I just read an article from a so-called* ‘formula-feeding mom’ questioning ‘breastfeeding mums’ who “feel the need to flaunt it on social media” – a need she doesn’t feel despite formula feeding her “babies everywhere moms have breastfed”.
* blog post on the way
I’ve chosen not to look the other way with this one … I’m just fed up with this kind of disempowering comparison and my comment is a blog post in its own right, so here we go.
I read your recent blog on Baby Center and it touched a nerve that I can’t ignore. I’m pleased for you that you’re not ashamed of formula feeding – I’m not either – and that you’re pleased you’ve never posted a photo of yourself feeding your babies on social media.
It’s a shame you “certainly feel judged from time to time for not breastfeeding”. It’s of course worth noting that no one necessarily needs to judge us for us to feel judged. We sometimes judge ourselves based on our perceptions and baggages about what we think others think of us or our actions. And to those who might have judged you for a choice that isn’t theirs to make, I hope they learn to give more time to dealing with issues in their own lives.
I found your comparison of the reasons why you don’t share pictures of you formula feeding your babies on social media to that of why you don’t share photos of your diaper changing, distasteful. These 2 activities evoke very different feelings. Diaper changing is getting rid of waste whilst feeding babies is about nourishment. I doubt anyone gazes lovingly at diaper changes and desires to spend more time than needed doing it, or feels much of a need to capture multiple pictures of it for memory lane … very different to feeding babies.
And you know, I actually wish you stated your reasons for not sharing your baby feeding pictures, instead of assuming it to be obvious.
Your language about the social media sharing of breastfeeding photos is concerning: flaunting … bragging. I wonder how you came to these conclusions: that those who share breastfeeding pictures on social media are doing so to boast, impress, draw attention to themselves, make others jealous etc.
I admit I once posted a breastfeeding photo on Instagram in defiance … that’s another story for another day.
I must say that I have nothing against breastfeeding photos being shared to flaunt and brag … I don’t think you would either, not if you consider the mountain of hurdles many mothers overcome to achieve their breastfeeding goals, fully or partially.
Unlike in the cave days you refer to, when breastfeeding was the go-to way to feed babies, breastfeeding in the modern world is an achievement literally fought for by many of the minority of women who choose it.
And in answer to your question, I don’t think fellow cave moms felt a need to brag to each other about breastfeeding; your guess is as good as mine since we both weren’t there. One thing for sure though, is that breastfeeding was visually represented during that time and beyond … formula feeding and diaper changes were not.
I don’t think their images of breastfeeding were to give other mamas a relational anchor during breastfeeding tough times, but rather to acknowledge and celebrate the amazing and organic beauty of a mesmerizing life-sustaining act of intense love, and even immense sacrifice for some.
I wonder why you “think it’s beyond awesome to breastfeed”. I mean, if it is … and despite being one of the many ways we care for our babies … what is so annoying about the visual representation of something so amazing amidst the tons of drivel on social media?
I also wonder why you wish you stuck with breastfeeding longer, though formula feeding vanquished your breastfeeding tears and pain; making you a happier mom.
Is it not possible to write about your journey without commenting so unpleasantly about the journey of others. By all means, write about what you wouldn’t do and why; and if you’re truly interested, ask or wonder loudly about why others do those things. Deriding and belittling others, especially when you seem to want what they have, however subtly, is just not cool.
Are you seriously saying that you don’t see photos of formula feeding on social media? How do you escape them on Facebook and Instagram especially?
And talking about bottles that you wonder if “formula-feeding moms should start flaunting after all” … I must say that I wonder what exactly you have in mind … I mean, how much more can bottles be part of our infant feeding societal norm?
What emoji represents infant feeding?
What is the main infant feeding image in children’s toys and books?
What is the predominant image in infant feeding adverts on and offline?
What symbol represents designated infant feeding spaces in most shopping malls and service stations?
What are the 2 things that are compared to breastfeeding the most to make maximum profit for their manufacturers, and indeed undermine breastfeeding?
What are often suggested to new mothers to buy in preparation for feeding their babies, even when they’ve decided to breastfeed?
What do many health professionals suggest as alternatives to struggling breastfeeding mothers, even before offering breastfeeding solutions in many instances?
Who or what is stopping formula-feeding moms from FLAUNTING ‘their bottles’; though I’m not sure what exactly about it will be flaunted. I’ve definitely seen formula feeding pictures on and offline, more times than I can remember … if they were flaunting it, it was definitely lost on me.
I also don’t understand the idea of formula-feeding moms flaunting their bottles because they deserve to be celebrated as moms too. Everyone – not just mothers – should be celebrated for a variety of reasons on a daily basis; it’s not a competition, there’s enough space in the world for all of us.
Surely, motherhood doesn’t start or end with how we feed our babies, and how we feed our babies doesn’t define the celebration of motherhood.
Why the need to compare the celebration of formula feeding with that of breastfeeding? This, right there, is part of the root of parenting discontentment and strife. Why not celebrate formula feeding if you want to … the need to celebrate it “like breastfeeding” is problematic on so many levels. I mean, if breastfeeding was a person, it might perhaps feel flattered; but this kind of comparison doesn’t serve mothers.
Comparison is the thief of joy. ~ Theodore Roosevelt
Melissa, seriously, do you … can you not see that infant feeding is skewed in favour of formula and bottle feeding today, and that it’s been for decades? Formula manufacturers invest billions every year, to make sure that expectant mums know about formula and bottles. How many formula brands’ promote their incentivized baby clubs’ to expectant mums, on and offline, throughout their pregnancy and beyond?
So, no, we don’t “truly need to normalize both breast and bottle” … bottles and formula have become the societal and cultural norm in an increasing amount of countries worldwide, for more decades than is good for the world – its people and environment. And let’s face it, this has been to the detriment of breastfeeding – the biological norm – the confidence of mothers in the functioning of their bodies, and the gain of super-rich pharmaceutical companies and other related manufacturing brands.
I formula fed in the early months of our feeding journey, and I overcame what seemed like insurmountable barriers breastfeeding. I still can’t get myself to write about this very difficult part of our feeding journey, though I’ve documented some of my experiences with blocked ducts and blocked ducts. I’m thankful for formula, though I abhor the unethical profit-at-all-cost marketing strategies of formula companies and their exploitative and false claims. I also bottle-fed with both formula and breast milk for different periods of time. Even then, I can’t stand most bottle adverts … profit-making under the guise of caring for parents and their babies is unattractive. I occasionally share our breastfeeding pictures … but my intention has never been to flaunt and brag. And it’s no secret that I love breastfeeding and celebrate it, for a range of reasons.
I’m not sure how to end my letter. I hope every woman in the world makes informed decisions, as much as possible, about the best way to feed their babies; and that they feel the freedom to express this on and offline without the need to compare themselves with others.
A fellow mum
What’s your take on the sharing of feeding pictures on social media?
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