As new mothers — and especially as new first-time mothers — we are so often fed the “breast is best” line and made to feel like we should at least give breastfeeding a go. And it’s only gotten worse lately in light of the recent formula shortage; “just breastfeed” is the (very misguided) advice people are given to get around that problem. But it isn’t as simple as popping a nip in a baby’s mouth and turning on some sort of internal faucet, folks. There are a ton of reasons why new parents choose formula over breastfeeding … and exactly zero of those reasons are anybody else’s business.
One new mom on Reddit is expressing her frustration, and she pretty much speaks for everyone who has ever been strongly encouraged (read: pressured) to breastfeed.
“I’ve had a million moms tell me that I just needed to push past 8 weeks and I would LOVE it. Sorry. I’m on month five and it is still not this magical, relaxing experience for me,” she says. “SO if you’re anything like me, don’t feel bad. Don’t feel bad about switching to formula. Don’t feel bad if you switch to pumping, and don’t feel bad if you choose to persevere even though it just isn’t enjoyable for you. There is too much pressure on moms and so much conflicting information/opinions that just adds to their stress. Please don’t tell people how they’re supposed to feel.”
She went on to add that she realizes she is lucky that she’s physically able to breastfeed her baby and that she doesn’t take that for granted — “[B]ut I hate that women are made to feel like if it isn’t magical for them then they’re doing something wrong.”
Comment sections aren’t always known for their supportive vibe, which is what makes this particular comment section so refreshing. So many moms chimed in with their own stories and showed up with the validation this new mom deserves. There were people who hated it and people who loved it — but everyone, regardless of their story, was uplifting, and we’re so here for a true no-judgment zone.
“When I nursed my first child I felt like him beautiful Earth Mother. It was a wonderful bonding experience for us both. When I nursed my second child it felt like I was a cow that was about to be put out to pasture,” says commenter parentingasasport, highlighting the fact that even the same mom can have different breastfeeding experiences.
“Often it’s just another way to shame women for not martyring themselves, cleverly repackaged as empowering for the feminist era,” comments another Redditor. “Framing everything as ‘but don’t you want things to be 1% better for your baby?’ and leaving out the mother’s mental and physical health from the equation like it doesn’t matter.”
Redditor Spaster21 shared her own breastfeeding story: “It caused me a lot of stress, as I was so unhappy while doing it and when I wasn’t doing it I was thinking about how I’ll have to do it again soon,” she writes. “I always had to supplement with formula and eventually just said f*ck it, we’re doing 100% formula. It was like a weight lifted off my shoulders. I could FINALLY bond with my baby. For me, breastfeeding was an anti-bonding experience.”
Breastfeeding (or not!) is one of the most intensely personal choices a parent can make, and the reasons for not doing it range from nipple issues to milk supply to trauma from sexual abuse to — gasp — just not wanting to.
Many of the commenters said that breastfeeding made them anxious or even nauseated, experiences to which I can personally attest. When I tried nursing my second son, I was absolutely overwhelmed with panic every time. I had no idea what was going on, but I told myself that I must be crazy or an unfit mother, because who feels like that?! But as it turns out, lots of people do. It’s a condition called Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex, or D-MER, and it isn’t mental; it actually involves hormone levels.
“Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex (D-MER) is an abrupt emotional ‘drop’ that occurs in some women just before milk release and continues for not more than a few minutes. The brief negative feelings range in severity from wistfulness to self-loathing, and appear to have a physiological cause,” says a study published in the International Breastfeeding Journal. “The authors suggest that an abrupt drop in dopamine may occur when milk release is triggered, resulting in a real or relative brief dopamine deficit for affected women.”
The bottom line is, there are many reasons why breastfeeding isn’t a natural and wonderful experience for everyone, and we need to stop telling new moms that it’s easy — or giving them the idea that they’re somehow less-than if they choose to formula feed. Redditor Extreme-Mushroom5847 sums it up perfectly: “I truly enjoyed it and found it so easy, that being said, I knew I was lucky. We all aren’t the same. At long as you love your kid and are feeding them, who cares?”
These celebrity moms got painfully honest about their breastfeeding journeys.