What not to say to a formula-feeding mother

I didn’t plan on formula feeding. I was completely gung-ho about breastfeeding for the first year because we’re advised that “breast is best” and formula is “the devil’s drink” and to be avoided at all costs. You can imagine what can only be described as absolute devastation when at four months postpartum, my milk dried up and I found myself standing in Dis-Chem staring at the different tins of formula.

It took me a good month or so to feel comfortable to openly feed my daughter a formula bottle in public, as I felt everyone was judging me for not breastfeeding – just like I was judging myself for failing at something that was supposed to come so naturally to me.

Looking back, I realise how flippant people can be, completely unaware of how deeply their words cut. Some of the most common remarks I got were:

  1. Oh, you’re formula feeding! I hope you really researched what you’re feeding your child. Nah, I just grabbed any tin off the shelf. I don’t really care about the quality of nourishment my daughter gets. I mean really!
  2. But did you try this “guaranteed to work” tip to bring your milk back? This really got my blood boiling, especially when it came from people who knew how desperately I wanted to breastfeed. I tried everything under the sun to get my milk back, but it was not meant to be.
  3. It’s a pity you aren’t breastfeeding, your baby is going to be sick so often now. Funny that, my daughter is 15 months old now and apart from two days of the sniffles, she hasn’t been sick a day in her life.
  4. But formula is so full of sugar! Yes, says you shovelling that piece of cake and adding an extra lump of sugar to your tea. You do realise that’s going to be in your breast milk when you feed your little nugget a little bit later right?
  5. Oh my word, formula is so expensive though! Really? I honestly hadn’t noticed that! Note the sarcasm. It really was a shock to us how expensive formula is, and when your child is on four bottles a day, it really adds up.
  6. But don’t you miss the incredible bonding while breastfeeding? I don’t see the difference to be honest. My baby girl is still lying in my arms staring up at me, she still strokes my face, and she still makes her coo-ing noises as she falls asleep. In fact, it’s even better because my husband can enjoy that now too while he feeds her.

Formula feeding took some getting used to but, once I gave myself a good talking to, I was more than proud to whip out my bottle, throw the formula powder in and give it a good shake in public. Formula feeding your baby does not make you a bad mother, a lazy mother or a failure. Your parenting journey is your own and it is private. You are doing the absolute best for your child and whether you chose to formula feed or were forced to, it does not make you less.

Sarah Booyens Profile ImageSarah is a beauty-product hoarding mama who simply cannot get enough coffee into her system. You can expect to see a little of everything in her blog Mascara & Mimosas, from what makes parenthood a bit easier to her latest beauty obsession – or even what DIY she’s just tried.