. Some women unfortunately (for medical reasons) don’t have the option. At the end of the day, it is whatever works for you! Do not let anyone make you feel a type of way (superior or inferior) because of that decision.

Mommy Tip: For those mommies who would love to breastfeed but find it too painful to try or continue, know that it should not be a painful experience at all. If it hurts, it means the baby is latching incorrectly. I used to hear this all the time and it made it even more frustrating as I just didn’t get it, but after 3 babies, I’ve got it down to a science. The trick is to make sure the baby has most of the areola in his/her mouth, not just the nipple. Breastfeeding isn’t nipple feeding so we want to get as much of that breast in baby’s mouth. Also, bring the baby’s head to your breast DO NOT bend down trying to get it in their mouth. These tips have helped me drastically. If you need any more advice send me a message!

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