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Bottle-Feeding Shame

Bottle Shame

By Amalah

Hi Amy,

I recently found your blog, and find your advice to be just wonderful. I am hoping you can provide some of your thoughts for my situation.

I just had my first baby (a sweet boy) a few months ago.  During my pregnancy I was fully committed to exclusively breastfeeding my son. I took classes at the hospital, met with a lactation consultant and went to two private seminars.  I even bought a pump (even though I KNOW I was told a million times to just rent until you know whether you need one), stocked up on nursing tanks, bras, etc.

Okay, so you can imagine what happened next.  I exclusively nursed as planned but things soon fell apart.  I was undersupplied, and I was told by my pediatrician to supplement with formula. I was a total mess about it, and I sobbed as my husband gave him his first bottle. I literally could not be in the room while he did it.  I did everything I could to get my supply up – visits from my LC, pumping after each nursing session, fenugeek capsules, mother’s milk tea…..

Emotionally, I was a total wreck.  I would cry when I pumped because I would get so little milk; cry while nursing because my son was not getting enough; cry each time we had to give a bottle; cry when my son cried because he was hungry.  I felt like such a failure as a woman (i.e. my boobs don’t work), and as a mother (i.e. I cannot provide food for my baby).  Yet, I continued to try to nurse and pump.  After about 6 weeks of this, and after consulting with my OB and pediatrician, we decided to just make the switch to formula exclusively.

And you know what?  It was not the parade of horrors I made it in my mind to be.  In fact, our lives changed dramatically for the better. I was a million times happier.  Feeding time became really enjoyable.

My son was no longer fussing with hunger and became quite content after feedings.  My husband was happy to have his old, happy-go-lucky, wife back.  The grandparents were thrilled to be able to give a bottle and bond with their grandson in that way.  My sister was so happy to babysit so my husband and I could have a date night.  All in all, everything is GREAT!

Enter problem:  people are constantly asking me “Are you breastfeeding?”  Seriously – even total strangers.  People even ask my husband whether we are breastfeeding.  I don’t know how to respond to these people.  If I say no, I can just feel the judgment.  I get responses like – “oh, it’s so much better for the baby,”  “I loved breastfeeding – I did it for a year…”.  So, I switched to responding with, “I am not anymore,” thinking that would indicate that I at least tried.  But that invited follow up questions like “why did you stop?”, “did you stop because you are getting ready to go back to work?”

Ugh.  So then I found myself going into the long (and extremely personal) story and find myself babbling on and on to people I barely know about how much I wanted to but it didn’t work out etc.  Finally we went out to dinner with a couple who also recently had a baby.  My husband and I decided on the way over there that if asked, we would just lie and say yes.  But, I really don’t want to lie.   At the same time, I want to convey the fact that I 100% agree that breastfeeding is best, and I truly wish it worked out for us.  Facing these questions just brings up the flood of emotions (“I am a failure as a mom and woman”) that I am finally getting past.

So, the question is – what should I say to these people?  I don’t even understand why they ask in the first place!?

Thank you so much for listening.
Exclusive formula feeder

Okay, funny story here. Well, not “funny,” but more as Exhibit A in the case of You Just Cannot Win With Some People No Matter What You Do: We went out for dinner with some friends and friends of these friends a couple weeks ago, children included. At one point Ike wanted to nurse, and I quietly pulled a nursing cover out of my bag and got to it. An older husband and wife immediately turned to me and start asking me questions: Did I breastfeed all my children, for how long, etc. Gah. Yikes. Hi. Nice to meet you too.

It turned out, though, that they really were very passionate about breastfeeding, and simply wanted to let me know that I was among friends and supporters who wouldn’t be offended if I opted to skip the cover. It was clumsy, I admit, but she was of the generation that simply didn’t support breastfeeding at ALL, so nursing her children had been a struggle and something she really, really fought for acceptance over.

I was nodding in admiration until she launched into a story about how she once wrote a letter to a daytime talk show host for slamming breastfeeding as “gross,” and in rebuttal she brought up the some of the show’s OTHER guests who were the “real freaks” and basically the entire conversation disintegrated into a horrible tirade of homo- and transphobia and I was left sitting there with my mouth hanging wide open because STOP STOP STOP.

Basically: Even if you’re doing what people think is the “right” answer, that doesn’t necessarily give you a free pass from The Crazy.

It’s possible that the people asking you “constantly” about whether you’re nursing are not have good intentions — they’re trying to awkwardly telegraph their support to you, to let you know it’s okay to whip a boob out in their presence, or are simply grasping at the first baby-related topic they have personal experience with in an attempt to have something in common with you. Or they’re just socially clueless, overstepping morons. Or some combination of all of the above.

(Not to mention that even if you WERE breastfeeding, you’d probably feel like you were “constantly” judged for that, too…getting the stink-eye for nursing in public, getting questioned about “how long” you plan to nurse for and when you say “I don’t know, I don’t really have a plan” get an earful about that person’s cousin’s roommate who nursed for TWO YEARS and isn’t that DISGUSTING, like CHILD ABUSE and all you want to do is get away from this person but OH RIGHT THERE’S A KID ON YOUR BOOB AND YOU CAN’T GO ANYWHERE.)

Anyway. Back to your question. I, too, had a terrible time breastfeeding my first baby. I have told people that there is not enough money in the WORLD to make me ever go back to trying to breastfeed a first baby. It’s so highly charged and emotional, because yes, I felt EVERYTHING you described: Failure, shame, regret, etc. We never nursed exclusively and I usually say we “limped along” for about five months with a combination of nursing (followed immediately by a bottle), me at work barely pumping enough milk to dilute his rice cereal, and formula. Lots and lots of formula. Like you, when I finally put it all behind me and accepted that my child would be exclusively bottle-fed, we were all a lot, lot happier.

I never developed a one-size-fits-all response to the question, once we weaned: If it was another mother simply looking for some kind of common ground, I would say we gave breastfeeding our best shot for as long as we could. If I liked her, I might volunteer something about my supply issues due to scar tissue from a botched cyst aspiration. That’s like, the mega-ultra-condensed one-sentence version of the story, but it was usually enough to satisfy someone who genuinely meant well and make them realize it was time to change the subject. If the person pressed, I would very cheerfully say that actually, I really don’t feel like talking about this, if you don’t mind. Still kind of a sore spot, let’s talk about something else. 

If I didn’t feel going into details, I changed the subject to something still baby-related but less sensitive: No, we’re not breastfeeding anymore, it didn’t really work out the way I hoped but hey! How old were your kids when they started sleeping through the night? When did you start solids? I love your son’s shoes/coat/hat, where did you get them? Aim for honest, matter-of-fact, but then shut that topic DOWN before the nosy question-asker gets a chance to respond.

It’s different when you’re talking about random strangers that you have no real interest in talking to in the first place — changing the subject doesn’t work when you don’t particularly care to hear what they have to say on any topic in general. I don’t have the perfect, witty comeback that shuts down any and all follow-up question that leaves the person subtly shamed yet not offended and lets you walk away feeling just great and not irritated. I usually ended up saying whatever I thought would best end the conversation at the time. I usually was wrong.

It SUCKS that people feel they have the right to judge moms who use formula. It’s SO FRUSTRATING, and then breastfeeding advocates wonder how they’ve ended up with an image problem. I swear I have never, ever asked a new mom — even close friends! — if they breastfeed or bottlefeed. I figure if we hang out enough, I’ll see whether she pulls out a boob or a bottle eventually. If it’s a boob, then maybe I’ll talk about my experiences. If it’s a bottle, well, I have a lot of experiences with those, too. Ooh, is that a Dr. Brown’s? I love those! Etc.

Remember, these people’s judgment that you feel? That you’re driving yourself crazy over trying to avoid or appease? DOESN’T MATTER. You will never please everybody. Somebody out there is always — ALWAYS — going to look at your parenting choices and think “UR DOIN IT WRONG.” Breastfeeding today, the “wrong” kind of baby food tomorrow, lunch at McDonald’s the day after that.

Some things are easier to develop a thick skin over than others — and it’s completely understandable that your breastfeeding experience is still a bit chapped and raw for you. That will get better, I promise. One day you’ll re-read your letter to me and those paragraphs about how hard you tried and how much it sucked and you’ll realize that a new layer of confidence has grown over the wound: You tried SO HARD and that is AWESOME and then you made the RIGHT CHOICE to focus on being a mother to your baby, rather than spend all your time crying and feeling like nothing more than a malfunctioning dairy case. That’s a WIN in my book.

I totally understand the urge to want to get credit for time served, for at least TRYING to nurse. I did the same thing. (Mostly because NOBODY wants to be the mom who didn’t even TRY, right? Right? She’s the WORST MOM EVER LET’S JUDGE HER TOGETHER.) (That was sarcasm, and lots of it.) But looking back…eh. I don’t even remember any of the people I had those conversations with now. It clearly wasn’t worth all the worry I put into it, wishing I could keep myself from rambling to waitresses and the Internet that no, we’re not nursing anymore but I tried and it sucked and I did everything I swear oh God please don’t try to suggest something that I could have done differently because it’s too late and that doesn’t help GAH. And then coming up with the perfect comeback a few hours later.

It got easier once I learned to own my decision — even though it didn’t really feel like “my” decision for a long time, since it all felt so out of my hands and control — and just answer as matter-of-factly as possible. Nope, bottle-feeding for now, I would have liked to nurse for longer but it didn’t work for us, that’s wonderful to hear you had such a good experience now excuse me I need to be going now, nice meeting you etc. If they judge you, whatever. They’re clueless and they don’t know you or your baby. Who is being FED, by the way, which is kind of the POINT.

The good news is that as your baby gets older, you SHOULD stop hearing the breastfeeding question so often. And then practically not at all. It’s funny how all those passionate, nosy strangers suddenly morph in the “you’re STILL nursing that kid, omg, he has TEETH, he can practically ASK FOR IT!” types.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

Amalah
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch

Amalah

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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Michelle
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Michelle

If it makes you feel any better, I think people simply just don’t know what to say or ask sometimes when they want to have a conversation with you. If it wasn’t breastfeeding, then it would be another topic. I am an adoptive mom and people feel like they can ask me all kinds of questions about my kids, right in front of the kids, even strangers at the grocery store. I decided a long time ago to first look to the person’s true intention. If they are genuinely curious about my family, then I give them a brief but… Read more »

roo
Guest

Oh, can I just tell you how reassuring and lovely it was to come across this article today? I have a two-month-old that I’ve never been able to nurse (though, like the OP, I’d planned to– studied, bought supplies, and so forth.) I’m on medication. But I can’t even talk about that to people who ask, because “Really? What medication? What for?” …and I really don’t want to talk about any of that– particularly not with people I just met– because it’s the sort of thing that elicits even more judgment and shame than not breastfeeding. And I cried and… Read more »

Cassie
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Cassie

I switched to exclusively formula at 4 months due to a low supply. (Seriously, people would talk about pumping 6-8 ounces a SESSION, and I was barely getting 6 ounces A DAY, which was nowhere near enough for the kiddo while he was in daycare. Not even CLOSE.) People would ask all the time, and I’d casually shrug it off with “We did (breastfeed) but I had supply issues, but Kiddo is doing just great and growing like a weed,” followed by a quick switch in topic. The harder part is exactly what Amalah said – OWNING the decision and… Read more »

Kathryn
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Kathryn

These stories drive me nuts. My son ended up on a feeding tube at 9 months old because he was solely breastfed and wasn’t getting what he needed from me (and he had a growth on his tongue that had to be removed through surgery, so bottles weren’t an option as he couldn’t move his tongue). He only needed the tube for 3 months and is now a perfectly healthy 4 year old with no eating issues whatsoever, but it still annoys me that people kept pushing me to breastfeed when obviously it wasn’t working at all for my son.… Read more »

JenVegas
Guest
JenVegas

My supply started running low when I went back to work and I felt bad about the semi-gradual conversion to formula for like a minute. I think you have to decide for yourself that what’s best for your baby is that he is healthy and happy and what’s best for mom and dad is that if they are both healthy and happy and if that means formula then whatever to all of those type of people who will judge you. You don’t owe them any explanations and I think that if you can project that energy into your answer (whatever… Read more »

Laura
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Laura

Michelle – “Why do you ask?” is a brilliant response to people’s questions about breastfeeding, or anything related to parenting really. I wish’d I’d thought of that when the scowly old lady in the grocery store cornered me and my then-6-month-old daughter last year in the orange juice aisle and said “you’re not going get her a flu shot, are you?”.

Katie
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Katie

I could have written this letter–pretty much every last sentence from the prenatal prep work to the vicious cycle of nurse/bottle/pump hell (and only pumping an ounce or two a day, total) to, on the advice of my LC, quitting at six weeks, and realizing exactly how much happier you are. Minus the sobbing and self-hate when you have to buy a can of formula at Target. I was never good at answering questions of why we quit. Mostly, I think I launched into verbal diarrhea about how low my supply was, and how really! I promise! I did everything… Read more »

Jen K.
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Jen K.

Same thing happened with us — a lactation consultant once had me formula-feed my first in her office after I tried to nurse, and then sent me home with a bag-full of formula samples. (Turns out I have hyposplastic breasts and this tissue didn’t develop properly during puberty). I got the question all the time — even from cashiers at the grocery store (!). I lied to the cashiers. Friends I would say that I would have loved to but I have a medical issue that keeps me from producing milk. End of story. I was so much happier when… Read more »

Procrastamom
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Procrastamom

It just makes me sick to my stomach to think that a new Mom is sitting there fretting and crying and worrying about feeding her baby formula.  You know why she does that?  Because of all of the misinformation and scare media and Judgey McLactivists who constantly scream, “Formula!!  Poison!!!”  It makes me so angry.  Can we all just agree that FEEDING your baby is best and that a happy mom really does equal a happy baby?  Please?

Kari
Guest

My standard response to rude questions is to calmly say, “I am not sure why you would ask me that.” I think it would work for rude comments, too: “I am not sure why you would say that.” And then just let it hang there. 

I like Michelle’s answer up there, too: “Why do you ask?” It’s a little less pointed, but still gets the message across. 🙂

Jennifer
Guest

Funny, I was all prepared to shame nosy people into never asking another woman about breastfeeding (2 pound, 6 ounce preemie at 31 weeks, who spent 7 weeks in the NICU, and is still on 24 calories per ounce at 5 months; severe preeclampsia that didn’t go away with delivery, to the tune of the ER and readmission when my BP spiked to 215/100+; round-the-clock pumping for two months, so I could deliver not-enough food to the hospital; NINE LCs; useless herbs and a 48-hour bout with Reglan that made me a basketcase–yeah, suffice to say I never really got… Read more »

Kristen
Guest
Kristen

Someone once told me that a good response to a baby related “shame” question is “are you and your husband/wife/whatever still having sex?” Because seriously? No ones business!
I had a man once ask me if I breastfed and how long. When I told him six months (6 months of exclusive bottle feeding breast milk that I pumped every damn day at least 3 hours a day due to poor sucking), he told me he preferred to hear 12 months! I sat with my mouth agape for a minute, until he walked away to unleash his boorish opinions on someone else.

Heidi
Guest
Heidi

This is a refreshing post–I, too, was a breastfeeding failure with my first, third, and fourth children. And that despite the fact that I am an NICU nurse with certification in lactation! (My second child breastfed like a champ until 18 mos. Go figure.) I can completely relate to all of the emotions in this post and in the comments. I agree with Procrastamom that the “lactavist” culture can be so hurtful to a new mom struggling with breastfeeding. Too often their attitude is that breastfeeding is totally natural and easy, so they only reason a mom wouldn’t breastfeed is… Read more »

Amy
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Amy

Oh, I totally could have written this letter two years ago when I was struggling with milk supply issues.  I was an emotional wreck when I had to use formula.  I filled my days with tedious pumping sessions (to produce 1/4 of an ounce at a time! Total!), And I did it all, fenugreek, tea, and even Reglan, which doubled my supply to a whopping 1/2 an ounce at a time.  And like you, when I finally switched to exclusive formula feeding around 5 months it was like a huge weight was lifted off of my shoulders and my daughter’s… Read more »

Jill G
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Jill G

I usually ask (people I know, not totally strangers) but it is for the reason Amy said – to show support. I had a really strange situation and I exclusively pumped – I knew no one else who did this and really felt isolated. Now that I have shared my story, many of my friends ended up exclusively pumping. It was plan B – he still got the breastmilk but just not straight from the source. The crazies seriously must hang out at the grocery store. I have like 3 stories about weirdos I have met there, so do many… Read more »

camille
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camille

Procrastimom says it best: what’s best for your baby is FEEDING your baby. Formula is a Godsend…women with nursing difficulties pre-formula ran the very real risk that their baby would not thrive, or even survive (and I’m one of the fortunate mamas who have had very few problems nursing my two). I hope that mamas who do not have nursing go as they had hoped can be easier on themselves (which includes not refering to themselves as breastfeeding failures).

IrishCream
Guest
IrishCream

For what it’s worth, I was exclusively breastfed, and nursed until I was two. My husband was raised on formula. I have the crappiest immune system, allergies to everything, and asthma. My husband has taken three sick days in the last five years, and he’s no slouch in the intelligence department either. There are a lot of great things about breastfeeding, and a lot of great things about formula, too. You’re obviously giving your little one a great start in life by being happy, relaxed, and loving, so congratulations to you!

Suzy Q
Guest
Suzy Q

Yep, standard response to any intrusive question is, “Why on earth would you ask such a personal question?”  followed by a turnaway.  And to those who persist, “How much do you weigh?”  Shuts ’em right up.

Kimberly
Guest
Kimberly

The judgement definitely goes both ways. My sister in law didn’t like to be in the same room with me when I nursed my son. And she only used formula with hers. Eh. What are you going to do?

You know you are a good, caring mom who will do just about anything for your son. Try to let that knowledge be enough and for all those nosy strangers: a simple, “not your business” should suffice. After all, you’re not going to see them again.

JB
Guest
JB

I might be being too simplistic, but what about saying….”I don’t talk about my breasts in public, I didn’t even do that when I was single! Har!” *Wink* “So, how’s your job going?” Or something. Include a “cocktail laugh” as necessary. Or some form of that…”Oh, no one wants to hear about my hooters, I had enough of THAT in college, who knows what I’m saying!” or some other slightly-embarrassing/inappropriate comment that might shut people up. …No? Just me who watches too much stand-up comedy? :-/ . But my point is, no one should MAKE you talk about something that… Read more »

CatM
Guest
CatM

It is such a shame that people are so judgmental of the decisions made by other mothers! I nursed my oldest for almost a year and my youngest for 5 months. I had to start medication for raging heartburn developed during pregnancy. I felt so guilt-ridden for stopping early, but my youngest totally thrived on formula! People should mind their own business!

ER
Guest
ER

THANK YOU! I have been looking for an article like this for 5 months now. Everything & everyone (including myself pre-baby) is 100% pro-breastfeeding. Yes, I know it is the best thing for the baby, but it is HARD and when it doesn’t work out, you need support too. I cannot believe how many people (MIL’s friends, my UNCLE, random people on the street!) asked me about breastfeeding. For awhile I just lied as well, but after a few months I became confident in my decision to stop. Not only was it better for me (my sanity), but my husband… Read more »

Amber
Guest

I’m 34 weeks pregnant, and plan on exclusively breastfeeding, and not being able to do that scares me to death. Not in a “OMG formula BAD” kind of way, in a “my mom did it, so that’s the way I want to do it” kind of way. Reading this has helped calm my nerves a bit, and realize, even though I already knew, that it won’t be the end of the world if breastfeeding doesn’t work out for us. I totally agree that there is so much pressure from the world that if I hadn’t already made the decision to… Read more »

Maren
Guest

I like JB’s comment! I am bookmarking this so I can read it in 8 months when I have my 2nd. With my first I pumped for 11 months, and still felt like a failure for drying up then. I had people tell me when he was 3 months old that I should keep trying, because he still might get the hang of it (because the pumped milk wasn’t good enough? Because both of us sobbing at every feeding is more productive than happy mama, happy baby?) (Incidentally, I did try to breastfeed him once at about 5 months –… Read more »

Kimberly
Guest

I could have written this letter when I had my son. We lasted 13 days. Amy is right – own it! Easier said than done, I know. You made the best decision for your family (and your sanity) – how dare anyone second guess you?! My response to the nursing question: it did not work out for us. I had to remind myself A LOT that when he graduates from high school, no one will know or care whether what he ate at 6 weeks old. As it is now, he’s 2 and no one seems to know or care!… Read more »

Christine
Guest
Christine

“It’s funny how all those passionate, nosy strangers suddenly morph in the “you’re STILL nursing that kid, omg, he has TEETH, he can practically ASK FOR IT!” types.” OMG YES!!! My son is almost 19 months and won’t give up the boob. I’m thrilled that we made it so long yet at the same time I am. so. over. it. But even the nurse at his last checkup gave me a weird look when I said he still got breastmillk and used that “tone” when she asked, “He still gets breastmilk?!” Yeah. Still has breastmilk. Didn’t realize there was a… Read more »

Olivia
Guest
Olivia

Love JB’s response! Hang in there mama. In the blink of an eye the tears spent over not breastfeeding will be dry. Unfortunately, it’ll be something else later on. I think the best thing we mothers can do is work on that thick skin and owning our parenting decisions as soon as possible because someone will always be nosy and judgey.

Kati
Guest

I had a horrid experience BFing my kiddo.  It was miserable.  She was a preemie so I spent a lot of time connected to a pump and then we realized that I had extremely low supply.  I couldn’t take any of the prescribed meds because of allergies and other things going on.  

So, yes, I got the judgmental questions and opinions on the matter.  Finally I just started telling people the truth, I’d had cancer.  Now, it’s not my fault they assumed I’d had breast cancer or that I’d even had it recently.  It did shut them up, though.

Kate
Guest
Kate

I don’t have much other advice to add to Amy’s spot-on (as usual) advice or to the other commenters other than to say ME TOO. Not being able to nurse my first son and the dread of every feeding that you describe was by far the most difficult part of being a new mother for me. by far. As others have said, you need to own the decision and be comfortable with it. This will go a long way toward helping the judgment you feel from other people, because I’d be willing to bet that most of the time, they’re… Read more »

kimm
Guest
kimm

It seems like everybody is so gung-ho about breastfeeding, but when you have to go back to work there is no support at all, every though they all ask about it-I think it’s in the realm of sexual harrassment. I wouldn’t ask anybody about their BREASTS at WORK!! But everybody did, then my bosses were upset that I have to take breaks to pump, and I cried every day in the hot car pumping(nowhere to do it privately at school), because I wanted to be with my son, and wanted to do a good job too. I didn’t go back… Read more »

Emily
Guest
Emily

Can totally identify. Hated being in the predicament of wanting to breastfeed. being unable to do so without extremely negative emotional consequences, hated being judged for making that decision. Amy’s right on; I loved The Bloggess’s take on this as well: http://thestir.cafemom.com/baby/110227/lesson_two_breastfeeding_will_kill

Nessa
Guest
Nessa

I think just the number of posts should help soothe your feelings of not being the only one who’s had issues. I could’ve written this post too and lasted for as long, but I firmly believe my baby blues were a direct result of the anguish and lack of sleep I was getting from pumping so frequently to get enough, but still having to supplement. #2 is due in Mar and I’ll be the first to admit that I’m scarred enough to be fearful of trying again especially since the tenderness has not gone away, even in the wonderful 2nd… Read more »

Jessica
Guest
Jessica

First time responder here… But OH! I feel horrible! I’m one of those people who have been asking women lately if they breastfeed/fed. But for me, it’s because I am 28 weeks pregnant and I’m CURIOUS. Hardly anyone in my family did it and I just want someone to talk to about it when Lil’ Mongoose comes in January. If the response was “no”, or “we tried”, I usually leave it at that. The only one I pushed on was my sister-in-law. And I said, “May I ask why it didn’t work for you?” I try not to be judgemental,… Read more »

Laura
Guest
Laura

This is the template that works out pretty well for me: Nosy person: “Are you breastfeeding?” Me: “No, we had some medical issues.”  *smile* At this point hopefully you can change the subject, but there may be one more exchange: Nosy person: “What were your issues?  You know, a lot of times you can breastfeed anyway, blah blah blah.” Me: “It’s kind of personal.” *smiiiile* Then change the subject.  Generally this works out pretty well– I haven’t had anybody take offense or try to push beyond those two exchanges.  Of course I’m sure there’s somebody out there who won’t take… Read more »

andrea
Guest
andrea

Our pediatrician posted this article on his site:
http://realpediatrics.com/breast_feeding.html

Nessa
Guest
Nessa

I think all these other posts is a testament to how hard and how many issues women have with this. I also could’ve written this post and I stuck it out for probably as long, but I firmly believe that my baby blues and anxiety were a direct result of the stress and lack of sleep I was getting from pumping so frequently and still having to supplement. #2 is due in March and I’ll be the first to admit that I’m scarred and scared enough to be freaking out about trying this again. But I’m going to give it… Read more »

Amy
Guest
Amy

I was unable to breastfeed my daughter due to a breast reduction done eons ago when they didn’t do things they way they do them now. My milk never came in and while I tried, pumping for 40 minutes at a time only to have absolutely nothing come out, in the end I decided it wasn’t worth it. Better for my daughter to be fed and happy, which meant mama is happy. I do still regret from time to time not being able to breast feed, not going to lie about that but owning it has helped a lot when… Read more »

Eden
Guest

My five month old and I are exclusively breastfeeding and we defend ourselves to our own FAMILY because we are not bottle feeding. YOU JUST CAN’T WIN. Only you know what is best for you and your baby!!! You will NEVER get this time back with this baby, so enjoy every second, every scent of him! Other people can take their opinions and jump in a lake.

Katie
Guest
Katie

@Jessica–I wouldn’t be at all offended if a friend of mine who was expecting asked me about my breastfeeding experience when they were expecting–I think it would have helped me tremendously if somebody had prepared me for the fact that in some instances, breastfeeding really doesn’t work out, and there is nothing you can do about it. The “you can do it!”/it’s all supply and demand!/keep latching that baby!/one bottle of formula will permanently derail your attempt to breastfeed/”moms who quit just didn’t try hard enough” attitude of a lot of books/websites really clouded my expectations and made it hard… Read more »

Megan
Guest
Megan

You really just can’t win. And Amy is so right, if it isn’t this it is just going to be something else.

Shannon
Guest
Shannon

WHY, OH WHY do we have to tear each other down with criticism about such a personal thing as breastfeeding?!?  Good gravy!  I get so irritated at anyone who asks the “Are you breastfeeding?” question (unless it’s my doctor, a fellow mom or mom-to-be looking for guidance or advice) because WHAT DOES IT MATTER TO YOU?!?  Ugh!  As if motherhood doesn’t come with quite enough guilt trips as is.  I just want to hug and reassure anyone who is going through those huge “I’m a failure” moments — you are not a failure!!  (A failure mom would just not bother… Read more »

Brandi
Guest
Brandi

I’m so glad someone else had the same experience I did with breastfeeding. I felt horrible listening to my son scream because he was hungry and I couldn’t produce enough milk for him. He never latched on so I pumped. We saw the lactation consultant, pediatrician, OB, and tried the fenugeek but nothing worked for the supply issue or his latching. I pumped all day and barely had enough for one bottle or breastmilk a day. I felt so inadequate. Formula feeding is definitely easier but I still have regrets. In the grand scheme of things it seems so insignificant… Read more »

Jessica
Guest

I, too, have a complicated breastfeeding experience (which you can read all about here if you want to: http://shouldbethebeginning.com/2011/10/13/60065-part-i/), but I want to say that even though I agree that it is incredibly shocking the stuff total strangers feel they have the right to inquire about once you start procreating, I DO wish that when I was pregnant and in life in general, I had heard more of the variety of experiences with breastfeeding that all the incredibly moms have mentioned in the comments. I think part of the reason people can be such trolls about this kind of thing… Read more »

Angie
Guest
Angie

Oh yeah, the trying-to-be-supportive a acquaintance who totally sticks her foot in her mouth while trying to telegraph her support for your breastfeeding choices? Oof. I’ve done that. :::blushes:::

Karen
Guest
Karen

Well, there are already great responses here, but just another perspective. I struggled to nurse but was successful ultimately for 13 months though I ended up supplementing formula last few months when I couldn’t pump enough for daycare. I had begun attending LLL meetings, met some nice women there that I am still friends with, mostly LLL attracts people who are successful nursers and pumpers and I’m happy for them. I didn’t have a bad “lactivist” experience there, in fact I mostly wanted to nurse because my mom and aunts have always talked about nursing in the 1970’s and how… Read more »

Olivia
Guest
Olivia

Karen – even though I’m still nursing my 2.5 yr old, I did supplement with formula when she was under 1 yr old because I had trouble pumping enough, too. Depending on the situation, breastfeeding doesn’t have to be all or nothing and that relieved me of a lot of stress.

Megan
Guest

I’m currently limping along with breastfeeding, doing the best I can with what I can produce and supplementing with a bottle at pretty much every feeding. This was really hard just out of the hospital with raging hormones and new baby shock. I really wanted to do this for my baby and couldn’t. Giving her the bottle felt like I was putting a Big Mac in her mouth (i know it’s not true, but still…). Not having been overly opinionated about such things before I was pregnant, I wasn’t prepared for how horrible I felt about it and that I… Read more »

Jenn
Guest
Jenn

Behold! The perfect answer to the “Are you breastfeeding” question:

Nosy Stranger: Are you breasfeeding?

Reply (with a smile and a joking tone of voice): Why, are you hungry?

Okay, maybe it’s not the most socially appropriate answer – but in my opinion, it’s not an appropriate question. Period. And I have always felt questions like that deserve a friendly answer that leaves the asker feeling just a little squicky.

I don’t know why people feel so compelled to ask such a personal question. Why do we become public property as soon as we have babies?

EG1972
Guest
EG1972

As has been said, it’s always something. My hubs and I have now felt the need to start fibbing about how much our toddler nurses, since there’s judgement about that too. Why can’t we all just get along?!

Hollie
Guest

One of the worst things about the bottle-shame is that it flushes you Every. Single. Time. you feed your baby in public. Which is pretty frequent for me. I was sooo lucky, mechanically, with breastfeeding. My baby “got it”, I had great supply, and for 11 weeks we were in oxytocin heaven. Then some kind of mysterious protein allergy reared its head, never going away for FOURTEEN WEEKS OF ELIMINATION OF ALL GOOD FOOD, EVER. Now she’s on prescription formula, and though I know that Elecare is DEFINITELY what’s best for my baby, I get looks, questions, and comments all… Read more »