By Rose Vangrootel
Body shaming has become a well-used term in social media and in news stories even though bullying and making fun of the shapes and bodies of others has happened since the beginning of mockery. However, the term bottle shaming has become well used as well.
Bottle shaming has nothing to do with alcohol. Rather, mothers across the world are being criticized and left feeling inadequate because they feed their babies formula instead of breast milk. Those who are ignorant think all mothers provide their babies with natural milk. However, cysts, latching problems, lactational issues, cancer and medication are all reasons why mothers may keep their babies off the boob and on the bottle.
The benefits of breast milk are extensive. Not only does it contain all the vitamins a baby needs, but it also has disease-fighting and pain relieving components. The nutritional benefits of it are as significant as the bonding it enables mother and baby to have. Holding your baby close to you while feeding him and providing the natural nutrients he needs creates a sense of trust and feelings of being protected.
A close mother-baby bond can also be created while bottle feeding. The snuggling still takes place and the baby thrives on the formula that is made in a sterile environment. Manufacturers of formula attempt to duplicate a mother’s milk using a combination of vitamins, fats, proteins and sugars.
In March, The Worcestershire Acute Hospital in Britain ignited a fire on social media when they sent letters stating that they would no longer provide formula to mothers who have chosen not to breastfeed. The letter accused formula-feeding mothers of “artificially feeding” their babies. A spokeswoman at the hospital told the BBC that “its decision to not routinely provide formula milk to non-breastfeeding moms is a part of its commitment, through the UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative, to promote breastfeeding.”
Dr. Claire McCarthy at Harvard Medical School said in an article on Harvard Health Publishing, “When we demonize formula we also run the risk of shaming women who, for any number of good reasons, choose not to breastfeed. There are many other ways besides breastfeeding to help babies grow and be healthy; it’s important to keep that perspective.”
Just this past June, Khloe Kardashian was bottle shamed on Twitter for not exclusively breastfeeding her daughter, True. She used her Twitter platform to tweet, “It was so frustrating because for Kourt it was so easy for her to breastfeed. My experience was very different.”
Kardashian continued, “Mommy shaming is real! But the truth is, I’ve tried and tried to breastfeed only, and it wasn’t working for me. I feel fortunate that I am able to still breastfeed but with the help of formula.”
Dr. Unjali Malhortra is the director of a women’s health residency training program at the University of Columbia. She shared her expertise in an article on CBC in January 2016. “Public shaming, no matter for which side, is not helpful for a new mother. This time in a woman’s life, pregnancy, postpartum, one of the times when I do feel a woman is judged more than any other time in her life. She (the mother) is uniquely qualified to decide whether exclusive breastfeeding, mixed feeding or formula feeding is optimal for her and her infant.”
As a mother who has formula fed and breastfed my children, I do not judge. I am not ignorant to the reasons some mothers cannot breastfeed. I barely breastfed my first two babies due to being young and impatient, but a cyst stopped my plans of breastfeeding my third child
I am grateful for formula. Otherwise, my son would not eat, and I would not have a sweet, well-nourished, happy boy.
Malhotra said, “No matter what the guidelines say in the coming decades, people should keep one thing in mind. It’s her body, her baby, her pregnancy, and it’s none of our business to be honest, as long as everyone’s happy and healthy and there’s no real medical indications or issues.”