It seems impossible to have a baby without falling victim to the breast versus bottle debate. Whichever side you end up on, by choice or otherwise, you are assumed to be a staunch advocate for that feeding method. When in fact, you may simply be a new mamma trying to feed her baby. A lot of energy is wasted on this fight, with some new mothers on both sides feel upset and isolated as a result. This battle has been raging on for far too long, and it's time to put it behind us. Here's why:
Why We Should End The Debate #1: It Makes New Mammas Feel Bad
Wouldn't it be great to live in a world where you didn't have to feel bad about how you chose to feed your baby. Some formula fed mothers end up feeling guilty about not breastfeeding, and may feel they are being judged by the breastfeeding mammas at baby groups. Whilst at the same time, some breastfeeding mammas end up feeling judged by the formula feeding mammas, and may feel isolated. What all new parents need, is reassurance, support and encouragement. When you are sleep deprived, overwhelmed and hormonal, you don't have spare energy to waste on feeling bad about yourself.
Why We Should End The Debate #2: It's Your Choice To Make
Your baby, your choice. It's really that simple. Yes, you should make informed choices, but no-one has the right to judge you on the choices you make. The way you choose to feed your baby should not impact on anyone outside your immediate family, simply because it is none of their business. Why should the other mothers at baby group care where your baby gets his nutrients from, and why should you care about their babies?
Why We Should End The Debate #3: You Know Best
All mammas want the best for their babies, and all mammas make hard decisions based on this logic. Every mamma, every baby and every situation is unique, so only you can know what is best for your family. All mothers believe they are doing the right thing, yet secretly worry that they aren't. It's great to be passionate about your own choices, and to believe you are doing the best thing for your family, but that doesn't mean you need to question the decisions of other mothers. Remember, they are different to you, and may be influenced by different factors.
Why We Should End The Debate #4: Really, Who Cares?
Aside from caring about how you feed your own baby, are you really interested in how other women choose to feed theirs? Perhaps you would love to live in a world with less misinformation, more choice and less societal restrictions, but that doesn't mean you care about how that mother at baby group feeds her baby. The other mammas at the group probably don't really care how you feed your baby either.
Why We Should End The Debate #5: It Puts People On The Defensive
Truth be told, most people probably couldn't care less how you feel your child. They don't care which brand of formula you choose, or whether you breastfeed on the bus. They're too busy living their own lives to worry too much about the one you just created. Yet, the fear is there. People feel they are being judged, even when they aren't. This puts new parents on the defensive, passionately defending themselves against judgement that never really existed in the first place.
Why We Should End The Debate #6: New Mothers Need Support
Motherhood is no easy job. New mothers are recovering from the birth, adjusting to life with a baby, learning how to continue standing after zero hours sleep, and ignoring all of their own needs. They don't want to show up at baby group and end up in a debate about the long term effects of feeding choices. They probably just wanted some adult company so they would feel a little less alone on the emotional roller coaster of motherhood.
Why We Should End The Debate #7: Focus Instead On Shared Experiences
Ok, you might feed your babies differently, but that doesn't mean you are polar opposites. All mothers battle against teething pains, suspicious look nappy contents, and sleep deprivation. Talk about the jolly subjects instead. Chat about what you watch on television last week, the music you like, or your job. Not all conversations need to focus on how different you may be to the other mammas, instead celebrate the similarities.
Why We Should End The Debate #8: You Don't Know The Backstory
There are formula feeding mothers who are staunchly passionate about breastfeeding, yet struggled against various difficulties. And there are mothers who would prefer to formula feed, but their budget won't stretch that far. You cannot assume a mother is on the opposite side of this fight, simply because she feeds her baby a different way to you. She may be, like you, simply feeding her baby without giving any thought to the age-old argument.
Why We Should End The Debate #9: To Stop Judging Each Other
New mothers do not need to be judged for their choice of nappies, sleeping method, baby name choice or on how they feed their baby. New parents have enough to deal with, without the added pressure of worrying about what other parents will think of them. Put your efforts into worrying about yourself and your baby, and don't waste energy worrying about what other parents think of you. And stop judging other parents, to give them a break too. Just because someone makes a different choice to you, doesn't mean they are in the wrong, remember their situation is undoubtedly different to yours.