Thursday, May 18, 2017

Promoting Breastfeeding ISN'T A Criticism Of Formula

Whenever I see a viral post about breastfeeding there's a backlash of comments from parents that haven't or can't breastfeed. I can't help but feel that if you talk positively about breastfeeding, you'll be offending someone and accused of riding a high horse. Why does how you choose to feed your child cause such a divide?

I see so many posts from parents explaining why they're choosing formula over breastfeeding, and claiming they come under judgement for doing so. Do they really though? Yes, you might feel  pressure if you meet a pushy midwife but from the general public, I'm not sure. There is such a small percentage of women in the UK breastfeeding, I fail to see that the majority of those will judge you for feeding your baby formula, I know I don't.

I for one couldn't care less how another family choose to feed their children. I might think why wouldn't you want to at least try to breastfeed, but if you don't, I'm not going to put on my judgy pants and criticise you.

I've had a few negative comments about me breastfeeding, I can deal with those but there is something that bothers me even more... I can be having a conversation with another parent but as soon as I say I'm breastfeeding, I can almost tell the other person believes I'm judging them for not breastfeeding and that I belong to some formula bashing, perfect mum brigade. Almost instantly, the other person will get defensive and started justifying why they don't or can't breastfeed, why?! 

If you saw the latest drama from Dr Christian you'll know he caused quite a stir on Twitter with his rather negative attitude towards breastfeeding. This then appeared on The Sun facebook page (not exactly a newspaper I'd adere to), but it's comments like these below that really grate me.

If you saw the facebook comments then you'd know there was not a single woman berating mothers who can't breastfeed. Yes, there are women out there who are passionate about breastfeeding, sometimes to the point of being extremely pushy but that doesn't mean they are deeming other parents useless. To me, the breastfeeding community is a group of ladies that support each other throughout the struggles, the night feeds and offer absolutely no judgement if you raid the fridge at 2AM. Facebook may cause a lot of trouble, but it's also my go to for groups that offer support, especially as there is next to no health care support for women struggling to breastfeed.

My good friend Claire struggled with breastfeeding once her little one began biting, rather than given support she was told to switch to formula and let her milk dry up. Is that the kind of attitude GPs should be forcing upon mothers? Claire was devastated that she was told to do this, and felt like she had no other choice. She isn't alone, 63% of mothers who stopped breastfeeding in the first six months would have liked to of breastfed for longer. So why isn't there more support available for mothers, and better education for GP's and others within the medical profession?

I just don't understand why their is such a lack of support for doing something that our bodies naturally allow us to do (aside from those that physically can't). Formula is everywhere and readily available in every supermarket. Recently, I saw that Boots had an offer for free formula but there was absolutely nothing that would of been of benefit to breastfeeding mothers. What about free vitamins, or free breastpads? 

A few weeks ago I was watching Home & Away, and noticed that one of the characters was breastfeeding. I'll admit, I did a little woop but then it got me thinking; have I ever seen a character in a British soap breastfeeding? As far as I can remember, characters may talk about it or suggest they are but I've never seen a character actually doing it. Why? After researching a little, I found this article where Coronation Street faced backlash for promoting bottle feeding when a character was having difficulties breastfeeding. Their response;

"Coronation Street cannot always match the requirements of "accuracy and interested bodies.We do not want Coronation Street, which is a character-led drama serial, falling into the genre of drama-documentary. Notwithstanding, we have of course taken your comments on board over the issue of breastfeeding and it may well become the nub of a story on some future occasion."

In short: we don't want complaints and backlash from people who may find it offensive. This was also 2009, and I've since not seen anything about breastfeeding. But, they'll happily allow follow on formula adverts during the commerical breaks. So how are we ever meant to normalise breastfeeding if TV producers are too scared to be seen as promoting breastfeeding over formula? 

I'll admit, it does piss me off. Promoting Breastfeeding ISN'T a criticsm of formula and being proud of being able to breastfeed isn't shaming anyone else's choice not to. I know I'm not alone in feeling like I can't say anything positive about breastfeeding, or at least have to censor what I'm saying in fear or upsetting someone else. Why can't we all support one another? 


  1. I don't think I've ever read anything as brilliant as this! I have always been so careful about writing and speaking about breastfeeding for fear of people thinking I'm being unsupportive about formula feeding. I don't know many people who have breastfed, so I often felt quite lonely, and your right, those online breastfeeding communities are amazing help. You do sometimes get people who are judgy about forumla feeding, but not everyone is and as you say, what works for one family won't work for another. I don't get offended when someone mentions formula feeding and feel the need to justify my decision to bf, so why do ff feel the need to justify their decision? fab post!

  2. Such a good point. I often feel a need to downplay breastfeeding or qualify it with something like 'but I'm thinking of quitting soon', why?! I feel sometimes we've gone the other way and are so keen to be seen NOT to be judgmental that we're judging the breastfeeding parents out there. I never see breastfeeding on TV, it's sad that there's still a stigma attached whichever way you choose to feed your child and yes, that goes both ways!

  3. Such a good post! I am still breastfeeding Benjamin at 7 months having fed Cameron to 4 months and Carly to 6 months previously. I plan to make it a year if possible at least. I have felt more judged as a breastfeeding mum than I ever did formula feeding, and I hate that people think you're judging them if you admit you breastfeed! x

  4. This is an amazing post!
    Promoting breastfeeding sure as hell is not criticism for formula, it's not. I understand that breastfeeding is the best food you can provide for your kid and then it gets promoted.
    Although, here in Finland... (I feel like I'm saying this a lot these days..) The ones who don't breastfeed, for reason or another are in Finland the ones that gets all the shit poured right on top of them. From the very beginning at the hospital, from the nurse at the maternity clinic, from other mums and even from your own family. I've been told that I'm a bad mother and I don't want to provide the best food for my kid because I'm not breastfeeding. Little do they know, I wasn't able to breastfeed because of the size of my breasts. Even the midwife at the hospital told me that my breasts are too huge and I could kill my baby, suffocate him. That's why my baby is drinking formula. Yet, no matter how much I explain myself, I'm a bad mother. I believe that fed is best & no one is better mum for your kid than you are.

  5. I am still breastfeeding at just gone 12 months, and do feel like I get strange looks for it. But I don't see why as the WHO suggest breastfeeding til 2 years old at least. I don't think I've ever come across anyone who has judged or spoken down to someone for formula feeding, so it makes me wonder whether so this breastfeeding backlash could be a result of their own feelings towards breastfeeding/formula feeding. I don't think people speak about breastfeeding enough, so well done and thank you. I will share this post now

  6. And there's nothing wrong with doing both either! I'm all for topping up with formula if your breast milk is low. Never did my kids any harm and they are healthy big kids now! I agree, both ways are fine. I think a lot of the animosity has come from the NHS and the movement 6 years ago to encourage breast feeding, I think it went too far and became a tick box numbers game.

  7. Totally agree it's such a shame that it's a subject that makes people seem so bad x

  8. I have successfully combined breast and bottle fed my 3 children. It has been the right decision every time for me and my child. Yet every 'expert' says it can't be done. The bottle has never confused my baby and stopped them latching on. The denial that breastfeeding is hard work to start with has a detrimental effect on mums. Even with my 3rd I felt guilty at first for 'giving in' and giving a bottle even though I knew I had done it with my previous 2 children successfully.

  9. YES! Well said, I have thought this so many times. Promoting/ supporting/ advocating breastfeeding does not equal judging anyone else at all yet so many people seem to think that way - and I just don't see the logic behind it either. This needed to be said :-)

  10. Well said. I couldn't breast feed any of my children, the milk just wasn't there, which is something I feel I missed out on. Each to their own and whatever way is best for each individual mum and baby.

  11. Couldn't agree more with this ♥

  12. Found this so interesting to read, especially as we're having the breastfeeding conversation at the moment before our first arrives. I think as long as you do what you're happy with, that's best. I don't like the huge divide between Breast/Formula xx

    Alice Anne // Annie Writes Beauty

  13. This could not be more spot on!

  14. Oh Amy, you know how much I LOVE this post! I always find that if I mention it conversation (if it's relevant of course) that we breastfed, it immediately seems to make people really defensive and they always have to justify why they don't or haven't. Like I'm not judging anyone for doing what suits them & their child, to be honest, it's none of my business & I wouldn't have said it if it wasn't relevant to the conversation. But then, as you say, breastfeeding isn't really portrayed very well on tv or basically many places & you only really hear of it in a negative way or not at all. It's 2017, the divide between breast & bottle feeding needs to disappear. We're all doing what's right for our children and us. The gp's I saw were so blasé about it just before we stopped & I only received some advice from health visitor & extended services doctors even after fighting so much. It just took so long & so much fighting & we were having such trouble, I just didn't feel the confidence or much support to continue. I think GP'S & some health professionals really need updating on it all, so they can give the support & advice needed, whether breast, bottle, combination feeding. Mothers need that support in feeling more confident about their decisions xx

  15. I didn't even try breastfeeding and really regret it. I am now in awe of breastfeeding mummies and will definitely be giving it a go for baby number two. If I could get my milk supply back I would do it!

    I am so shocked that this is happening, I thought the world was pro breastfeeding and I am so glad you wrote this post.

    I admit, I have defended my decision to bottle feed as my whole pregnancy I was told how I would get stuck for not breastfeeding from midwives which actually never happened!

  16. This is so good! I did try and breastfeed but my daughter just wouldn't latch so I didn't have mich choice. I had good support in the hospital but nothing when I got home. This is a really good post x

    Zoe x

  17. Great post. I'm a proud breastfeeder having fed both my daughters. I rqrely talk about it because I always fear people will think I'm bottle bashing, which of course I'm not!

  18. i do agree with this post apart from one thing, some women who formula feed really and truly do recieve some nasty comments as i have seen all over the internet. how we are too lazy, choosing going out and partying over trying to breastfeed (which is hilarious as i never go out) how our children are condemned to a future of diabetes, obesity and cancer and so on. truly vile and nasty comments. seeing these after i found myself unable to breastfeed my daughter was truly upsetting and caused me so much anxiety. however, i understand the difference between people being spiteful for no reason and people simply promoting breastfeeding and being happy that they were able to etc. if i had been able to im sure i would have wanted to talk about it and i am more than happy to hear friends and families stories either way. how women choose or need to feed their babies is really the last thing we ought to be arguing or bullying each other about. ❤ sorry for bad gramma im no good at doing things like this from my phone.


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