Many mothers who choose to bottle-feed rather than breast feed are made to feel like dysfunctional mothers. It sometimes seems that the breast-is-best mantra has pervaded our society to such an extent that mothers are now more embarrassed to bottle-feed than breastfeed in public. If you bottle-feed, what can you do to combat such condemnation?
My wife and I recently went to a fashionable eatery and suffered the side glances of disapproval from the breast-is-best brigade. Its very trendy place, with a laissez-faire attitude, which is reflected in its designer tables and chairs spilling out onto the pavement. The clientele is middle-class, well off and educated; the sort that prides itself on living life as one sees fit. Before the birth of our first child we would come often and notice mothers’ breastfeeding their babies on the pavement. Little did we know that we would be made to feel like pariahs by merely bottle-feeding our child?
It was a Sunday and was one of our first outings as a new family. We sat down at a table and, a little later on, noticed two mothers, at two different tables, who were busy breastfeeding. When we first noticed the other mothers we felt a sort of camaraderie; a special club of new families.
Soon our child began to cry. He wanted feeding. Naturally, my wife reached for the prepared bottle of formula and placed it on the table. She then stopped and slouched back in her chair. I asked what was wrong but she refused to say. I kept pressing and she eventually told me that one of the other mothers – who were breastfeeding – had given her a rather dirty look. I told her she was imaging things and I began to feed our child. I looked about and, to my amazement, I also noticed that two women the one who was breastfeeding and another who had been breastfeeding earlier were giving me looks of disapproval.
We left soon after with my wife holding back the tears.
At first we put this down to a one-off. But sometime later my wife went to a mothers and babies group. The idea of these groups is for mothers to get to know other mothers and to exchange idea, tips and generally help one another. What my wife noticed was that the walls of the class were plastered with breast milk propaganda. Also, no mothers talked about bottle-feeding, what formula they used, or what was the best way prepare formula. Rather, the talked incessantly about breastfeeding, latching-on and sore nipples. My wife didnt get the support that the group purported to offer and left the meetings altogether.
My wife ending up feeling embarrassed about bottle-feeding in public or even talking about bottle-feeding.
It was time to fight back. After all, formula milk is a fantastic alternative to breast milk. It has many advantages of that of breast milk; no sore nipples, you can stop fretting about how much milk shes getting, you can eat whatever you want, you can still feed your child even when you get sick, and others in your family can feed your child.
My wife got a T-shirt printed; Bottle-feeding and Proud and we paid another visit to the trendy eatery. We sat down and ate a very nice meal. Later my wife placed our babys bottle feeding paraphernalia on the table and then began to feed him.
I dont know if we got many disapproving looks; I was too busy being a proud father and husband. I love my wife and seeing her bottle feed our child, I knew why Id married her; shes strong, independent-minded and a wonderful mother to our child.