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Proud Breastfeeding Mom- you might be doing it wrong


I remember the first time I saw it.  It was about five years ago and it was printed on a bumper sticker proudly displayed on the minivan in front of me.  “I make milk.  What’s your super power?”  I had to resist my initial urge to pull up beside the driver, roll down my window and yell, “I grow hair!  Any other traits of being mammals we’d like to claim as our super powers today?”  I was so irritated.  Of course, my irritation stemmed mainly from the fact that I really would have liked to be able to make milk.  Maybe not at that exact moment, but as an adoptive mother I was well aware of the high cost of formula and the health benefits of “nature’s perfect food”.  I was also well aware of the many ways in which my body had failed me over the years- in the areas of reproduction and even milk-making I felt like less than a woman.  This bumper sticker wasn’t helping.  Yes- you women who can breastfeed, you aren’t just functional, YOU are SUPER!  Why couldn’t being able to successfully breastfeed be its own reward without having to shout from the rooftops how incredible you are?  It’s a lesson I’m still trying to understand.  (And don’t get me started on the Fertile Myrtle domestic goddesses who feel compelled to claim, “I’m so crafty I make people”.)

I ran into those feelings again when a friend posted an article on Facebook about how bottle-fed babies are more likely to become smokers than breastfed babies.  For the life of me I can’t figure out how in a person’s lifetime of experience it is possible to narrow down their risk factors to just whether or not they were breastfed.  And I said as much in a comment along with how irritated I was that apparently all my love, instruction and modeling were going to be wasted since my child was now obviously going to become a degenerate because he wasn’t breastfed.  My friend said something very insightful in return.  She said, “I think we breastfeeding moms post this kind of stuff because we’re trying to convince ourselves all the hard work and self-sacrifice are worth it.”  That I understand.

I know we moms give up a lot to do what’s best for our kids.  Whether that means financial sacrifices, sacrifices of our time, even our very bodies.  We need reassurance that what we’re doing is worth it.  Sometimes we turn simple choices of personal preference or what we feel is best for our families into our identities in a an effort to convince ourselves it’s making a difference.  Breastfeeding can be tough and requires a huge commitment.  It is so helpful to have a supportive community around you that understands the sacrifice.  What we don’t often consider is how that need to band together and be proud about our awesomeness comes across to those around us.  For every woman who feels reaffirmed in her great decision to breastfeed by seeing the “What’s your super power” bumper sticker, there are women like me who feel demeaned.  Sure there are women who choose not to breastfeed out of convenience but then there are the women who are raising babies who can’t nurse because of a medical issue, or moms who are taking a medication that can be passed through their breast milk, or moms who have adopted, or moms who in spite of their best efforts are not able to produce enough milk.  We have positioned ourselves on one side of this mommy debate and left them standing on the other.  Is that really what we want to do?  Is our identity as milk-makers really that important?

I went to a popular breastfeeding support website for tips on traveling with a breastfeeding child while we were preparing for our vacation last summer.  I was irritated to find the first paragraph of their article was not devoted to actual helpful ideas, but instead it told me how much of a hassle it is to travel with a bottle-fed child.  Oh, the cans of formula to pack!  The washing out of bottles in gas station bathrooms!  I know exactly how irritating those things are because I’d done them with three previous children, but why on a breastfeeding website do we need to start our information out with what a bunch of dummies those bottlefeeders are?  I don’t like it.  I literally had to stop reading a commonly recommended book about breastfeeding multiple times (while preparing for the birth of our biological baby) to storm around the house because I was so irritated with the implications they were making about bottle-fed children- how could they possibly be bonded or healthy without the magic of breast milk?  Why do we have to resort to some kind of motherhood scare tactics to talk people into our way of thinking?

Of course we don’t want to run around being hypersensitive to any way anybody could possibly ever take offense, but I think it’s okay to open our eyes to the ways we could be hurting those we want to support.  Women agonize over these decisions.  We desperately want to do what’s best for our kids and feel the judgement of the world weighing down on us when we don’t feel like we’re able to do what’s expected.  When we make breastfeeding an idol and an identity, we hurt those who can’t do what we can.

Is breastfeeding a good thing to do?  Yes!  Do I need to make it my identity?  No.  Let’s be real- you know who else breastfeeds?  Cows.  The backyard cat.  A large percentage of the animals in the local zoo.  Is this really a special skill I need to brag about?  The real difference between what I do and what the cow does is I do it in the privacy of my home instead of sitting out in a field watching the cars drive by me on the interstate.  There’s a reason for that.  I have a sense of privacy about something special happening between my baby and me.  Because I feel protective of that experience, I don’t feel compelled to participate in “nurse-ins” or post pictures of myself breastfeeding or put on a t-shirt or bumpersticker how awesome I am because I make milk.  I had a woman tell me she wouldn’t consider foster parenting because she couldn’t breastfeed that child and she wasn’t sure she could love a child she didn’t breastfeed.  Really?  Is breastfeeding about meeting the mother’s needs or the child’s?  Is it so much of an identity issue that we can’t even fathom how we could care for a child (a child in NEED, no less) that didn’t meet our expectations in that way?

Moms, let’s put breastfeeding in its rightful place in our lives.  It’s a special gift we can give to our kids.  It isn’t the end-all, be-all of motherhood.  It doesn’t define us.  It doesn’t define our children.  It is a stage that lasts a brief moment and needs to be treasured in our hearts.  If it separates us from the other loving, invested, precious moms around us who happen to be formula feeding, we just might be doing it wrong.

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  1. Thank you!

  2. I think we sometimes get wrapped up in our causes, when the Cause we’re sold out to really should be the gospel. These sub-causes are important, but I think you really nailed it when you wrote about identity. Where should our identity be found? In our causes? In our own achievements? Or is it in Christ? I think that some of these weighty matters (and even not so weighty ones) are worth supporting and taking a stand on, but if we are so wrapped up in something like To Breastfeed or Not to Breastfeed, or if we find our identity in being a Fertility Goddess, where is the room for Christ in that?

    • Thanks so much, Liz. I totally agree. And it’s a constant struggle for me- finding my identity in the only place that matters.

  3. While I fully and completely agree with your point, especially in regard to where we find our identity, I fear that this might further deepen the divide between women who bottle-feed and those who breastfeed. I feel that part of the division stems from assumptions. Assuming that the woman with this bumper sticker was being prideful of her ability to produce milk might not actually be accurate. Perhaps this woman actually struggled with breastfeeding. Perhaps it was extremely difficult for her or excruciatingly painful. Perhaps she suffered through it because she wanted that for her child, and, for that, maybe she should feel like a superhero, and maybe moms everywhere should not only allow her the right to be proud for accomplishing the task but also rejoice with her. Perhaps her husband gave her the bumper sticker because HE was proud of her. I know women who might put such a bumper sticker on their car who would never do it with the intention of hurting someone. When we make assumptions that breast-feeding moms think they’re better than bottle-feeding moms, the divide only grows. I know breast-feeding moms who are definitely in your face about breast-facing, sometimes literally (no, thanks!), and I don’t care for any of that, even though I did breastfeed my kids. However, not all breastfeeding moms are like that. Not all breast-feeding moms think that moms who bottle-feed are inferior – not by a long shot! Both my sister and sister-in-law struggled with breastfeeding and had to stop for medical issues. Do I think any less of them? NOT.AT.ALL! In fact, I admire their selflessness to push aside their own desires in order to do what was best for their children. THAT is what motherhood is all about. On the same token, they didn’t give me dirty looks or hate me because I was able to breastfeed. Instead, we chose to mourn when each other mourned and rejoiced when each other rejoiced, even if that meant rejoicing over something we wanted for ourselves. Please don’t take this the wrong way, I fully agree that we all need to be more sensitive to each other, and I appreciate how many of your posts point out that insensitivity. It’s really opened my eyes to ways I’ve made divisions without even knowing it. However, I don’t know that it’s right to make women who breastfeed feel bad about the fact that they were able to breastfeed, and I fear that this post has done that. Do we all need to be sensitive to others and watch how we say things? Absolutely!! I feel like that needs to go both ways. Telling a mom who breastfed and has this bumper sticker on her car that she’s doing it all “wrong” is hurtful. Motherhood is hard…the newborn stage is HARD. Let’s let mothers have the right to be proud of accomplishments without assuming that it’s a pride coming from feeling like she’s better than others. Let’s not assume that she put that on her car to hurt anyone else. Was it thoughtless? Yes. But where do we draw the line between being sensitive and not being able to rejoice over accomplishments? And, let’s face it, getting through the newborn stage, either through bottle-feeding or breastfeeding, is quite an accomplishment!

    • Lauren, I so love your heart and know you have such sensitivity for those who struggle. I think that helps you come at this from a really beautiful and right perspective. I think not everybody comes at it from that angle. And I appreciate you expressing what some others may have felt when reading this. My hope in posting this is just to raise that awareness that some women really grieve over not being able to breastfeed and would benefit from the sensitivity (or even just refraining from judgement) of those around them. When you’re in that hurting place it is nearly impossible to express it to those around you because you already feel so low, so my hope was to be a voice for that woman. This post is NOT directed at every breastfeeding mom. I breastfed myself and have no qualms with breastfeeding moms in general. I am hugely supportive of women who breastfeed because I have a special appreciation for what a gift it is since it was something I couldn’t do. I am just hoping that we women as a community can have an awareness of how our “pride” in our choices can cause pain. Lauren, you know me well enough to know I can be kind of an honest jerk sometimes. So let’s say this post was written by a humbled jerk (who totally would have had that bumper sticker if not for this life experience) for other jerks who if they were made aware might make less jerkish decisions 🙂

    • Beautifully put!!! This is EXACTLY how I felt reading this post.

  4. Thanks for taking the time to write out these thoughts! As I read it, I found it interesting that the opposition I have faced to not breastfeeding has no face, it’s not someone familiar to me. It’s mostly articles I’ve read speaking to the positives of breastfeeding and the many negatives to formula. Thus creating a battle in my mind to what TRUTH is and what someone’s opinion is (even what my opinion on the matter is!). You’ve also made me aware of the causes I may be putting too much into what’s right for me and failing to consider that isn’t always the same for everyone. Appreciate the article. Thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks for reading, Steph! I think you’re right- sometimes we feel the most judgement not from an actual person but from that faceless void of parenting books, online articles, bumper stickers, and 5 minute segments on a news show. Heaven help the neighbor lady who tries to add her opinion to the mix and is the straw that breaks the camel’s back 🙂 I appreciate you pointing that out, Steph. Sometimes it isn’t about the women around us, but about the information around us.

  5. Thank you so much. The timing of this could not have been more perfect. Two days ago, I weaned my 6 month old completely after supplementing her entire life (just as I had done for my last two daughters). My identity has been wrapped up in being a “failure at breast feeding” rather than as a Christ-loving mommy who did what was best for her girls. I agree with a previous poster that said it was the faceless opposition. I couldn’t give my children the best because my body failed me. No one has ever said that to my face, in fact the opposite is quite true, but in my mind I still hear and believed it. Somehow, I failed my daughters and they aren’t going to be as smart, as healthy because of my inability. But that’s not true. I love my daughters, provide comfort, shelter, food, etc. Honestly, do I care that my mom breast fed me until I was a year old? Does that make me think more of her? No, she’s my mom who loved and raised me. My love is not conditional upon her nursing me. The same applies to my daughters. They love me because I’m their mom, not because of how I fed the for the first year of their life. Again, thank you so much!

  6. This was great. Before Jude was born, my mother told me over and over “I had no problems breastfeeding all 3 of you, you don’t have anything to worry about”. While I tried to stay realistic, I definitely started getting the not-so-humble ‘breast is best’ mentality. Once he was born, I was humbled. We had to supplement w/formula about a 1/3 of the time till he was 2months – and if it hadn’t been for the invention of the breast shield, I wouldn’t have produced enough to get him through the 1st week. It gave me a whole new perspective on what I think when I see a woman either breastfeeding for bottle-feeding. I almost wish everyone who stands so aggressively on one side or another would have to walk a mile in the shoes of the person they’re judging. I have to say – I saw the superpower bumper sticker and wanted it because it was such a struggle to get here. For months Jude was a skinny little nothing of a baby because he was barely getting enough to eat. When all the (many) issues finally resolved themselves, and he started gaining weight I wanted to tell everyone. I didn’t get the sticker then because we were broke. Now I won’t for better reasons:) I really appreciated this series. I had never even heard of bf’ing an adopted toddler, and never really thought through why you would or wouldn’t bf an adopted infant. Oh, and I’m re-thinking why I made the decision to stop at a year. I may stick to that, but I want to make sure it’s what’s best for both of us, not just because every blog and book out there says so! Thanks 😀

  7. I have 3 kids and had to do some formula. The first one, my small supply led to 3 months of triple feeding all day/night (nurse, supplement, pump…repeat every 2-3 hours even through the night.) The second, my dear husband forbid that awful, demeaning schedule, so I triple fed for 6 weeks then a DONOR FRIEND MAMA pumped enough for our two babies!!!! That whole time! My 3rd baby, we did breastmilk and formula and stuck with nursing for 15 months, God bless that dear baby! For a long time, I would bawl my eyes out every time someone asked why I was feeding my child a bottle or even talked about how amazing breastfeeding was around me. I grieved, as though I were a lesser mom, for a long time. I tear up even now when its been 3 years I had people ask me if I even knew that breast milk contained antibodies against illness. God gave many miracles over that time! But those bumper stickers, remarks, and what I call “Subtle One-Upmanships” are hurtful. For any reason: breastfeeding, natural birth, homeschooling, or whatever. Thanks for putting words, Marilee, to feelings of mine.

  8. Love your perspective, as always Maralee, and love the discussion! I have to say- and maybe its because I’m diplomatic to a fault- but I really agreed with Lauren’s comment too! While it’s good to be sensitive, and even kindly and honestly exhort people we know and trust to be more sensitive, we have to be careful when ascribing a judgmental attitude to someone we don’t know! Miss Bumper Sticker (and others like her) might be from parts of the country where breastfeeding is not as common as it is here in the midwest, or she might be from a different generation or a different socioeconomic group, etc. etc. Let’s face it, the fact that you and I know so many people that just assume breastfeeding is best (right or wrong) means that we’re part of a privileged group- educated, middle-class women that waited to have kids until we were married and have a large support group. I know from working in low-income schools that some of the literature that goes on and on about the advantages of breastfeeding is not aimed at you and me- it’s aimed at women who haven’t had anyone breastfeed in their families for generations, women that can’t afford formula, so instead they will give watered down formula until their baby can start eating mashed up chicken nuggets (I’m not making that up, by the way, someone on my street told me that’s what she did for her grandchild). I’m not trying to soap-box here- none of this changes that this can be an extremely emotional and difficult issue, and I think your article was soooo good for helping women who have struggled with it feel freedom and validation. Just trying to point out that there is always at least one more side to the story. And probably 50 🙂

    • I think this is a REALLY good point. Having worked at a non-profit center whose purpose was to help moms with breastfeeding, I would say that a huge chunk of our clients (maybe even the majority) were low income, low education, unmarried, girls who had very little support or information. It’s worth bearing in mind that a lot of the “rah rah breast is best here’s why” information out there is aimed at those women, not our demographic.

      • I agree- with a caveat of course 🙂 I’ve spent a lot of time at the county health department and have seen a lot of their breastfeeding information (on posters, in pamphlets, etc.). I have never found any of it offensive. It is great at offering facts on the benefits of breastfeeding without making digs at bottle-feeding or formula. I’m guessing that makes sense since many of these women may have bottle-fed other children and they don’t want to alienate the women they’re trying to reach. I feel like there’s a difference between the info aimed at reaching that demographic and the slogans and catch-phrases the more granola, middle-class moms are using to promote the superiority of breastfeeding (and their own superiority by association?). I don’t have hard evidence on this, just the feeling I get when I’m presented with the breastfeeding argument from each of those camps. One feels factual, one feels identity-based.

        • I know we’ve all moved on now, but I hope you don’t mind one more thought  I get the judgment thing, really I do. I don’t want to imply that if you feel hurt by what you read that it’s all in your head. I have to out myself as a person for whom breastfeeding came easily- but I hope you know me well enough to believe that I have walked through the hurt of disappointment with people I love, and felt the judgment, and often wanted to punch people for the things they say. I think what I’m responding to is beyond the scope of your article- perhaps a separate but related issue. I like your story about the bumper sticker because it shows what you were feeling, and your point about finding our significance in the right place is absolutely true. But maybe the other side of finding our significance in Christ is also realizing that at a certain point we have a responsibility to not let the things that other people say or do make us feel insignificant. There’s still room for sorrow and hurt and emotions with Christ. But I DO know people who seem to actively seek out certain articles so that they can feel offended. I’m not just talking about breastfeeding anymore. I’m talking about all the different areas of sensitivity or insecurity that mothers might have. It seems like almost every day I read about someone who is shocked and offended by what someone said to them at the grocery store. I know people who feel judged every time they hear about something someone else is excited about or something someone else is good at. And I have been guilty of all these things too. So finding our significance in Christ means being sensitive to others. It means not defining ourselves by whatever lifestyle choices we’re making or that these things make us better than others. But it also means that I should be able to listen to my friend talk about her new and exciting Paleo diet, and not assume that she’s judging me while I feed my kids fruit snacks. And I should be able to listen to another friend talk about the exciting homeschool curriculum she’s using and not start getting defensive about our families choice to public school. And ultimately I should have the freedom to talk about things that I’m passionate about without constant fear that I’m going to offend someone. And I say that as someone who really, truly wants to be sensitive. But I have reached the point of fear before and that’s not living in the truth of my identity in Christ, either. I guess it’s that always elusive Balance thing!

          • Absolutely, Elonie. I totally agree, especially about needing balance. I am glad I was able to get the support of some key people as I was working through my own breastfeeding issues and that wouldn’t have been possible if I was too afraid to bring it up because maybe it would be offensive. We need to feel the freedom to share our hurts and successes, especially with our close community members.
            I think in the desire to give people the benefit of the doubt I have operated under the assumption that if people knew what they were saying was hurtful, they might think twice about how they phrase things. I think it’s a positive to help raise awareness in those areas. I can see how just a generation or two ago really hurtful things would have been said about adoption, interracial families or even the specific nationalities of my kids by well-meaning people who just didn’t realize how it was coming across. Because people took the risk to address how those phrases or word choices were hurtful, my kids will grow up in kinder environment. Of course there are exceptions, but now those people are doing it knowing full well the implications of the words they use. “Political correctness” does have its drawbacks, but I think it is enlightening to know how certain ideas or phrases are coming across to others in ways we may not have anticipated. If a breastfeeding mom reads this post and still decides to put the bumper sticker on her car, that is fully her right and she will do it understanding she might be encouraging some women and discouraging others. We all make those kinds of choices with what we choose to advocate for, but I think it’s good that we understand some of the unintended consequences. That’s where the “balance” thing comes back in 🙂 It’s a fine line between raising awareness and being defensive, having sensitivity and being afraid. I really appreciate you helping draw some of those distinctions.

  9. I agree that most women are probably not being purposefully rude by putting these types of bumper stickers on their cars, but goodness, if you know a sister is already hurting and in pain on a regular basis because she *can’t* do these things, perhaps you could choose a different method of cheering yourself on. Maybe a coffee at Starbucks? Or a tattoo on your hand or something? (Kidding, kidding.)

    Women like myself—the ones who cannot create babies—life in a world that is fertile. And this is right and good and true! But it’s not easy by a long shot. We live in a world of gorgeous pregnant bellies when we’ll never feel a baby kick from the inside. We live in a community that, rightly, throws parties and showers for pregnant women and wrinkly newborns. We live in the day-to-day knowledge that our bodies are failing at their job. Maternity clothes and nursing bras, tools of bondage for some perhaps, take on a glow of sentimentality because we’ll never have them hanging in our closets. Women walk around me everyday with carseats on their elbows or burp rags on their shoulders and it’s all so normal, so beautiful, and yet entirely elusive to me.

    Certainly, be proud of your ability to carry a baby and nurse it into good health. What an incredible gift! But now that you’re aware of the pain of the quietly infertile woman next to you, it’s okay to consider her in the words you say and the things you do.

  10. Hhmm…a lot of good points can be made here for several arguments…like the SAHM/WOHM conversation we’ve been having. There’s a way to value what you’re doing without devaluing what others are doing. Great thoughts, as usual.

    • Thanks, Alaina. You’re right- there’s a broad application about how we support each other. And I have enjoyed our conversation about how to support working moms better! Thanks for dialoguing with me about that. I have lots more to think through.

  11. Yes, awareness is important. Perhaps finding the right balance becomes even more complicated in areas that still seem to need advocates on both ‘sides’ depending on who you know, such as breastfeeding, homeschooling, and stay-at-home and work-outside the home moms? I think you do a great job of raising awareness, by the way. Thanks for making me think! 🙂

  12. Hi Maralee,
    I’ve read several of your posts as various friends subscribe and I remember you from TFC. I tried to breastfeed my first daughter and thought myself a failure when I was lucky enough to not get just 1, but 2 breast infections. The 2nd caused me to be admitted to the hospital for a full week away from my baby girl and have a catheter inserted into my breast so that they could clear out the staff infection that had decided to take residence there. I had to stop breast feeding my daughter cold turkey and it was painful and scary and I felt as though I must be doing something wrong. I couldn’t hold her, pick her up, lay her down on me. It was torture for 2 weeks. I am now pregnant with my 2nd child and have been struggling with the decision about whether to breastfeed this child. I still have a few months and I think about it daily. I do not feel any closer to my 1st daughter simply because I breastfed. In fact, I never felt that it really bonded me to her. I felt bonded the moment I laid eyes on her. I’m sure it will be the same with my 2nd child. I just want to let you know that I appreciate your post and hope that you and your family are well. Thanks!

    • Thanks so much for sharing your story! You sure went through it! I hope the decision will be easy when your second baby is born and you’ll feel totally confident about it.

  13. TOTALLY agree! For reasons unknown to medical professionals and lactation consultants, I am unable to produce enough milk to sustain my children’s growth and development. I basically can make 2 oz per feeding on a good day. I’ve run through the gamut of cures/remedies/helps and nothing has really made much improvement. I finally had to accept that as long as I did my best to nourish my children, it was okay. And they have turned out to be pretty healthy and solid kids despite being mostly formula fed (although since the oldest is two, it’s too soon to say if she’ll be a smoker, I guess…)

    • Jenny, that totally made me laugh about your two year-old being a potential smoker 🙂 I guess if that’s the worst decision she ever makes, you’ll probably be relieved. We’re blessed to live in an age of good, quality formula and we’ll deal with the rest of that stuff later, right?

  14. Thank you for writing a publishing something that I believe to be true. So many people are ‘proud’ to breastfeed- I am proud I have 3 healthy children who are nourished and are thriving. I am a breastfeeder but have no pride in breastfeeding but am a proud mother- why should I feel proud of doing something natural, I’m not proud every time I go to the bathroom. Mothers who state their breastfeeding pride are stating their belief that they are superior. How you treat your children and the life lessons you teach them will set them up for the future. Yes there are benefits to bf but these do not make up for poor parenting. You can be an Olympic standard breastfeeder but a rubbish mother.

  15. I understand your perspective and I can see why such things would be hurtful to you. I breastfed, althought I didn’t put it up on any bulletin board or bumper sticker, ect. I understand also why some people do feel proud. For me the feeling of pride would be b/c of a whole different set of feelings than what you explained. I was surrounded by family and friends who thought it was absolutely disgusting and should not be in any way proper. When I would feel my daughter at family gatherings they would FREAK OUT. For me, letting people know I was proud of breastfeeding was my way of letting them know their actions wernt going to make any difference in how I raised my child.
    I milk cows for a living and our baby calves are fed formula, much like many babies. They are healthy, spunky, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with them. However, if you compare a calf that was left on the cow to nurse, as opposed to a calf that was fed milk replacer; there is no comparison. They 2 animals have completely different starts in life. I think this is why people who are strong advocates of breastfeeding tend to be so pushy.
    Either way, its the mothers decision. 110% !!! Children can and will be raised very well/healthy regaudless of how they are fed. 🙂

  16. I am on both sides of the issue, as you are. I have two adopted kiddos who were on formula (one while she was with us and the other while she was with bio mom. We didn’t get her until she was 8). I also have a son who was breastfed. I loved breastfeeding him and I love that he got my healthy milk. I wished so much to breastfeed my other baby. But I couldn’t. And so sometimes people go on and on about the effects of formula and it is frustrating because I didn’t have a choice. So please stop making me feel guilty about this! 🙂

  17. I understand a lot of your points. I really do. However, this mostly seems to be a matter of you projecting your own feelings onto other people. I’d take at a look at your self and try to figure out why you feel so strongly about choices other people make. Writing an entire blog post talking down about people who are proud of breastfeeding is doing the EXACT same thing to them that you seem to think they are doing to you. The thing is, people are still rude and close minded about breastfeeding. Moms have been told they aren’t allowed to feed their child in public, low income mothers would rather use WIC for formula than nurse because of a stigma around breastfeeding. Honestly, if you feel that strongly about it, you are part of the problem.

    • The problem isn’t that there is anything wrong with breastfeeding, it’s that it’s thrown in our faces and women are made to feel like they are not doing what is best for their baby if they are not breast feeding. I mean there are weeks promoting it….seriously? There is more to being a good parent than breast milk!

    • I couldn’t agree more Lisa!

  18. This is the BEST article EVER!!!! I can’t even begin to tell you how much I agree with everything you said!!!!! Love it!!!!!

  19. Thank you for this. I loved reading it. I gave birth to triplets at 27 w 3 d. We lost one of our sons at 7 weeks. The stress of the NICU life and the death of our son has taken a toll on my milk supply. I exclusively pump and do everything I can to provide them both with breast milk, but despite all my efforts, I just….can’t. I don’t make enough. When it came time to decide which formula to use, I was so upset when every single website I visited told me that, “babies should be breastfed until 1 year of age”. Yeah, I know! No need to throw it in my face every time. I felt I had no support in navigating the formula world. Anyway, it is nice to be reminded that we are not defined by how much milk we can make for our children. Thanks again!

  20. First, congratulations on your attempt at breastfeeding, that is wonderful. You are a super human for even trying!! I want you to know, from the bottom of my heart, that you, and every woman, has the same right to place that amazing bumper sticker on the back of her car and be proud of it. That bumper sticker has nothing to do with the women who are unable to breastfeed; unfortunately your thoughts were internalized from a very personal emotional struggle and that’s what’s creating all of the negative thoughts and feelings in this post. This whole post is about you and mourning the breastfeeding experience you feel you lost… this is not about that mommy who was so proud of her hard work that she stuck a bumper sticker on her car to feel proud: which is perfectly okay for her to do. I wish you would have driven up to her and spoken to her, though I wish the words you wanted to say we’re different.
    For many breastfeeding women, this does become their identity for a time and in a way that’s what helps some women stay successful at breastfeeding and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. A woman who breastfeeding spends well over 50% of her entire day doing so, and so why wouldn’t this become her identity for some time? Breastfeeding, just like not breastfeeding, is an emotional, scary, and hard journey. To suggest that there is a right or wrong way to do it is also wrong.
    It is also implied in this post that breastfeeding women should sit at home in private and breastfeed their children. I couldn’t be more against this sort of speech. This is why America has such difficulty accepting breastfeeding: because it is not seen as a NORMAL act. Yes, sure it is special, but it is also very, plainly, normal ( as you also discussed while referencing the cats and cows). However, we do unfortunately have a different set of issues from the cat and cow: we have people who judge mom’s for breastfeeding in a field or at a restaurant. This is disturbing for such a normal act.
    I appreciate the lady with the milk bumper sticker. Why would a woman spending most of her time making milk from her body, all the while being made to feel she should hide this perfectly normal way of providing nutrition to her baby, not stand up for her right to do so? Why wouldn’t she be part of a movement to normalize breastfeeding for EVERY woman. This is a fight for every woman. Not just the ones who make milk easily, but for the ones who struggle and need SUPPORT, and for the future breastfeeding moms: the ones who- IF they had felt comfortable breastfeeding in front of their mother-in-law, their friends, the people in a restaurant or putt putt golf course, would have found it easier to keep baby near and produce lots of milk and not felt sequestered and crazed in their homes, treated like a random lactating animal and not as a human being with feelings and wants and things to do, places to go, and minds to change, breastfeeding to normalize!
    So I hope next time you see a bumper sticker you can feel pride in yourself for being a person who also make milk, whether or not you successfully breastfed. Someone else being happy for themselves for doing something you were unable to do is not bad. That does not make them wrong. This all lies in your mind and how YOU are thinking of yourself; no one else is responsible for that except for you. So own your emotions and don’t blame them on the proud breastfeeding mom: because we should all be proud of her, and we are all also very proud of you.

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