Emily Wax-Thibodeaux, a staff writer for the Washington Post, recently published an article that has gone viral. “Why I don’t Breast-feed, if You Must Know,” details how she was harshly judged by fellow mothers for formula feeding.
Here’s an excerpt:
“The mothers in my “Baby & Me Yoga Fit” class looked down from their tree poses, surprised as I poured some instant formula into a bottle.
Feeding our babies whenever they were in need was one of the most nurturing parts of the class. But with my evil formula, I was disrupting the fellow yogis in a way I never could have predicted.
“You know,” one mother said as I fed my little Lincoln, then 3 months old, “breast-feeding is optimal.”
Wax-Thibodeaux also was harassed in the hospital after giving birth by the “breastfeeding nazis” who simply wouldn’t accept her choice to formula feed.
Turns out, Wax- Thibodeax is a breast cancer survivor who underwent a double mastectomy. She was unable to breastfeed.
Here are my favorite quotes from the “lactivists,” as she calls them:
“Just try,” they advised. “Let’s hope you get some milk.”
“It may come out anyway, or through your armpits,” another advised…
After a double mastectomy, if she was making any milk at all, the surgeon didn’t do his job. She shouldn’t have any breast tissue left or she is at risk for relapse.
Frankly, I am horrified and embarrassed by the Lactation Consultants in this story who share my job title and I hope you are just as embarrassed by the judgmental mothers at Mommy Baby Yoga.
Breastfeeding is a choice. Bottle-feeding with formula or expressed milk is a choice and sometimes a necessity.
Judging someone for bottle-feeding is prejudice.
I want to make something 100% perfectly clear. I am not a breastfeeding nazi. I don’t even consider myself a lactivist.
This community, Balanced Breastfeeding, is a nonjudgmental community of women who have chosen to breastfeed. We are not a community of formula haters who are on a crusade to make every woman breastfeed her baby.
Frankly, I could care less if you choose to breastfeed or formula feed as long as you are making a well informed choice.
You have no business judging anyone’s method of feeding her baby because, frankly, it is none of your business. You have no idea what the history is behind her feeding choice; therefore, you have no right to speculate about her choice.
Furthermore, I implore you to take a hard look at what you feel is “an acceptable reason” to formula feeding. What are your criteria for judging a mom who bottle feeds?
- What if she spent four months breastfeeding and pumping around the clock, but she never made enough milk? She breastfeeds and feeds formula. Is she worthy of your approval?
- What if she developed a severe, difficult to treat infection in her breast that required her to be hospitalized? Now she exclusively formula feeds. Is she worthy of your approval?
- What if her nipples were so damaged from breastfeeding that she now has scar tissue where they healed? She exclusively pumps and bottle feeds. Is she worthy of your approval?
- What if she simply chose to formula feed? Is she worthy of your approval?
Here at Balanced Breastfeeding…
We don’t judge a mother if she used fertility treatments to get pregnant. We don’t judge a mother if she had a Cesarean section. We don’t judge a mother for feeding with a bottle.
If we want breastfeeding mothers to be respected when they breastfeed in public, if we want to women to be supported while pumping at work, and if we want to ultimately “normalize” breastfeeding, we must start by accepting the choices of others first.