Sunday, August 4, 2013

Breast Feeding Week

So it's world breast feeding week.

I completely, 100% support and respect women who breast feed.  I firmly believe you should be able to feed your baby however, and wherever you want/need to without judgement.  I also understand that "breast is best".  I'm not knocking anyone who chooses to breast feed at all.  If that's the right choice for you and your family, that's great.  Go for it.  You do what you gotta do to feed that baby.

That all being said, as a mom who chose to formula feed her children,  I find this whole "Breast feeding week" thing insulting,

Having an entire week dedicated to supporting breast feeding moms is great.  However, what about those of us who didn't/don't breast feed?  Where's our week?  Where's our support?  Where are the hoards of angry women having "feed-ins" in stores or parks or wherever after someone tells us we're killing our children by feeding them formula?  Where are the proud pictures of moms feeding their kids with a bottle on facebook?  Where is the recognition that we are good parents too?

Yes, we all know "breast is best", except when it's not.  It's not the best for some moms, and I was one of them.  This is just another slap in the face on how we're not giving our children the best available option.  And to take it even further in some cases - causing our children to grow up being obese morons who are a burden on society.  Ridiculous.  We shouldn't be ostracized or treated like horrible parents for making a decision based on what is best for us, and our families.  Just because we formula feed doesn't mean we don't  love our children.  In fact, in some cases (like mine) formula feeding allowed us to love our children MORE.  Shocking, since the only real way to bond with a baby is to breast feed.  Somehow I managed to develop a closeness and a bond with both my boys, even though I formula fed them.  In fact, our bond grew stronger once the decision to give up breast feeding was made.  Where's my recognition for that?  Where's the "You made the best decision for your family" week?

I've seen things online recently offering free products and whatnot to breast feeding moms.  Great!  Let's help out moms, and families in general.  This whole parenting thing is tough, and free stuff is always great.  But what about me and my family?  Do I get a free feeding pillow?  Do you realize that some of us hold and snuggle our babies on a feeding pillow while bottle feeding them?  Did you think that all formula feeders just throw a bottle in the crib with the baby and hope for the best?  Some of us decided to formula feed BECAUSE we love our babies and want what's best for them, but according to society we're monsters who are slowly poisoning our children by choice, which is ridiculous.

It's insulting to me that an entire week is dedicated to just one aspect of parenting, especially such a divisive one.  Parenting is hard.  Parenting requires support.  Parenting deserves an entire month dedicated to it.  It's great that people are recognizing and supporting breast feeding moms, but what about the rest of us?  How about a week, or a month to recognize parents in general for loving our kids and doing what we think is best for them?  How about recognizing all the formula feeding dads who get up in the middle of the night to pitch in with feedings and then go to work the next day on 3 hours of sleep?

When I first made the decision to stop breast feeding My Little Guy I felt horrible (it was different for My Big Guy - he was formula fed because I was hospitalized right after his birth and couldn't breast feed due to meds).  I cried to my husband telling him how much I hated it, and how I didn't want to do it, and I was so scared he would think I was a bad mom.  Or think less of me.  Or tell me to deal with it and do it.  Or just generally not support me in this decision.  Luckily, he was 100% on board because he realized that formula was what was best for us, and hey, he got to feed the baby now too!

Even though my husband, and my family supported my decision I still have/had moments where I feel ashamed of formula feeding.  I kept it quiet, and tried to hide it from some of my friends because I was worried they would judge me, or think I was a bad mom.  We should never be ashamed of making a decision that makes us better parents, even if it's not the right decision for someone else.  Breast feeding weeks just reiterates the message to formula feeding parents that we're not good enough.

There is a small movement out there to try to stop the judgement that comes with parenting, and make people realize that just because it was the right decision for you doesn't mean it'll be the right decision for everyone else.  Check out  She's trying to turn Breast Feeding Week into "I Support You" week.  Moms supporting other moms.  Parents supporting other parents.  We should be banning together as people who are on this journey together and who are all doing the best we can.  We should be celebrating our similarities as people who would lay down our lives for our kids, not furthering the divides between us based on feeding choices.