Feeling judged for using formula

Anna - posted on 01/07/2012 ( 177 moms have responded )

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I think we have all seen posts that go like this: "Why do breastfeeding moms judge moms that choose formula?"

I breastfeed my children for many reasons and I am very happy with my choice. It's not a thing I discuss much with strangers but I do breastfeed in public quite a bit and I try to do it proudly because, well otherwise I would probably get self-conscious.However, I would never want someone who uses formula to feel as though I thought she was an inferior mom.

So I was wondering, from moms who use formula, what is it specifically that people say that makes you feel inferior? Is there any way that moms on both sides can shoot the breeze so to speak about feeding their babies without either side feeling offended, or should this topic just be avoided? Or should it be reserved for close friends and relatives? And at what point does talking about my choices turn into judging you for yours?

Also, where do you feel the most judgement comes from? Is it from stuff that you read, from strangers, or from family and friends?

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Mary - posted on 01/14/2012

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If we were really being honest here, every single one of us has insecurities about how "good" of a mother we are - at least on some level. We all have those moments when we privately berate ourselves for some way in which we either slacked off or, in our own opinion, were less than our best.



I really think part of the reason so many women who breastfeed tend to go on and on about it is that they subconsciously feel it sort of compensates for those other perceived moments of failure. If you are lucky enough to have successfully nursed a child, you know it is something you can be proud of - something that no one can find fault with. In those moments of self-doubt, you always have that little nugget to fall back on and reassure yourself with.



I don't know if it's because I'm a little older, or if I was lucky enough to have truly fantastic mother who was secure enough to admit her imperfections, but I never, not once, thought I was anything other than ordinary for breastfeeding. I'm not denying that it had it's challenges, but I am humble enough to know that I was just lucky to have it work for us. I also realize that those of you who formula fed also faced challenges in feeding your babies - they were just different than mine. While I was gingerly putting lanolin on those cracked nipples, you were washing out bottles.



Bottom line is, we both struggled, had our issues, and made sacrifices; that is just an inherent part of motherhood. It's not a competition here - and this "who is the better mother" game is just childish and silly. If *you* are one who feels the need to judge another mom for any reason, especially about how she feeds her baby...well, to me, it's really only a reflection of just how insecure you are.

Tam - posted on 01/07/2012

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I've done both, and with my immanent birth, I will do both again.

Personally, I have never encountered the judgmental attitude until becoming involved in online communities, like COM. I breastfed in public, but never made a big deal about it. I'm not particularly modest but I don't go out to make a statement either. I make sure I know what my local laws are regarding it, etc.

Yet I have also been on the other side of the equation. Breastfeeding for me became very painful with constant thrush, so I discontinued it at six weeks with both of my kids. Afterward, I had a much healthier relationship both with kids and husband and self, once I allowed myself to heal up. And never once did I feel any guilt about the decision.

I think that where a lot of the hostility comes from is a few points that keep getting brought up, over and over. I'll try to summarize without becoming too verbose:

1. The WHO and PAA. My main problem with people trying to convince me that I am wrong for my choices by bringing up these two organizations is that for one, the WHO oversees MANY countries, and a whole lot of those countries are not industrialized like the US, where I live. Meaning that in some places the water supplies can be suspect, as well as food supplies, there is less oversight on public health in regards to food and drink, poor reading skills among women can lead to failure to follow directions on formula preparation, if it is available in the first place. There are places the WHO oversees that don't have standards of immunizations. Breastfeeding DOES tend to be less costly, which is also a concern among families both within and without the US. In my own family situation, was have ready access to clean water, healthy foods, and my kids are vaccinated on a regular schedule. Formula is affordable to me, and it makes my life less hectic in the sense that I don't dread feeding my children due to physical agony. They are healthy and put on weight as they are supposed to.

As for the PAA, my thought is similar as to the WHO. I dislike blanket guidelines, so when I have a question or concern, I'll likely go with what my actual pediatrician recommends rather than what a large organization puts out on their website. My pediatrician can individualize his advice for me, rather than levying a onus that may or may not work.

Also, these two organizations are often misquoted on their breastfeeding stances. I looked it up just for the hell of it after an online discussion once, and you'd be surprised what they ACTUALLY say versus what people say they do.

2. "Breastfed babies are healthier, smarter, and less likely to be obese than formula fed babies."

I looked this up, too. There have been several studies on this. None of the studies actually reach a clear consensus on baby IQ, obesity, or even health. There are a lot of factors that are involved with each of these points, the least of which are genetics. For example, I was breastfed as an infant, while my husband was not. My husband had an IQ test done where he scored ridiculously high - around 170. He can do complex mathematics in his head, come up with answers to problems on the fly, and verbal sparring with this man is an exercise in sheer frustration. I count myself as pretty intelligent, but he outclasses me by miles. Add in the fact that he is skinny as a rail, having just his 160 lbs for the first time at age 27, and I have been on the heavier side of the line my entire life. Also, he never gets sick. Ever. And if he does, it only lasts a day or two whereas it lasts at least a week for me.

This pretty much proves to me that genetics and environment trump breastfeeding. Add into that the studies that I've found that support both sides without actually coming to a clear cut conclusion when taken all together... well, the argument doesn't seem to hold much water.

3. "Formula is poison."

Formula in its current incarnation, if I remember correctly, was created by the same guy who created Nestle. He did it on the urging of a friend whose baby could not breastfeed. The child was losing dangerous weight and was not thriving, and this was back in the 1800s where the postnatal care was not near as good. By creating a milk substitute, the child's life was saved, as were a lot of babies who might otherwise been at risk.

That doesn't sound like poison to me.

4. "You don't love your kids if you choose not to breastfeed. Why even have them?"

This is just an ignorant argument in my eyes, considering the points I have already brought up. I've run into a variant of this as a working mother - "You don't love your kids if you don't quit your job and stay home with them. Why let someone else raise your kids?"

It's just an inflammatory comment that is meant to inspire guilt, and in a conversation about breastfeeding/not breastfeeding, I feel it has no place. When a debate falls into the trap of personal attacks, then it is no longer a debate but a mudslinging arena.

5. "Breastfeeding is the best thing you could do for your child. Why wouldn't you just suffer the pain and do it anyway?"

We as parents endure a lot for our children. There is sleeplessness, discomfort, emotional distress, and the whole concept of your heart living outside of your body for the rest of your life, vulnerable to anyone who might want to do it harm. But at the same time, there comes a point where parental distress can have an ill effect on your children. And yes, it can be brought on by breastfeeding. When I was in such pain that tears rolled down my face whenever I fed my kids, my children also grew restless, making it hurt even more. They did not have a pleasant time of it, no matter how much I tried to keep it inside so it didnt affect them. But when we went to formula, not only was I not in constant pain, but my husband got the joy of feeding them too. And that's what a lot of people seem to forget - if the dad is in the picture, he's likely going to love to have the chance to feed his infant. I know my husband did. And sharing the burden with friends and family made everything more smooth and happy, in my experience.

But even with my arguments above, I think the most hurtful thing that I have seen when it comes to the breastfeed/formula debate is what afflicts a lot of conversations between people with deeply held opinions on controversial topics - the fact that people rarely change their minds, and when they have it in their heads that their way is the right way, it's hard for them to see the other side from another angle. And we all do it - I'm not exempting myself by any means. The mere fact that I replied thusly goes to show that I think I am right... but I am right for my experiences, my family, and our way of life. And when someone comes along and tries to tell me that I am wrong for not holding his or her same beliefs on the matter, well, that's when I get upset.

None of us will generally change our mind without the benefit of personal experience, unless we WANT someone to change our minds for us.

[deleted account]

Kel, look, I posted waaaaay back and have been just watching ever since. I get that you are an enigma. I get that you feel strongly about breast feeding, yet don't consider yourself an advocate. I get that you say you aren't judgemental IF . However, one thing I don't think you understand is that on a forum like this, we DO strive to help one another. I've developed some real, true to life friendships on this site. These women here (you know who you are) have literally, in the most real sense of the word, SAVED my life. So I take offense to your attitude that you just feel how you feel and that your goal isn't to do anything more than vent. You have some choices in this world (the "real" and the "online" worlds). You can either just stomp through life, spewing your opinion all over everyone, leaving anger, distrust and hurt (yes, sometimes hurt) in your wake. OR you can realize that sometimes, real people really do come to sites like this for guidance. We don't strive to pad anyone's ego or to tell anyone what we think they want to hear. However, we DO try to offer support. I'm what I would consider a breast feeding advocate. I tried for two months and couldn't do it anymore because of my own personal level of pain threshold. Labor with no drugs was easier than breast feeding, for me. Even though I ended up making the switch to formula, I still knew in my heart of hearts that I'd done what I could and given my son the best start in life that I could offer him. That's ME. MY story. There are thousands of variations on it. And you will find them all on CoM's. People like me, we didn't come here looking for anything other than compassion, support, common ground, help. You have some good ideas, yet you lack the capacity to word those ideas in a way that does anything but alienate you. Kel, do you feel attacked? Singled out? Picked on? I'm sorry but, it's your own doing. Maybe, just maybe, if you took a split second to put yourself into another mother's shoes, and then read some of the things you've written, you'd see what I and the other girls are saying. You could probably be a POWER HOUSE of a breast feeding advocate (and I mean that as a most sincere compliment). But you won't earn any respect or gain anyone's trust or help any struggling mothers by being so judgemental. I wish you could just see that.

I've met many women on this site who I disagree with on many things.....but somehow we still are able to maintain respect for each other and to help one another to see each other's side of things. We may end up walking away still disagreeing, but with a new viewpoint, a new idea to mull over.

Just some food for thought for you. Hope you can take it for what it's worth and in the spirit that it is given. Someone said it best earlier....you'll get more flies with honey than you will with vinegar.

Mary - posted on 01/11/2012

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What the hell does age have to with it, Kel? I'm 41 (38 when my daughter was born). Although I did exclusively BF my child, I'm pretty much your polar opposite when it comes to attitudes and judgement about breast vs bottle. In fact, after reading your posts, I'm half tempted to say that I fed her coke out of a can within minutes of her birth just to avoid having something in common with you.



I think it is great to be "pro breastfeeding". However, that in no way necessitates nor justifies a hostility towards formula, or those who use it.



I also want to say that I just don't get this whole campaign you are on about bf babies being "healthier". Healthier than what, exactly? This is such a random assertion which can in no way ever be proved. Unless you have a time machine or magical powers, there is absolutely no way to really know, without question, that the exact same bf baby, in the exact same environment, would not have been equally "healthy" if formula fed. You may choose to believe that, since it does serve to boost your ego, but that doesn't make it fact.



And what if that exclusively bf baby does get sick, or have allergies, or whatever? Does that mean that you fucked up in some other way?



I think one of the big mistakes that we as mothers make is to both assume too much credit, or bear too much blame for a lot of things that are really beyond our control.



My daughter is now 3. She has no allergies, and has only been "sick" a handful of times (only twice needing antibiotics due to ear infections. Is it because I breastfed? Is it because I'm super-mom? (no - I know I'm not!) Who the hell knows. I personally give credit to my dogs - they've broadened and exercised her little immune system from day one, as well as forced us to be outside daily for at least an hour year round. Am I right? Again - who really knows for sure.

[deleted account]

Kel, why don't I see you in Breastfeeding Moms helping women who are having troubles and doubts? When I was a new mother, those women helped me so much. Now I try to answer questions if I know some possible answers.



I have never seen you help anyone in a practical way, i.e., solutions to problems like overactive letdown, milk blisters, fussy baby, etc. I don't believe you even know anything about breastfeeding beyond all the ways it makes you better than other women.

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~Jennifer - posted on 01/14/2012

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I have to expand on this....

"**I SUFFERED***

those are your first words.....*I* SUFFERED....



well, shit, honey....let me pat you on the back for your suffering.

I feel ya....I really do.

....anyway.....did the pat on the virtual back help your case?

no?

didn't think it would....and neither do you, or you wouldn't have to blast your perceived accomplishments in down home mothering to a group of strangers.

good on you for hanging a kid off your tit for as long as you did....but if you want a pat on the back....get longer arms.



Any well fed child, by any means, is lucky to be alive.

~Jennifer - posted on 01/14/2012

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Suffered through the first few months of pain....not suffering as far as having to do something i didn't want to do.. The pain was horrendous....bleeding,engorgement,mastitis,thrush,cracked and grazed nipples..and 2 reflux babies who never stopped feeding,adding to the problems.

Being young the 1st time round,no support,no idea what to do or how to do it..etc etc









would you like the recommendation for canonization now, or would you prefer that we wait for your (untimely?) demise?

[deleted account]

On a whole, most people don't have the balls to judge another mother to her face. But in the safety of hiding behind one's computer, hey, why not say what you really can't say in real life? Kel/Kelvin would never have the balls in real life to approach another mother in public, friend or stranger, and tell her what a piece of shit mother she is for using formula. It's much easier and lazier to sit behind the computer screen to do so. I doubt her claims of her *struggles* as a young new mom nursing and her posts have zero credibility. Yeah, I'm done too.

~♥Little Miss - posted on 01/14/2012

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Kel "So, many of you right now are telling your personal stories and getting help and opinions from blokes !!! Blokes with "feelings"..lo"



I bet they formula feed.

Krista - posted on 01/14/2012

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Yeah, who gives a damn, really. I don't give a sweet shit if the people on here are male, female, MTF transgendered, or aliens from the planet Zoltar. As long as they're helpful to the other people on here. And if they're not helpful, then they damn well better be entertaining.



Some are neither.



Oh, and Kel, I'm pretty fucking offended at your assumption that what you say here "is not projected onto people that are actually REAL people". I assure you that I am very real, as are most of the other women here in DM. And we DO have feelings. So your vicious rants against formula-feeding mothers are NOT falling upon disinterested ears.



And you probably say, "Why should you care about what I think? I'm just some random stranger on the internet?" Well, there are also random strangers out in the shopping mall, or in the park, or on the sidewalk, and I sure as fuck wouldn't like any of THEM telling me that I'm a lazy mother who doesn't know the meaning of sacrifice. In fact if they did, I'd probably alternate between wanting to run away crying, or wanting to punch them in the neck, depending on what time of the month it is.

Maree - posted on 01/14/2012

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Mary do you feel SAD for other people who suffered through the first few months??? or is is just me you feel sad for ?

As we all know,some suffer,some don't some give up,some choose to never bf,some can't bf,some become depressed,some come out of it,some never do...which ones exactly do you feel sorry for,and which babies should have your pity???

Sara - posted on 01/14/2012

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Ok ladies...please stay on topic and cool it with the personal attacks or we'll have to lock the thread.



Sara B.

DM Mod

Maree - posted on 01/14/2012

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Jodi i would have thought you would know that...however you did just claim that these are people with feelings instead of blokes having a good old laugh.

And maybe i AM a man....Kelvin...

[deleted account]

Well if you are a man kel, dont worry about people getting advice off of you. I doubt with your attitude anyone would..

Mary - posted on 01/14/2012

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Kel, I am truly sorry that you equate breastfeeding with suffering. That just makes me sad - both for you and your baby. I found it difficult, and even physically painful in those first few weeks, but never did I feel I was suffering. Unlike you, I was just too consumed in gratitude and wonder for both her, and my body's ability to provide nourishment to spend an inordinate amount of time dwelling on the very normal challenges of motherhood.

Maree - posted on 01/14/2012

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and not saying they don't know their shit....men are awesome... just sayin they are not women like they claim to be and are laughing at people who think they are talking to ladies !!!

If they admitted to being male and claimed to know about "womens business"...then said ANYTHING that someone thought was even slightly wrong...they would be shot down in a ball of flames because apparently they don't have a clue so should shut up until such time as they argee with the majority !!

Jodi - posted on 01/14/2012

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So you're a man Kel? Interesting :P.

Sure explains all those cracked nipples.

Maree - posted on 01/14/2012

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yeah if you like getting advice from liars...liars like me !!!

I can say what you want to hear,actually i will do just that in my next comment...may do it under my name or maybe another name !!!

Maree - posted on 01/14/2012

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I'm done too...and just so YOU know,actually they are not real...I'm not the real me on here and i know of people on here who not only have fake names but are actually MEN !!!

So, many of you right now are telling your personal stories and getting help and opinions from blokes !!! Blokes with "feelings"..lol

[deleted account]

If women didn't have the option formula feed, a lot more babies wouldn't make it to their first birthday. For those women who have bad milk or don't produce enough if any at all. Do you expect them to continue and risk their childs death??

While I am a huge supporter of breastfeeding, I fed my daughter for 23 months and plan on feeding this baby for his natural duration as well. I hate formula and I think the ingredients should be re-evaluated and made to be more like breast milk. I will not judge other women on their choice to use formula. Sometimes its a life or death decision. Sometimes Its simply because formula would make for a more emotionally sound mom, regardless of the reason, its needed. If moms unhappy, the whole family suffers, including the baby. If formula makes the mom happy, then that is the best interest of the child.

Maree - posted on 01/14/2012

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I don't call myself an advocate because it is most probably a putdown to real advocates.



I don't want to get women to breast feed....it isn't going to make a difference to my childrens lives anyway. I simply want to vent. Delete my posts,don't read them...i really don't care one way or the other. I judge harshly...YES,absolutely. I don't keep my thoughts to myself and gently try to steer people in the right direction...same as comments i've had on my posts...No one cared that i was struggling or suffering with things completely different to this topic....and they were BEFORE anyone knew me as bf nazi !!!!!



If you don't think i really struggled bf-ing and am so incredibly proud of myself then whatever...it doesn't matter cause i don't believe even half of the crap i read on here so why would domeone else believe me.???



People who know me well,know what went on....I know what went on...and thats all that matters to me.

My childhood could have been better...so what?? Whats that got to do with the price of fish???

If anything it didn't make me angry and judgmental but once again,proud of myself.



Go on...why not JUDGE every word i have just written so that you can be EXACTLY like me and exactly like others i've come across on here....A JUDGMENTAL KNOW IT ALL !!!!



Is it punishment for me being bitchy???? If yes then just know that i am like this because of what i have copped from others,i didn't start it.....I'm over people,they shit me.

Jodi - posted on 01/14/2012

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Wow, what a great friend.....you have all these people who think they know you, and if you were actually truthful with them, they would be horrified.



Kel, I think you will find that a lot of people are pro breastfeeding. I know a LOT of people here are. But most would NEVER presume to judge another woman for her choice with her child in her individual circumstances, either in RL or on here. Not even in their heads with feelings they keep to themselves.



People here are real people too. Just so you know. They are not computer robots.



Anyway, I'm done. You disgust me.

[deleted account]

Wow- so you enjoy publicly breating and bullying formula feeding moms to work off your frustration. But you wouldn't do that in real life. That's pretty shitty. If you have all this pent-up anger, I'd take some classes or seek help. Jesus, woman, what will be your purpose and function in life once your last baby has weaned?!

[deleted account]

Well hands down, Kel is by far a more superior mother than I am! I'll bow down to the goddess of the almighty breast.

Maree - posted on 01/14/2012

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not necessarily....lots and lots of people hide their true feelings so as not to hurt another person.It doesn't make them fake unless it's a constant thing and about more than one topic. This is pretty much the only thing that gets me worked up. I don't feel it necessary to tell people what i really feel but if they ask me i would say what i think but not to the extent i do on here.

And no my husband doesn't have to breast feed but he does many other things....and does as much as he can to be supportive of me.

I have a group of friends who i see every week...not a single one breast feeds and they feel that i am very supportive of them and what they do. I don't agree with their decisions however i really like them in other ways so i choose to keep my thoughts private. On CoM it is very different and a way to get frustrations out so as it is not projected onto people that are actually REAL people....not a fake name and most probably a fake personality.

Jodi - posted on 01/14/2012

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Her end goal is to feel that she is a better mother. Her end goal is entirely a selfish one - to hurt others. Because I can't see any end goal here of HELPING someone to embrace breastfeeding or educating new mothers.

[deleted account]

So Kel, you publicly admit you are a judgemental bitch based on your breastfeeding position. Or, are you just a pot-stiring troll? And I doubt she truly honestly *suffered*. She just wants to jump on the bandwagon, that's all.



Did you have a crappy childhood or something that you seem to think it's perfectly A-OK to bully and berate others? Is this a trait you are passing down to your children? I'm saddened that your children need to witness such negative behavior from their mother, who is supposed to be their role model.



And for the love of God, please tell me why it's acceptable to judge another mother, simply because she feeds her child differently?

Kate CP - posted on 01/14/2012

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Yes, you become a raging lunatic. Your posts make NO sense. You want people to breast feed because it's best for the baby, and yet you say you're not an advocate.



You say you don't judge mothers when, obviously, you do.



What, exactly, are your goals when you tell women that they are being selfish for bottle feeding? If your end goal is to try and convert people to breast feeding you are going about it REALLY wrong. If your end goal is just to alienate people and piss off moms and possibly make already emotionally fragile women cry, then keep it up. Yer doin' great.

Jodi - posted on 01/14/2012

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So obviously you have no friends in RL. Because if they are true friends, you'd be able to be honest about your feelings....right?

Jodi - posted on 01/14/2012

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Your husband likes you because he's not expected to breastfeed, so you don't need to be nasty to him.

Jodi - posted on 01/14/2012

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Yes Laura, a true boob nazi. No-one (not even breastfeeding mothers) likes boob nazis.

Maree - posted on 01/14/2012

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not sure if it's on this thread or not but someone said they doubt this is the real me....damn right..of course this is not the real me. I feel this way but there is only 1 person in my life who knows my true feelings...that is my husband.

Oh,and strangers on here !!!!



And also,some of the reason i am like this on here is due to the resentment i feel for being judged very harshly on some of my posts. people want to judge me...thats fine,after all i did ask for opinions...however i feel that people are very happy to go on and on about things that i feel they know nothing about but feel its still their place to tell me where i have apparently "gone wrong"...all i'm doing is giving a little bit back !!!! Sharing the love !

Maree - posted on 01/14/2012

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Suffered through the first few months of pain....not suffering as far as having to do something i didn't want to do.. The pain was horrendous....bleeding,engorgement,mastitis,thrush,cracked and grazed nipples..and 2 reflux babies who never stopped feeding,adding to the problems.

Being young the 1st time round,no support,no idea what to do or how to do it..etc etc

Jodi - posted on 01/14/2012

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So, Kel, why do you see breastfeeding as something you *suffered* through then?

Maree - posted on 01/14/2012

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Kate...yeah pretty much,a judgmental bitch as far as breast feeding goes.

I certainly do not fit into the catergory of "advocate" because i don't simply think it is best and publically support or recommend it...as we know, i go a lot further than that.

Celeste - posted on 01/14/2012

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"However, it helps NO ONE to judge a mother for formula feeding. And it really makes all breastfeeding mothers look horrible for doing so. It's no wonder people think we're crazy."



This is how I feel. I don't judge. We have no idea what that mom went through. She is doing what she feels is best for her children.



I'm sorry that formula fed moms are being judged. But please know that not every breastfeeding advocate judges you. I think part of being a Lactivist is being empathetic towards moms that breastfeeding didn't work out. I want to help breastfeeding moms who want to nurse but I won't berate or belittle those that it didn't work out.

Kate CP - posted on 01/14/2012

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"never said i was a breast feeding advocate"



...So...you're just an asshole?

[deleted account]

ad·vo·cate/ˈadvəkit/

Noun:

A person who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy.



So ask yourselves two questions

1. Do you think breast is best? Yes, you said so.

2. Do you publicly support it? Well...if I can answer that first question for you, then obviously you do.

That makes you an advocate, you don't need to tell us you are.

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