Since I began blogging over three years ago, I’ve read a handful of posts from mothers who chose to formula feed their children, and they spoke about the backlash they received for that decision. They were shamed. Their commitment to raising a healthy child was questioned. They were told they were horrible parents. They were hated.
I have seen this shaming firsthand. When Baby C was born, my ex-wife (whom I shall refer to as Superbitch from this point forward – FYI, she chose that moniker when she used to blog here, I’m not just being an ass…this time) had decided that she was going to breastfeed him. Since Baby C was her first child she decided to attend birthing classes. These classes talked about the many benefits of breastfeeding and that helped her come to that decision.
During the first 24 hours of Baby C’s life, Superbitch tried repeatedly to breastfeed Baby C. There were two major impediments her success. The first, and most important, was that she was not producing any milk. She tried many times with Baby C and with a breast pump but her breasts were as dry as the Arizona sand. The second obstacle was Baby C himself. Superbitch couldn’t get him to properly latch, even with the help of the lactation nurses. After a day of trying, her nipples were cracked and bleeding, and there was nothing to show for it. Baby C had already lost quite a bit of weight.
Superbitch and I discussed it, and we decided it was best to start feeding him formula. At this point we didn’t know if she would ever produce milk and he needed to eat. We asked the nurse to bring us some formula.
When she brought it the nurse said something along the lines of it being okay to supplement with formula until the breast milk started to flow. My ex had decided, though, that she didn’t think she could do breastfeeding. She was in pain. Even if she did start producing milk, our little boy still wasn’t latching properly so there was no guarantee that he’d ever be able to breastfeed. She informed the nurse that she wouldn’t be breastfeeding and that’s when our experience began to sour.
None of the nurses told her outright they thought she had made a horrible decision, but the looks on their faces and the tones in which the spoke conveyed their thoughts more than capably. Even worse, it seems they decided to pressure her to change her mind about it when I wasn’t around. I stayed with my ex and son in the hospital until he was released, but I would leave periodically to eat or to go home to shower and change. It was during these times that they pressured her.
When I returned from a trip home the day we had decided to formula feed Baby C, she broke down into tears. She sobbed as she told me how she was being made to feel like a horrible mother and that she was making a huge mistake by choosing to formula feed our son.
Inwardly, I seethed. I was fucking livid. I know that there are benefits to breastfeeding that formula feeding cannot provide, most notably the building of the child’s immune system. That, however that didn’t give these bitches the right to question how we decided to raise our child. It certainly didn’t give them the right to shame my wife into thinking she was a horrible mother (a day into her journey, no less).
Outwardly, I was calm. I held her and told her that, despite what these bitches were saying, formula feeding our boy was not the end of the world. The twins (who were 11 at the time) were formula fed, I explained, and they are well-behaved and intelligent young men. They are well-adjusted and have always brought home A’s and B’s on their report cards. Other than asthma (which runs on both sides of their family), they had always been healthy. I explained to her that how a child turns out has less to do with how their fed as an infant, and more to do with genetics and the environment in which they are raised.
To be honest, I would have loved for my children to be breastfed. Unfortunately, the mothers of my children were not able to produce milk. They tried to breastfeed but it just wasn’t happening, but that doesn’t mean my children are defective or mentally retarded. They are all very intelligent, healthy boys.
While I have always known feeding my children formula wasn’t the mortal sin it’s been made out to be in recent years, I have gotten some validation this week via Kelly at Are You Finished Yet?. Kelly shared a link to a recent study published by Ohio State (um…Go BLUE!) which found that, despite what we’ve been told in recent years, there are no long-term benefits to breastfeeding. This study found claims that breastfeeding led to amazing things, such as higher IQ and lower risk for ADD, were unfounded. Essentially, the study found that, in the long-term, it doesn’t really matter whether your child is breastfeed or bottle-fed.
So to all those nurses who made Superbitch cry by shaming her and making her feel like an inept deadbeat a mere 24 hours after becoming a mother, I’d like to give you a big, fat FUCK OFF!
I’ll close be reiterating what Kelly said in her post, although not as kindly or as eloquently because she’s much classier than I am. Whether you’re a nurse, parent, grandparent, or concerned party…mind your business. It’s not your concern how I choose to raise my children as long as I’m not neglecting them. My children are well provided for. They are loved. Maybe you wouldn’t agree with all of my methods, but I don’t give a shit. You raise your children the way you see fit and I’ll do the same.