Moms know breast is best, but that doesn’t mean there are not legitimate reasons for choosing to formula-feed your child. Still formula-feeding moms often face guilt-trips, death stares and ridicule for the choice they have made. Whether you’re a mom considering formula-feeding or one who has passed judgment on formula-feeding moms before, it’s important to take a look at the things a formula-feeding mom won’t tell you.
Why do moms choose to formula feed? “Some reasons for choosing to formula feed include a medical condition for the mom, medication interaction, inability for child to latch and allergies,” says Kristi L. King, a pediatric dietician and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics. Whatever reason is behind why a mom chooses to formula-feed, “what is most important for moms to remember is that having a baby who is healthy, happy and growing appropriately is the goal,” says Deena H. Blumenfeld of Shining Light Prenatal Education.
Most formula-feeding moms choose to ignore the glares and accusations that they are lazy and selfish. However, if the critics really knew what was going on in the mind of a formula-feeding mom, they may not be so quick to knock the choice those moms have made.
- If I could breastfeed, I would. Breastfeeding can be challenging and if a mom has issues such as low supply or a baby has allergies or issues latching on, breastfeeding may not be the best choice. Moms who have medical conditions, such as HIV or are on drugs that can be passed to the baby through breast milk also don’t have much of a choice when it comes to choosing whether to formula-feed or breastfeed. No mom should have to defend her decision, but most formula-feeding moms easily could; they just choose not to throw another log on the fire.
- Sometimes I feel guilty. It’s hard not to feel guilty for choosing to formula-feed when you constantly hear “breast is best.” Guilt trips and lectures from those who disagree only add to the guilt. However, at the end of the day, most formula-feeding moms know they have no reason to feel guilty and are able to push those feelings aside and focus on raising a healthy, happy child.
- My child is just as healthy as yours. Yes, breast milk provides antibodies and helps protect babies from infection, but formula-feeding has benefits too. Babies who are formula-fed actually get more essential vitamins and minerals, such as Vitamin D, from their formula than breastfed babies get from breast milk. Choosing to formula-feed is not likely to doom a baby to a life plagued with illness and malnutrition.
- I am not selfish. Most formula-feeding moms don’t formula-feed because they like their sleep or want to make their lives easier. In fact, the decision to formula-feed often comes after a lot of research and thought. Not all decisions to formula-feed are made with the baby’s health in mind though. A healthy mom is a happy mom and if breast-feeding causes a mom so much pain and stress that she feels she needs to give it up in order to be the mom she needs to be, it’s okay.
- I wish I’d tried harder. When it comes to breastfeeding, some new moms are simply not given the support they need. If they experience pain or have latch issues and no one is available to help them, they give up. Moms who face criticism when breastfeeding doesn’t go as planned or who don’t get support when it comes to pumping in the workplace often give up early too. New moms who want to breastfeed need someone to show them the ropes in a gentle, caring way and help them handle any problems that may come up.
- I get more sleep at night than you. Well, there are some benefits to formula-feeding! One is that dads and other family members can help with those midnight and two a.m. feedings. While these new moms may still wake up a bit bleary-eyed, they often have more energy to focus on their little bundles of joy during the day.
- I support breastfeeding moms. Thanks to the criticism formula-feeding moms face, they understand the right of moms to feed their babies how they want, when they want and where they want. A formula-feeding mom can whip out a bottle almost anywhere to satisfy a hungry baby and breastfeeding moms should have the same right.
Breast is best, but choosing to formula-feed a baby is okay too. Before launching into your latest lecture on why a formula-feeding mom is harming her baby or giving moms who pull out the bottle a laser-eyed death stare, remember that they probably already know what you think. Just as breastfeeding moms want the right to feed their babies in public and without criticism, formula-feeding moms want the right to feed their babies without others’ opinions getting in the way.