And the Silver Goes To….

Last week was World Breastfeeding Week and this year’s theme “Mother Support; Going for the Gold” both celebrates mother’s milk as the gold standard for nutrition as well as the launch of the Olympics. With such a lofty ideal, mothers may find themselves facing the same type of pressure an athlete does as she steps out into the spotlight of motherhood. There’s nothing like a little bit of pressure to kick off the week for a new mom!

And while I support breastfeeding, I would like to believe there is also support for those mothers, like me, who didn’t breastfeed and who use the only other healthy option, infant formula, to feed their babies. It is my concern that in the rush of uplifting some mothers we are trampling on others. If the gold goes to breast milk, then the silver definitely goes to infant formula. After all, wouldn’t you say that after 40 weeks of intensive training coupled with an incredible performance and delivery, mothers deserve the right to choose what is best for them as well as to be recognized for the miraculous feat of bringing life into this world? If you ask me, sounds like a winner to me.

Someone recently asked me why so many moms tend to pass judgment against other moms? Sadly I had to agree with them. In a role where so many people, our children, our spouses, friends, family and bosses, are tugging at us, why is it that other moms are sometimes the most critical people in our lives? Moms should all be supporting other moms. Plain and simple. This week should be no different than the rest of the weeks of the year – only, all moms, including those who do not breastfeed should be supported for their choice.

Unfortunately, the issue of feeding our babies still creates a vicious divide among moms. I think we all know that breast milk is ideal however why can’t moms accept that some moms for whatever reason choose not to breastfeed their babies and choose the only healthy alternative, infant formula? Why can’t these non-breastfeeding moms feel okay that they made the choice that best fits their family situation and know that they aren’t going to be guilted by moms who feel that every baby should be breast fed? Some moms have careers that prevent them from breastfeeding – just look at the stats, breastfeeding rates go down once moms return to the workplace usually because workplace breastfeeding support programs such as lactation rooms or breast pumping breaks are non-existent. How can we continue to push moms to breastfeed yet leave them in a lurch when they return to work? And even worse, make them feel guilty for choosing to formula feed?

There are also some moms, like myself, who adopt their babies and choose not to stimulate their breasts to produce milk. Some feel uncomfortable with the experience and some just decide it’s too difficult. Should any of these women be faulted for making a choice that they feel fits the needs, style and values of their families? I think not.

We allow women to make a choice about their pregnancy yet we insult each other about the choices we make in feeding the fetus we choose to keep. If we are going to be pro-choice then let’s be pro-choice in our feeding decisions too.

I remember how sad I felt the day another mom stopped in a mall to criticize me for bottle feeding my daughter. There I innocently sat, six months pregnant with my son while feeding my three-month-old daughter who I had adopted. I looked at her and explained that my daughter was adopted even though it was none of her business. And I’ll never forget when she replied, “that’s no excuse, you could have stimulated your breast milk.” As she walked away I remember thinking that this woman had no idea what my family life required of me or how I didn’t want to differentiate my two babies once my second was born. It was my choice and she didn’t like it.

Moms who know me know that I rarely take a strong stand on anything related to motherhood except for the fact that I strongly respect the four lives that were given to me in my children and respect the hard work it takes to be a mother. I may not agree with everything you do as mom but I assume you are doing what you think is in the best interest of your family. So this year, let’s lend our support to all moms especially the non-gold medalist moms who may never even make it to the podium but nonetheless achieve world-record worthy feats every day just by raising healthy and happy children.

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7 Responses

  1. Oh, I can not imagine why people would even think it’s ok to judge =
    others like that. For one, how do others know that it’s not breastmilk =
    in those bottles? But even more so, it’s not their business.=20
    Usually I feel that when other Moms see fit to pass judgment it’s =
    because of an insecurity in themselves somewhere and they have to =
    project it upon the innocent, and unfortunately, usually impressionable =
    and tender hearted Mom. Someday I hope we see more of Moms banding =
    together and just supporting each other if for no other reason than that =
    we are MOMS.=20
    Steph

  2. I struggled so much with this when I had my children. For my first, I =
    didn’t have enough milk to satiate her and had to add bottle feeding to =
    our repertoire. I was ridiculed by so many who didn’t know my story =
    either! Then, 4 1/2 years later I had 32 week preemie twins and =
    couldn’t keep up with the milk, the pumping, running back and forth to =
    the hospital three times a day to feed two of them…..After they got =
    home I was only allowed to breast feed once a day since their intake was =
    so closely monitored. It just didn’t work for me, but I admire moms who =
    have plenty of milk for feeding theirs and then some! Thanks for =
    posting this. I looked for support so hard 8 years ago.

  3. I totally agree that it is not right to judge, especially when you don’t =
    know the circumstances behind a choice.
    Speaking as a breastfeeding mom, I’d say some of the judgment probably =
    stems from the fact that breastfeeding is often highly inconvenient and =
    painful – and if “I” chose to suffer for the sake of my child, then =
    everyone else should, too. And while I personally try not to be =
    judgmental, I admit it rubs me the wrong way when someone tells me they =
    choose not to breastfeed because it’s icky, or because they want to be =
    able to drink, or just because it’s THEIR body and why should they be in =
    submission to their child, etc. etc. =20
    For me, breastfeeding has just been one of the MANY lessons in putting =
    my child’s needs ahead of my own – and I think all good moms, whether or =
    not they breastfeed, get lots of practice in this. It’s sad that people =
    judge on this basis alone.

  4. Wow. That is one rude mother. I am pregnant with my fourth and plan to =
    breastfeed her just like I did the first three, but breastfeeding was =
    never easy for me, and I would never judge another mom for making a =
    different loving choice. There are all sorts of reasons for teh choices =
    we make, and it is hugely presumptuous to think you know what’s best for =
    a stranger in the mall.

  5. Well said, and SO true. Although my son has been breastfed since birth, =
    even after my return to work, I fully recognize that this was my choice. =
    Some moms are not able to make this choice. Some moms don’t want to make =
    this choice. And you know what? As long as they’re feeding their child, =
    that’s ALL that matters.
    As moms, we need to step back and realize that sometimes, the support of =
    another mom may be all a woman has.=20

  6. I am an extended breast feeder, and it was so incredibly hard in the =
    beginning that if my husband hadn’t have been fully supportive, I would =
    have quit. Still, I don’t judge anyone. None of my business. But that =
    woman who came up to you? What a witch. I don’t know much about =
    stimulating your breasts, but I was under the impression that even if =
    you are able to do that, the milk supply isn’t sufficient. I don’t =
    think I would have even tried if I’d adopted (we used donor eggs =
    instead).
    And, Steph makes a good point — who knows what’s in a bottle? =20

  7. I agree why can we not just support each other in our decisions. I =
    breastfed my son for as long as I could. But low milk supply and the =
    fact he was losing weight an screamming all night because he was hungry =
    done me in. I went to formula and he now is a happy 2 year old. =20

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