I’ve been wanting to write this post for a long time. As an active participant in mom-life social media, I see many comment feeds. One in particular tends to get very heated, and that’s “Formula vs. Breastfeeding.” I want to talk some more about this, but I’m going to approach it from a unique angle.
The very idea of a “versus” between those two things is quite silly when you stop to think about it. It shouldn’t be a battle, and yet it is. I read many comments from women saying they have been shamed or insulted for formula feeding their child, and I’m here to say that’s not okay.
I’m in a wheelchair. I cannot walk, and so I use a wheelchair to mobilize myself through my daily life. It’s not my first choice, and it’s certainly not the mobility platform that my body was originally designed for, and so it is technically not the “best” option. Walking is physically and biologically superior to not walking. Due to circumstances, I’m rolling instead of walking- but I’m still getting where I need to go!
No one would ever shame a person in a wheelchair. They’d never make them feel bad for their choice to not walk. Maybe you are thinking this isn’t the best example to compare to formula feeding because people don’t choose wheelchairs, and most don’t. The chair wasn’t a choice. But some people do choose them. They choose them over pain or stress on their body because of health and wellness circumstances that we the general public don’t get to know. Because it’s none of our business. Whether the chair is a temporary solution, or whether the chair is a necessary and complete replacement for walking altogether- we don’t get to know.
See the point I’m making? For whatever the reason, a woman has chosen to use formula. It could be something as drastic as she had a mastectomy and cannot produce milk, or something as simple as she needs to reduce as much stress in her life as possible for her own mental health (yes, breastfeeding can be stressful!). You don’t get to judge the circumstance, you just get to recognize and support her no matter what. Just smile and hold the door open for her as she wheels through.
But there is a flipside to my angle as well.
Hey, I can’t walk. You should be more sensitive to me and not talk about how great walking is.
As a wheelchair user, I am not offended by posters, ads or conversations about Marathons or Running Shoes or anything that promotes Walking as the best form of mobility for your body. It’s healthier than not walking and I can accept this. It’s doing what your body was built for, and it has loads of benefits. I can’t walk. I wish I could, but it’s not happening unless my nerve damage magically reverses. And I don’t feel ashamed, because why should I?
I don’t need to attack other people who advocate walking or running by saying “Hey, I can’t walk. You should be more sensitive to me and not talk about how great walking is.” It’s important to spread information about the health benefits of walking, and help people who are having problems. Like say, they used to enjoy walking, but their feet hurt now. “Have you tried insoles? Seen a foot doctor?” Maybe they just haven’t had access to information or support that could make walking more enjoyable and successful for them. I can’t attack the information every time I see it out there just because I’m butt-hurt that I can’t walk. And maybe, just maybe, the best advice for their situation is a knee brace, a cane or… even a wheelchair? We can talk about that too! We don’t know the severity of just how bad their inability to walk truly is.
Do you see how ridiculous the whole “war” is when you change the topic to walking instead of breastfeeding?
So moms, I encourage you all to feed without shame. To be proud of your choices and acknowledge that you made them for a reason. Your choices are right because they are right for you! You don’t need to defend them (unless they’re illegal…) and you don’t get to shame others for choosing different. They made their choices based on their very different life circumstances. Support eachother without the need to shush-away facts just to make ourselves feel better. Be confident! No one loves your babies more than you. You are their mama, and you will do whatever it takes to give them the best life possible. Even if it means chasing them around in a wheelchair, like me.
Thanks for reading, and I hope I didn’t take you too far out to left field with my completely out of the box analogy!