Can we all stop for a minute, take a deep breath, hold hands, sing Kumbaya and agree that most kids turn out fine whether they were raised on breast milk or formula? Some might be more prone to allergies or weight gain if they go one way or the other. But they all mostly thrive because they are loved. Some moms don’t want to breastfeed, some can’t for a variety of reasons. It’s not our place to judge another’s choice or whatever her situation is.
Try telling that, though, to a Woolworths store in Australia. According to Mamamia, Reannon Spencer, a mom of three, was shopping for baby formula, and when she didn’t see it on the shelves, she asked for help from the store manager. When she hit a dead end there, she emailed the Woolworths head office and received a call from the Manager of Baby, Formula and Needs, who told her they didn’t stock the formula because “there wasn’t much demand for it.” (Which then, of course, begs the question of why there’s a whole job called the Manager of Baby, FORMULA and Needs).
And then the Manager of Baby, Formula and Needs told Spencer she should be breastfeeding, anyway. Spencer took her story public, so of course Woolworths hopped on the PR train stat, saying:
“Woolworths stocks a range of formula in its stores around Australia. We believe that mothers should be supported in their individual nutrition choices for their newborn children whether that be formula or breastfeeding.”
I love babies and children. But now, I love children more than babies. Or, rather, I’m just glad not to have babies of my own anymore. I see other babies, and I’m like, “Oh my goodness! So cute! Delicious! Can I eat them?” I mean it, too. However, what I also mean but don’t say is, “Can I eat kiss and squeeze them and then leave them with you while I go home to digest the cuteness and drink wine and do all the other things I like to do that’s much harder to do when you have an actual baby?”
I loved when my daughters were babies, but I hated figuring out the nursing part. My older daughter was nursed for exactly two weeks until I gave up because I thought it was supposed to be easy, and it wasn’t, and I felt like a dope. (So I pumped for four months, which I think was harder than taking the SATs in a language that you don’t speak). After that, she drank formula until she could switch to milk (although she refused to ever drink milk, and now, at age 5-and-a-half, still won’t touch anything with dairy. Whatever.).
When my younger daughter was born, I steeled myself for the tough road ahead and powered through the mastitis, exclusively breastfeeding her for 15 months. I was proud. And boy, was it easier than pumping, not to mention cheaper than buying formula.
The point is that I’ve been on both sides. I’ve done baby formula, and I’ve done no baby formula. And what I don’t miss is having to listen (or, more likely, read — because it’s mostly judgy, anonymous Internet trolls, and, apparently, Australian Woolworths employees, who call people out for their parenting decisions) to the debate about whether or not breast is best (which, by the way, maybe I’m hearing lately that it’s not?).
Anyone who’s been there (OK, maybe not at that particular Woolworths in Australia) knows that the breast vs. baby formula judgement is all-too real. And it’s a crock. Being a mom is so freakin’ hard — the last thing we need are store clerks making it harder on us by not stocking their shelves with what we need and instead filling our heads with criticism that we don’t.
Photo credit: Wikipedia
More from Meredith on Babble:
- Why and When It Really is OK to Tell a Woman She’s Fat
- SUDC: The Lesser-Known Cousin of SIDS About Which More Parents Desperately Need to Know