An Open Letter to Formula Feeders

An Open Letter to Formula Feeders

Dear Formula Feeder,

I was going to write “mum who formula feeds” but then I realised that might not be the case, you might be dad, or grandma, or grandad, or a foster carer, or a brother, a sister. You could be any one of a number of people who loves and cares for your baby so to restrict it just to mums felt wrong. And to add “primary carer” well that sounded wrong as well, too clinical and official. So to all of you who are formula feeders, here is my letter to you.

Recently I’ve been seeing more and more around the breastfeeding vs. Formula feeding debate.  Whether that’s because I’m involved in more breastfeeding groups or that it is gearing up to Worldwide Breastfeeding Week I’m not sure. But it’s making me a little sad. Where did the divide come from? Why do both sides sit on opposite sides of the fence and get passive-aggressive at each other? And sometimes not even passive-aggressive, sometimes just mean.

Do we not all have the same aim? To love and feed our babies? To care for them and do what’s best for them? For us? For our families?

People are different, it’s a fact of life, what works for me might not work for you. What works for you might not work for me. Doesn’t mean either of us have it wrong it just means we are different. And wouldn’t the world be a boring place if we were all the same? The most important thing is that a baby is loved and fed. And not only that but those doing the loving and feeding gets the support they need and want to be the best they can be.

So you decided you wanted to formula feed from birth because you were ready to get your body back? Great. Good for you and while you’re at it get your other half involved in the night feeds because they no longer have the excuse that they aren’t lactating.

I support you.

So you formula fed from birth because you had problems with latch and lip tie? Please don’t beat yourself up, you tried, it just didn’t work out for you. It doesn’t mean anything. Embrace bottle feeding and know that you are doing the best for your baby.

I support you.

So you formula fed after having a horrific, traumatic birth and just physically couldn’t face breastfeeding? Take time out and regain your strength for you and your baby. Formula isn’t poison and your baby needs you to be strong.

I support you

Formula feed because you don’t have the ability to breastfeed, maybe you are a grandparent, a foster carer, a single dad, you adopted. Whatever the reason you are doing your best.

I support you

You formula feed because after breastfeeding for a set period you are ready to give up. I’ve been there. I was you.

I support you

You formula feed because your breastfeeding journey abruptly stopped because of a life changing event, maybe you’re headed back to work and can’t, or don’t want, to pump because let’s face it time spent pumping could be time spent cuddling your baby and I know what I’d rather do.

I support you

You exclusively formula feed because that was your choice and what works best for your family.

I support you

You combination feed

I support you

Let us not berate one another but embrace our differences, if you want to think me crazy for succumbing to #ginormous nipples, demand feeding and leaky boobs by all means do.  But please don’t call me out on my choices, as alongside everyone else I am just doing my best in my own way.  Just because I am being #PositiveAboutBF it doesn’t mean I am being negative about bottle feeding, I’m not raining on your parade – I am celebrating my own.  Just as you should.

raining on parade

Please just support me in my choices like I support you in yours.

MaternityMondays
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42 Comments

  1. July 20, 2015 / 1:48 pm

    This is a brilliant post, it’s really lovely to see something so positive about both breastfeeding and bottle feeding in one place! I agree we should all support each other regardless xx
    EmilyandIndiana recently posted…37 Week Pregnancy Update | Baby #2My Profile

    • July 26, 2015 / 7:43 am

      Thank you lovely – support is key I think x

  2. July 20, 2015 / 5:17 pm

    Great post hun! I think whatever the decision the key word is “support”. Half the time the divide comes from a mother’s own guilt so supporting each other is so vital xxx
    Sarah Howe (@RunJumpScrap) recently posted…The One with The Chocolate EggMy Profile

    • July 23, 2015 / 8:19 am

      Thanks Sarah, glad you agree. I hate that there seems to be a divide xx

  3. July 20, 2015 / 5:33 pm

    Love your post! I’ve just had my second baby and decided to formula feed. I feel so guilty because of my choice so I’m trying to come to terms with it and drop the guilt.
    Becster recently posted…Sudocrem Care & ProtectMy Profile

    • July 23, 2015 / 8:18 am

      If it’s what’s best for you all then you shouldn’t feel guilty. Thinking of you xx

    • July 23, 2015 / 8:17 am

      Thanks Mark!

  4. July 20, 2015 / 7:11 pm

    I’m with you. And to be honest I think that most mums say the same – let’s support each other in doing what’s best for us and our babies. I think the divide comes from outside. If there are two or more different ways of doing something then there must different ‘sides’. This is an over-simplification of the situation by people who are just spectators – the media, commentators, people who aren’t feeding a child now (they may have in the be past). It puts a lot of unnecessary pressure on mums, which is the saddest part x

    • July 23, 2015 / 8:17 am

      Exactly Claire a lot of the mummy wars is media messaging but there are a few extremists that give the rest a bad name xx

  5. July 20, 2015 / 9:44 pm

    Thankyou for sharing this on #maternitymatters. I have breastfed for a collective 4.75 years. sadly ony 3 days of this total went to my 5th baby as it ‘didn’t work out’ She is now 15 months old and just as perfect as all my other children! I spent months sobbing every evening, avoiding ahving to feed in public because I was so ashamed of my ‘choice.’ The reality was for me that I had no choice and even once I did the need for her oxygen supply made a latch almost impossible anyway! I wish more people had your view, I can honestly tell you I never felt supported! (apart from 2 very close friends and my hubby)
    Claire recently posted…Summer Snail Mail ProjectMy Profile

    • July 23, 2015 / 4:04 am

      Wow Claire that’s an amazing achievement and must have been harder for you with your 5th given that you did it with your other 4 – which is why more support is needed! They aren’t going to walk into school and announce “I was breastfed so I am better than you” so why is the mentality there or perceived to be anyway?? X

  6. July 20, 2015 / 10:52 pm

    Thankyou. Thankyou for writing this. I have battled my breastfeeding demons since Alfie (my 1st born), I struggled to breastfeed both and would have loved to have been successful but sadly I couldn’t but my main priority is that they are happy and healthy children regardless of how I choose to feed them

    Helen- #maternitymondays
    Helen Gandy recently posted…Enter the Threenager!My Profile

    • July 23, 2015 / 4:00 am

      You’re welcome Helen. Exactly your children are happy and healthy and you are a better mum for being able to watch them grow and play rather than battling and battling upsetting yourself and them. Xx

  7. July 20, 2015 / 11:39 pm

    It’s such a shame that we can’t all just be more supportive of each other and that on both sides of the fence there are some who like to promote their way while disparaging others. When really, like you say, we are all just doing the best for our kids and in different families that means different things! Great post, thanks fo rlinking with #MaternityMondays xx
    Caroline (Becoming a SAHM) recently posted…#MaternityMondays week 29My Profile

    • July 23, 2015 / 3:58 am

      That’s exactly it Caroline, people feel they need to judge every aspect of parenting and really it should be about celebrating differences and supporting one another xx

  8. July 21, 2015 / 11:32 am

    I completely agree with you – I see no sense in the divide or judging other people’s decisions. As long as it’s your way and your choice, then it’s the right one. #TwinklyTuesday
    Kelly Edwards recently posted…Getting rid of just in case clothingMy Profile

    • July 23, 2015 / 3:55 am

      Thanks Kelly #ParentsUnite!

  9. July 21, 2015 / 11:40 am

    Great post. I chose to bottle feed, I hadn’t seen any negativity between mothers of the choices they made i.e breast or bottle but what annoys me is that the media fires it all up. I am 100% supportive of anyone doing the best for their baby however that may be, and I think all parents should be the same. Support for each other is so important. Thanks for writing this, it’s a great post and so well put #TwinklyTuesday
    The L’s Mum recently posted…I’m finally getting it! My Profile

    • July 23, 2015 / 3:55 am

      Thanks lovely, I’m so glad that you’ve had no negativity. I think a lot of it can be found online in forums and of course the messages shared by the media being blown out of proportion xc

  10. July 21, 2015 / 12:00 pm

    “I’m not raining on your parade – I am celebrating my own” – Yes! This is exactly it. I think we can end up feeling like we shouldn’t celebrate or express our own views, for fear of upsetting those who do things differently. But it’s not a criticism of them, just a celebration of our own choices. x #TwinklyTuesday

    • July 23, 2015 / 3:54 am

      Thank you Madeline, I credit a good glass of wine and a little bit of singing for that line!

      But it’s so true, we should all celebrate our parades x

  11. July 21, 2015 / 1:09 pm

    Great post! Obviously you know how I feel because I wrote a similar post. This ‘mummy war’ is definitely a media fabrication because I don’t know anyone who considers someone less of a parent for making different choices to them.

    The sceptic in me wonders if formula companies push this angle to make breastfeeders the enemy. Hence that advert…

    Unfortunately the few outspoken extreme lactivists just push that stereotype further

    • July 23, 2015 / 3:53 am

      I loved your post Natalie, and I think that the other part of the problem is that often it is the wrong messages that go viral. The Katie whatsherface and the shock messages rather than the message that 95% of us believe and live by.

  12. July 21, 2015 / 2:50 pm

    Great post! You’ve hit the nail on the head saying that we’re all trying to do the same thing. We all love our babies and we’re all striving to do the best by them. #twinklytuesday
    Jen @ 4,128 miles recently posted…TORTOLA WHERE TO LIVEMy Profile

    • July 23, 2015 / 3:51 am

      Exactly Jen! As long as a baby is loved and cared for I’m not judging! X

  13. July 21, 2015 / 3:18 pm

    What a great post. There is so much conflict with this subject but you don’t often see support for formula feeders! I for one appreciate that #twinklytuesday xx

    • July 23, 2015 / 3:51 am

      Thanks Rachel – that was the aim to show support and solidarity because what works for you is what’s best for you and who am I to judge? X

  14. July 21, 2015 / 5:29 pm

    I love this, because it’s true. Celebrating what works for you isn’t doing anyone else down. But, sadly, not all people are like you. Whilst some of the mummy wars are media and advertisers fabrications, some of them are caused by mum’s behaving badly. Some do give into the urge to make themselves feel big by making others feel small. Or feel that being a “fearless crusader for …” justifies tearing others off a strip for making different choices. It doesn’t. It just makes you a big meanie.

    There’s probably a post in there if I can manage to create one without cuss words!

    • July 23, 2015 / 3:50 am

      Thank you so much for this comment Nicola. I think you’re right that there is a post in there!

      The Mummy wars crusade continues and while I’m lucky not to have been subjected to it I don’t want others to be either. It’s about support for others. It’s hard enough being a mum without being judged xx

  15. July 23, 2015 / 9:54 am

    A fabulous and much needed post. I hate the fact that people judge one another’s feeding choice. We just need to respect and support one another. You can never judge someone as you never know why they have made the choices they have
    Mrs H recently posted…UncertaintyMy Profile

    • July 26, 2015 / 7:42 am

      Thanks lovely. Very true we have no idea what goes on behind closed doors x

  16. Vanessa
    July 24, 2015 / 3:58 am

    I honestly feel a little bad about writing this because I get you had good intentions but I found this blog/article to be condescending. I chose to formula feed from the get go, not for any medical reasons, just my own personal beliefs and I really don’t need validation from any other mom or other person for my decision. I can’t imagine saying to a breastfeeding mom, ‘don’t worry, you’re not feeding your child poison.’ Huh? Why would formula be poison?
    I agree that women should not be in a battle against each other for how we choose to feed our babies but articles like this just perpetuate that there’s even a difference between us. We’re all feeding our babies, end of discussion.

    • July 24, 2015 / 2:04 pm

      It really wasn’t meant to be condescending your right, and I’m sorry that I came across that way to you. But it’s always good to hear others opinions!

      I’m guessing you may have had a different journey to some because you are so strong and focussed in your beliefs and as a result confident in your decisions. The problem is so many aren’t and often fall foul of people who seemingly attack you. There are a few extremists who really do and some of the comments I have seen on various forums I’ve been part of do make out that formula is poison so that line in particular is paraphrasing.

      End of the day, we should all support one another, if at any point this helps one person who is struggling and helps her feel better for even a millisecond then I’m happy as that was my aim.

      I may have gone off tangent a little as my original comment deleted and I’ve been off trampolining and shopping with my little boy.

      • Vanessa
        July 26, 2015 / 4:25 am

        Well said Laura, thanks for your reply 🙂

  17. Stephen
    August 8, 2015 / 12:15 pm

    what I see from the formula feeders seems more a retaliation than anything. Regardless it’s the minority in both camps thankfully. Having “breast is best” rammed down your throat by mothers able to breast feed certainly doesn’t help. But it’s parenting, there are two sides to every decision and you bet your ass parents will be entrenched in their camps either side of that decision.

    • August 8, 2015 / 4:10 pm

      I think, if I’m fair, it’s retaliation from both sides and a few extremists from each that cause the “mummy war” to be stirred up.

      I think more often than not parents miss the key word – formula FED or breastFED. Fed is the important bit.

  18. August 29, 2015 / 9:52 am

    Thank you for this. As a mother who has breastfed, formula fed, combination fed, breast then formula fed, I never understand why supporting one means, in some people’s eyes, that you hate the other. The two important questions asked to mums/dads etc should be;
    Are you showing the baby love?
    Is s/he hungry?
    If the answers are yes and no respectively then you’re doing ok!

    Great post

    Bekcy @attwtwo And Then There Were Two
    Becky recently posted…My Quote of the WeekMy Profile

    • August 29, 2015 / 6:20 pm

      Completely agree with everything you say Becky. I don’t understand that bit either. As long as a baby is loved and fed who cares how you get there?

  19. October 23, 2015 / 6:41 pm

    I totally agree with you – it’s not alway black and white – there are many, many shade of grey in between. My twins arrived 10 weeks earlier and I expressed my milk while they were tube fed. The hospital encouraged me to breast fed, but although my daughter could latch on easily, my son could not. I made the decision that I couldn’t breast feed one twin, so I bottle feed them with my expressed milk and formula. I don’t know what other people thought, my twins were healthy and growing and that was the only important thing.
    Kim (sisterkin) recently posted…It’s a Twin Thing – Tandem TantrumsMy Profile

    • October 24, 2015 / 9:46 pm

      Thanks Kim, i think that’s the best attitude to have, not knowing and not worrying what other people think the baby being fed is the important thing!

  20. January 10, 2017 / 3:33 pm

    Thank you so much for this lovely post. I formula fed both my babies because I had a double mastectomy a year before I got pregnant. I have no choice in the matter. My heart sinks when I see so many proud mums with badges on their profiles like ‘breast feeding advocate’ as I automatically feel they think formula feeding mums are trying to kill their babies. Ok, maybe I’m slightly over-reacting there. But I can’t help but feel judged by messages like that. I totally agree that we need to simply support each other’s way of doing things. Ultimately we do all want the best for our children. Thank you so much!

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