Is Breastfeeding everyone’s business?

Breastfeeding is the most “hot” topic of discussing during pregnancy and postpartum. Most pregnant women are hounded with these three questions all the time:

  1. When’s is your due date?
  2. Do you know what you are having?
  3. Are you planning to breastfeed?

Some women are more than elated to divulge details for the first two questions, it being not so personal; but definitely not for the third one as it is too “personal”. Why on earth are they obligated to tell the world if they are planning to breastfeed or not? What will the questioners accomplish with this data? How is it even important to them?

I was at a party one day and I saw a lady friend of mine empty the similac formula into a clean feeding bottle, hold the baby in her left arm, put a wash cloth on the baby’s chest and plug in the bottle’s nipple into the baby’s mouth for it to start suckling on. At this right moment, another lady came to this mother with an “air of contempt” and scornfully asked “Oh, is that formula”? Don’t you breastfeed your baby?” . Before the mother could even reply to her question, she sanctimoniously started sermonizing the “benefits of breast milk over formula” (as though mothers are naive to the fact that breastfeeding superceeds formula feeding in health benefits)!! I watched with bewilderment this entire scenario unfold in front of me. I could sense the ‘wave of shame’ in that mother’s eyes and really felt sorry for her.

There could be a plethora of reasons why that mother would have chosen to formula feed her baby rather than breast feed. Inevitable reasons may include- breast cancer surgery, breast implants, no milk production due to hormonal imbalance, less milk production, inverted nipples, painful latch, fertility issues and treatments hampering milk production, PCOS, etc. Some mothers aren’t even comfortable to breastfeed in public (thanks to recent misdemeanor towards publicly breastfeeding mothers). That mother was not obligated to justify her stand as to why she chose to formula-feed her baby.

We see these scenarios repeat everyday – at parties, at gatherings, at office, at home etc. What’s more agitating is even men feel its their right to ask a new mother if she is planning to breast feed her baby or why she isn’t? Seriously?! Don’t we feel we are going overboard with all these? First of all a mother is killing herself and trying hard to put herself together to feed, clean, swaddle, calm and rock her baby to sleep. The stress during pregnancy and postpartum is too much to handle, and to top it all, they have been subjected to constant questionnaire of “breastfeeding” and humiliated if they aren’t.

Shouldn’t we just learn to mind our own business and back off from others’ lives? If a mother wants to breastfeed or formula feed her baby, its totally her choice, how does it matter to others anyway? Let us learn to STOP treating the formula-feeding mothers as criminals! For some, its their choice, for others, its inevitable.

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