We need to stop shaming moms who bottle feed

New mommy Nikita Camacho opens up about being shamed for bottle feeding her baby.

Feeding your baby is one of the most important cornerstones to your child’s development. I’ve always believed that if you are doing the best you can for your baby, then that’s all that matters. Or so I thought, until those judgemental eyes zoned in on me as I uttered the “f-word” – formula!

From the beginning of my pregnancy, I wasn’t set on breastfeeding. Whenever someone asked me if I would breastfeed my baby and I shared my opinion, it was met with silence and a condescending jerk of the head.

I was so indecisive about it that I packed bottles and formula in my hospital bag.

Once I was settled into my room after being wheeled back from theatre, the nurse brought me my new baby. I was confused about what was happening and just said, “Oh, she’s cute.” To which the nurse responded, “She’s hungry and her card says you’re breastfeeding.” I looked at my husband’s sheepish face, as he had filled out the card.

Four weeks later and I couldn’t breastfeed anymore. I was battling with depression. I couldn’t express enough milk for one feed despite trying for hours. My mom and husband kept reassuring me that it was fine to stop breastfeeding and to switch to formula.

ALSO SEE: The benefits of short-term breastfeeding

For someone who had no interest in breastfeeding, I felt guilty for failing at it. Somehow I got caught up in the debacle of “How dare you formula feed your baby”. I’d forgotten my own mantra of motherhood – “As long as your baby is fed, healthy and happy, that’s all that matters.”

I suppose having some unsupportive family members didn’t help either, even going as far as fat-shaming my baby because I put her on formula.

I won’t apologise for doing the best for my baby and myself. My child’s future successes aren’t dependent on how she was fed.

However, I do feel a little ostracised when I see moms post on Facebook on how long they’ve been breastfeeding for, how they have their private support groups and photos of themselves looking tired with #breastfeeding. Meantime, I’m sporting the same dark rings around my eyes because I’ve also been up feeding my baby.

I think it’s easier to pass judgement than to truly know the real story behind the scenes. Moms are hard on themselves already, so let’s be a little kinder to each other.

*The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding up to six months of age, with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complimentary foods up to two years of age or beyond.

Struggling to breastfeed? Click here for expert advice and articles on all things breastfeeding related.

Visit www.heartsinhershoes.co.za to read more about Nikita’s journey as a new mom.

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