If you are not an exclusively breastfeeding mum, you probably know and have experienced the stigma that comes with formula feeding your baby. From unsolicited comments from your family and friends to nasty glares and unfriendly responses, you have probably been through the most. The stigma associated with formula feeding is real, whether we admit it or not. So if you are an expectant or new mum who’s thinking of formula feeding your baby, expect to be criticized and looked down upon for this simple choice. Being a mother is hard — now imagine having to also deal with the stigma of the choice you make on how to feed your baby! Will mothers ever get to catch a break? Well if you’re in this situation where you feel guilty and stigmatized because you chose formula feeding over breastfeeding, here are some tips to deal with the stigma:
Focus on the reason you chose formula feeding
The truth that most people who stigmatize formula-feeding mums don’t want to acknowledge is that all new mums wish they could breastfeed. However, due to a number of reasons, they simply can’t breastfeed their infants. Therefore, if you’re a new mum and have chosen formula feeding, focusing on the reason why you’re doing it will help you deal with the stigma better. Besides, you’re doing it for the health and well being of your child.
Tell yourself that it’s no-one’s business but yours
Despite the numerous unsolicited comments from other mums and family, remember one important thing — it’s truly no one’s business. If you choose to let the stigma affect you, your baby will be affected as well. Stress is not good for a new mum so don’t let the stigma get to you. Feed your baby and know you’re a wonderful mother however the baby gets her nutrients. There’s always going to be people that are disagreeing, and not so silently, with your parenting choices. Be confident in what you’re doing for you and your family. That’s all you can do.
You know what’s best for your baby
When the stigma of formula feeding seems to bite hard, remember that you are the baby’s mother and you know what’s best for him/her. As a mother you need to trust that you know what the best option is for you and your baby. So don’t let the opinion of other people matter to you. Listen to your own voice and not anyone else’s.
Speak up about the stigma
You may think that you are alone in this, but you will be surprised at the number of mums out there dealing with the stigma of formula feeding. Bean activists of formula feeding — use social media and community channels to reach out to other mums. Your voice may be small but it may help another mum going through the same stigma. Additionally, don’t be reluctant about cutting off and silencing family and friends who give their unsolicited comments about your choice of feeding your baby.