I've had it with the breastfeeding police and the "mommy wars" and I am going to tell you why.

The sniping, the scientific evidence, the super-moms and La Leche league pushing their principles like a bunch of door-to-door salesmen--it has all gotten way out of hand. Even the First Lady was dragged into the whole discussion, what a waste of her time!  

Motherhood has become crazy--everyone judges how we birth, how we feed, how we discipline, how we talk to our kids, how we teach them consequences. Why can't people mind their own business?

Breast milk and formula are both good for babies. They're just two different substances, and people have different reasons for choosing them. But no one--not one person in the world--has a right to judge when a mother decides not to breastfeed.

I have heard Moms talk about formula like it's the devil and let me just say that the "formula being bad for your baby" argument is plain ignorant and doesn't allow any kind of intelligent dialogue during this debate.

I've seen healthy kids who were fed formula and unhealthy kids who were fed breast milk, so please stop throwing my way the breast milk-favorable research, because I already know that breast milk is great and I applaud mothers who opt for it. But breastfeeding doesn't make you a perfect mother, or a saint. And it certainly doesn't make you better than me.

Formula feeders keep being treated like they're poisoning their children even when they have perfectly reasonable reasons for choosing formula. Who are the other moms judging? God's messengers?

Isn't it time we had more respect among each other and leave people alone?

Let me share a little personal story with you.

When my son was born (Diego), I had reasons to decide not to breastfeed him. They were mine and I don't need to explain them. My roommate in the hospital, Irina (who I could never talk to because her entire Russian family took over the whole room) cried pretty loudly from the moment she gave birth until she left, 48 hours later.

Her milk was not coming in and she was scared that her baby would die of starvation. The nurses tried left and right, up and down. Then, La Leche league came to her "rescue." These women from La Leche League are extremely dogmatic in their views on breastfeeding, breastfeeding seems almost like a competitive sport to them.

Irina's husband told her many times, "Let's just give him the formula."

The women from La Leche league got into the discussion (one that should have been personal, no?):

"You can't do that to your baby, we will keep trying, we will make it happen, formula is not good for your baby, your baby deserves your milk… he can wait."

As I heard this, I found myself staring at the four little formula bottles on my bedside table and I knew that one woman from La Leche noticed them too. I felt immediately judged. It's one thing to provide education and guidance to a breastfeeding mother, but forcing their philosophies of good versus bad parenting seems quite unfair and prejudiced, especially when the mother is concerned about her baby starving.

Irina's doctor arrived and ignoring the commotion, talked to his patient: "You have got to give him a little formula… the milk will come in one or two days."

The La Leche women interrupted a couple of times: "Don't do it Irina!"

So the doctor asked them to please leave the room and started talking rationally to Irina. He explained to her that formula is just as good as breast milk and that the most important thing at that moment was to feed her baby.

It gives me goose bumps to think about that story. Who are they to tell Irinia her instinct to feed her baby was wrong and to argue with the doctor? They aren't medical professionals! I was so affected by the whole thing that I've never forgotten it.

If we, as a society, want to support women's rights in the workplace, access to birth control, and even the right to choose to have an abortion, then we also need to support a women's right to decide whether or not to breastfeed.

So please mamás, let's stop for a second and think about our rational comebacks during this debate because the judgment is not really helping anybody, is it?

What do you think? Do you think we have a right to say who's right on who's wrong when it comes to choosing what milk to feed our babies?

Image via Flickr/sdminor81

About the author

Sofia was born in Mexico and moved to New York in 1997. She has a 6-year-old girl and a 2-year-old boy who are usually the main characters in her blog Slap cada día. After  a long career in advertising, last year she decided to leave the corporate world to chase her own entrepreneurial dreams and work on her writing.

 

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Mami_...

I have two sons. One was an "only formula baby", other was "only breastfeeded". Both are healthy

sweet...

Sofia, I am pretty sure I LOVE YOU! love this article. 

theha...

I breastfed both of my children.  But it was my choice.  I tried La Leche League to make sure I was doing things right, since I was not able to do a single thing except breastfeed all day, and they were horrible.  These women make other mothers feel like if you are not walking with your baby constantly glued to you breast, you are not a good mother.  After 6 weeks of their "advise" I ended up with mastitis any way( I had it with both of my kids because I do produce excess milk) and my son would not take a bottle.  I learned the hard way when he starved for 2 days since I couldn't give him my milk.  Once he took that bottle I did both methods, breastfeed during the day and bottle fed at night.  I am a stay at home parent so I have the time, but I would not dare judge a mother who choses not to breastfeed at all.  It is a personal decission and people need to respect.  

Now, where I have an issue is when people talk to mothers that do chose to breastfeed and ask them to not breastfeed in public.  Women have been kicked out of places for it, and that crosses the line.  Women have a right to breastfeed anywhere.  If it bothers the other person, then that's the other person's problem, not the mom.  We say to everybody else that we are so advanced, yet women's rights are so behind in so many things.

well, the problem is that many mothers take the decition of giving formula because they are desperate because they are tired, the baby is crying, etc. What I critise is that doctors dont give any advice on how to breastfeed and give the can of formula like a "gift" to help "you" to sleep better and rest after labour. I wanted to breastfeed my newborn but the doctor gave me a free formula and a recipe to go to the pharmacy and buy formula, just in case the baby "needs" it. Well, I insisted on breasfeeding and did it until my baby was 2 years old!. So, I think is wrong for doctors not to help women to do whats is naturally (come on, calostroum-which is the best protein for babies- is the first thing we produce after giving birth in the first 2-3 days, there is never milk the first hours or days!) but I also agree that if the mother is well informed she can take any decition she wants and nobody can push her...
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