4 Things NOT to say to a Bottle Feeding Dad…
I love breasts. Always have.
Breasts feed babies. Sometimes...
We have all heard the slogan “Breast is Best”. Heck, I lived that motto at every high school party in my awkward teenage years.
But if breastfeeding doesn’t work out for new parents, if breast really isn’t best, then bottle/formula feeding becomes a wonderful reality.
Popular culture makes it nearly impossible for new parents to feel like whatever they are doing is enough. “Are you using organic hemp-infused environmentally safe bamboo diapers like Angelina Jolie uses??” Any new parent knows there is already enough stress and worry when looking after a brand new baby.
When it comes to feeding, if breast feeding is working out, then great! Lucky you! If it isn’t working out, then bottle feeding is great! Lucky you!
We need to stop all the added “Breast is Best” pressure. I think it was Tina Fey that declared, “if you choose to not love your baby enough to breastfeed, you can pump your milk using a breast pump…” For some couples, breastfeeding is not a choice or even an option. When it comes to feeding, all that matters is that your baby gets what he needs to grow up strong and healthy.
As a dad, co-captain of the parenting team, I wish I had breasts… but alas, I do not. So in the early days with a new baby, all I can do is support mom. If breastfeeding doesn’t work out, for some new moms the ‘LETDOWN’ can be devastating and soul destroying. Some women I talked to felt that their failure to breast feed was worse than any fertility challenges they ever faced.
Mom can feel like she is failing at something that should come naturally, like it did for the African tribeswoman on the cover of every National Geographic magazine I remember from the 1970s. It can be an incredibly sad time for a new mom if her body is not doing something that everyone tells her it should be doing. I find it incredibly painful to see and hear the judgment from others on the “failure” of breastfeeding. “It’s easy! You have big boobs, you just need to relax!”
Here are 4 other things to NEVER about say to a bottle feeding Dad…
1. "Your wife should try harder! It is natural and normal and what is best for baby!” - Hmmm… erections are natural and normal too, if (and when) I have erectile ‘challenges’, I sure as hell don’t want to be told to TRY HARDER (pun intended) – believe me, I will want that erection bad enough!”
2. “Did you wife just give up?” – Hmmm, no, but our “really hungry” baby and her bleeding swollen nipples forced her to tap out and submit after medication, nipple shields, being attached to a giant rental pump 24/7, cold compresses, hot compresses, voodoo… You are right, she is a quitter!
3. “Your wife should talk to my breastfeeding consultant! She can straighten this out and get your baby ‘back’ on the right path!” Do you know what is in formula?”
Holy smokes, what a douche thing to say. No, neither one of us needs to meet your Nipple Teat Nazi, we have met many. We trust our doctor to know what is best for us. Formula is not cigarettes. Although unfortunately many a husband has had to hold a precious, screaming newborn while he watches a teary, devastated, self-loathing wife read the notice on the formula that “breast milk is best for babies” before she prepares that first desperate bottle of formula ever at 3:00 AM.
4. “I am sorry breast-feeding didn’t work out for you!” Why? Why tell a happy bottle feeding couple that you are so sorry?
Why do you pity her? Does she have something to be ashamed of? And to use another Tina Feyism, “my bottle fed baby will kick your breast fed babies ass any day”.
In researching for this article, I asked my own mother how breast feeding went with me. Her answer shocked me. It didn’t. It never happened. EVER. I was bottle fed from day 1. I was dumbfounded. I figured my love of breasts must have started early, but alas, it did not. But I think I turned out okay.
Can you look at a grade 9 class and pinpoint who was bottle fed and who was breastfed? No. It’s not like the bottle fed kids have hunched backs on top of bowlegs that stare at you under a unibrow with a pair of lazy eyes.
There can be hundreds of different reasons why a new baby isn’t breastfed. Maybe the child is adopted, maybe mom had breast cancer, maybe she had breast augmentation, who knows --- it’s personal and none of our damn business!
Personally, I love bottle feeding!! As a dad, I have been involved since Day 1 in the feeding of our beautiful boy! We both get to bond with our new boy! Looking into those eyes over the bottle is absolutely magical!
Bottle feeding is not the selfish choice --- for some families, it’s the best choice. Do what is best for your baby! As long as a baby is healthy, that is all that matters. Feeding is just one part of being a new parent, so come on people, stop judging and start supporting!
Please post your thoughts! Let’s start the discussion…
*For the record, we are breast feeding and topping up with a lot of formula and fortunately Eli is thriving in his bamboo-hemp-hybrid diapers.