We're happy to present this article by Alex Alexander from one of our favorite sites, YourTango.
All choices are not OK — and it's time someone said something.
If you don't breastfeed, you deserve judgment. I'm not talking to you, sexual trauma survival. Nor do I mean you, NICU mom. If you have a low supply for reasons physiological or anatomical, had surgery that prevents nursing, have cancer, adopted your kid, foster-cared your kid, take meds incompatible with breastfeeding, then stop reading now. This doesn't apply to you.
If your kid has tongue tie, cleft palate, severe reflux, allergies, nipple confusion, or any other of a myriad of issues that would prevent full breastfeeding, I get it. If you work full-time and need formula to get by, I understand. If you got sh*tty nursing advice, you're exempt. If you can concoct any other valid excuses, keep on keepin' on with that bottle. I'm not talking to you. Formula isn't as good as breast milk, but it's not poison. Got it?
But if you never even tried — if your baby's mouth never met nipple, for reasons of personal choice that have nothing to do with health — I'm judging you. That's right. You should've at least given breastfeeding a chance. And if you didn't, you made a big parenting mistake and we all have the right to judge you for it.
You're a mammal. You're built to lactate. When it fails, that's sad. When it's ignored, that's a travesty defying nature and human biology. Why do you think your breasts became engorged? It wasn't for kicks. Your doctor had to drug you to dry you up. That's because you should be nursing your newborn.
Maybe you think it's a personal choice to formula feed. (After all, women's lib and all that.) But your baby has rights, too — and every child has the right to be fed at least some breast milk, preferably immune-booster-rich colostrum. This is one case where basic biology overrides feminism.
You made a choice to carry a baby for nine months. You made a choice to birth a human infant. With choice comes responsibility. Your responsibilities don't end when you squirt out that watermelon-sized, wailing baby. You have an obligation to provide that baby with at least some breast milk.
Nursing involves more than just milk; it's also about bonding and skin-to-skin contact and all those lovely hormones you release. You and your baby deserve those things.
No, formula won't kill your baby, but everyone agrees that it's harder to digest. It's full of vitamins and fats and immune boosters you can't manufacture and stick in a can. Breast milk changes in composition depending on the time of day, age of the baby, and even how far into the feed you are.
When mom is exposed to a germ, she starts making antibodies against it. There's evidence that a mother's immunities to, for example, the flu, protect her baby for a certain amount of time.
Plus, formula-fed babies have different poop. That sounds superficial, but all the research coming out about gut health says differently. It seems that gut bacteria influence everything from overall health to mental illness. Formula messes with the gut flora we're evolved to have. That can't be goo or healthy.
Babies can be allergic to formula, necessitating soy-based stuff. And evidence suggests that too much soy is a bad, bad thing, acting as an endocrine-disrupter and triggering hormonal changes.
If you think formula will be easier or make baby sleep through the night more quickly, you're flat-out wrong. You've severely underestimated the amount of time you'll spend warming bottles (while cradling a screaming infant), washing bottles, and mixing bottles.
You have to always remember to bring baby food and need access to a clean water source wherever you go, unless you want to find yourself filling bottles in the Target bathroom. Gross.
By making formula your first choice, you're also getting in bed with some pretty nefarious dudes. Corporations like Nestle advertise the superiority of their product in places without access to clean water. Babies die of preventable diseases. Women, convinced formula is better than breast milk but strapped for cash, try to dilute the formula to stretch it. Babies die of malnutrition.
These companies push their product through ads and direct marketing to postpartum women. They push free samples here in the US and give advice to undermine breastfeeding, all in the name of corporate profit. Ick.
But maybe you just think breastfeeding is icky. Maybe you don't want a baby touching what you think is just for your partner. Maybe you think it's primitive and disgusting.
In that case, you need to check your body image. Women's breasts were made not as fun bags, but as baby-feeders. If you think breastfeeding is nasty, you're denigrating an important function of your own body and turning your misaligned sense of female sexuality onto your own body. You need therapy, not baby formula.
So yes, mom who never put her baby to her breast, I'm judging you. Sent your baby to the nursery instead of nursing? You made a poor parenting choice. And no, I'm not just stoking the fire of the mommy wars.
There's a lot of truth in this discussion. Many attachment parents and breastfeeding mamas agree with me. They just keep quiet out of a sense of politeness, of everyone-must-get-along-and-all-choices-are-OK-ness. Everyone doesn't have to get along. All choices are not OK — and it's time someone said something.