Please stop shaming mums who bottle feed
The other kind of shaming nobody talks about: Bottle shaming
I need to get something off my chest (yes, pun intended) - I bottle-fed my son and it was frowned upon. Now when I see new mums getting shamed for formula-feeding their babies, it really bugs me.We hear so much about public breastfeeding shaming. While that is horrible in itself, what about the other type of shaming nobody speaks about? Bottle shaming.
Yes, it IS okay NOT to breastfeed. But sadly, there’s still a big part of society that (still) shuns upon this feeding method.
Of course I’ve heard about the breast being the best, but hey, guess what? Breastfeeding may not work for every woman. And it is really OK!
Bottle shaming hurts
It really hurts me to know that mothers who bottle feed are made to feel inadequate or have to explain why they aren’t breastfeeding.
It doesn’t matter why I bottle fed — I did.
I have 2 sons, and whether I pumped for three months or started formula early, it doesn't matter.
Or does it?
12 years ago, when I gave birth to my oldest child, I planned on breastfeeding for at least 6 months. 3 months post-delivery, I got pregnant again! I still continued to breastfeed, but when my son was 4 months old, my breast started drying up. And I also started feeling tired more easily, was nauseous all the time, and also felt the need to sleep for more than 4 hours in a stretch.
I thought hard about it, and losing my milk supply made the decision easier. I liked the idea that my husband would be able to participate in the most intimate act of feeding our son. And I liked knowing exactly how much my son was drinking, down to the very last ounce. I then made the decision to stop breastfeeding him.
Despite my confidence in this decision, a bawling mob of concerned friends and family members kept telling me that I just HAD to at least try to continue breastfeeding him.
"If you don't breastfeed, your baby will lose IQ points."
Some hurtful statements that were hurled at me:
"Oh dear, if you don't breastfeed, your baby will lose IQ points."
"Your son won't bond with you. You must breastfeed.”
“If you don’t breastfeed, you will never know what being a nurturing mother feels like.”
Of course I was affected by what close friends and colleagues said.
But sorry, you can't guilt trip me about bottle feeding my child.
I tried— just to shut them up, I tried. The stress, the tears, the drowning feeling of failure as a mum, it all eventually took a toll on me. Until my low milk supply dried up entirely when my son was about 5 months old.
Stop bullying new mums
I finally accepted that this was not for me. And it was then that things got so much better. My son had his first glorious taste of formula and we never looked back. I didn’t stress at all during feeding time. To be honest, feedings became an enjoyable experience for us.
Of course I got the occasional comment and a few side-eye looks when I bottle fed my son. And naturally, I felt judged.
What’s sad is that… 12 years later.... I still read a lot of harsh comments online about women who bottle feed. Haven’t times changed?
Why don't we stop bullying new mothers altogether? Whether they choose to bottle-feed their babies, plant a pacifier in their mouths, put them in infant care or choose to co-sleep- even if we don't agree with their choices, let's agree to support their right to make them.
Not all mothers can breastfeed due to poor milk supply, latching problems, or even time constraints. I plead with you never to judge a bottle-feeding mum because you never know her situation. And a whole generation was raised on formula (hey, so was I), so it can’t be that bad.
While some women believe in breastfeeding, bottle feeding is their salvation. These mothers lack the support they need during such a trying time for them. Motherhood in itself is crazy difficult as it is, let’s not make it unnecessarily tougher for them, shall we?
Let us all go to a bottle feeding mum today and say ‘I support you’. Those three words may be all she needs to hear to feel empowered and understood.
Bottle feeding mummies, have you ever felt the same way? How do you react or feel about bottle shaming? We would love to hear from you - please drop a comment below!