Whether you breastfeed or formula feed, a mama just can’t win

Screen Shot 2014-03-11 at 8.29.35 PMI’m totally pissed off.

So I’m out having lunch at a cafe the other day with a friend, a nice outing I always look forward to. I get to see a friend, me and bubs get to get out of the house, have a nice lunch and coffee…I love it. But this one time, I really got frustrated.

When my now almost six month old begins to whine a little and I know she’s due for a meal, I whip out her bottle and make some formula for her. Mouth open wide, hands to the bottle yet unable to hold, she devours the lot and satisfies her little growing belly. Happy bubba, happy mama.

Minding our own business, I notice out of the corner of my eye a woman having coffee with another woman; I’d say the pair would be in their 50s or 60s. And the two were staring at me while my child ate – she was in the pram, I had one hand on the bottle. They were clearly talking about me…okay, so I can only speculate they were talking about me and the baby – and the formula feeding.

Let’s assume I’m right. Let’s assume the two women were gas bagging about me and how terrible of a mother I am for formula feeding my baby; it’s not the first time I’ve had women stare at me as I pour the powdered milk from tupperware into the bottle but these two were making it 100% clear they were talking about me, and unhappy about my actions. At least I thought so.

I started to discuss with my friend, a mum of two older kids, how mothers just can’t win when they’re out in public. We get stared at and made to feel like we’re doing the wrong thing if we formula feed (thankfully I haven’t had anyone actually walk up to me yet and voice their opinion but all I’m going to say is, they will regret the day they did) while mums who need to whip out a boob to breastfeed while out (and even when they’re covered up!) get ‘the look’ (or the ‘let-me-try-to-look-at-something-else-because-I’m-uncomfortable’ look) from both men and women.

As the saying goes, don’t judge a book by it’s cover, and it rings so incredibly true for both sides of baby feeding. Those two women at the cafe had no idea what my story was and why I formula feed; besides, why should I have to justify to anyone why the choice was made? I had enough self guilt to deal with when my daughter was born about a lot of issues, I don’t need to be made to feel that way by strangers who haven’t a clue.

Breastfeeding mamas need to feed their bubs’ too, people. Would you rather a hungry, screaming baby while you peruse through the grocery store getting your cat food, or a quiet happy baby hidden underneath a light cloth? And even if you did see boobage, why are you looking? Boobs were first and foremost made to feed our brood and provide an element of survival; it’s society who makes them sexual and pleasurable. When I see a woman breastfeed in public, I notice a lot of men looking the other way. Having said that, some men don’t want to show that it’s uncomfortable for them so they try not to ‘not’ look, I suppose ignoring it. So is it just me, or is it that it’s the women who have the bigger problem? Are they threatened that there is boobage and their man will look in that direction? Are they threatened that underneath that piece of cloth, there is a baby sucking on a nipple and their man knows that?

It seems to be that if you formula feed, you get criticised. If you breastfeed, you get criticised. We JUST CAN’T WIN and that is completely, unfoundedly unfair. I honestly thought we lived in a time of acceptance – namely the 21st century.

Let us feed our babies in peace, without the stares from women who are supposed to support us. Because women should support women, particularly those who are doing motherhood for the first time.

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Comments

  1. You know when you were a kid at school and had issues and your parents said, “just ignore it”? That is a great philosophy for parents to remember. x

  2. Not every woman has the luxury of breastfeeding either and I got the looks a lot as well and it really hurt. I breastfed my older daughter with no probs, but my younger two there just wasn’t any milk and it broke my heart. People really need to stop being so judgmental when they don’t know your situation! A friend of mine got the look for breastfeeding in public as well – so there is no winning really

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