Please Stop Telling Me to Breastfeed My Unborn Child

There’s More Than One Healthy Way to Feed a Baby

Bottle V” Flickr photo by Nerissa’s Ring shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license.

The moment people find out you’re pregnant, the unsolicited advice starts rolling in. You’re immediately inundated with instructions on the ‘right way’ to care for yourself and your unborn child, and of course, their way is the only proper way to live.

When it comes to infant care, there’s a lot of hot topics, but none as fiery as feeding. Call me crazy, but I’m of the belief that it’s the parents’ job to decide what their baby will dine on. The only thing that should matter is the child is healthy and their little belly is full, but that’s not how our society works.

When our son is born in the spring, I’m not breastfeeding him. I’m not apologizing for it, I don’t feel guilty about it, and I don’t owe you an explanation. However, I’m five months’ pregnant and already being mom-shamed, so hopefully addressing the issue will clear a few things up.

By no means am I anti-breastfeeding. What I am against is shaming women into breastfeeding who don’t want to do it.

Some women can’t wait to breastfed, and if that’s you, by all means go for it. If it seems impossible at first, don’t let anyone talk you out of it, because it’s special to you. This is your choice, and you should do what you think is best.

Personally, not breastfeeding my son is what I think is best. I want to be fully present for him and my husband, and I know I won’t be able to do that if I don’t feel like myself. I don’t want to be a waking zombie, because I’m the only one who can feed him or spend a significant amount of time each day attached to a breast pump, when I could be enjoying quality time with him.

I’m also a full-time freelance writer, so paid maternity leave isn’t a thing in my world. In fact, if I take too much time away from my clients or have to significantly scale back, I’ll likely be out of work. I know I can’t do it all, and I want my husband’s help.

People say my formula-fed baby won’t be as healthy, smart, or attached as those dinng on breast milk, but a pretty legit science experiment says otherwise — myself.

I wasn’t breastfed. Despite the apparent odds, I have two degrees, talk to my mother multiple times per week, and my only two allergies are Neosporin and a rumored intolerance to Penicillin. In fact, before I got pregnant, I rarely even caught a cold.

When people choose to berate me for not wanting to breastfeed my son, it’s double insulting. Not only is it wholly invasive to have others tell me what to do with my own body, but as a formula-fed baby myself, I find their arguments personally offensive.

By essentially saying denying my son the teet will make him a second-rate citizen, they’re also saying that’s what I am.

Beyond simply not wanting to breastfeed, I have no medical reason to avoid it. However, my heart goes out to all the mothers who, due to health issues, didn’t get to make that choice.

No doubt, most of these women have had to endure criticism from outsiders who think they know what’s best for someone else and their child. It must feel awful to want to breastfeed, but be medically unable, then have to endure people berating you for supposedly not having your baby’s best interest at heart.

Moral of the story, you don’t know what’s going on in someone else’s life. Clearly, this is the case with strangers, but even some friends and family members might not be willing to disclose details of their medical records that put breastfeeding out of the question — and they shouldn’t have to.

Fully supported by my husband, I’ve made the choice that formula is what’s best for our son and I. As the — future — parents, we’re the only ones who get to make that call.

Scolding me about choosing not to breastfeed won’t change my mind, but it will make me want to spend less time around you. I respect the fact that breastfeeding is something you believe in, but you also need to respect my decision to take a different route.