Formula-feeding moms don’t need breastmilk advice right now


I started formula-feeding my first child when he was only three weeks old. With my second child, I didn’t breastfeed at all. I talked to my OBGYN about it early on in the pregnancy and, I’ll be honest, I expected some pushback. I expected to be told all the reasons I should breastfeed. I was both pleasantly surprised and immensely relieved when, instead, I received my doctor’s unwavering support. She trusted me as the mom to know what was best for me and my child. And formula-feeding was best.

Had I not received this support, I would have been devastated. Absolutely devasted. But I would have stuck to my decision. The three weeks that I breastfed my first child were so emotionally and mentally traumatic for me, including exacerbating postpartum depression, that I knew with all my heart that formula was the right choice.

Related: Feeding my baby formula made me a better mama 

More than a decade later, knowing the crisis the current formula shortage is causing for mothers makes me weep. As if the stress of the formula shortage weren’t enough, these moms now have to endure the backlash and criticism and hurled on them by people telling them to “just breastfeed” or reminding them that “breastmilk is free” and countless other unnecessary, unhelpful and downright cruel comments that admonish them for choosing to feed their baby formula in the first place.

As if it were that simple.

Newsflash: it isn’t that simple.

Suggesting that moms should “just breastfeed” ignores their own mental, physical and emotional needs.

First, breastmilk is not “free”. It costs moms time, energy and, if they are pumping, a pretty penny on supplies too.

Second, there is no “just” when it comes to breastfeeding. It is laborious, time-consuming and emotionally wrenching work. Sure, some moms love it. Other moms, like me, hate it but endure. And other moms want to breastfeed but due to numerous medical challenges—their own or their baby’s—are unable to. 

Most importantly, though, suggesting that moms should “just breastfeed” ignores their own mental, physical and emotional needs. Instead of searching for a solution to the formula shortage so moms can get the support they need and babies can get the nutrients they need, it hurls judgment, blame and criticism onto moms. Yet again.

Had I not been able to formula-feed my babies I would have been in a very dark place mentally and emotionally. This isn’t hyperbole. This is the truth. My mental and physical health depended on formula-feeding my babies. Had I received the harsh criticism and Monday-morning quarterback advice about the availability of breastmilk would have been devastating.

There are countless reasons that a mom will formula feed her baby. Ultimately, though, none of them matter.

Moms are in a no-win situation. We are being asked to carry the weight of the world while the world turns its back on what we need. When in a crisis—and let’s be honest, the current formula shortage is an absolute crisis—some of the same people who just days ago were celebrating moms turn their backs on us now. They criticize our choices. Ignore our needs. And chastise us with unnecessary blame masquerading as “advice.”

Related: Formula feeding mamas don’t feel supported-and that needs to change 

There are countless reasons that a mom will formula feed her baby. Ultimately, though, none of them matter. I didn’t breastfeed my newborn, and I shouldn’t have to provide a “valid” explanation. I didn’t breastfeed my newborn. I don’t need to provide an explanation or justification. Moms who are currently formula-feeding their babies don’t need to provide a reason either. Just like they don’t need judgments, second-guessing and snide reminders about the benefits of breastfeeding. 

All we need—all we’ve ever needed—was your support and respect for our decision.

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