I’ll never forget when a friend of mine welcomed her beautiful new baby into the world, only to be reduced to tears by a midwife just hours later for not breastfeeding her child. Had the midwife taken a moment to speak with her before stepping onto her soapbox, she would have realised my friend had lost part of her breast in an accident when she was younger and therefore her body did not produce milk. Breastfeeding for her was not a choice, it wasn’t even an option.
And while yes, breastfeeding is the ideal option where possible, a fed child is the most important thing.
As any mum will tell you, the breastfeeding journey is one that is fought with difficulty, doubt, pain and lots of emotion. Most of us go into it with the best of intentions and high hopes, but the reality is, it is not always possible to breastfeed. Whether it is due to a low milk supply, a baby who can’t latch or the mother has a physical/medical condition preventing her from feeding or, quite simply, the mother makes the decision to stop (because that’s her choice). We’re so lucky that we live in an age where there are options available to make sure our bubs can still thrive.
So while you might feel strongly about breastfeeding – or it came so easily to you and you feel like you’re helping with your advice – remember that most mums who have moved to formula have done so because they didn’t have an easy time and they’re often grappling with their own sense of failure without you needing to make them feel even worse.
11 things you should NEVER say to a formula-feeding mum:
- Breast is best
- Breastfeeding came so naturally to me
- You won’t bond with your baby if you don’t breastfeed
- Formula feeding is the easy option
- At least your boobs won’t be ruined like mine are
- Your boobs are so big I’m surprised/You boobs are so small I’m not surprised
- Have you tried doing it this way?
- Do you know what’s in that formula you’re feeding your baby?
- Formula will make your baby fat
- How will you lose the baby weight if you don’t breastfeed
- Couldn’t go without the booze hey?
And here are a few things you SHOULD say:
- Well done mama, you are doing an awesome job!
- Is there anything you need/want me to help with?
- You look amazing
How to decide between breastfeeding and formula feeding
Feeding marathons, bodily fluids and night sweats: what to expect in the days and weeks after birth
Choosing the best feeding option for your baby