13 Reasons Not To Judge Formula Feeding Mothers

13 Reasons Not To Judge Formula Feeding Mothers

An every day event triggered the inspiration for me to write this article.

Something that you have probably seen many times over as I have, but this time, it randomly triggered a deeper thought.

I’ll tell you what that was later in this article…

One of the most disheartening things for me as both a mother and birth worker is having my eyes opened to how judgmental and unsupportive some mothers – our sisters – are towards other mothers.

It’s like a vicious epidemic. There’s always someone right there to judge or attack you for each and every little (or big) choice you make, when most mothers are simply craving and yearning for connection, nurturing, love and validation.

I see many mothers not being able to relax into their soft, feminine, nurturing role of a goddess mama… instead they become hardened, in their masculine and on the ready and defensive.

When someone attacks, the instinctive reaction for most of us is to attack back and defend – it’s the beginning of a war. As Byron Katie says: “Defense is the first act of war.” This was very profound for me the first time I heard it – because it’s true. There is only war when someone returns the attack, rather than just ending it by ignoring such behaviour. But when our confidence and self esteem is tied into what other people think, it’s a disaster waiting to happen.

Throw in sleep deprivation, hormones, stress and even depression or underlying guilt or sadness about their feeding journey, and some mothers majorly struggle to be able to ignore such hurtful comments. Sadness becomes anger, which eventually becomes sadness again then anger… its a vicious cycle people get stuck in which Anthony Robbins calls the ‘crazy 8’. The low of the sadness gets too much, so the anger comes roaring out to feel more in control. But then you remember you feel sad again and the low hits you again, and so on.

How do we break the vicious cycle? How can we appreciate our sisters so much more? Through understanding.

Here’s 13 reasons why you shouldn’t judge a mother who is feeding her baby with formula… and if you can think of any others, please add them into the comments section at the end of the article. Lets see if we can practise what we’re about to read in those comments… and choose kindness and understanding – both ways.

#1: Previous Sexual Abuse

Wow, this is a big one huh? That’s why I thought I would put it first. This thought may not have even occurred to many women. Say you go off on a rant (or even make a judgmental comment) to a formula feeding mother about how she’s giving her baby an inferior option by formula feeding, then later you found out that she’d been sexually abused (which is highly unlikely that you’d be privy to such information).

How do you think she would feel hearing you berate her knowing she can’t even possibly explain why? How would you feel knowing that you’ve likely now dredged up her past all over again, as well as lots of difficult feelings for a woman who has been through one of the most emotionally and physically damaging things a human being could go through?

Its likely that she’s not going to tell you why she’s using formula or she may tell you some other reason – but, guess what…. it’s not your business.

Check out this clip about research into breastfeeding after sexual abuse – and the fact that you just cannot force women to breastfeed. Its just plain WRONG.

#2: She Fell Pregnant

Many breastfeeding mothers find that their breastmilk supply drops in the second trimester (due to hormones), or their baby suddenly weans because of a change in the taste of the breastmilk. This is not true for everyone of course, some women do tandem feed without any issues. But for other women, they may find that their baby no longer wants to breastfeed and becomes disinterested.

It can be an emotionally difficult time for some mothers because while they may be very excited to be pregnant, mothers may still feel guilty for the pregnancy cutting short a valued breastfeeding relationship. No matter how hard they may try to boost their milk, eventually it can become exhausting without any positive gains.

#3: The Baby Just Choose To Wean

Sometimes babies just choose to wean, and you can’t pick when that day is going to be.

For some babies, weaning comes early on, and other babies don’t want to wean until their first, second or third or more year.

Especially when it is very early on in the breastfeeding relationship and it is completely unexplained, it can come with so much sadness for mothers, especially when its sooner than expected. Don’t give her a reason to feel even sadder. She misses the breastfeeding relationship just like you will when your baby weans.

#4: The Baby Wouldn’t Go Back To The Breast After A Bottle

This is an unfortunate occurrence – a mother introduces a bottle to her baby and then the baby refuses to go back to the breast. Again, this can be very upsetting, especially when the mother introduced the bottle thinking that it would help her partner or other family members bond with the baby, or she’d be able to get more rest or go back to work by giving baby a bottle. But some babies don’t want to go back, and it doesn’t make it any less upsetting. While she might have done it differently next time, she may not have known this could happen. That doesn’t make her stupid.

#5: She Was Given Really Bad Advice

I’ve heard many stories of really bad, outdated and crazy advice from friends, family and even health professionals. This includes telling mothers they can’t breastfeed on antidepressants or saying that they need to give their baby soy formula for a week due to an upset belly (suspected lactose intolerance, which is terribly misunderstood). Of course, her baby never wanted to go back on the boob again after a week on the bottle.

You need to choose health professionals you can trust that are aligned with your goals and philosophies, which means doing your research. If someone gives you advice to start introducing formula, always seek a second opinion – unless it’s an urgent medical issue of course. Unfortunately, unless they’re also an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant), a medical professional gets very little breastfeeding education in their undergraduate degree. We’re talking a few hours as being generous. So while a mother may be getting her advice from a highly trained and skilled medical practitioner, they usually have very little breastfeeding knowledge, let alone in-depth, up-to-date information. Hearing advice from medical professionals is enough for some women to think that it is the ONLY solution.

So, some mothers think they are doing what was medically advised or necessary at the time, and then sometimes they later find out that it was just bad advice. They may feel bad enough that they were robbed of a breastfeeding relationship, or even upset with themselves for just believing what they were told. Being attacked can just make them feel worse or more angry.

Discovering the truth for themselves (in more appropriate ways) tends to result in women becoming more proactive about supporting others to get good information, rather than feel bitter and taken as an idiot, which they are not. I know, because I was one of them. My local maternal and child health nurse suggested giving my first born formula for not putting on enough weight, after she had been distressed during a mother and baby unit stay. While at the unit, she started throwing up feeds out of distress – it was the worst time of my life as a new mother! But thankfully, she refused the bottle. Considering she was putting some weight on, we continued on to breastfeed until I fell pregnant at around 18 months – then my milk was gone and she happily weaned herself.

Information is power, and you’re better off being able to compare, just as you would if you were getting a quote for something you’d buy. Don’t go for the first opinion if it’s a big decision. Because it is a big decision for many women, especially when they don’t want to give it up.

#6: She Doesn’t Have Any Support

This is a big one. In fact, in a recent Australian study published in 2015, it was discovered that only 50% of babies were being exclusively breastfed at two months of age. The biggest reason cited? Lack of support/difference of opinion with their partner. This is not the first time this reason has been found to be the cause of women giving up sooner than later.

No matter if you’re formula feeding or breastfeeding, you would know that support is terribly hard to come by the majority of the time, especially GOOD support. Our health system isn’t set up well for the best outcomes for new mothers – for those that give birth in hospital you will be all too familiar with the feeling of being turfed out and left to fend on your own.

#7: She Didn’t Think She Had Enough Milk

This can be a really nerve racking situation for new mothers and I hear it so frequently – for whatever reason, mothers panic and think they don’t have enough milk, so dash out to buy formula. Worse still, formula marketing companies will push the envelope because like any other product, they hire the best marketing people they can find – and what do marketers do? Make people feel like they need to use their products. They find clever ways to increase their profit margin and reach, because sales people have targets and shareholders need to be kept happy.

Unfortunately there are several incorrect assumptions made about low milk supply and no professional advice is sought.

#8: Conflicting Advice Got The Better Of Her

Advice you receive from professionals can be so terribly conflicting and confusing.

One of the biggest complaints I have heard from brand new mothers since 2003 (when BellyBelly was created) is the conflicting feeding advice after they have a baby. They either end up with postnatal ward midwives drumming in breast is best (which is what we’re all told, but without adequate training, you can only help so much) else a mish mash of advice that doesn’t feel like a clear answer.

#9: She Tried So Hard To Breastfeed That It Became Exhausting

Some women really do put all of their waking (and sleep-waking!) hours into trying to get their milk supply sufficient for their baby. This can be from a range of problems, which may have been solvable or not, but were complicated with being incredibly stressed, tired, not eating well or at all, having no support, depression, relationship problems, a baby being in NICU (newborn intensive care unit)… until they just can’t give any more. If a mother is struggling and can’t even nourish her own body, she is going to get even more run down. Some women put SO much effort into feeding their babies that they fall into a heap… we all have our limits. Hers aren’t yours and yours aren’t hers. You can never possibly know what its like for someone until you’ve walked in their shoes. You never know if a relative has just passed away, if they’ve been separated from their partner, if her inlaws are giving her hell, if she’s the biggest breastfeeding advocate out there and has done everything humanly possible, including beating herself up over it – you just never know.

#10: She Tried So Hard To Breastfeed That It Caused Painful Health Problems

I’ve heard stories of mothers trying so hard to breastfeed that they have physically damaged their breasts to the point of bleeding, blistered and cracked – and of course tears every time they feed. Mothers who get pumping so intensively that they harm their own bodies. Thankfully upon counselling with a great lactation consultant and lots of talking and soul searching, sometimes these women come to the decision to switch to formula. It was her decision to make. She gave it everything she had. Sometimes, we have to heal our bodies before we can use them for nurturing others.

#11: She Had A Medical Condition

Yes, it’s not common, but some women struggle to feed when mother or baby has underlying medical conditions like hypoplasia (insufficient glandular tissue) or are taking medications not compatible with breastfeeding.

Some women may be able to continue to breastfeed with their diagnosed condition, but that’s assuming she’s got up-to-date, evidence based support from a professional who can accurately diagnose and treat it. Let alone supportive family and friends. There’s so much misinformation about breastfeeding problems that she may just hear that its impossible for her to feed, so she gives up.

Here are 26 medical reasons why a baby may need formula.

#12: Her Baby Is Adopted

Yep. Children get adopted. This is more common in some countries than others, but it happens around the world. Nothing shocking about that at all.

#13: She Just Doesn’t Want To Breastfeed

Some women just don’t want to breastfeed. Just not interested. And while this may be hard to grasp for some women, you only stand to create negative energy for both yourself and the mother by spouting your beliefs. It feeds the sisterhood divide. Instead, revel in the fact that you love how you fed your baby and so does she. That baby is clothed, fed, protected, loved and nurtured, which is a luxury for many babies around the world. I once heard that Mother Teresa refused to go to anti-war rallies, but said she’d go to pro-peace rallies. Notice the difference? What you focus on, you give energy to – powerful energy.

Before You Judge

Remember, this is HERS and HER BABY’S journey only, not YOURS. Some of the biggest breastfeeding and natural birth advocates have come from people who have had experiences with formula, caesareans and all the intervention under the sun. They may not be that person now, they may not be that person ever, but you need to trust that their journey is for a reason and let them walk their path. Getting a berating from you certainly wont draw them towards you and what you believe – they will form an opinion of you and what you stand for – lets be frank, they are going to think you are a nasty piece of work, not someone who they could possibly go to in order to open up about how they feel, the real reasons they formula feed and how they can get back on track – or do differently next time. Be the care, love and nurturing they crave. Make her day. Heck, make her life, you may just be the person to heal her hurt.

When we take care of the mother, she can take better care of her baby.

So, What Was The Every Day Event?

As I dropped my kids off at school one morning (usually I drop them off at the bus stop to go to school), I noticed a mother, standing motionless at the corner of her street – just a block away from the school. She was staring into the distance and I watched her, watching her children set off for school. Not once did she break visual contact from her children from the moment I noticed her until I drove past her. She was making absolutely sure that her children had arrived safely into the school grounds.

This was a mother who may have breastfed or formula fed them; who was I to know. I didn’t even know who she was, all I did know was that she was a mother, a great mother who cared deeply for her children, and would not take her eyes off them until they were safe. When kids can have a mother like that, a devoted mamma bear who would fight to the death to protect her cubs and keep them safe (wouldn’t we all), then what the hell are we all beating each other up for?

Breastfeeding mothers and formula feeding mothers: I support you. And when I do post breastfeeding articles on BellyBelly, its only to try and help more mothers avoid the heartbreak that many of you have been through after experiencing the things mentioned in this article. Not because I think it is better.

Struggling With Breastfeeding?

If you’re having problems with breastfeeding:

  • Check out our article on low milk supply.
  • If you’ve stopped breastfeeding but want to try again, did you know re-lactation is possible? Read about it here.
  • Have you called the Australian Breastfeeding Association or La Leche League (US)?
  • Have you thought about hiring an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant)?
  • If you’re struggling with difficult feelings, it can be very beneficial to see a counsellor or psychologist who specialises in the postnatal period.
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Kelly Winder is the creator of BellyBelly.com.au, a writer, doula (trained in 2005), and a mother of three awesome children. She's passionate about informing and educating fellow thinking parents and parents-to-be, especially about all the things she wishes she knew before she had her firstborn. Kelly is also passionate about travel, tea, travel, and animal rights and welfare. And travel.


    1. When the baby has a medical condition and you have to pump not breastfeed. My daughter had open heart surgery, being away from home for a month, and trying to divide my time between my newborn in the NICU and my 3 year old became too stressful. I tried to pump every 2 hours but realistically it wasn’t happening. I was able to the first 2 weeks good but I ended up losing most of my supply. The nurses were so good to me though and encouraging and they NEVER made me feel bad.

      1. My son had cerebral palsy. His jaw didn’t open more than about 1/3″. He also had no suck or swallow instinct. I was attacked at a wedding of a friend by a complete stranger for bottle feeding (his disability was not obvious as an infant) and when I replied that HE was unable, she retorted that ALL babies can breastfeed, and I was a liar and horrible mother. Total stranger. Turned out with later pregnancies I was also unable, but didn’t know that at the time. I had pumped to the point of pumping blood for him, though.

    2. Totally agree. I had a double mastectomy after being diagnosed with breast cancer during my 3rd pregnancy. I’m not able to breast feed so use formula but I still feel the judgement unfortunately.

  1. Thank you.
    It is high time someone finally explained things from the other perspective. I am so tired of trying to justify why I just don’t want to breastfeed with my second after traumatizing pain and limited supply with my first ( not to mention my boy was lactose intolerant ). Every one assumes that being pro formula means I don’t care about my baby as much. I give huge props to mom’s who breastfeed and congratulate them It just isn’t for me!

  2. It’s not just mothers that can have medical issues that negatively affect breastfeeding. Babies can have unseen issues as well. Both of my children have lip and tongue ties that made latching impossible. There’s also cases of mothers being on medication that transfers into breast milk.

    1. YES! My son had a severe tongue and lip tie, which made it impossible for him to transfer more than half an ounce in a 30 minute feed. Even after having his ties revised, and after constant pumping and extreme pain on my part, I never recovered my milk supply and he never figured out how to latch properly. After working with FOUR lactation consultants, we gave up breastfeeding and pumping altogether after 3 weeks. My sweet LC told me that I had done my best and I needed to feed my child and heal my body, because FED is best and my baby needs a functioning mom. Also- later we discovered I had a partially retained placenta.

      PLEASE do not judge formula feeders. I never imagined I’d be a formula feeding momma but I’m grateful for our struggles because I have been humbled and reminded that God is in control of my sweet boy’s life, not me. I’ve also realized that how I feed my baby doesn’t define my ability to mother him, nor will it have truly serious consequences in his life (despite what the “breast is best” campaign would like us all to believe).

  3. I would also add the reason I can’t breast feed – the medication I’m on gets into the breast milk and is dangerous for the baby.

  4. Reason 13-adoption, my son was adopted at birth and I was fortunate enough to have a cousin give me breast milk for 2 weeks but without her I would not even have had that. I wish I could have given my son breast milk the whole time but this was out of my control.

  5. thank you i to this day still get badgered about why i switched to formula. my son is growing great, at 4 months he is 26.5 inches and over 14lbs. I had an undiagnosed case of tuberous breasts. my lactation consult FINALLY noticed after my son had lost over 1lb in a little less then 5 days. I tried every trick under the sun to breast feed after that. but had to give up when the doctor was worried i was damaging myself to much. I won’t try with my next, i won’t do that to my mind again. i’ll stick to formula. I love breastfeeding moms and i love formula moms. who cares as long as your baby is healthy, happy, loved, clothed and safe. Go team MOMMIES!

  6. How about when your baby is born early and is in the nicu for a period of time? I tried pumping my milk and taking it in for my baby. The more I pumped, the less I got.

  7. It’s a loaded topic. This article doesn’t even touch on the issue of low/no supply.

    I wanted to BF, expected to, and even with the assistance of medication, had very low supply. I persevered for a couple of months and when it came to baby growing I had to comp feed. I was hounded by other women for bottle feeding.

    The alternative was of course to let her starve. Same prob second baby, but I was pretty indestructible by then, finally a midwife pointed out that fibroids (which I have) can compromise hormones (inc milk production). The relief was immense, so was the rage for what I had been subjected to.

    My friend said I should just tell people I had no nipples.(!)…….. I think those nasty harridans just needed a good kick in the arse. Before you judge, ask.

    1. Yes, that was my issue as well (though I don’t know if it was caused by fibroids or ??). My milk was both low quantity and evidently very low quality; my newborn twins were not thriving on it at all, and we HAD to either stop or supplement for their very survival. I later learned whatever it was that was wrong with me was hereditary, because I nearly starved on breast milk also as a baby, as did my mom when she was a baby and my grandmother when she was a baby!! Each generation of moms had no choice but to supplement or switch to formula (or my grandma’s case, goat milk!). Healthy babies are all that matters in the end, but I was disappointed to not be able to have that breastfeeding experience.

  8. I had every intention of breastfeeding my little boy but my body failed me!
    I was devastated! I was feeding on demand and trying to express. I did everything the midwife and health visitor told me to do and all exercises to try and increase my flow but it didn’t work!
    He was 6lb 10 and a half ounces and went right down to 6 lb exactly. I managed to get him up to 6 lb 4 but then he didn’t put any more weight on for a week 🙁 he dropped down to the 9th centile from the 25th. We made the decision to combine feed and his weight shot back up to the 25th. After 2 weeks of combine feeding I could only manage 1 feed a day for him. We then made the decision to switch fully onto bottle.
    I had no issues with breast feeding in public and wasn’t embarrassed! In fact people were quite supportive but we had to make the decision to stop to keep our little man healthy.
    I support both ways of feeding
    At the end of the day as long as the child is healthy then the mother is doing the best thing!

  9. Beautiful article…loved reading it. Although no major physical issues I was emotionally exhausted with the many hours of isolation breastfeeding brought. Relegated to a chair/bed for 10 + hours a day feeding I felt so alone, paralysed by endless cluster/comfort feeds. Being a single mum exacerbated the issue…No one could help. My family couldnt pitch in much and I remained endlessly attached to the couch. But when I did contemplate introducing partial formula feeding once a day just to give me an hours break the response was negative….like I was inflicting physical abuse on my baby! But what about my sanity??? In the end I persisted with BF but not without alot of judgey comments and input. If you do not know the circumstances do not judge. The ability to breastfeed is by no means a measure of your ability as a mother!!

  10. There should be no shame in bottle feeding. The shame should go to those who preach opinion as fact and don’t support those women who want to breastfeed but are struggling and end up formula feeding. Much of those issues listed are able to be overcome with the right support and seeking the assistance of a lactation specialist with IBCLC status. Unfortunately few GPs have sufficient, if any training in lactation and either sprout their opinion as fact, without referring clients to those specialists and/or push formula. So many formula pushers out there, making women feel inadequate and leaving them hurt…..

  11. THANK YOU! This was so nice to read. Another reason, my reason, my son lost weight (like normal) but did not gain ANY weight in 2 weeks! I was trying everything, drugs that my midwife gave me made us both sick, natural things, and nothing worked. I started expressing and it was small amounts of water. So I changed to formula because in my case breast was not best, breast was killing my baby. 3 days on formula and he gained a few 100grams! Now he’s a nice healthy 6 month old formula bubba 🙂

  12. I have 2 children youngest 3 months eldest 6 and a half. My eldest wouldn’t latch on causing me to be sore and bleeding making it negative for both of us I only managed a month and my youngest lost 13% of her birth weight do we tried 50/50 breast and bottle but once she got the bottle she didn’t want breast. It hurt when I first stopped now I believe I did what was best for my children and the time and that’s and that matters

  13. I just simply didn’t produce milk. For whatever reason no matter what I tried my milk never came in. Luckily for me I had some great support but it still tore me apart. Especially how much the hospital pushes breastfeeding and berates formula. I had no choice. Luckily I had Noone approach me about it as it upset me deeply but I did often feel pressured to defend myself every time I pulled out a bottle of formula in public. My son is very happy and healthy and that’s all that should ever matter to any mother.

  14. Not only are there medical conditions that may cause a woman not to be able to breastfeed because of nipple issues or lack of milk, but also if a woman has had breast cancer. I was diagnosed with Type 2 A, triple negative, infiltrating ductal carcinoma. I had to have a double mastectomy. I was blessed with my 4th baby girl 5 years later. I had breastfed my other 3 girls and now I had no choice but to bottle feed. That was very difficult and I missed the special connection of breast feeding, but my sweet baby girl thrived and new she was loved and taken care of just like my other breast fed girls.

  15. My son was tongue tied when he was I tried for 2 months to try to breast feed but he just couldn’t latch on properly and it began causing emotional stress for us both and was becoming quite painful so I went to formula

  16. Another reason could be that the breast milk supply is fine and everything but your baby is still losing weight. My son wouldn’t gain weight on breastmilk and I was forced to switch to formula. The problem could be his high metabolism, because to this day (he will be two July 17th), he is only a little over 20 pounds and almost 2 and a half feet tall, but the doctor says he is perfectly healthy

  17. In my case with my first baby, I started having terrible gall bladder attacks frequently, very soon after my son was born. The pain was unbelievable and my Doctor prescribed Codeine for pain management. When I had to take the pain med I would not breast feed my baby for 12 hours because I did not want him to get narcotics or the by-products in my milk. I would express the bad milk, but pumps didn’t work on me and manual expression was very painful. He took to the bottle very well, and would go back and forth, but it wasn’t long before my milk production got really messed up so I stopped breastfeeding. With my second child, there were no gall bladder attacks, and I nursed her much longer.

  18. Breast cancer.
    Baby actually is ill due to ur milk.
    To much milk and not being able to position feed due to other children or other reasons.
    Affecting mothers health.
    There is millions of reasons. Just stop judging each other and we will all be better off.

  19. MASTITIS!when I fell pregnant with my second baby I went into it with the mindset of formula feeding.with my firstborn he wouldn’t latch as I have INVERTED nipples.he would scream out of hunger as I tried to give him “the best”.not only did my milk only come in three days after the birth it was a very small amount this after expressing using a electric pump.but having given birth in a state hospital second time around we were given talks that formula is not allowed at the hospital.and that breastfeeding is promoted.so I was forced to breast feed.not only did my baby loose weight.my breast appeared full but alas upon expressing nothing to little came out and I developed mastitis which then developed into absess and 3 ops in ten days and basically being away from my children for a month.especially in the most crucial bonding time for mother and child resulting in a fussy baby.so I’m formula feeding now and get really annoyed when judged there on or am told I should not have stopped trying to breast feed.the baby and their health and whether or not their tummies are getting filled.

  20. I really wanted to breastfeed but my son was born with jaundice and in order for him to get better I had to formula feed him I wasn’t planning on him being formula fed but his health dictated how I had to feed him.

  21. Breastfeedinmg didn’t work for us because my daughter’s tongue & lip ties prevented her from successfully latching. We struggled for six weeks with numerous medical providers (including three LCs) checked her mouth & didn’t see the ties or didn’t think it was worth mentioning as a cause for our trouble. The ties can be clipped, but it doesn’t guarantee it will fix latching issues.

  22. I was all about breastfeeding my son. When I was pregnant, I read everything I could get my hands on. I bought breast pads because i expected to just overflow with milk. I bought cooling packs and nipple cream and studied all the different holds and techniques. Took a breastfeeding class and without trying to sound arrogant, I had more knowledge than any other classmate because I was serious about it and super dedicated. I went out and bought a pump to have on hand for emergencies or when I needed to be away for work. I was as ready as I could possibly muster.

    Then, my son was born. He was laid back, lazy, didn’t want to eat. We tried the cradle hold. The cross cradle hold. The football hold. He would suck for a bit (and have a good latch!) and then fall asleep. His blood sugar dropped dangerously low. They brought him to the NICU and put him on fluids. Started feeding him with asleep bottle. They told me, “Pump. Pump. Bring us everything you make.” So every 2 hours I brought my tiny syringe of colostrum to the NICU. We did that for 3 days and I we also had sessions of breastfeeding where he seemed to be doing well. I was excited and would bf him and pump to keep a supply going.

    We got home. I mentally prepped myself for lots of breastfeeding sessions, possible cracked nipples and everything else. I was ready. But he suddenly decided he wasn’t into a nipple. He wanted a bottle. We tried over and over. He cried. I cried. He would latch sometimes and I would sigh in relief, thinking it would be okay. But he started to latch less and less. I tried nipple shields and that would work for a little bit but eventually we’d have to go back to a bottle. So I started pumping my heart out. I had enough for him the first few weeks, but as he grew and needed more to eat, my supply quit growing. I said “Okay I’ll try lactation cookies.” I ate 36 in a 2 day period. I ate oatmeal. Flaxseed. Brewer’s yeast. Drank 150 oz of water per day. Drank Gatorade. Pored through forums of suggestions and talked to lactation consultants. Took More Milk Plus pills. Couldn’t pump out any more than 8-10 oz per day. I started gorging on Fenugreek pills and got it up to 15 oz per day. But that’s all I can produce. I’m told my thyroid issues can cause this. So every day I pump every single ounce I can, and he’s 3 months now. He will get every bit I can make for as long as I can muster. But I have to supplement with formula. And i hate that. But I can honestly say I tried everything under the sun to exclusively give him breastmilk but it’s just not happening. I love him and I will do whatever is necessary to make him healthy and happy.

    1. That’s what happened with my boy. He was lazy and didn’t want to latch. He cried and fussed every single time. When he did get a latch he drank well but he much preferred the bottle. I pumped exclusively for six weeks and a did a mix for the months. I’m just about on just formula now. My baby became so much happier once I introduced formula.

  23. My milk never came in, I just didn’t have any. I tried and tried to feed my little girl for 8 weeks. I tried expressing too and would sit for hours only to get an ounce of watery stuff! My lg lost so much weight they threatened to admit her to hospital if I didn’t bottle feed her ( I had been topping her up – I didn’t just let her starve.) they still kept sending g me leaflets about breast being best but I just didn’t have any. I went to classes, had a breastfeeding councillor and buddy and no one could get my milk to come in – no amount of diet changes or vitamin supplements nothing it just didn’t happen 🙁

  24. i don’t know why people judge mothers on how they feed their baby. I really wanted to breastfeed. I’d planned to go to groups, bought the clothes and happily dreamed of the bonding with my baby. I tried so hard, unfortunately I was a no.9 & no.10 in this article. I really beat myself up. Not helped by the seemingly constant news reports of the importance of breastfeeding; immunity, intelligence & SIDS. I follow lots of breast feeding and baby groups online and saw an article about the importance of breastfeeding and it asked what was your tip for new mothers. So I replied that they be realistic and not beat themselves up if they don’t succeed, as long as baby us happy, healthy and bonding, what more can you do. Soon after I saw another article about how’s Mothers who go in to it with the attitude “don’t beat yourself up if you don’t succeed” we’re bound to fail and that if they failed it was because they didn’t try hard enough. This really brought back to me all the feelings I had in those first couple of months when I was really struggling to breastfeed. I wish it still didn’t make me sad that I didn’t succeed, I still well up thinking about those difficult months. Thankfully non of my family, friends or breastfeeding mummy friends have ever judged me. I’ve also heard from breastfeeding mummy friends about issues feeding in public or being accused of carrying on too long. The judging needs to stop from all directions. There are no sides to take, we are mothers and our energy should be spent loving our babies not justifying our decisions and actions. I hope that one day people won’t judge, whatever the method, and I wish all new mothers well on their feeding journey whether it be breast or bottle. Happy & healthy babies whatever the method.

  25. My first had a poor sucking reflex because he was premature and had intolerance for dairy at first. My milk put both my babies in physical pain. Formula took care of the problem for both. I may never bother with breastfeeding again.

  26. i tried so hard to breastfeed my son. It just hurt wh to much, he gave me a blister on both my nipples and not to mention anytime I would walk it felt like my uterus was about to fall out. When I am in pain I cannot eat, and with the amount of pain I was in with my nipples, my vagina, and not being able to go to the bathroom, there was no way I could eat enough to supply enough milk for him, he has always been a big eater. I was heartbroken when I lost my milk because I wanted to be close to my son. Once I started feeding him formula he did outstanding and I still got to be close to him. It really erks me when mothers who breastfeed think they are so much better than a mother who bottle feeds, but from what I’ve seen with my son, it’s not about how you feed them, it’s about how you raise them and love them. If you position them like you would when you breastfeed it still feels special. The bond between my son and I is just amazing, and not to mention, my shirt isn’t stretched out from having him constantly want boob.

  27. I adopted 2 babies of a different race than mine. It should have been obvious, yet I got so much unkindness for bottlefeeding that I was often in tears.

  28. My baby was 5 weeks premature, his first feeds were tube, then cup (like the cups they give you pills in in hospital) he tried to feed but just couldn’t – it was stressing us both out. So he was given premature bottles. I expressed but couldn’t relax so there was hardly any. It was mixed with the formulas anyway. When he was well enough to come home my milk came in full flow but the poor baby was so confused so he stayed on bottles. I tried to express again to mix but developed mastitis. Please don’t judge anyone!

  29. Thank you this. When I had my first I tried to breastfeed but she couldn’t latch on, something to do with her tongue and I got depression because of this. Mainly because the midwife at antenatal told us that if we didn’t breastfeed our babies would be obese (being overweight myself this had a really negative impact on how I felt as a mother, I just felt like a huge failure) . She was formula fed and is a perfectly happy, healthy, well managed, bright little 4 year old. With my next one due in Feb I plan to manage by feeling better this time and not feel guilty if breast feeding doesn’t work

  30. Thank you so much for this article!!! I had a difficult time breast feeding my son while we were still in the hospital. I had an unscheduled C-Section so we were there for 5 days. Between inverted nipples, difficulty getting him to latch, almost a full maternity ward (so not as much attention from the staff) and to top it off I had very vivid dreams while I was pregnant of nursing him and how wonderful it was; I was becoming more and more distressed about feeding my son from my breast. One of the Doctors even came to see me to make sure that I wasn’t depressed about having a C-Section (which I was not and I am still not). Finally on our last night in the hospital I was so upset about him not being able to latch that I called the nurse to bring me formula. Even though I made the best decision for us at that time, I have struggled for the last 6 ½ years with the fact that I “gave-up so easily” on breast feeding. I think that the medical community has become so Pro-Breast and Anti-Formula that it is doing a major disservice and damage to the mothers and children they are supposed to be helping. It shouldn’t be so stressful to feed our children. My son is now 6 ½ and is a very healthy, active and happy child. Yes he had tubes in his ears and has asthma induced by head colds, but there I know children who were exclusively breast fed that have those issues and worse. We need to ban together and support each other to be the best mothers we can be!

  31. This was a great article. I breastfed my daughter for as long as I possibly could before myself and my partner made the decision to switch her to formula. She was 10 weeks old when we switched and I loved the time I was able to fed for but there were many factors why I had to stop. One was her tongue tie made it hard for her to latch, especially seen as I have larger breasts as well. Her ties isn’t bad enough that they thought cutting it would help, but I also had serious supply issues. I tried everything I possibly could from pumping more to lactation foods and drinks to different vitamins and I also saw/caught in close contact with my lactation consultant. She was the person that original person that suggested we which as she was beginning to slow down on weight gain and dropped below her percentile from when she was born. It killed me inside and it was hard for me to forgive myself as I felt like I had let her down. I reached out to others for help on a local parenting pages from my home town and I was welcomed by just passive aggressive or just plain mean comments about how I must not of tried hard enough or didn’t do enough. I am 22 and at this point was away from my partner as we lived in a small town where I had to fly to Perth for tests at the children’s hospital to test for a congenital illness that runs in my family. So on top being homesick, faced with my daughter having to maybe be braced (thank god she didn’t), her not feeding and not gaining weight, I had full grown women yelling at me saying that I’m not doing the right thing by my child for switching her. It was a very stressful time. My daughter is now 6 months old and is healthy and happy. So to any young mums that might read this after putting their baby on formula all I have to say is, It’s your baby. Your child. No matter what anyone says, go with what you feel is right. Go with your gut. If you are ever in doubt, contact someone. There are many helpful hotlines out there. Just give them a call and have a chat because sometime just someone listening that has some experience on the matter is all you need.

    1. So peripartum cardiomyopathy so severe it led to open heart surgery 4 months later isn’t a good “excuse”? Taking 20 different kinds of medications that at least half of would be very harmful to her isn’t a good “excuse “? Being in the hospital literally half her life trying to fight for mine so I can stay here on earth with her isn’t a good “excuse”? Being a jerk isn’t cute.

  32. I was a maternity nurse for 30 years on a small level 1 unit. We had an excellent lactation consultant she made sure that all nursing staff was able ti help all new nursing mothers. It is a shame that any mother who wants to breast feed doesn’t get the support she needs. Michele the disservice isn’t that the medical community is pro breast feeding. The disservice happened when the medical community felt they knew better then nature ant started discouraging breast feeding and pushing formula years ago. Now the more they study and analyze breast milk the more they realize they were wrong and the more formula companies try ti imitate breast milk. Years ago most babies were breast fed and lactation consultants weren’t needed because the females in a family were experienced and could support and help new mothers. When there was truly a reason a mother couldn’t breast feed then a wet nurse was employed. A wet nurse was a woman who had a baby and either had an abundant milk supply or had weaned her baby but would nurse babies whose mothers were unable to. For all of the mothers that wanted to or tried to breast feed and were unsuccessful for whatever reason If you gave it your best effort you have nothing to regret, and for the judgmental people they haven’t walked in your shoes. Personally I come from a long line of breast feeding women and am very proud of it. I spent this past mothers day with the wife of a friend of my son’s who was having some issues with breast feeding. We worked together for the after noon now the breast feeding is going well and Ben is thriving. mom is happy. I glad that I had such a wonderful lactation consultant to learn from.

  33. My question is regarding reason 13 should we extend that curtesy of choice to vaccinations as well? The same rational is being used.
    And just like vaccinations there are medical exemptions but we frown upon and shame parents who don’t vaccinate etc? I would really like an argument that articulates the difference.

  34. The baby has a rare allergic reaction to all food proteins, and must be on an amino acid-based formula – possibly for life. This includes some babies with eosinophilic esophagitis, though some of them may be able to breast feed if their mothers eliminate all the common allergens (many people with EoE are only allergic to a few foods, not all of them).
    The baby could have PKU or galactosemia, in which case they cannot have breast milk of any kind (human, cow, goat, etc.).

  35. This is a great reminder as there are clearly plenty of reasons why women can’t breastfeed but why pussyfoot around ay the end of the article saying you don’t think breastfeeding is better. Of course it is! I think it’s great you’re advocating for mothers but what about babies?

  36. Another reason may be that they were humiliated by others in public for breastfeeding! Unfortunately our society still has an issue with breastfeeding – sometimes just as much as formula feeding! I am moving to full formula feeding currently as I have always had low supply (as confirmed with qualified lactation consultant), and what things were helping me build my supply have simply stopped working and I have no choice…however I hear of too many mothers being abused or made to feel guilty about breastfeeding in public…formula feed or breastfed – we can’t win!! 🙁

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