My sister told me a story yesterday and it’s been grinding my gears ever since. Her friend was sitting in the waiting room at the doctor’s office with her newborn, and an ignorant, insensitive soul told her “It’s a shame you won’t be able to bond with your baby since you’re not breastfeeding.”
No. No no no. This is NEVER, ever an okay thing to say.
Mothering is hard, and it’s made so much harder when someone opens their mouth and says something – no matter what their intentions might be – without thinking about how their comment will be received.
In the case of infant feeding, nearly every single time, the comment is best left unsaid. Here’s a collection of what I’ve heard, either myself, or through anecdotes from friends:
You won’t be able to bond with your baby if you don’t breastfeed.
That’s bullshit. I’m sorry, there is no other way to say this one. Skin to skin is by far the best way to connect with your baby, and you can do that at any time, at any age, regardless of how food is entering that baby’s mouth. Case closed.
You bottle feed breast milk? It would be so much easier to just put baby to the breast.
This one was personal. Yes, in theory, directly nursing is so much more convenient. However, you don’t know my struggle or what I went through or how my body works, so kindly refrain from telling me what’s easier or best. I need to know what my baby is getting.
Your baby’s hungry again – are you sure he’s getting enough?
I think EVERY breastfeeding mom has heard this one. Maybe even some formula feeding moms as well. Babies have tiny stomachs. They can only ingest so much in one feeding. They begin to digest as soon as the food hits their stomach. Therefore, they need to eat frequently. Yes, I should pay attention to whether he seems satisfied after a feeding. But no, the fact that he’s hungry “again” doesn’t mean he’s not getting enough.
Maybe your milk’s not good enough.
This is never, ever okay to suggest. Moving on.
Breast is best.
I have a problem with this slogan. I’ve heard other breastfeeding advocates explain how it oversimplifies a complex issue and creates a feeding divide, and I agree. While breastmilk has certain properties as a living substance that formula can’t replicate, science has spent years crafting breast milk subsitutes that are nutritionally sound and intended to sustain infants when breastmilk is not available. Even many of us who choose to feed our babies breastmilk suplement with formula. Let’s get rid of this notion that it’s somehow evil.
I’m sure I’m only grazing the surface. I’d love to hear your stories in the comments below, along with your response debunking whatever myth you heard.