When I was a Formula Mom, I used to pour formula into Medela bottles, so that the other moms at playgroup thought that it was pumped breastmilk. I felt their eyes on me. I felt shame, and embarrassment. I was different.

Now I am a Breast-Feeding Mom, and I get funny looks and nasty stares when I nurse in public. I feel everyone’s eyes on me. I feel shame, and embarrassment. I am different.

I am tired. I am angry. I refuse to carry the weight of everyone else’s judgment anymore.

I am standing up today to say with pride, that I am feeding my children with love.

And I’m 100% sure that you are too.

I am standing up with Suzanne Barston, The Fearless Formula Feeder and author of Bottled Up. I am standing up with Jamie Lynne Grumet, a breastfeeding advocate and blogger at I Am Not The Babysitter. We are standing together, and we’re asking you to stand up with us.

You, at the La Leche League meeting. You, in the lactation consultant’s office, perfecting your newborn’s latch. You, in the Nordstrom’s dressing room, nursing quietly on the couch. You, at your older son’s baseball game, nursing openly in the bleachers. You, who have cried rivers of tears over your feeding choices, and you, who chose without fear.

I support you.

You, in your hospital gown, asking the nurses for formula. You, shaking a bottle with one arm while your baby snuggles close in the other. You, who have researched the healthiest, most tummy-friendly formulas. You, who pump and mix and combo-feed. You, who have cried rivers of tears over your feeding choices, and you, who chose without fear.

I support you.

You, with your partner, as you feed the baby that you are hoping to adopt. You, who had a mastectomy and are locking eyes with new life. You, who chose your mental health, or your physical health, or your freedom, or your lack of freedom, so that you could feed your baby in a way that protected both of you. You, the Daddy who is finger-feeding your infant. You, the Mommy who lovingly pours formula into a G-Tube. You, at the NICU, pumping your breasts by the light of the machines that are keeping your baby alive. You, with the foster child who you are loving back to health. We see you. You are a part of this conversation too.

We support you.

World Breastfeeding Week isn’t just about those of us who feed our children from our breasts. We are standing up together to say that it can be about all of us. We are all feeding our children with love. What would this world be like, if instead of the vitriol and the hate, the judgment and the propaganda, we simply said to each other “I Support You”?

“The I Support You movement is a respectful, empathetic, compassionate exchange between parents. We all feed our children differently, but we are all feeding with love, and in ways that work for our individual circumstances and family dynamics. I Support You is the first step in helping formula-feeding, breast-feeding, and combo-feeding parents to come together and lift each other up with kindness and understanding. We have chosen to announce this movement during World Breastfeeding Week, to honor the commitment of those who fight for better support for breastfeeding moms; we are inspired by this, but believe that by changing the focus to supporting all parents, we can truly provoke positive change without putting the needs of some mothers above the needs of others. The “I Support You” movement aims:

1) To bridge the gap between formula-feeding and breastfeeding parents by fostering friendships and interactions.

2) To dispel common myths and misperceptions about formula feeding and breastfeeding, by asking parents to share their stories, and really listening to the truth of their experiences.

3) To provide information and support to parents as they make decisions about how to feed their children.

4) To connect parents with local resources, mentors, and friends who are feeding their children in similar ways.”

-Suzanne Barston and Kim Simon

Now, it’s your turn.

Throughout the next week, Suzanne, Jamie and I will be asking you to stand up with us. You can be a part of the rising tide of parents who stand up to say that they are tired of fighting in the Mommy Wars. How can you help?

Send us your photos. Suzanne is creating a slideshow of photos to show how beautiful support can look. If you are willing to let her use your image, then take a photo of you/your baby/your family/you and a friend – doesn’t matter – with a message of support (i.e., “I exclusively breastfed, but I know every mother does what is right for her – and I SUPPORT YOU” or “I may formula feed, but I’d fight like hell for a woman’s right to NIP. I SUPPORT YOU”) and send it to formulafeeders@gmail.com by Friday, August 2nd.

Interview Your Opposite! Are you a blogger? Are you a formula-feeder who is best friends with an extended breastfeeder? An adoptive parent who knows of a mom using an SNS nurser with a baby in the NICU? We want you to interview someone who is feeding in a different way than you are, and then publish it on your blog. If you’re interested in participating, please email me at mamabythebay@gmail.com for a list of interview questions. On Sunday August 4th, we will ask you to share your story with us, by adding your link to the I Support You blog hop. Don’t know anyone who feeds in a different way? Send me an email and I’ll connect you to someone!

Join us for a Twitter Party on August 7th, at 5pm PST/8pm EST . We’ll be asking you to share your truths about your feeding choices, and connecting you to other parents who might be feeding their children the same way. You can find us with the hashtag #ISupportYou

Check out Suzanne’s post about the I Support You Movement, or write your own and link up with us on Sunday August 4th!

We’re standing up. We’re reaching out. We’re asking you to tell your truth about how you feed your children. No shame. No embarrassment. We’re going to hold out our hands to give you a high five, because we know how hard this is. We’re going to raise our voices to make sure that you hear “Well done, my friend. Well done.” We need you to stand up with us. We support you. Now who will you support?


75 Replies to “I Support You”

  1. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I can’t even begin to describe how grateful I am that you wrote this. There needs to be more understanding across the baby-feeding lines and I wholeheartedly agree with your entire post.

    There is nothing worse in this world than feeling inadequate because you HAVE to formula-feed because you couldn’t breastfeed. The feeling of utter failure because your baby just couldn’t latch…or your baby wasn’t getting satisfied with the milk you produced. Both were my situation, with my firstborn and my new baby.

    There is a sign in my local WIC office that reads: “Formula-feeding is hazardous to your baby’s health. It can cause allergies, obesity, asthma, and numerous other health issues.” I was in tears. Why would you do that to mothers who either had no other choice but to formula-feed, or just chose to formula-feed? It’s just cruel, in my opinion.

    How about we do what you said and feed our babies so that they can be healthy? If it’s breastmilk, YAY! If it’s formula, YAY! Just feed our babies!

  2. Shannon, I know it must be hard to want to do something so badly , but not be able to. I wanted a natural birth so badly, but ended up with 3 csections because of complications. It makes me feel like less of a woman and mother having had these experiences and never the feel of childbirth. And I know there are plenty of moms who have to formula feed, but I think, in a wic office especially, it’s really important that formula feeding is not glossed over. It is not as good as breast milk and the formula companies with their predatory, pharmaceutical type marketing are making it seem like it is.

    I have no judgement for people who make the decision to do what is best for their family, breast or bottle, it is not my decision, or anyone but the parents’ decision to make. But for the people that are not educated and given all the real information, and to our society that treats breastfeeding moms like pornstars, things need to change.

    And shame on the formula companies for using gmos, cornsyrup and other crap in their formulas. Moms should have a good option, not what they are trying to sell to us.

    But really, the article is right. Moms need to support each other and not judge each other. We have so much to learn from each other and so much to give each other.

    1. Nicole,
      I agree wholeheartedly! If you’ve ever had to stand in the formula aisle at the store, the choices are seriously overwhelming. When you go through one formula after another because your baby can’t tolerate them, you start to get really frustrated. With my baby (who is 4mo old now) we initially went through 6 different formulas before finally finding one that didn’t make him vomit after or during every feeding.
      Then! Then the formula companies came out with “toddler” formulas. Oh geez! When my 3 year old was ready to transition from formula to milk, my confusion set in. Was I supposed to give him milk or toddler formula? As if we didn’t have enough questions about what is best for our kids, they go and throw another kink in the mix.
      I to ended up having to have a c-section with my 2nd. My firstborn got stuck and ended up with shoulder distocia so I really had no other choice than to have a c-section as my 2nd ended up being almost a whole pound bigger than my first.
      I have been repeatedly looked down upon for my parenting choices. Starting from birth, then formula feeding, to solid feeding….even all the way down to what diapers I chose to use. I use cloth diapers and I cna’t even tell you how many of my family members have pulled the “it’s a new age, you don’t have to use cloth anymore. It’s just gross.” Uhm yeah. Let’s not start that argument.
      In the end, it boils down to the fact that every parent needs to make the right choices for their child. As long as that child is healthy and thriving, we don’t have any right to interfere. Make the information available so that informed choices can be made and leave it at that.

  3. Thank you for speaking up! I have been both a breast feeding Mom that eventually had to turn to formula because I could not produce enough for my girls, now 3 and 5. I have a son de in September and am preparing to try to breastfeed again as long as possible, but am aware it may not work out for me again, and that’s OK. I am a huge advocate that a woman should have the right to feed her children without having to be put down because of that choice. Your blog post was amazing and really spoke to me. Again, thank you for voicing what most of us have been thinking!

  4. Women who feed any of the commercial formulas to their baby probably let them be vaccinated as well, so when they become autistic, it will be difficult to determine whether it was the poisons in the formula or the poisons in the vaccines…
    One has to wonder if the Angela Jolie foolishness won’t go viral…

  5. Thank you for this piece. It’s so nice to hear encouragement from another mother who has had both struggle and success – this stuff is not easy! I shared your post with all my other mama friends. Great writing.

  6. I agree to not judge other mamas. You never know their story. I was formula fed and graduated with honors from college and so did my formula fed husband. We were both adopted. Formula is not evil.
    However it is scientifically proven the breast milk is better. I do not like it when people say that formula is just as good because it isn’t. I have exclusively pumped for my son for 10 months and I have donated breastmilk to low producing mamas through Human Milk 4 Human Babies. I had a failed natural birth but I was determined that my baby was going to get breast milk one way or another. I even donate because I remember how awful I felt after my failed natural birth. I understand women who can’t produce enough because I know the feeling that your body has failed. I want to help moms not feel that way the best way that I can.

  7. I want to thank you for this. I totally plan on participating in the Blog Hop. I was never able to breastfeed successfully with any of my children. But I pumped with each one (except my third child who died shortly after birth, then I was trying to dry myself up) varying from 4 months to 9 months. My youngest was in the NICU for 46 days & I pumped at fast food restaurants during the 90 minute commute to see him at the place he was transferred. I ended up with frozen milk for a while after I dried up. Yet I still got ostracized by the breastfeeding community for not trying hard enough. I can’t wait to share my rainbow boy’s story. Thank you again!

    1. Leslie— So sorry for the loss of your baby. Truly points out that how we feed does not matter…as long as we get to feed at all. Hugs.

  8. What a great and inspiring read. You have put into words how I feel towards feeding your child — it is all about love, and finding something that makes you, your family, happy and healthy (both physically and mentally). I have had a difficult experience with breastfeeding but exclusively breastfed my son because it felt right through it all. I know many friends who were were unable to breastfeed for various reasons, and although I chose to breastfeed, these women remain some of the greatest mothers I’ve ever met. Choosing one way of feeding your child over another should not immediately be met with judgment from one ‘camp’ or another.

  9. This is wonderful! We ned to support loving parents regraudless of there feeding chocies. We mothers are doing the best we can. We dont need to fight about bfing or formula feeding. We need to support each other for our children.

  10. Whoops finger twitch…
    I nanny for hard working parents who do their best and love their children fiercely. They are constantly second guessing themselves. I tell them “you can only do what you can do”. We MUST support each other! We must each do what we can do to help and love each other through parenthood. It is the toughest and most rewarding job there is!

  11. This is the first part of the comment I thought had been sent in error…

    The three children I breast feed for 3-9 months are all in their 20’s. I breast feed them when they were hungary, discreetly, no matter where I was. Patents need to feed their children, period.

    I brought my children to work with me at our family owned business. They had all the comforts of home; crib, toys, books and family. I still felt guilty for the daily choices I had to make. “No sorry, Mommy can’t do this/that right now, I have to talk on the phone”. I could only do what I could do. You do the best you can, in love, for loving and good reason and that is it. We need to help each other and must support each other. And need to realize that we can only do what we can each do… And maybe that means stop judging and start offering help and support.

  12. This is fantastic. I have been through a variety of scenarios with my kids. Breastfeeding, partial-breast and formula, pumping and bottle feeding due to life in the NICU. This message you are spreading is wonderful. Thank you.

  13. As much as I agree that moms need to respected for their circumstances or straight up decisions to formula feed, I find it completely inappropriate for you to impose your message of pro-formula during Breastfeeding week. Its wrong. Pick next week or another time of year. Its like saying I am pro-disposables diapers during cloth diaper awreness week. Let them send their message and clear Education to women across america without muddy waters to add confusion. formula companies have millions of advertising dollars behind them to send their message. breastfeeding is free, and due to noone making huge profits, its actually really difficult to send a truly Equal message in our tv,radio Media sysytems. Let the pro-Breastfeeding folks have their week and access to Un-diluted Media!

    1. Hi Cathy,

      To me, this post didn’t come off as “pro-formula” at all. It came off as “pro-feeding,” or “pro-mothering.” The point is that we all support each other, not that Kim is trying to sell formula-feeding on people. For most of us, it is a very, very last resort that we don’t do until there are NO other options. And I think that message has come through in Kim’s posts as well.

      It might be different here (I’m in Canada) but I never entertained formula feeding as an option for me. I was going to breastfeed…of COURSE I was going to breastfeed. All the media and advertising I had seen showed me how formula feeding would ruin my child and how if I wanted to be a good mum I would obviously breastfeed. I did get a few sample packages sent to me from formula companies, but they all also had messages that breastfeeding was best. …But then I didn’t make enough milk. And because all the messages I had received told me that 1: breastfeeding wasn’t just best, but it was the ONLY way to mother, and 2: if you didn’t make enough milk it was because you did something wrong, I felt like a failed mother. I didn’t want to leave the house, didn’t want to see my friends (who all breastfeed). I didn’t want to do anything…except breastfeed, which I couldn’t. 🙁 So I got more and more depressed.

      I believe this is what Kim and the I Support You want to avoid in the future. It’s not that they want everyone to hook their babes up with bottles and formula (because my GOD who would want to do that? It’s awful). But they want to lessen the blow for mums who can’t breastfeed. And they want to create a community of trust and support, rather than judgement and ridicule.

      Sorry to go on and on, but that’s just my (lengthy) 2 cents.


    2. Really, breastfeeding is free? What about the $400 breast pumps? The nursing pillows? The $200 a visit lacation consultants? Not to mention all the teas and medicines to increase milk supply. The Dr Mercola section at my Target is bigger than the formula feeding section, and that man has gotten very rich of of “free” breastfeeding. I have known many women who spent more on stuff to increase their milk supply in six months then most women spend on formula in a year.

      So many women go into breastfeeding because it is free and are guilted to sticking with it even though it is not working and will shell out a pretty penny to make it work.

      1. I am not here to get into a spat! However, if a Mom is seeking Breastfeeding support – it is available, and the help and overall BF experience can be free….or with nominal costs vs. formula. I can stand corrected on the 100% free term – i liked having lanolin lotion for my dry nips!! Also, it does not have to be “either BF or Formula”…many, esp. working moms do both – nurse at home and weekends. Formula at daycare.

        Here’s some support resources. Le Leche International is a great source (lli.org) – and some group leaders will come to your home. They def. offer advise free over phone, and at meetings (often held monthly). Local groups all over the us / world. Some Hospitals offer FREE access to Lactation Consultants, even after you’ve left the Hospital. WIC (in NY) offers breastfeeding support groups, and access to a LC, again, free. Your local social services / state aid may offer similar programs of support. There is excellent advise at http://www.breastfeedingonline.com (with videos – or google dr jack newman)…. and KellyMom.com. I just don’t want the responder above to scare off moms whom would like to keep trying BF. Pumping is a tough situation and has its own set of challenges (often a last resort to get breastmilk to a baby) , as a mom’s body typically does not respond to the pump as effectively. However, again several Hospitals and other resources offer access to high quality pumps at significant discounts. Don’t believe everything you read in the previous posters comments implying BF has to be expensive. I acknowledge it can have some nominal expenses. As compared to formula for 12-24 months, it’s still much less expensive, overall. Many moms don’t pump. Many use household pillows for support of mom and baby, not specialized ones. Etc. Best wishes to both BF and Formula moms. My key point was the timing of the message with BF support week – not for / vs. either one. For those that are hurt by that, my apologies.

      2. Amen to that Kit! I spent sooo much money. $300.00 pump, lactation consultants, a steady supply of fenugreek that made both me and my daughter uncomfortably gassy, book after book after book, pillows, nursing covers, nursing bras, bra pads, etc. I still only got three months of exclusive breastfeeding per child. Let’s just face it, breastfeeding “can” be free, however, it rarely is even if you have no issues at all. If you have issues though be prepared to fork over a fortune! I will continue with all my future kids to try and breastfeed and stick with it as long as I can while staying sane, but I refuse to go down that long and dark guilt road any more. Both my kids are healthy, thriving and hardly obese. In fact, I have smaller kids. I support you! 😉

  14. The message isn’t pro-formula, it’s pro-mother.

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

  15. I am not going to say how I feed my baby because it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that I support this and it made me cry from relief… happiness….? Thank you.

  16. Thank you so much for this, I can’t even describe to you how much it means to me to read this. After not being able to produce enough milk, I had no choice but to formula feed. No one believed me, they just kept saying “You produce as much as your baby needs”. No one gets it. I feel like an a**hole everytime I have to feed my baby in public using a bottle, it’s the worst saddest feeling of failure ever, and I hate that I feed my baby formula, but I love him more than anything in the world, and he’s happy and perfect, and so I don’t care. I have been judged by EVERYONE for formula feeding since I started a few months ago, and since I already felt horrible on my own accord, everyone else’s opinion makes it infinitley worse.

    I thank you SO MUCH for writing this, you’ll never know how much it means to me. It’s the first time in 6 months I’ve felt a little bit of weight lifted off my shoulders, just a little bit of understanding that I didn’t know existed.

  17. I think your post is wonderful, your honesty is amazing. The hardest thing in the world is being pregnant, delivering, and caring for and raising your children. Yet society takes it for granted, acts as if it isn’t the most monumental task anyone undertakes.
    I am 51, my boys were born in ’86 and ’89. My first was an emergency c-section, and I was unable to nurse successfully and formula fed. My second was a v-bac, and I nursed him for 9 months. I had a breast infection right away from a cracked nipple, and never had as milk on that side from having to let it heal.
    I look back, and read your posts and comments, and am amazed at what we go through and how it important it is to us to do it the way we want and feel is right.
    But I think we have to let ourselves do the best we can, and remember everything we do for our children is with love, that there is no “right” way, just our way, the best way.

  18. Thank you!!! It always makes me feel angry that Mommies chose to judge other people for their choices than to support everyone on their decisions. As long as their choices are not actually harming the child (aka: rubbing methadone on their gums, leaving their infant home alone, etc) then I believe we should all support each other. It’s hard enough to be a Mommy… why must some people try and make it harder by judging?

    I wanted to exclusively breast feed. Unfortunately, due to my daughter’s slight tongue tie, my raynaud’s syndrome and inverted nipples, and her lazy feeding + bordering on failure to thrive it just wasn’t going to happen “naturally.” So, I compromised and made the best decision for me…. I exclusively pumped for 12 months – and did have to supplement with formula because my milk was not calorie laden enough.

    I’m happy to say that my daughter is a happy, healthy 18 month old!

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

  19. this made me cry. I’m a first time mom with a 6 week old baby girl. She was full term baby at 38 weeks but because of a low birth weight at 5 pounds 7 ounces she had to be supplemented right after birth with formula. Along with PCOS and inverted nipples formula has become a regular in my breast feeding endeavor. I have felt horrible that I’ve not been able to provide enough milk and feed her solely by breast, but this article has truly made me feel okay with the fact that I’m struggling. I thought I was inadequate as a mom not being able to provide for my daughter and that I wasn’t good enough to breastfeed. thank you for making me feel included and reminding me that as long as she’s happy and healthy I’m doing everything I’m supposed to.

  20. Once again, Kim, THANK YOU for writing this post. 🙂 I definitely wanted to get involved, so I have interviewed my best friend and long-time breastfeeder of twins on my blog (writers’ ambiguity…I interviewed her on my blog; she doesn’t breastfeed her twins on my blog. 😉 )

    Anyway, I’d love to share! The interview is here: http://babblefluff.blogspot.ca/2013/08/i-support-you.html, and my “feeding story,” for anyone interested, is here: http://babblefluff.blogspot.ca/2013/01/the-guilt-we-give-ourselves.html

  21. THANK YOU for this. I am a scientist with a very logical approach to feeding my kids. I read the research articles and made my own decisions– and I have been *almost* guilt-free about my choices. It makes me so angry that the judgement and propaganda makes new mommas feel like they are failing their children. Being a parent is already the hardest job in the world, and no one has the right to make your job even harder. Just love your babies, protect them, and make sure their bellies are full. Your kids are going to be JUST FINE.

  22. Thank you so much for this! I tried breastfeeding my first born(now 4 years old), only to give up after two days because I had Zero support, I tried breastfeeding my second (now 5 weeks old), this time a little more educated, she was born at 5 lbs. (underweight so she needed more nourishment) and with two bottom teeth, so when she did latch on, it was more painful then it should have been, and so I started pumping (after week of exclusively breastfeeding, and crying during each feeding, and struggling to get her to latch on)and I didn’t do it frequently enough so I wasn’t producing enough so I supplemented with formula, and finally I totally gave into formula,and all this “breast is best” stuff thrown in my face I feel so guilty, but this article takes all that pain away knowing that I’m not a failure, because my children are perfectly healthy and thriving. I totally support breast feeding moms, and I know that if I would have just continued through all the pain I could have been successful, but I didn’t and I know that my baby is going to be fine, because I am feeding her, period.

  23. This made me well up. Thank you. A year and a half out from weaning, I am clearly still emotional about the challenges of feeding my baby, and self-imposed pressures to do the right thing, whatever that is…

  24. This is excellent. I have a 21 month old and a 9 month old. I struggled to breastfeed both of them with diagnosed low milk supply. I got to about 3 months with both of them before I was pretty much dried up. With my eldest the idea most breastfeeding moms had about me was that I simply wasn’t trying. It was infuriating and really left me in a dark place. Some formula feeding moms didn’t support my efforts to continue trying as long as I could. While I had negative comments and experiences from both sides I would say the negative comments from the other breastfeeding mothers were particularly hurtful. Like by giving my baby formula I was poisoning them! Everyone knows breastfeeding is better. However, if a mother is unable or struggling to the point of depression, which I was, the best thing for mom AND baby is feeding the baby whatever works best and all other moms should be supportive of that. With that being said, I do know women who breastfeed in public and were ridiculed. That is HORRIBLE! It’s feeding your child not pornography! I never personally experienced that while breastfeeding in public but all my babies were young, which i have found more people accept younger babies being breastfeed, and I had a nursing cover. I hope more moms on both sides of the fence join this movement! Thanks!

    1. “the idea most breastfeeding moms had about me was that I simply wasn’t trying.”

      YES! I can totally identify with this. I think the hardest is with people I know who *did* have issues but then were able to resolve them and BF exclusively. They think that because it worked for them and not for me that I must not have worked as hard… And then I start to question myself if I actually did work hard enough and then it just spirals downwards from there! I’m finally coming out of my depression, but some days are still difficult!

      I’m sorry you’ve gone through the same thing, but I’m also happy I’m not the only one. I support you!

  25. Pingback: A great read
  26. Thank you for this, I needed it wholeheartedly. I found your post because phil&teds posted an incendiary question on Facebook about trusting powder milk and the comments from breastfeeding moms bashing formula feeders reopened a healing wound in my heart. I have been pretty much crying most of the day. Women can be brutal towards each other.

  27. I realize this post is almost a year old but thank you for writing it. I shared it on facebook because I whole-heartedly agree with you. I desperately wanted to breastfeed my baby but he was small, and in NICU when he was born, and too weak to try to do the work. I pumped for the first few months but I eventually wasn’t making enough milk for him and we had to switch to formula. In my opinion, he was getting nutrition and eating well, and that’s all the doctor’s cared about was his growth. He’s almost ten months old now and he’s doing just fine.

  28. I loved reading this article. It made me feel more at ease with my choice to formula feed my first son. I am due with me second child and want to breast feed but if the new one won’t latch on than I will formula feed and I will not feel guilty. I too got a lot of looks and comments about formula feeding.
    Now I know that I am not the only one who felt this way.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

+ 1 = 8