Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Stop the judgement~

I have been pondering how and when to write this post and I figured NOW is as good a time as any...and, I should put a disclaimer to this post... This post comes in PEACE and is a public service announcement on being non-judgemental...

This is not a pro-formula post. I'm a 100% pro-breastfeeding momma. Breast is best...BUT, my baby is being fed with formula! This post is about the JUDGEMENT that I have felt regarding how I feed MY child. When I say YOU through out this post I am talking to those mothers that judge other mothers for not being able to breastfeed their baby. Not all breastfeeding moms act this way but I have come across an air of superiority that I feel like acknowledging in a public forum.

First, let me explain some of our situation for those of you that may be new to reading my blog. Cooper was born at 31 weeks which is WAY before a baby knows how to suck, swallow and breath all at the same time. So, for the first 3 weeks of Cooper's life he received all of his breastmilk meals through a feeding tube down his nose. We started breastfeeding when Cooper turned 34 weeks for one meal a day, then you move up to 2 meals, then 2-4 meals and so on and so forth until he was finally eating 8 meals by mouth a day. Let me explain breastfeeding my preemie baby to you...some days he was able to latch with a nipple shield and some days he couldn't latch at all. Some days he would breastfeed for 20 minutes and actually LOSE weight. He would expend so much extra energy breastfeeding that his feeding was null and void.

Now, let me tell you a little about myself...I planned on breastfeeding for a year (or more depending on how the weaning process was going with Cooper.) I read books and I talked to nurses during 8 weeks of bedrest in the hospital about breastfeeding. There was nothing I wanted more than to feed my baby with my breasts and actually use my breasts for what they are intended for...I felt so passionately about this for so many reasons but I also had one huge emotional reason for wanting to breastfeed my child...The year before I had lost a baby at 23 weeks...guess what, my milk still came in...I got engorged and leaked every where...my body knew that it didn't have a baby anymore and wanted to feed it but there was no baby to feed. My heart broke even more as I slipped a nursing pad into my bra everyday for weeks. So, when Cooper was born I pumped every 2-3 hours at home and in the nicu. Everyday, I would bring in my bottles of breastmilk for them to prepare for his tube feedings. I pumped every 2-3 hours every day (even while recovering from a c-section and hysterectomy)...then, when he was about 3 weeks old I had some sinus drainage and took Ben.a.dryl because I was terrified that if they heard me sniffle that I wouldn't be allowed into the nicu. I knew that I wasn't sick and I didn't want to take the chance of them not letting me see my son. My supply was nearly cut in half after 3 days on the ben.a.dryl although I was still pumping and drinking tons of fluids. The ben.a.dryl incident probably just coincided with the fact that my pregnancy hormones were dropping AND I wasn't able to put my child to my breast to stimulate more milk. Those factors including the stress of having a preemie in the nicu and no longer being able to trick my breasts with a pump pretty much zapped my supply. I tried over the counter herbal supplements and I even took Reglan (which did help but then I did research on the side effects and it didn't seem worth it). I've cried buckets of tears but then Cooper's ped told me to basically get over it because sometimes breastfeeding just doesn't work and Cooper needs a healthy mommy...

I tell you all of this to say...YOU don't know people's circumstances and what their baby and the mother has been through. I'm not lazy and it's not that I didn't try hard enough and YOU are not a better mother than I am just because breastfeeding worked out for you! I've heard formula being compared to fast food and to rat poison. I've read blogs where other mothers have said that they feel sorry for babies when they see them being bottlefed. Please, don't feel sorry or pity my baby. He is the most loved and well-taken care of baby. He is doted on every moment that he is awake. He probably gets more attention than the average baby. He's thriving and social.

Imagine if I went around asking other mothers if they took their baby to daycare...and, if they said "yes" than I found it completely acceptable to tell them how sorry I felt for their children and insuiated that they were less of a mother. I don't feel that way for the record but could you imagine if I wrote a post about how you were less of a nurturing mother because you had to work outside of the home...and, how I pitied your child when I saw you pull up to your daycare center. What??? Some mothers can't help that they have to work!?! Well, then maybe, you should just assume that mothers who formula feed did everything they could to breastfeed when she pulls out that bottle. Did you ever stop to wonder if that baby that is receiving a bottle was adopted? Did you ever stop to wonder if that mother has a health condition or on some medications that won't allow her to breastfeed??? Why don't you stop worrying about how other people are feeding their kids and ONLY concentrate on how you're feeding your own baby.

Why can't mothers just support other mothers??? Are we really that insecure with ourselves that we find it okay to judge and belittle each other because of how our babies are fed? I know how wonderful breastfeeding is and wish everyday that it could've worked out for me and my son. To hear it from the mouths of some mothers about how their baby will never receive formula and then compare it to rat poison (which would kill a baby and although I don't know this for fact, I would dare to say that no baby has ever died from receiving formula) is an agressive remark on that other mother's inability to breastfeed her baby. Some moms may chose just not to breastfeed because they don't want to and you know what, it still isn't any of your business.

I say as moms that we should just stop the judgements. Please, come to me when you see my child jumping out in the road or about to put their hand on a hot stove because this would cause them actual pain and harm. My child is in neither situation as he was a preemie and has thrived on his formula. He started out at 4 pounds and is now at 17+ pounds and is ruled to be in great health by his pediatrician.

Some will comment I'm sure about me getting donated breastmilk. Well, my response to that is that I would rather leave that supply for preemies or other sick babies. They need it more than my son at this point. I was able to give my son almost 2 months of breastmilk exclusively when he needed it the most and for that I am proud.

To those of you that are exclusively breastfeeding mommas~ kudos and high-fives! You will always get my respect and admiration for your hardwork. You are giving your baby the very best!

Just please stop looking down on me for my decision...one that I was forced into but one that I have to live with none the less...

Feel free to comment but please notice that not once did I make a disparaging remark about breastfeeding mothers and have nothing but positive things to say about breastfeeding. I'm not advocating formula. I'm an advocate for the stop of judgement.

Love, Jen


  1. well said...

    i've felt the judgement too, with both my babies...and as much as i wanted to BF too, long NICU stays just didnt allow for it. its another one of those "dreams" i've had to give up...and let me just say, pumping is not FUN! i know you did it for awhile too....its crazy hard!

    i just wish we could all be supportive of each other...we don't know each others story....

  2. yikes Jen, I am sorry you had to go through that. Its not right. Not everyone can breast feed. What about those babies who are intolerant to their mother's milk?

  3. Wow Jen, nicely stated. And for the record, I WISH that someone had written something like this while I was gong thru all the emotional guilt associated with a poor supply and a NICU stay etc etc. I spent months feeling like an inadequate mother. Now that our DD is 10 months old I look back and think how much time I 'lost' worrying and guilt tripping myself. If you don't mind, I'd like to link to your post. It is so beautifully written.

  4. Hi Jen, I too had problems with breastfeeding and am so tired of the those that judge. My babies is 6 months old (I stopped at 5 weeks) and I still say things in my head that justify/make me feel better for quitting. I hate that I do that! I wish I didn't have to feel bad to begin with.

  5. I still feel guilty about not having breastfed my two boys and they are teenagers!!! (both very healthy, bright and happy)

    I really understand what you say about people judging - it drove me crazy. It was not my fault that I couldn't feed my babies myself.

    What a wonderful post.

  6. Thank you for such a wonderful post.

  7. I had the same breastfeeding prooblems with my oldest (who was born at 34 weeks) In all of our feeding troubles, not only did I get mastitis in both sides, but we both also got thrush. He was losing weight, so I made the switch to formula, too. It doesn't matter what you feed your baby. You do what is best for them, and now my little guy is a healthy, happy eight year old! :)

    My second was born at 38 weeks, and I was able to successfully breastfeed him for 18 months, but only because I had so much help from lactation consultants at the beginning.

    I think you are a wonderful mama, and all that matters is that you are taking care of and loving your baby. Everyone who thinks otherwise can suck it! :)

  8. Yeah for you Jen!! I also wanted to BF Sage but just like you, the NICU tends to get in the way of the early stages. Sage was very lazy when he was first born and sucking on a bottle was the last thing he wanted to do. Literally, he was ready to go home weight wise after 8 days, but he wouldnt suck on the bottle so he had to stay longer.
    Once moms can come together and stop condeming each other for their decisions making then maybe the world will be a better place for all of our kids to grow up. Just accept people for who they are and let each do their own thing. Thats all I ask!!

  9. I wish women were more supportive of each other. Owen was full term but had really bad reflux so he threw up over half of every feed - and I only had so much supply had had to turn to formula after the first days and I always felt like a failure with the comments and the way people would look at me. Parenting is hard enough without the judgments!

  10. Jen I am so glad you wrote this. I want so badly to be able to breast feed when my rainbow arrives. I know enough mothers to know that it isn't easy for everyone in fact very few have it happen without a lot of hard work. Even still there are so many reasons it may not work out, like you mentioned. I commend you for all that pumping, that was truly a selfless act while you were recovering. You are so right about others assumptions and harsh- omg- rat poison comments. There are so many real injustices that are being committed against babies and children to worry about moms who bottle feed!
    I agree with you and previous posts...lets all support each other!!