I recently encountered a sanctimommy. I could sense she was a sanctimommy right from the get-go but decided to give her the benefit of the doubt because the conversation started off innocently enough. She had asked the question “Why don’t some women breastfeed? It’s the best choice for your baby and I have no idea why someone wouldn’t do it if they were capable.” I rolled my eyes hard at the computer screen and wrote a reply that read something like, “There are lots of reasons. A women may not breastfeed because she is going back to work really early and simply cannot continue, because she is a sexual abuse survivor, because she doesn’t have good home support, because she needs a break from the baby, or maybe because she is suffering from post-partum depression. Who knows? There are lots of reasons why.”
I was impressed with my answer and thought it would satisfy her but that’s when she went all sanctimommy and said, “Okay, but there are women who don’t do it simply because they don’t want to and I think that’s really selfish. Other people are going to look at that woman and think that she considers her baby an inconvenience because she doesn’t breastfeed.” And that is what I lost all respect for her.
Why do women need to justify their feeding choices? Why are there such mommy wars over how another woman chooses to feed her child? If a woman doesn’t want to breastfeed for any reason, that is her business. I don’t know why the world feels like they need to weigh in on it.
Breastfeeding has tons of benefits and we all know breast is best. However, breast is not always a choice that a mother wants to make. There are tons of reasons as to why a mom may choose not to breastfeed and while I could list them all, I think it’s unnecessary. Because feeding choices don’t need justification. No one asks a mom why she chooses to breastfeed so why is it okay to ask a mom why she chooses not to?
Mothers all over the world continue to fight for breastfeeding rights and for society to normalize breastfeeding. I think this is wonderful. If I see any mom in public breastfeeding her child I don’t give it a second glance. No one needs to cover up to make me comfortable and I sincerely hope that no one feels pressured by society to cover up. Every mother deserves the respect to breastfeed their child in any venue. It is a natural and beautiful thing.
With that being said, no mother should ever have to feel ashamed or judged because she is formula feeding, even if her reason is “because I don’t want to breastfeed.” I did a combination of formula feeding and breastfeeding and I can tell you that I felt a lot of harsh judgments when I fed my daughter from a bottle. People gave me dirty looks or made snide remarks and they were hurtful. Just as hurtful as the remarks that someone might make towards a breastfeeding mom. The thing with normalizing breastfeeding is that you can’t do it while being critical of formula feeding because that’s counterproductive.
So, look…can we just stop this? Who cares how someone else feeds their baby? If it doesn’t affect you then it’s not your business. If a baby is happy, healthy, loved and fed then their parent/parents are doing an awesome job. We all know the benefits of breastfeeding but not every mom can, or wants to. And that is okay. Just feed your child however you want and worry about their health and not anyone else’s.
Sanctimommies everywhere, I hope you are reading this. I know you think you are doing everyone a favor when you preach how awesome breastfeeding is, but formula feeding moms hear that information everywhere – at prenatal classes, from their doctor, when they give birth and can find tons of info online. You don’t need to list the benefits to a formula feeding mom. She made her decision and is happy with it. So let it go and move on. And go breastfeed your own kid!