Stop the bottle shaming, already!

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formula feeding

Remember my previous blog on “raising twins“? Many mothers, after going through the write-up, messaged and called up to share with me their part of motherhood stories. Although I wasn’t expecting such great responses, it did feel good to see people appreciating my efforts. However it was disheartening to know that some of the mothers were being shamed and looked down upon by their family members and friends for choosing formula feeding over breastfeeding.

One of the greatest lessons that I’ve learned from being a new mother is this: you really don’t know how things are going to go until you do it. Thus, we should all refrain from passing judgment.

We all know: breastfeeding is best for our baby. From the hoardings in the hospitals to the formula milk containers, all convey the same message. Nutritionally, I don’t dispute that — it’s a fact. But there are many situations when “the best” just isn’t an option.

Like most new moms, I always intended to exclusively breastfeed my twin boys (Puhor and Niyor), for at least the first six months. But I couldn’t due to latching problems. My pediatrician was kind enough to understand my problems and advised me to mix-feed, if possible; or else to go ahead with only formula milk. I bought a pump and the suggested formula milk and decided to mix-feed.

Before you judge me for this choice of mine, pause and try to picture your own nipples cracked and bleeding. Now imagine a tiny human sucking on those sore nipples until they bleed anew. So there I was, with not one but two hungry sons who expected to be fed every two hours a day.

Exclusive breastfeeding is not always easy — and when there is a glitch like a delay in the milk supply coming in, inverted nipples, or inadequate milk supply, babies can run into trouble.

I still remember that morning when I mixed my first formula bottle, worried about many things. I constantly kept asking my mother several questions: Would the bond between me and the kids suffer? Would the kids be receiving all the nutrients they need? Would I be called a bad mother? But when Puhor and Niyor took that first bottle smilingly and slept like calm and satiated “babies” after a long time, I never looked back. My mother fed their first bottle, while I laid in bed with icepacks shoved down my nightie.

Trust me when I say, formula milk is fine. It’s a healthy, sensible alternative to breast milk, and an excellent choice for moms who can’t breastfeed, or choose not to. I don’t think Puhor and Niyor ever felt that I wasn’t caring for them enough. The bond between us is still very much affectionate. They kiss me every day, play with me, sleep in my arms, and make me realise how lucky I am to be their mother.

No mother should feel guilty about feeding her child. Whatever your reason—whether your work schedule is not compatible with pumping, your baby isn’t able to nurse effectively, you’re having health issues — you’re the one to decide what’s best for your baby.

Always remember, not breastfeeding is not failing. Failing would be starving your child. Failing would be if you make no effort to feed your child.

Stop demonising fomula-feeding and shaming mothers. This bullying must end. Now.

Note: The post is not to discourage breastfeeding but to normalise the alternative and healthy option of formula-feeding.

Image source: Pilin_Petunyia/iStock by Getty images

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