The stress on new mums continues to mount. As a substantial part of the population has made it a point to inundate the rest with the breastfeeding in public debate, one reality is left in the void: Mums who formula-feed in public are pressured too.
No one prepares new mums for the probable emotional rollercoaster as the first formula feed is mixed up in public. In continuation with pregnancy, when a ballooning tummy suddenly becomes everybody’s business, many make it a point to contribute their own two cents to motherhood – and not necessarily kindly.
The benefits of breastfeeding are now widely well-known. On the other hand though, there is a lack of information on the challenges and effort it takes to establish a mutually-beneficial nursing relationship. Many mothers jump on the bandwagon oblivious to this, feeling alarmed, emotionally distraught and defeated when it does not work out. The most recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) attest to this. Whilst 79.2% of newborns are initially breastfed, the figures drop drastically by time. By three months, only 40.7% of infants are exclusively breastfed, dropping to 18.8% at the six-month mark.
There is a general assumption, and expectation, that new mums will breastfeed. Many mums attest to feeling pressured to breastfeed whilst under the care of health providers, resorting to formula-feeding upon discharge. This is leading to a caveat in parent know-how in preparing a proper formula feed. Others, oblivious to the aforementioned challenges, expect their bodies to simply ‘know’ how to feed another human.
The truth is though, breastfeeding doesn’t work for everybody. And for that mother who tried everything, whose body screamed in pain and whose child ended weak from a low supply, judgements as she tearfully prepared a formula feed are stabs in her very core.
So yes, the debate on breastfeeding in public is in need of a wake up call. It’s not just about breastfeeding. It is intrinsically becoming an inquisition where a mother’s choices are constantly on trial, battered by a seemingly know-it-all jury. And mums who bottle feed are also in the front lines.