Mother and Baby

11 mums open up about a time they were shamed for feeding their baby formula

Section: Mental health

From bug-fighting powers to burning extra calories, breastfeeding has many benefits for both mum and baby.  

But breastfeeding isn't for every mum and that's okay. 

Whether it's down to illness, mental health or simply not wanting to, every mum is entitled to their choice on how they feed their baby. 

11 mums open up about a time they were shamed for feeding their baby formula (and it's a lot more common then you think!) 

 

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1) “I was exhausted to the point of hallucinating”  

"I breastfed for 8 days and it was a very low time for both myself and my baby, he clearly wasn’t getting enough milk from me and was feeding what felt like constantly. I was exhausted to the point of hallucinating and he was exhausted, but too hungry to rest.
I had somebody from the local breastfeeding support team round for advice and it would have just been good to have someone say ‘why don’t you try him with some formula?’ instead of pressurising me to keep going with it. I made that decision on my own in the end and my baby was so much happier and settled." - Lauren Wooding
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2) "I was made to feel like a bad mum for not trying" 

"I was shamed by  midwives in hospital and health visitors afterwards. I was made to feel like a bad mum for not trying, but my child is healthy and it’s my choice at the end of the day. I’m currently pregnant with my 2nd and I’ll be bottle feeding again. I think it should be down to each individual and you shouldn’t be pressured into doing anything you don’t want to! As long as the baby is fed, that’s all that matters in my opinion!" - Kelly Louise Trussler 
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​ 3) "Nothing makes you feel worse than this kind of mum guilt!"

"I breastfed my daughter till she was 8 months but did mixed feeds with formula sometimes for convenience. I got comments from other mums I knew like 'I thought you were breastfeeding? I couldn't not as it's sooo good for our bond'  and I should have said 'so are our smiles to eachother when she's had a good feed and is content' but just stewed in my own anger instead.

Then 2nd daughter was so exhausting with night feeds, I started bottle feeding at 4 months. Unfortunately at the same time my eldest got chicken pox and shortly after, she did too. My GP helpfully said to to me 'you do know that if you were still breastfeeding, she probably wouldn't have got chicken pox'...  Nothing makes you feel worse than this kind of mum guilt!" - Jacinta Wilmot
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4) "I was diagnosed with cervical cancer during my pregnancy" 

"I was diagnosed with cervical cancer during my pregnancy and had three courses of chemotherapy while pregnant and two after I had my son (3 & 6 weeks post partum) followed by surgery. As a result I was told I couldn’t breastfeed.
Despite my exceptional circumstances my midwife and health visitor continued to talk non stop to me about the benefits of breastfeeding and were very reluctant to answer any of my questions about bottle feeding. Although I completely understand that ‘breast is best’ I think they could have done more to support me and I was left feeling upset and confused, finding my own way through all of the advise about bottle feeding methods and equipment- not great as a first time mum." - Ciara Crofts
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5) "I literally cried for a full month trying to do it"  

"I struggled to breastfeed and I  literally cried for a full month trying to do it until i had to draw a line in the sand. I was sitting in the registry office waiting to register baby on like week 5 after a stressful month and this women was sitting there breastfeeding her baby.
I remember feeling envious that she could do so with such ease, then she comments "why are you not breastfeeding?! Breast is best its not to late you know." She had no idea what id been through and how down i was. Really tainted that moment of registering my first child i just left crying my eyes out of guilt!" - ​Kimberley Conway
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6) "Even though I was badly bruised they still encouraged me to breastfeed"

"I'm having problems with my 5 day little girl because she's lost more than her 10% weight.
The fact is that in hospital they were not fussed about her not latching on for long periods of time, they were more worried that I wanted to pump or use formula and discouraged it. She had a tongue tie and even though I was badly bruised they still encouraged me to breastfeed. They even kept me an extra night in hospital so that they could 'make sure she was latching'.

I'm now doing half and half, half pumped breast milk and occasionally a formula feed. I feel better knowing how much she's having having and the doctors are happier knowing they can keep an eye on her weight in relation to what shes eating.
Midwives visiting are still making comments about how latching is better for recognisation and attachment..... My 17month was formula fed from day two, theres nothing wrong with him at all." -Elizabeth Anne 
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7) "She was extremely pushy, judgemental and rude"

"The day after having a c-section. I tried breastfeeding straight after birth. I’m quite large breasted to the point my boobs suffocating little one and he started turning blue. The midwives agrees that logistically is always need at least one other person to help breast feed and so we went for formula.
Even after telling the breastfeeding volunteer this (and effectively nearly losing the little one less than 24 hours oreviousley) she was extremely pushy, judgemental and rude. My oh had to ask her to leave." - Emma Emski Walters 
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why put mum in more pain?

"It's the snidey comments from peoplel like 'you'll change your mind when they arrive' or 'it's so good for them'. I know what I do and don't want to do. I have never wanted to breastfeed, it freaks me out, plus my bf and I agreed it would be good if we can both work together on feeding without worrying about expressing etc. tThe waiting room at our hospital is plastered in breastfeeding info and they have a whole session about it at antenatal....why don't they do a general feeding thing rather than obsessing with boob? I'm so worried about them trying to force me before I leave hospital, I think it's highly unfair as this will put me in more pain if I don't want to as it will trigger my boobs into producing more...why put mum in more pain?" - Laura Plumb 
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 I have quickly had to develop thick skin 

"Throughout my pregnancy I had great plans to breastfeed, but after a traumatic birth and my baby being poorly, it just wasn’t meant to be. As soon as I gave my baby a bottle, I started to feel like a mother.
However the judgement from healthcare professionals, family members and other mums has been ridiculous. I have quickly had to develop thick skin and not let comments get to me." - Corin Irving
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You get shamed no matter what you do 

"You get shamed no matter what you do. I've known people make comments to mums that want to express and bottle feed in public because they're not confident yet. I've had people assume that expressed milk is formula and say "oh I thought you of all people would breastfeed". You can't win, so best not to play people's games." -Ann Dowlan
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They don't know all of the details and it's none of their business

"I was formula-shamed by several women including a fellow NCT mum who said I should have tried harder to breastfeed, and another who said combination feeding was wrong and you should have just 'worked it out'. My milk took 6 days to come in and my baby lost a lot of weight so i had to combination feed.
I had health issues and with sore nipples couldn't physically do it after surgery for infective mastisis. My baby boy is one tomorrow and still it upsets me that I couldn't breastfeed as long as I wanted too.
No one should judge you for how you feed your baby. They don't know all of the details and it's none of their business." - Lucy Coe 

Now read:

20 mums tell us a time they were mum-shamed because it's happening to us all

10 reasons why mums have it harder in 2019

 

Alongside her role as the Digital Editor at Mother&Baby, Aimee runs the #mumtribe Facebook group and leads the M&B Awards content strategy.


Winner of Immediate Media Award for 'Magazine Journalist of the Year 2016. Her hobbies include truffle mac and cheese, Class Pass and relentlessly checking (and scolding!) the weather app.