Nurse Forces Formula-Feeding Mom to Explain Herself, But She Shouldn't Have To
One mom ranted to Reddit about a nurse who repeatedly challenged her decision to formula-feed her second child. The real question is: why do moms have to explain over and over why they've chosen not to breastfeed?
On the r/Mommit page, user Kidd_Ivy posted an account of her recent disappointing WIC (a support program for low-income families with young children) appointment. When a nurse offered help in choosing a breast pump, the mom responded that she planned to formula-feed her baby.
“[The nurse] took off her glasses and gave me this weird look and asked me why,” the mom wrote, “and I just told her it was the best choice for us.” Then, the nurse asked why again.
At first, she responded,“Well, it just won’t help me be the best mom that I can be. Besides that, I’m going to school this fall and I can’t wait to get back to work.”
But apparently, her perfectly reasonable reply didn’t satisfy the nurse. As the mom recounted, she pressed the subject, responding that other mothers go to work and breastfeed. Then, as if the mom-comparing (mom-paring?) wasn’t enough, she wrote that the nurse then asked, “What about the baby’s father? Can’t he just go to work so you can stay home and work on breastfeeding?"
Wait, what? "Just go to work?" Those are the kind of questions that can turn a conversation into very awkward territory. Not every family is in a financial situation that allows for one parent to stay at home. And, regardless, this mom just made it very clear that she wants to work—which she restated to the nurse in the most diplomatic way: “We’ve talked this through and it’s the best choice for us.”
In her post, the mom explained the very personal reasons why she’s made her decision. With her 4-year-old daughter, she breastfed for nearly two years—without pumping—after consulting with lactation nurses, two additional pediatricians, and an unsuccessful attempt at formula feeding. But after 21 months, breastfeeding took a physical and emotional toll.
“I ended up doing therapy sessions,” she recounted, “because I was becoming increasingly irritable, uncomfortable, anxious, and depressed from all the sitting and touching I had to do.” After her daughter weaned, the mom realized that breastfeeding hadn’t helped her to bond with her baby. Instead, she found a devastating, “unexpected aftermath”—she didn’t like holding her daughter. But with time, therapy, and antidepressants, she was able to enjoy cuddling and hugging again.
She also realized that being a stay-at-home mom was not for her. “I wanted to go to school and go to work and I couldn’t,” she said, “and it was becoming difficult to be the mother my daughter needed.”
These kinds of decisions aren’t easy to make or explain in a brief consultation. “I really don't want to explain this to every person, nurse, doctor, whatever every time I mention that I'm formula-feeding,” the mom added, “and I'm not going to unless it's my regular doctor or therapist or my baby's doctor.” Even then, these kinds of stories can be hard to tell, and being judged or mom-shamed doesn’t help one bit.
Sometimes, it’s much easier to vent anonymously on the Internet, and the 200-plus comments from moms with similar stories on this post are good evidence of that. But, it also suggests that her experience happens more often than it should, which is never. Here’s hoping that this mom found comfort in the online support for her decision to formula feed—and more supporters in real life, too.