“I’m a doula and an advocate for moms and babies and I just want to tell you thank you for providing the best nourishment for your baby that you can.”

The author wrote that this is what she often says to women she sees breastfeeding in public. To offset, she says, the negative things so many mothers hear about the topic.

“I hope that people who see you will remember that this is what people should think is normal.”

I read the above and I wondered what this woman would have thought of me back when my boys were little. The careful process of measuring out formula and mixing it, the rattly collection of glass bottles and plastic air-bubble-expelling inserts and nipples and lids. I suppose it wouldn’t have looked normal at all, to her. She certainly wouldn’t have thanked me for feeding my own baby.

It made me think of what I might say to a woman I saw formula-feeding her child. Maybe I’d tell her that I knew there were circumstances that prevent breastfeeding and I was sorry she didn’t get a choice in the matter. Maybe I’d tell her how I could sympathize with the all-encompassing curiosity people will have about why she’s not breastfeeding, because people are often not ready to respect the reason until they know what it is. Maybe I’d tell her I trusted that she had all the information she needed about both formula and breastfeeding and that she had a right to go with the decision that worked best for her and her baby. Maybe I’d tell her not to worry about what people think is normal.

Or maybe I’d just smile and tell her what a beautiful baby she had. Because anything else is really none of my damn business.



99 Responses to “It’s all normal”

  1. Maria on May 30th, 2010 7:53 pm

    I used to have a very hard time with the breast versus formula debate, mostly in part because I was one of those mothers who had an extremely difficult time with breast feeding. I was pushed and pushed to keep trying through pain and post partum tears. I spent countless hours in the La Leche office with my first child and was persistently fed the thought that any other choice but to persevere was a failure. I eventually gave up but initially felt so guilty about it. For a long time I felt angry with those who continued to push the “breast is best” mentality and bitter towards my female friends who took to it so easily. For some, it is not the best choice, and I am thankful that I had formula as an option.

    I share this because my reaction to defend formula is a result of my own experience. Had I not experienced my own issues, I doubt I would be as compassionate as I am today towards mothers who choose formula, no matter what the reasons. I maintain that whether a mother chooses to breastfeed and where to do so is as much not my business as whether a mother chooses formula. I am sure if I were a breastfeeding mother I would have appreciated the praise, because I do know how much hard work it can be. But I am also reminded that though I was doing what was best for my baby, I was never once praised for my choice when I switched to formula, even though the result was a thriving infant and happy mother.

  2. Jae on May 30th, 2010 8:00 pm

    It is always so bizarre to me what other people think is their business. I’d tell someone to fuck off, regardless of what method I chose to feed my child.

    I had a “friend” once who proclaimed me “mean” because I didn’t share all my warm-squishies with her. Once I did and gave her an accounting of all my feelings, I came to an important realization: I don’t owe anyone an explanation for my deeply-held convictions, whatever they may be. *I* believe in them, who gives a flying fuck what anyone else things? I don’t need your approval and if I did, do I really believe them as much as I seem to think I do?

    I guess that’s what this all comes down to for me, personally. I have a hard time caring what anyone else thinks because I’m all good with it. Judge all you like, sweetcheeks. You’re not walking in my shoes.

  3. Jae on May 30th, 2010 8:01 pm

    And by “things”, I mean “thinks”. I type super. :)

  4. yaya on May 30th, 2010 8:39 pm

    Awesome post, gracias. Comments are rocking too, the great, good, bad & ugly, love it all…..Love what you said about always giving peeps more compliments all of the time, for anything & everything. That is my motto…If I talk to someone who endured a c-section I praise them & sympathize (unexpectedly been there done that), if they had an at-home water birth I say “lucky you!” and by that I do mean “luck”, since in my opinion it is luck and nothing else (not intention, lifestyle, fitness, education, etc…) that determines how a woman delivers. I really wish that more people would give women/mothers credit for their decisions regarding how they feed their babies (yes, there are a select few who do not have the resources or support to do what they might want in terms of feeding & I my heart goes out to them) People always assume I am a huge Breast is Best champion because my kiddo is 3yrs and still nurses (yes, 3…don’t judge me :-) but I am 100% pro-mama….and when my cousins or friends bottle feed for one reason or another, I am all “sweet, awesome, kudos to you mama!” The best thing I heard in the hospital after having my son concerning feeding as “happy mama, happy baby” and that is my motto…I couldn’t nurse for 3 weeks following delivery, toxic breast milk but I still pumped & dumped, partly as a therapeutic process for myself and partly because I held on to the small hope I could breast feed if I wanted at some point (dude, formula & bottles were a freaking pain! Easier my ass!) and after a few weeks my kiddo (fat & healthy & happy from formula) took to the breast and the rest is history… So I have gone both ways and I think as long as mama is happy & knows her baby is getting what they need and you snuggle them in close with a bottle or a boob…the two of you have it made, which is what counts. In my opinion :-)

  5. Erin on May 30th, 2010 9:18 pm

    I love any comment from someone who is supportive of what I am doing. It is much better than what I typically get in Oklahoma. I am still nursing my 19 month old and get questions all the time about how long am I going to nurse him. Someone telling me I am a doing a good job (even a stranger) is always nice.

  6. Kakaty on May 30th, 2010 9:25 pm

    My first refused to take a bottle of anything. We tried. Boy did we try – so did my entire family, several nurses and even 2 lactation consultants. She would not take one. I had to get comfortable with public BF very quickly in an area where it wasn’t the norm – especially for babies older then 3 months. When she was tiny a woman was kicked out of a local mall for BFing her screaming (hungry) child so I started carrying a print out of our states laws regarding the matter. I wanted to wear a sign saying “I wish I could get her to take a bottle, because I don’t like doing this in public any more then you like seeing it” so I didn’t get the dirty looks I got. I got positive comments twice – once from an eldery woman during on of my very first public BF sessions where I know my face was a deep shade of embarassed red. I wanted to cry with gratitude for her kindness because I was struggling with the whole thing.

    Now, with the 2nd he goes both ways and we live in a new (more liberal) city where BF is expected. And, guess what – I get similar dirty looks when I pull out a bottle which is sometimes my milk, sometimes formula. I just feel like you can’t win no matter what you do.

    As long as a comment is positive and not intentionally degrading to the “other side” I think it can be a very good thing and encouraging to the parent in the situation at hand.
    (this is the most I’ve ever typed on my iPhone, excuse the typos please!)

  7. Lori on May 30th, 2010 9:53 pm

    I like this discussion. Not because I like any kind of debate surrounding breast feeding and formula, but b/c it reminds us that there’s no *right* way to parent. I’m as guilty as the rest of us for raising my eyebrows on occassion at another Moms parenting strategy. That’s why I like these posts b/c they remind us that nobody’s perfect, especially me, and we’re all just trying to do our best.

  8. Elisia on May 30th, 2010 10:56 pm

    I bottle fed my children by choice. I can’t believe they survived it. I can’t imagine how they’re going to navigate a whole world of food that doesn’t come from breasts.

  9. Liz on May 31st, 2010 12:05 am

    there really is a huge difference in what is supported/”the norm” depending on where you live. right now i live in the pacific NW, which tends to lean more to the breastfeeding. but i have friends from college having babies in WI, and formula is expected more out there. it’s funny: i don’t have kids, but i was just thinking today that someday, when i do have kids, i really really want to breast-feed them, but what if i can’t for some reason? i know i will struggle with guilt and disappointment over that, but i’ll just have to get over it, preferably as fast as possible for everyone’s sake! :) i have friends with a 15-month-old, and i think some of the stuff they choose to do with their baby makes everyone’s life harder, and i think some of the stuff they choose to do is what i would want to do too, but i should really just abide by the old adage…if i can’t say something nice about it, don’t say anything at all. it’s none of my business. linda, i agree with what you said above! i too should try to say more positive things, more of the time, to everyone! :)

  10. Donna on May 31st, 2010 1:12 am

    Personally I don’t care how or what you feed your kid, as long as you feed them.

  11. Ness at Drovers Run on May 31st, 2010 3:55 am

    I just wish women would stop judging one another. If someone had to approach me and say something like that, I’d have to fight hard to suppress the urge to slap them and tell them to stop being so sanctimonious. Like you say, it’s none of our business what parenting choices people make. You can’t look at someone breastfeeding and make the assumption that she is making the best choice for her child. I mean what if her milk quality was bad, and the poor child wasn’t getting enough sustenance? What if she was HIV positive and NOT taking anti-retrovirals and therefor passing it onto her child? People don’t THINK before they talk about stuff like this.

    Okay. Off my soap box now. I was a happy bottle feeder by choice.

    So after my rant, just confirming that I agree with you. No judgement – just acceptance is what we need to give one another as women.

  12. Kerstin on May 31st, 2010 7:09 am

    Thank you for this. It really is nobody’s business, and it’s astonishing how invasive and sanctimonious even random strangers feel they can be about this.

    If I have another baby I’ll respond to all BFing questions with a hearty f*** off, because what I do or don’t do (and why) is not something I need to share with or explain or justify to anyone. But it’s taken me 11 months to realize that and be confident enough to actually say so.

    It’s fantastic that some women breastfeed (for however long they want, wherever they want, and I will defend any woman’s right to this and encourage her if she needs the encouragement) but it is also fantastic that some women bottle-feed their babies because, you know, THEY ARE FEEDING THEIR BABIES. The breastfeeding and the formula-feeding thing? There is no conflict there. Women can do both and it’s OK. You don’t have to pick a ‘side’.

    I, too, think we need to support each other rather than see every choice (and sometimes we don’t get to make the choices, life just happens) that is different from ours as a threat, as a criticism of how we do things.

  13. Suzanne on May 31st, 2010 7:38 am

    I was going to say something really deep and insightful and important but everyone else (especially jonniker) beat me to it.

    So I’ll just tell my story about the mom I saw nursing her newborn in public. I sat down on a nearby bench to nurse my own 13-month old she took one look at me and said “Oh thank GOD I am not the only one who does this!” In a world where my boobs are only good for selling beer sometimes an affirmation from a stranger can make your day.

  14. Holly on May 31st, 2010 7:43 am

    Long time reader, first time commenter (love your writing).

    With all due respect, why do you care what this woman would have thought of you ? If YOU feel good about your decision to bottle feed YOUR children- end of story. I breastfed my babies not because I think bottle feeding is bad, but because I think breastfeeding is great. There is nothing wrong with a breastfeeding advocate giving encouragement to a breastfeeding mother. I think anyone who thinks this is inappropriate either a) takes themselves way too seriously or b) questions their own choice to bottlefeed.

    If I have to put up with some people looking at me as if I am some kind of freak or hippie when I have to breastfeed in public (covered), I don’t think it’s too much to ask you and every other bottlefeeding mother to mind your own business if someone gives me a pat on the back for doing so.

    And to Ness- if this is your soapbox, you might want to come up with something better than:

    “I mean what if her milk quality was bad, and the poor child wasn’t getting enough sustenance? What if she was HIV positive and NOT taking anti-retrovirals and therefor [sic] passing it onto her child?”

    if you want to be taken seriously. That just sounds pathetic.

  15. Stephanie on May 31st, 2010 8:17 am

    You are correct. Each woman has a choice, and it’s their decision.

    Anyone who criticizes another mother needs to look inside of themselves and find out WHY they feel the need to make someone else feel inferior.

  16. Jessica on May 31st, 2010 8:41 am

    This entry makes me want to say:

    I am sorry for congratulating you about running a marathon. I did not mean to make the people who did not run a marathon feel bad.

  17. Linda on May 31st, 2010 8:48 am

    Jessica: I think the marathon comparison would make more sense if you had thanked me for providing the best exercise health for my body that I could and that anyone watching me do a marathon should realize that was the norm and hopefully follow suit.

    This conversation needs to stay civil or I’m shutting it down. Holly, I don’t care if you disagree with me, that’s why the comments are open, but watch how you criticize someone else’s choice of language. Words like “pathetic” don’t further your case.

  18. Denice on May 31st, 2010 9:20 am

    I tried EVERYTHING to get my milk supply up and to get my daughter to latch properly, and after three months of trying I finally gave up. I was exhausted, my daughter was “failing to thrive” and yet I spent three months holding onto the idea that if I gave up breastfeeding I was a failure. When I did finally have to give it up, I spent the next few months trying to justify myself to people. Evenutally, I just said: “Look, it was either start feeding formula or let her starve to death.” That shut them up pretty quick. I’m now pregnant with baby number 2, and I’m already dreading the whole breastfeeding situation.

  19. Tiff on May 31st, 2010 10:34 am

    Great post…you don’t know a woman’s situation so don’t judge-i am a VERY healthy/in shape 28 year old woman who was….wait for it…formula fed. Shocker! how could i possibly be healthy if I wasn’t given the boob-it’s every woman’s choice-focus on your own choices. My 19 month old son is very healthy and…Formula Fed-and no i’m not even going to explain my reasons- :D

  20. Holly on May 31st, 2010 10:41 am

    Ness and Linda: I did not mean for that to sound as harsh as it did. I could have chosen a better word to describe my thoughts. I’m sorry for that.

    What I should have said is that while the scenarios you mention could happen, I think it’s safe to say that when referring to breastfeeders as a whole, we are all assuming these are HIV negative women producing adequate breast milk. Just like we are all assuming that bottlefeeders are correctly measuring/mixing formula and and properly cleaning the infant’s bottles and nipples.

    I just thought it was reaching a little.

  21. Sunny on May 31st, 2010 11:01 am

    The breastfeeding community (generally speaking) says that breastfeeding mothers don’t have enough society support; public feeding is frowned upon and feeding longer than a few weeks or months is seen as odd.

    I think this is true but I also happen to believe women who formula feed are scrutinized in the same way. We’re assumed to be bad mothers who don’t care about the health of our children.

    I think you’ve written a great article Linda, and speaking from experience as well, I’d say you have a right to feel defensive about this topic. I’ve lost count of the number of people telling me that formula feeding is bad.

    Thanks, but you don’t know why I’m formula feeding so unless you’re going to be my live-in wet nurse (that sounds dirty!) then shut your stupid mouth.

    Having said all that, it is nice to get comments and praise from strangers. I would choose praise over hurt :)

  22. jwoap on May 31st, 2010 11:03 am

    I bottle fed my kid forumla and he has an IQ of 150. So I am sorry breastmilk isn’t a miracle food.

    I couldn’t breastfeed and am sick and tired of being made to feel less than because I fed my kid forumla.

    Thanks for writing this Linda.

    Holly shut up you give hippies a bad name.

  23. Michelle on May 31st, 2010 11:15 am

    I love getting positive comments or smiles when I breastfeed in public, and I do the same for others. It is socially awkward to have my breasts out of my shirt when they could be exposed at any minute with a squirmy baby. There is nothing wrong with another person making a stranger feel comfortable.

    Also in an ideal situation, breastfeeding is best. In an ideal situation using cloth diapers is best, but these days I use disposables. I would never take offense to someone complimenting someone else for using cloth.

  24. Jenn on May 31st, 2010 12:14 pm

    I like the title of your post. It’s all normal.

    The end.

  25. Nicole on May 31st, 2010 12:15 pm

    Thank you for this!

    I did breastfeed my son for about six months, but because of a lot of reasons–mostly a serious case of post-partum depression–I switched to formula.

    It was a difficult decision for me. Looking back, I realize the difficulty came in the pressures I felt from other moms I knew to continue breastfeeding. But it was best for me, for baby, and for our relationship.

    Ultimately, I know what’s best for baby and me. I can take advice from others who have experience and knowledge, but I know my baby better than anyone else in the world, and I know myself better than anyone else in the world. You can’t tell me I’m making a bad decision because no matter how much you know about me, you don’t know the whole story.

  26. Linda on May 31st, 2010 12:17 pm

    I think what some of the comments are helping me realize is it’s all about how I choose to interpret the statements. Do they mean I didn’t give MY babies the best nourishment, or that my method of feeding wasn’t normal? No. At least, I don’t have to assume she meant otherwise.

    It’s also reminding me of a conversation I was involved in a while ago about health and fitness in which I was very stubborn and refused to see the other points of view for quite a while. I’m realizing more and more how my approach was unhelpful and even rude in that situation. (So, thank you. Never let it be said I can’t be convinced that I’m wrong.)

    I appreciate the level-headed conversations in this thread, and I appreciate those of you who are patient with me when I use this space to express what’s on my mind. I’m not an expert or an essayist, this is just an online diary.

  27. Alyce on May 31st, 2010 12:50 pm

    Thank you for making that connection and your willingness to talk about it.

    You make me think about things, and I will keep coming back because thinking is good.

  28. Amanda on May 31st, 2010 1:13 pm

    Fuck. Yaknow what this is like? This is like when it said “Show your work” on math tests, and I’d be all, “You’ve got to be KIDDING ME” and almost be overcome with the desire to beat myself unconscious on the desk because really? REALLY?

    I breastfed, milk dried up, had to switch to very expensive, specialized formula because The Boy had health issues, blah, blah. And yaknow what? He’s the happiest, most beautiful baby boy in the world.

    I don’t care if you get the answer to the extremely detailed, difficult equation the same way I do. The result is supposed to be happy, healthy babies. As long as you GET THERE, who cares HOW you did?

    (Also? I had gotten so far into my own head about the whole breastfeeding issue that when I had to switch to formula, it broke my damn heart. Cleaved it clean in two, and left me thinking I was a terrible mother and a failure. I’d been told the same thing by my doctor and friends and family, and it was just crushing. This is something we shouldn’t do to new mothers – this is something that is wrong. Being a mom is hard enough without feeling like a failure because you have to or choose to feed your baby one way or the other. You’re taking away from the child when you make the mother feel bad like that, and it’s bullshit. I’M JUST SAYIN’.)

  29. Cara on May 31st, 2010 3:55 pm

    I can’t think of any parenting choice by a stranger that I feel the need to comment on. Much less in public. But, I am saving in reserve the reply my mother made to a young family friend who felt the need to apologize for bottle feeding (a decision she made frankly because she could never get comfortable with her breast as a non-sexual object) in front of my Earth Mother mom. Mom looked her in the eye, over the head of her beautiful baby boy, and said “never apologize for growing a strong baby, whatever food you’re using to do it.”

  30. Nicole on May 31st, 2010 6:38 pm

    First of all, I will say that I formula fed my two boys BY CHOICE. Was I “uneducated” about the “benefits” of breastfeeding? No. I tried with my first son and found it to be a pain. Formula was easier for me and my family. Was I in need of an “intervention” by a breastfeeding mother when spotted in public feeding my children from a bottle? Hell no.

    From reading some of these comments you’d think formula was laced in arsenic or something… There is nothing wrong with formula feeding and even if someone is not educated on the “benefits” of breastfeeding, it seems from some comments that there is assumption that the poor child should be saved and the mother educated properly. I am a teacher and I look at my classroom of kids and can’t tell a breastfed child from a formula fed child. It doesn’t matter.

    I have to agree with one poster… it get a bit annoying when breastfeeding moms seem to have this ‘badge of honor’ just for nursing. You’re feeding your kid- its what you are supposed to do. You choose your breasts, others choose a can of formula. As long as the child is being fed, we all deserve a badge of honor.

  31. Lesley on May 31st, 2010 7:37 pm

    Apart from the value judgement about breastfeeding, I detect in the statement support for mothers breastfeeding in public, since women are still made to feel it’s inappropriate. It always kills me when I see some mom breastfeeding in a smelly public washroom because she’s “not allowed” to do it out where people (who were once bottle or breastfed) might see.

    I don’t know why adults get in such a snit about women out in public breastfeeding. Most – at least all the women I’ve ever seen – are discreet about it. There might be the odd exception, but it’s just weird to me that it offends some people (women included).

  32. Lori on May 31st, 2010 8:02 pm

    Alright, now I’ll wade briefly into the specifics of this debate after Nicole’s comment. Breastfeeding your child is an accomplishment. It just is. It requires self sacrifice, dedication and lots of hard work. A lot of other things about parenting are accomplishments — raising kids who laugh at jokes, teaching life lessons, managing to change a poopy diaper on a squirming 2-year-old. All are accomplishments. And one accomplishment isn’t necessarily better than the other. I don’t think people who were able to breastfeed their kids should gloat about it, but achieving an accomplishment is a “badge of honor,” in a sense. That’s the reason I liked how this post and comment string were playing out so much. We all deserve to be complimented on our kids every once in a while — it makes us feel good. Admitedly, I think if a woman had come up to me and said what this doula did, I would’ve thanked her and thought, ‘well, that was strange.’ But, I still think it would’ve made me feel nice. Like I said before, there’s no one *right* way to parent. And I agree with Linda’s thoughts in the comments, we do need to compliment each other more.

  33. alomellin on June 1st, 2010 5:11 am

    I think it’s nobody’s business what a woman chooses to do with her body. If she chooses not to breastfeed b/c she doesn’t want to, that’s her choice. As long as she’s feeding her child, I can’t see why it matters. This will always be a debate, just like working moms vs stay at home moms. My son was formula fed, I’m not going to state the reasons why. He is happy and healthy. The end.

  34. Kendra on June 1st, 2010 5:30 am

    As someone else who won’t be breastfeeding (we’re adopting, and I’m not putting my body through the exhausting protocols you have to use to try to generate some breastmilk without a pregnancy), I’m generally hypersensitive to that topic. I’m not looking forward to being judged by people who don’t know what they’re talking about. But. I have to say that I didn’t pick up the disrespectful vibe from that doula you quoted. I got the sense that she’s just trying to create an environment where women aren’t viewed as doing something dirty when they’re doing something that is, in fact, very natural. I wish it was something coming naturally to me…I’ve finally moved past feeling ripped off by not being able to experience a pregnancy, but the breastfeeding is going to keep stinging once the baby is here, I think.

    Having said that, I also think it’s no one’s business what a mother chooses to do. My only point in commenting was that I think this woman was trying to be supportive of those who breastfeed, not negative toward those who don’t.

  35. Cheryl S. on June 1st, 2010 6:07 am

    Or maybe I’d just smile and tell her what a beautiful baby she had. Because anything else is really none of my damn business.

    AMEN!!!!! How I chose to feed my child is my own business! (I formula fed) and I caught hell from everywhere.

  36. Ris on June 1st, 2010 7:24 am

    Phew, people get all up in other people’s business when it comes to this kind of thing. I think that if you can’t say something neutral, don’t say anything at all.

  37. wealhtheow on June 1st, 2010 7:51 am

    I think the emphasis should be on making sure women with young infants feel comfortable in public–feeding an infant in public seems to open you up to nasty looks and comments, regardless of whether you are breast- or bottle-feeding. Our society certainly does need to be more accepting of women nursing in public (hello, do YOU eat YOUR lunch in a bathroom?) but it certainly should not be at the expense of women who choose, for whatever reason, to bottlefeed.

    And for the record, I nursed my son for 18 months. It was a wonderful experience, and I think it enriched both of our lives. He’s also had chronic ear infections, currently has his first set of tubes, will probably need a second set, and is having speech delays due to oral motor weakness. I was formula-fed, have a very close relationship with my mom, and never had any ear troubles at all. I wish we’d get away from the idea that everything that is wrong with our children can somehow be traced back to something we mothers did or did not do.

  38. telegirl on June 1st, 2010 10:57 am

    Just chiming in… you ladies rock!! Each and every one of you, who chooses to raise their children to healthy adulthood, regardless of how you make it happen. Good job all!

  39. Jessica on June 1st, 2010 11:18 am

    I really and truly appreciate your last comment, and since you’re right — moms don’t compliment each other enough:

    Your boys seem, in the limited slice of their lives we see here, to be so healthy, happy, and brimming with joie de vivre. Good job, mom. :)

  40. Nicole on June 1st, 2010 12:01 pm

    Re: Lori

    Yes, breastfeeding is an accomplishment. I don’t discount that it is hard and time consuming and a personal sacrifice. BUT…. it is a choice. No one forces anyone to breastfeed and to sacrifice their time and freedom and ability to hand over night feedings to dad. I don’t think gloating is necessary (not saying any or all of you are gloating, but I’ve been around many breastfeeders that gloat about their “accomplishment”…). Its like someone deciding to take a mountain versus going through the tunnel to get to the other side. It’s their CHOICE. They both end up at the same place (in feeding terms… a healthy, happy toddler). Neither choice is “better”… it is a choice. Does that mean the person who chose the more self sacrificing road should be gloated over? No. Not in my opinion.

    Typical children, no matter if they were breastfed or formula fed… will grow to be healthy toddlers. I think studies are bunk…. After reading this article http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2009/04/the-case-against-breast-feeding/7311/ I can’t agree with myself more. There are so many factors that make people thing breastfed children are smarter or better or healthier. You need to look at the fact that many children from families with parents who don’t spend enough time with them are typically NOT going to be breastfed… thus, lowering the IQ score in that category.

    As a teacher, I think instead of so much proactivity in pushing breastfeeding to “give your children the best” there should be more proactivity in pushing parents to read to their children, to spend time with them, to sing and play with them. THAT is what will “give your children the best”…. not the liquids they ate for the first year of their life.

  41. Emily on June 1st, 2010 12:57 pm

    I think of this debate (breast v. bottle) as one of the welcome banners into motherhood, a universe where you’re damned if you and damned if you don’t and where it behooves us all to try to keep the noise out and rest easy knowing we’re doing the best job we can.

    As a mother who works full time outside the home and who nursed, I have to say, the looks and the raised eyebrows I got at my small workplace when I had to pump four times a day to even begin to keep up with my son’s demand were damaging. The pump was my nemesis, reminding me every 2 hours that I had to be away from my baby. I hated it. But I felt compelled to do it b/c I had such guilt being away from my son. I also had immense guilt b/c I had an emergency c section and I was so sad that my child was born that way so I felt I had to make up for that experience by nursing. I’m not saying this makes sense, but it’s how I felt at the time.

    There are so many of these mixed messages for moms–from how you deliver, if you breast feed, if you work outside the home or choose to stay home, if you send your child to public or private school, if you spoil them or not, and on and on and on. It’s never ending, when you think about it. And just when you think you’ve heard it all, you will hear something new!

    The glaring lesson for me as a mom has been to really begin to have faith and trust in my core decisions and to be as polite as possible to people who quite honestly have no idea what they are talking about, since they’re not living my life.

    So while in theory I can agree that everything is normal, I think perhaps we need to think about that on a more micro scale, even. Only you know what’s normal for your family and only I know what’s normal for mine. Assuming children are being loved and cared for with the best intentions, the other decisions matter within the immediate family but the more global “eye” to them really has no relevance.

  42. Melissa on June 1st, 2010 2:35 pm

    Just want to say thanks for posting this. I just had my third baby about six weeks ago. I try to breastfeed every time and every time I have to stop for a variety of reason. But it drives me nuts how people expect me to explain myself. On the other side of the coin – I’ve seen some people being given a hard time for breastfeeding. I don’t think it’s anyone’s business how you feed your kid – I’m all for the comments about how beautiful the baby is….not how you are feeding the baby. :)

  43. Tracey on June 1st, 2010 3:49 pm

    Thanks for positing this! I solely breastfed my daughter but after having twins 14 weeks premature, I was forced to pump while they were in the NICU for 5 months. Then when they came home, I decided that pumping and bottling worked more efficiently for me so I continued and gave up trying to nurse. I have wrestled alot with “what do people think” about me bottling my babies and have finally convinced myself WHO CARES what people think. I know what’s best for my babies, and my family, be it breast milk from the breast, from a bottle, or formula.

  44. Nicole on June 1st, 2010 5:14 pm

    Ok, I had to chime in one last time. I know, I know. Stop beating the dead horse. I don’t think my analogy I posted before was very accurate. Let me try this…

    Yes, breastfeeding is more “natural”… its the most natural way to feed your child. It’s the “original” way to feed a child. But… society and technology have come a long way and formula, IMO, is just as good as breast milk.

    Its like saying that a long time ago it was most “natural” to farm and harvest your own food, to grow it and make everything from scratch. But again, we’ve come a long way from that and pre-made food is now available. So… should we give those people who choose to still grow and harvest and make their own food a “badge of honor” because they are ACCOMPLISHING something? Not really. It is their choice, as is breastfeeding/formula feeding.

  45. Jane on June 2nd, 2010 6:41 am


    I love how you write and what you write. You are honest about your experiences, frustrations, fears, and joys. You don’t avoid a topic because you think people might get pissed. I think the choices you are making for your family are just right for you and your family. The end.

    This blog entry was over at The Spohrs are Multiplying, and it reiterated what you were saying about not knowing the circumstances. Thank you for loving your children so openly and unabashedly. I will keep reading you until you stop posting.


  46. wordygirl on June 2nd, 2010 1:56 pm


    Thank you for posting on this topic! Two years later, I am still battling feelings of guilt, grief, and failure, because I wasn’t able to breastfeed to the extent I wanted to. People are VERY hard on moms who bottle-feed, and it’s a time in a woman’s life (hormones, lack of confidence, etc) when she really does not need people to be hard on her. So your last line has me CHEERING! Rock on, Linda!

  47. Frannie on June 3rd, 2010 9:14 pm

    Once again….SWISH!

  48. Frannie on June 3rd, 2010 9:22 pm

    Also, my son is four months…and I’ve been working 30 hours or so every week for over a month. The only person who has a problem that I’m not breastfeeding enough and “drying up” is actually my spouse. I know spouse talk is off limits but man..

  49. max on June 9th, 2010 6:36 pm

    i have a great future. Don’t wantto brag about “stuff” i have. I just want to breathe easily, relax, work hard and give life everything it has to offer. yea. I’m pretty cute too. 6’2. 208, white, self employed for 26 years (same place).

    wife is locked into her mom and priests.

    i must admit organied religion makes my physically sick. I will be sick.

    love to send you photo–starting to learn. ust got bluetooth- I thought you were supposed to clean your ears with it. I tried but it just came popping out through the other ide of my head ~!! smile.

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