In a previous post I admitted that I have never breast fed any of my children (you can read it here). I generally don’t share that info with mothers that I meet because on occasion I’ve met with confusion; judgement or outright criticism. In the early days I was bothered by this but as I’ve got older, wiser and generally more exhausted, I’ve decided I don’t care.
Part of the reason for me writing this is because if you didn’t want to, couldn’t or haven’t breastfed then you need to know you aren’t the only one. Equally, if you’ve only ever breastfed, you need to know there is another way. And it works really well for some women.
But here’s the thing.
There is still stigma around feeding babies, however it’s done.
I recently went out with a new mum and got talking about breastfeeding. She admitted that part of the reason she had stopped breastfeeding was because she had felt uncomfortable about it. She’d been out when he needed feeding and had worried about what people around her would think.
This really hit home with me. Even though I’d never breastfed, I’d been in a similar situation when DS was about 2 weeks old. I’d taken him into town and he decided he was hungry in a coffee shop. I’d felt really self conscious about getting the formula out because I though people around me would judge me for not breast feeding.
How can this be?
How can two women, who fed their babies in different ways, feel the same fear about being judged.
When did it get so messed up that women feel they could be shamed for feeding their baby either way?
And when did it become normal that women worry that complete strangers might feel they have the right to comment on what they are doing?
Seriously, who the hell has the right to say ANYTHING negative to a woman who is feeding her baby – however she does it?
I mean really, do people think babies should go hungry? Do they think women should do something that clearly isn’t working for them or is making them unhappy? Do they think mothers shouldn’t be supported to do whatever works for them so their babies are happy, healthy and content?
It just baffles me that both of us worried about what other people would think. That one worried that she’d be judged for not pulling out a bottle to feed her baby; and I worried that I’d be judged for doing exactly that.
So let’s make this clear. We need to create a culture where no mother ever feels embarrassed for how she feeds her baby. Where we support women to make informed choices to do what is right for them and lastly, where no mother EVER feels like she’s failed for how she nourishes her child.
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