I'm Still Pregnant & the Breastfeeding Police Are Already Judging Me


baby with bottleAbout a month ago, I called up a local store that specializes in breastfeeding for expectant and new mothers. I explained to the woman on the phone that because I'd had a breast reduction, was having twins, and might likely have a c-section, I was concerned that I wouldn't be able to breastfeed my babies or produce enough milk to nourish two. I asked if they would hook me up with a lactation consultant who could give me some tools to help me ultimately maximize my milk production.

When she suggested I take their breastfeeding class instead, I told her that I really didn't want to sit in a room for three hours, listening to how formula would poison my babies, because I was dealing with a unique set of issues that might make it literally impossible for me to produce milk. I confessed that I was already feeling guilty and wanted help and support, not a lecture. Oh no, they assured me, this class wouldn't be like that! Well, I should have trusted my instincts and skipped it ...

Within the first 10 minutes of the breastfeeding class (and for the next three hours), the instructor (a mother of two) railed on formula and made it clear that if you give your baby any formula at all, he or she will be undernourished, neglected, sickly, fussy, and probably stupid, too. Yes, that's exactly what a fretful mother-to-be with specific issues wants to hear! Even in the context of supplementation -- which is often essential when you're feeding twins -- the message was "formula is bad." She even went so far as to say that babies fed with bottles, even if it's breast milk, won't feel as bonded to their mamas. Again, I am having twins, and there may be a time when they need bottle feedings as well! I felt blindsided, ambushed, and totally attacked. The only thing keeping me in that chair was a desire to learn what I had come there to learn: how to boost my milk supply.

Hey, I already know that breast is best -- that's why I even went to the class to begin with (and dragged my husband there with the promise of naked boob videos and free cookies). But I was looking for guidance and support, not a diatribe on how royally screwed my babies would be if I had to give them a bottle. I came out of that class fuming, raging, fire-breathing mad. Sorry, but if anyone's going to make me feel like my children may somehow be inferior, just because my body may not be able to do what I want it to, then you're damn straight it's going to unleash the fury in me!

So, while my blood is still boiling, let me say this: I'm not even a mother yet, and I'm already sick and freakin' tired of all the self-righteous moms, pushing their own parenting agenda on each other and expectant moms-to-be. Of course, breastfeeding seems to be the #1 hot button topic. Hey, if you were lucky enough to be able to breastfeed, good for you -- no need to make the mothers who couldn't feel badly about it! Breastfeeding wasn't for you? Alright then -- if you're bothered by the mother nursing her 2-year-old in public, just look away, lady!

According to the instructor in our class, only 5 percent of women can't breastfeed. Really?! Really?! Because I'd say about half of my friends weren't able to breastfeed, even after weeks of trying, for a variety of reasons (including infection, low milk supply, and postpartum depression). At the very least, they had to supplement. And some were so frustrated and exhausted and stressed out by the process that they weren't even enjoying their babies anymore. So that "Everyone can do it if they just care enough and stick with it!" attitude is totally misleading. I guarantee, moms who feed with formula love their babies just as much as breastfeeding moms do.

And for the record, the formula-fed children I know are all healthy, beautiful, smart, and thriving, just as much as the kids who got the breast. And those babies who were breastfed seem to have just as many gastrointestinal issues, they're just as fussy, and they end up at the pediatrician's office just as often. So, I absolutely refuse to believe that my children are going to be messed up for life if they don't get breast milk.

As far as I can tell, parenting is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor! I don't understand why mothers have to tear each other down and make each other feel like shoddy parents for not doing it their way. How about some empathy for those moms who are having a tougher time of it? Would you vilify a lower-income mom because she can't afford to give her child as many fruits and vegetables? Look down at the single mom for not having a co-parent? Tsk-tsk the parents who can't send their kid to pre-school more than one or two days a week? Most parents want the very best for their kid and, for whatever reason, can't always give it to them. Who is anyone to judge?

I guess in my kumbaya naivete, I sort of assumed that the mothering community was largely a supportive one and missed the fact that there's an angry mob contingency, ready to burn others at the stake for the crimes of Enfamil, playpen use, and TV before the age of 2. Instead of spending all that energy ranting about how wrong the other side is, why don't moms just get back to taking care of their own kids?

At the end of the day, most mothers are just trying to do the very best for their child, and for the most part, I think other moms do get that. You clearly have to find "Mommy friends" who will be supportive of you and vice versa, whether you need a cheerleader who's going to help you stick with breastfeeding or someone to tell you it's okay when you realize that you can't. And to those who just can't help shoving their opinions down your throat, always be ready with a response like, "That's so great, and I'm sure it worked really well for you, but it just didn't for me." Or, if that doesn't work, you can always tell them to suck it!

Are you sick of all the judgmental moms out there? And who has good info for me on how to maximize my milk production without making me feel guilty if I can't exclusively breastfeed?

Image via katerha/Flickr

emotions, motherhood, the pregnant life, breastfeeding, c-sections


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Chrissi Witkowski

Get a different LC!! Women who've had ANY of those three things need extra support, and you're about to have all three things happening. Call your local La Leche League and see if they can get someone over to help you; they offer free breastfeeding support and 99.9% of the women involved with LLL are amazing ladies who know what kind of hard work goes into nursing and how for for something so "natural" it can be hard.
Good luck to you and know that not all breastfeeding advocates think formula feeding is evil; remember that at the end of the day, the way you feed your child isn't nearly as important as the love you show them!! Best of luck hon!

Kris Marie Mery

Hugs... I'm sorry you went through that!

I would recommend KellyMom if you haven't been there already. They have a ton of info on how to up supply (oatmeal off the top of my head is a good one!) Also, if you're comfortable with it, I'd suggest looking at places like Eats on Feets if you need to supplement and don't want to do formula. If you do that's fine, just saying its not a black/white thing there either. Good luck!

Brittany Pagels

Human milk for human babies is also a good resource.  I would take donor milk anyday over formula.  And a good LC and supportive friends and family are a MUST.  I think people give up way too easy on BF because it can be hard, but that doesn't mean it isn't worth it...where there is a will, there is a way

Lisa Pederson

I took fennel and red rapsberry leaf capsuls and boosted (and fattened) my milk supply. This was after birth, not before.I got them from puritanspride.com, which always has great sales.

I know all about the judgemental moms out there. Or people. Period. You cannot do things in your ilfe without being judged. I don't use any government/taxpayer money, and yet I can't choose how many children I have. Some how it is irresponsible for me to have 7 kids. They are all fed, dressed, schooled (homeschooled, so even more attacks), loved and supported, all on our own dime and energy, who has any business in that?

I learned to find humor in things. People get mad and ask me stupid things like "Don't you know what causes that?" I say "Yes, and we're REALLY good at it, too!" with a big smile. :)

If people criticize you, tell them, "I thought there were enough smart peopel int he world, so I am feeding my kids formula." They won't have a clue what to say. :)

tgiamt tgiamt

I so know how you feel. I didnt produce milk at all. Nothing like having a screamin 3 day old baby and trying to feed them with boobs that dont work. Talk about feeling like a total failure. My daughter was fed formula. And you know what, shes just as smart, has a great immune system and is totally bonded to me. I had a mom tell me that if I really couldnt breastfeed then I should be getting milk from a milk bank. Yea, cuz I want my daughter drinking some freaks breastmilk. Not to mention theres no way the average mom can afford that. Yes, breast is best, but formula is a great alternative. I would honsetly call the hospital that you will give birth at and ask to talk to a lactation consultant. They will be able to help prepare you and give you pointers to help your situation. 

nonmember avatar Priscilla

Kudos to you for being willing to try with so much stacked against you. I had very low milk supply with my daughter and she had weight gain issues b/c of it. I have a few tips for you but my biggest reccomendation is to find your local Le Leche League chapter. They are great resources and support groups. They also might have some local lactation consultants that you could use.

Blessed Thistle and Finugreek are 2 herbs that you can find at health food stores or online that will increase your supply. Research how to take it b/c it's specific.
Pumping after feedings esp. at night will increase supply.
Eating Oatmeal and Almonds helps as well.
One important thing will be the first few days. Allowing the babies (if possible) to be at the breast as often and for as long as they want. Even if that's every 45 min. This is what will cue your body on how much milk to produce.
There are lots more things that I did but it was specific for my case so try to find a LLL group. :) Good luck and try not to stress...just put those babies first and do whatever you need to do.

nonmember avatar Amy

There is a recipe out there for milk cookies that are said to help boost supply. Also fenugreek (not sure on spelling) is said to help. Also, it will help your supply not to supplement right away if you can help it because nursing frequently is good for your supply (and of course getting plenty of liquids in you). Best wishes, mama!

nonmember avatar Mary

I have heard wonderful things about Fenugreek. It is a herb that helps increase your milk supply. My youngest is almsot 2 and I haven't used it. I wish I had know about it when my oldest was young because for the life of me I could not produce enough to satisfy her!
I have a friend who had twins and was able to successfully breastfeed them for almost a full year. She had a hospital grade pump and used that often so they did get bottles. I think the biggest thing I have learned after 3 kids is drink a lot of water! Sometimes it helps to have a cup right there while you are nursing be patient and remember that when you are overwhelmed and tired it is okay to give daddy a chance with the bottle :D Also nurse as often as possible (on demand) versus a schedule. I forced my older ones onto a schedule almost from day one (because that is what everyone said I HAD to do) my youngest we did the on demand and I have been so impressed with how much smoother things have gone! God bless you and your little bundles. Remember whatever you decide you are mom and you know what is best for you and your babies!!

Erin Msomething

I'm sooo glad you posted this! I went through a similar experience in a La Leche League meeting while trying to get some sort of guidance for extremely low supply. I tried ridiculously hard to bf for 6 miserable weeks before I realized I wasn't enjoying my baby or myself anymore. It took me 3 years to realize that most of the negative feelings I had toward myself and my situation were only increased by the negativity I was getting from those who are supposed to be there for support.

Tristen Euterpe Warner

Ok momma. You are doing great!!! I take fenegreek, eat oatmeal, drink tons of water and most of all I focus on reducing stress. IF there is an option between breast milk and formula I would say breast milk and there are a few groups on facebook that help bring mommas who can donate to mommas in need. If this isnt an option for you dont fret. You are a great mom, you are trying to figure out whats best and you are looking for good information. You care, you worry, you want to do the best thing...this makes you a good mom.
I am also tired of overly judgmental mommas. Gentle support is more beneficial than militant attitudes.

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