Don't you just love it when complete strangers tell you how you should or shouldn't be bringing up your kids? What is it about some people that makes them think they have the right to pass judgment on a situation they know nothing about?
It beggars belief, and the latest story of mom-shaming really has our blood boiling.
Annie Ferguson Muscato, a mom from Gainesville, Florida, was buying baby formula for her 2-month-old daughter, Ellie Jo, in Target when she was approached by a woman who informed her, "Breast is best."
Muscato was so taken aback by the reproach that she posted an emotional Facebook post that has been shared over 36,000 times.
In the post, Muscato says she knows breast is best but that breastfeeding Ellie Jo was a huge struggle. The baby would be "inconsolable" and "writhing in pain" after she had eaten, on one occasion screaming for eight hours straight. It wasn't until Muscato tried the hypoallergenic, dairy- and protein-free baby formula she was buying in Target that day that the screaming lessened and that her daughter started smiling, interacting and sleeping:
"Dear Stranger in Target,
You didn't need to tell me, "breast is best" as I was buying a can of baby formula, because I already know.
I know that my husband and I excitedly took the four hour breast feeding class when I was pregnant.
I know that my baby immediately did skin to skin and ate from my breast within an hour of her birth, because it was important to me.
I know that we saw a lactation consultant before we took her home, and again a few weeks later.
I know that we struggled at first. That some nights we both cried together. That my dear friends swore it would get better. I know they were right, and it did.
I know "breast is best" just like you do.
But, let me tell you what else I know.
I know that my baby began screaming after she ate. Writhing in pain. Inconsolable.
I know over the last month and a half I have exclusively pumped and tried slow flow bottles of breast milk, I have tried different positions, I have seen another lactation consultant.
I know I have held my child, my baby, while she screamed for hours- one day for eight hours straight.
I know we have been to see the pediatrician at least twice a week since she has been born.
I know that I tried cutting soy, and dairy, and leafy greens from my diet to make my milk more digestible for her.
I have pumped- and I'm still pumping- enough to have hundreds of ounces of breast milk in my freezer even though she will likely never be able to eat it.
All because "breast is best."
And then finally, we tried the hypoallergenic dairy protein free formula you saw me buying today. And the screaming lessened. And my baby started smiling. She started interacting. She started sleeping.
And I cried. Because I thought breast was best. I thought my body failed her. I thought she wouldn't be as healthy on formula.
I know you think I must not care or I'm lazy, or maybe you were genuinely trying to be helpful and thought no one had ever told me the benefits of breast feeding.
But, you are wrong. What I know that you don't is that breast ISN'T always best. I know happy, healthy baby is best. I know FED is best.
What I'm sure we both know is that parenting is hard. Really hard. That sometimes what we plan for and what we want just doesn't work out, but we are all here trying to do what's best for our babies.
So, dear stranger, next time you see someone buying formula, try to remember that mamas should support each other. Think about everything you might not know. Remind yourself that "fed is best" and smile because it means someone loves their baby enough to do what's best for them.
Another Mom Doing Her Best and a Happier Formula Fed Baby
P.S. Dear friends, please feel free to share this in the hopes the people who need the reminder see it. (And I will in turn promise not to bombard your wall with any more essays about parenting!)"
It's one thing to be told breast is best when you've made a decision to formula feed instead of breastfeed — and whatever your reason for that choice, it's nobody else's business — but for this particular mom, it wasn't her choice. She desperately wanted to breastfeed her child and give her all the benefits of her mother's milk, which made it even more difficult to take the stranger's criticism.
It's so sad that in 2016 women still face this kind of ignorance and rudeness. The health benefits of breast milk cannot be disputed, but that's not the point. The point is that breast milk isn't best for some babies (and moms), and above all, it's nobody else's business what another mom feeds her baby, as long as the baby is happy and healthy.
Whatever your opinion on breastfeeding, the only time it matters is when it comes to your own baby. When it comes to everyone else, keep your thoughts to yourself.
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