It’s easy to pass an opinion when we see a fellow mom bottle feed her baby, but we don’t always know the circumstances behind that decision. This powerful story shows exactly why we should stop judging each other for our parenting decisions.
As moms why do we feel the need to always judge each other? We’re mothers, but also women, mostly fighting the same battles on a daily basis – raising our children to the best of our abilities and trying to be a supportive partner to our other half. We make decisions all the time, and while those decisions might not be right for someone else, most often we make them for reasons that are right for us. So why do we feel we’re being judged by fellow moms? And why are fellow moms critical rather than supportive as parents themselves, especially on social media?
Three reasons why we should stop judging each other as moms:
- We are all different, and dealing with different challenges.
- Don’t judge a book by its cover. We don’t know what is happening in another mom’s life.
- We are all on the same team. As parents, we should stand together to support each other to be the best version of ourselves for the sake of our kids.
If the above reasons are not enough to convince you, read this mom’s heartfelt story.
“I almost lost part of my nipple because I feared being judged for not breastfeeding my baby.”
In 2007, during an operation to remove a cyst from her right ovary, Tanya Van Zyl’s surgeon accidentally touched the cyst and it burst, leaking between her organs. An infection occurred, which meant Tanya needed a second operation to clean out the wound. The situation worsened when another doctor noticed that Tanya had severe scar tissue forming in her abdomen, causing her organs to latch on to each other. She needed four more operations to cut loose and remove some pieces of the organs.
The following year, Tanya was involved in a really bad accident. She broke three vertebrae, had a compression fracture in her neck, and fractured her knees. Once again she needed surgery to help her recover from her injuries. Between 2007 and 2011, she had 15 operations, including major back and abdominal surgery.
Numerous specialists told Tanya that she wouldn’t be able to have children, and even though her husband, Riaan, was aware of the situation, he was hopeful that they would be able to start a family one day. He convinced her to go and see a fertility specialist, but the outcome wasn’t hopeful. Not only would the fertility treatments be expensive, but the specialist explained that Tanya would most likely have a miscarriage. Tanya didn’t feel that she was strong enough to cope with the emotional turmoil of a miscarriage after the recent deaths of her brother and her best friend.
However, one month later, Tanya discovered that she had fallen pregnant – naturally.
Her chances of having a natural birth were slim because of her medical history, but with the support of her doctor, Tanya delivered a healthy baby girl, Abby, after 11 hours in labour on 3 May this year. “She was immediately handed to me after the delivery and I put her to my breast. She latched perfectly,” Tanya remembers.
What Tanya didn’t count on was that her dream breastfeeding experience would turn into a nightmare. She developed acute chronic inflammation, where she experienced inflammation in her muscles. It was so bad at times that she’d develop an infection and fever. On day four of breastfeeding, she noticed that her baby was struggling to latch to her flat nipples and engorged breasts. Her nipples started blistering and she immediately sought the help of a breastfeeding support group. One of the leaders of this support group encouraged Tanya to push through the pain, and ensured her that her baby’s latch was good.
Tanya was determined to keep on breastfeeding – she even started pumping so that it would be easier for her baby to latch – but her persistence made the problems worse. Soon Tanya’s nipples tore so badly that she almost lost half of one of them. Her baby was suffering and couldn’t get milk out of the milk ducts. Tanya developed mastitis, and ended up with a severe infection, a high fever and a hungry baby who cried continuously.
When Tanya finally went to her doctor, he was shocked to see her condition. She had to stop breastfeeding immediately and take pills to dry up her breast milk. She was devastated that she had to put her baby on formula and it took her family three more days to convince her to stop breastfeeding before she realised that she had tried her best. The damage done to Tanya’s nipples was so extensive that she won’t able to breastfeed again.
“I beat myself up daily and feel ashamed to feed my baby a bottle in public. There are still breastfeeding advocates who tell me it’s my fault and that I should have tried different things, but my family can testify that I literally did everything in my power to continue breastfeeding my baby. Please don’t judge bottle-feeding moms. Why would you not give your baby the best? The answer is that some mommies just can’t – they don’t have another choice but to bottle feed their little ones. Just as it hurts you not to see a mommy breastfeed, imagine what it feels like for her, especially if she really had her heart set on breastfeeding and then gets judged for not doing it because she really can’t,” says Tanya.
Visit Tanya’s blog Fist Full of Tears for more of her experiences.
Xanet is an award-winning journalist and Living and Loving’s digital editor. She has won numerous awards for her health and wellness articles and was a finalist for the Discovery Journalist of the Year in 2009 and again in 2011 for the Discovery Best Health Consumer Reporting and Feature Writing category. She is responsible for our online presence across social media channels and makes sure our moms have fresh and interesting articles to read every day. Learn more about Xanet Scheepers.