Last week we started a discussion about women breastfeeding in public. I interviewed to women who said that they love breastfeeding. They told us that at some point, it just makes practical sense.
But what about mothers who can’t breastfeed? Should they receive criticism for bottle feeding? There is more than one side to this discussion. Here’s how Erin Strange feels about bottle feeding.
I don’t breastfeed. Shortly after Elliott’s birth I realized that I wasn’t producing enough milk. He was jaundiced and his numbers continued to rise even after the typical peak days. In order to get the jaundice out of his system and avoid light therapy, we had to supplement with formula. I am producing about 4oz daily, and we were trying to breastfeed while supplementing, but he rejected the breast and became frustrated. In order to get him to eat we had to bottle feed. I still pump daily and give him the 4oz I get.
I am really insecure about the fact that I’ve got to bottle feed. People close to me have been supportive when they know that I’m unable to breastfeed, but it’s hard to be asked all the time if I’m breastfeeding and then feel like I have to explain why I’m not.
There is a great deal of societal shaming directed to parents who bottle feed. So I felt a lot of guilt about not being able to feed my baby by myself and accepting that I needed to supplement. Parents should be able to choose how to best feed their child without judgement. Some people can’t breastfeed, some people don’t want to breastfeed, some people have a traumatic reaction to breastfeeding because of a history of abuse, some people adopt babies and can’t breastfeed, and the list of reasons goes on. We don’t always know the contributing factors that lead to the decision on how to feed our children.
I would likely say that I respectfully disagree with whatever negative comment they made. I probably wouldn’t feel the need to defend all bottle feeding mom’s or even explain my position/why I’m formula feeding, but I would absolutely acknowledge the comment and move along.
The advice I would give to other women in my position is to be proud of the fact that you’re feeding your child the best way you can. If you had wanted to breastfeed and found you were unable, try to acknowledge your feelings of guilt, shame, disappointment, and realize that you’re doing the best you can with what you have.
Serena is a freelance writer who enjoys baking, protesting, and playing with little dogs.