Metropolitan Mum – A London mum's lifestyle blog

Just chill!

A few weeks ago, I have written a post about my trials (and errors) to breastfeed my second child while my firstborn has been – quite literally – screaming for attention. In the post, I mentioned that the Pea was on one bottle of formula per day, depending how the days went. And that this bottle was my lifeline, when the majority of my breastfeeding attempts had been futile. Pea’s reflux/milk protein intolerance hadn’t been diagnosed then and she still woke up to every 60 minutes per night. My husband giving her a bottle around 10pm meant that I could at least get a couple of hours of sleep before my ‘day’ started at around 1am.

You can’t imagine how much shit I received for writing the above-mentioned post.

Whilst the majority of comments on the babycentre blog, where it was initially published, were very encouraging, someone decided to republish the article on a so-called pro breastfeeding support site on Facebook, where commenters weren’t quite so supportive.

The few spiteful comments I have read ranged from ‘should get her facts right’ to ‘shouldn’t be allowed to write’ and about everything in the middle. Apart from the fact that I have been writing about my personal experience, I have also been writing a personal blog – I have never claimed to be an expert on breastfeeding or anything related to it. Judging by the extent of outrage I have created, you’d be inclined to think I had encouraged drug abuse, anorexia or paedophilia. Apparently, it’s a crime to openly confess to mixed feeding.

In the end, I have decided to ignore the whole thing. If anything, being bullied at school has told me two things:

  • Don’t argue with bullies. It’s pointless.
  • Being bullied is rarely about you. It’s about them.

I am cool about the whole episode, really. However, I couldn’t stop thinking about one thing: Why do women get so infuriated by other women’s feeding choices? Why does it matter to them what I am doing with my babies?

Why can’t we all just relax a little and support each other in our choices – whatever these choices might be? Why do some of us feel like their way is the only way? Why is it OK to slag other women off if they talk about their way?

The only answer I could come up with is that somehow, the whole feeding business has become more than just that for some – it has become part of who they are. With my openly nonchalant approach I must have threatened their identity. Why else would the account of my personal experience initiate the amount of abuse I have received?

Life really is too short to get your knickers in a twist about breastfeeding. Especially if you are talking about someone else’s breasts.

52 Responses to “Just chill!”

  1. Ulli

    I have noticed that a lot with this particular topic. I don’t have kids, but obviously lots of friends do and I also have some doula friends ect and I am always amazed how everyone seems to be an expert and trying to push their views on others…even better, when people think they do and know better than an MD. I get it, a mother’s instinct is strong and doctor’s can be wrong, but I would say in general most doctors have more medical training than I will ever have;)

  2. Jane Beardmore

    Well said! Don’t let them get to you (I’m sure they haven’t), it’s NONE of their business! I have one boy and beat myself up as a new mum who couldn’t breastfeed when it’s the only way I wanted to feed him. Eventually I switched to formula after mixed feeding and it’s the best decision I made for both our sakes. He is now 18 months old and a thriving happy chap! x

  3. MrsB

    I’m amazed that there are STILL ignorant mothers out there who criticise others on these topics! Grrrr…. I have strong views about a lot of things (breastfeeding included, but also toilet training, etc.) BUT they are for MY life and I keep them to myself – I am not responsible or in charge of anyone else’s life! :D

    PS. Have you seen blogs where the ‘bio’ says “breastfeeding mother of 2…” etc. That always baffled me – breastfeeding as part of your identity?!?!?? Weird :)

  4. Peggy

    You have the perfect attitude there, these people obviously don’t have anything better to do!
    I know I have been judged for refusing to breastfeed and not even wanting to give it a try. I have remained strong, but I have to say I had wobbles and wondered many times if my choice was right.
    You know what, I was happy with my choice and my boys were happy. I have never gone around preaching to bottle feed, all I am preaching is stand tall for your choices, only you know what they mean to you.
    I know you are a classy lady but sometimes it feels good to show fingers at so called well intentioned people, so GO ON, DO IT! ;) x

  5. Workingberlinmum

    People can get so militant when it comes to the subject of breastfeeding and it can get ridiculous. I can’t see how having a mum who is absolutely drained and exhausted but is exclusively breastfeeding is better than a mum who has some sanity and can get at least a little solid sleep but substitutes a feed. Parenting is all about weighing up the pros and cons of things and you made a decision that works for you and good on you for writing about it as it may well give another mum out there who is having some trouble something to consider and I know lots of mums will appreciate another idea of how to tackle such breastfeeding issues. At my birth prep class the midwife actually recommended a substitute night feed should it all get too much and I was so amazed and so pleased she did this. I don’t know if it is something I will need to do this time around or not but I am certainly open to it if I believe it will help me be a better mother during the days to both my children.

  6. Carol

    I thing its woman nature, because man never to that. theres no woman union and I dont get why.

  7. Sasha @ The Happy Baby Project

    Being pregnant with my first child has made me realise that there is a distinct lack of sisterhood when it comes to babies. I have no idea why – perhaps we are still competing with each other somehow, perhaps one woman’s choices are felt by another to negate the sacrifices she has made, perhaps we have been led to believe that suffering is a burden women should put up with.

    Whatever it is, it sucks. We have enough issues as it is in the workplace, and are underrepresented economically and politically, so the least we should expect is a bit of blummin girl power.

    You should also read the Look Mummy No Hands blog – she did a similar post on why she started using formula to give herself a break.

    Sasha @ The Happy Baby Blog

  8. Gezza

    Hello

    My first ever post on a blog…just to let you know how strongly I felt about showing you my support. I am soon to be in a similar situation to you. My daughter is 15months old , and I am 31 weeks pregnant.

    Let me start by saying my favorite quote to the smug types
    “No one leaves university with ‘ I was breastfed’ on their forehead”
    As a doctor, I have seen a new mother made to feel awful, because her antenatal group ‘friends’ didn’t think she had a natural birth as a forceps was used…which is rubbish. The main thing is the baby comes out…doesn’t matter how. I had quite a few snide comments as I have low supply for my first and couldn’t breast feed for more than 3 months…luckily I was ready for the comments and batted them off…where is the love I say!

    I have felt so bad for you reading your recent posts and take my hat off to you, for coming through it…I support you ( that isn’t meant to sound patronizing, just to say I am on your side).

  9. Iota

    Kudos for getting the words “knickers” and “breasts” into the same final sentence (well, two sentences anyway).

    The internet seems to give licence to people to say things they wouldn’t dream to say to your face. It’s sad.

  10. Jen aka The Mad House

    You know what, long ago I decided that if people were having a pop at me, they were laying off someone else. I hate all the shit that comes with parenting, the judgmental women and yes they are always women. Parenting my own children is hard enough, I would never be able to give advice or judge anyone else. Oh and my SIL was a breastfeeding supporter and when I was unable to (due to medication) with the boys, she gave me so much shit it is unbelievable. Yet, my boys are happy, healthy and fir, whilst her child will only eat pizza and chicken nuggets. Karma!

  11. Expat Mum

    Good for you!
    The only thing dads get really smug about is the old “My wife gave birth without drugs” thing. As if a) they had anything to do with it at all, and b) their wife is instantly a much better mother. Grr.
    And, as a mother of three, none of whom I could successfully breastfeed (not for want of trying) I find it incredibly insulting to be berated for that. It wasn’t even my choice and I get slammed (when I bother to discuss it).
    But you’re right, the whole breast/bottle, SAHM/working fights are just women trying to validate their own choices by making others feel bad. Pathetic.

  12. Hannah

    I will never understand why women put each other down so much… As if we haven’t faced enough challenges throughout the centuries, now we bitch and stab each other in the back! If I see a Mum doing something I wouldn’t do I try to catch myself and think ‘All Mums just do what they think is best- there’s no right or wrong, really.’
    Hope the feeding is going better, whether it’s bottle or breast!
    Hannah X

  13. Kelly

    Ah that’s terrible, there are some very nasty mummy’s out there far too full of their own self importance. Being a mummy isn’t a competition, there is no best way to do anything, we all just do the best that we can. You’re right, they’re bullies. The type of mum who shoots me a death stare if I so much dare to give my children a few sweets instead of a box of raisins. I never realised how much being a mummy is about being CONSTANTLY judged from the moment you conceive. You’ve hit the nail on the head with ‘just chill’. Chill, relax and do what’s best for you right now.

  14. Han

    Do you feed your baby, do you love your baby, would do anything in your power to keep your baby safe and is(are) your baby(ies) your whole world?
    Yes?…
    No problems here then!

  15. nappyvalleygirl

    There are some crazy people out there – don’t let it get you down. Good for you for writing the post and speaking out about it. We should all be able to choose how we feed our babies, and one formula bottle a day isn’t exactly refusing to breastfeed anyway! I remember doing the same thing to get some sleep, and intially feeling guilty about it because of all the pressure to breastfeed exclusively. Now I look back on it, I think, what the heck was I so worried about?

  16. Rose

    So not having a baby I’d always heard about this issue being very divisive and witnessed a bit but not fully understood. Then funnily enough I went to Brighton this weekend, first trip anywhere for ages really looking forward etc as haven’t been able to travel etc.

    One of the girls/ ladies present was pregnant and said she was a bit worried about breastfeeding- she just said worried- she said she’d try and all of that- anyway it turned into such a big issue and it was all really awkward. So now I get it and I get how emotive it is. Basically though your boobs and your baby and your choice- no one can really deny that.

    Also I do have a friend, more a friend of a friend, who had a baby at full term but who then had to go back to hospital after a few days due to being ill- nothing to do with feeding or anything like that. The hospital fed the baby in an incubator for some time and basically that meant she could no longer feed and I think that the milk stopped over time. all is okay now, hooray! but strangers apparently still liked to comment when a few months later she was out feeding with a bottle- and it’s just like come on get your facts straight. She like you just rose above it- she had a well baby which is all she cared about- but ridiculous.

    Anyway the main thing is you look very happy and not tired in that picture and so does Pea! xxx

  17. Victoria

    They kind mind their own business. Every mother is entitled to what is best for their baby and for themself. Healthy happy baby = healthy happy mum!

  18. Sandra

    Dear Metropolitan Mum,

    I’ve never posted on your site before but have always read your posts. My son was born in April 2009 and I discovered your blog soon afterwards. I’m horrified that you’ve been subjected to such comments and would also like to join the many others who do support you. Breastfeeding didn’t work out for me and I could see at the time how militant some people were about the subject. (I work at a University and the students don’t graduate with ‘I was exclusively breast-fed’ across their foreheads – Gezza who posted earlier is right! All my best wishes to you and the little ones and to WorkingBerlinMum who I also think is fabulous (congrats on Alfie)

  19. Daniela

    A huge applause for Met Mum!
    Very well said!
    I, too, have experienced so many dreadful comments about the way I chose to feed my little girl (quite similar to yours, by the way) and couldn’t understand why women just wouldn’t keep their superfluous remarks to themselves.

    Your laid-back attitude towards these stupid bullies is very admirable. Chapeau!

  20. Louie Douglas

    However, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor or another breastfeeding expert before you start supplementing. Adding formula to your baby’s diet can decrease your breast milk production. Or, your baby may start to prefer drinking from a bottle, which can be easier than sucking at your breast.

  21. MartaG

    As the English say, KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON (doing whatever you prefer)! The fact that people think they can tell another person what to do regarding a subject like that seems ludricrous -not to mention a total lack of respect! Enjoy your life and forget about toxic people!
    Sending you good vibrations from Barna, M

  22. from fun to mum

    The saddest fact of it all is that we teach our kids to be kind, to share, to be nice and then some mums are the worst on all counts. Let them talk and hope for karma to take care of the rest.

  23. Charlotte

    I always really enjoy your blog posts and am really shocked that you received such a negative reaction to that post. Completely ridiculous and potentially very harmful as hormones can make a new mother incredibly sensitive. It makes me jolly angry actually. I’m really pleased that you have resolved to ignore it all. Your girls look adorable and well loved.

  24. Michelle | The American Resident

    Ugh. Like you I can’t understand the amount of vitriol this subject stirs up. It’s WEIRD. And quite right: ignore them. You’ve learned your lessons well about bullies, the issue is theirs. But it’s still painful to see a nice person bullied. Sorry to read this.

  25. Crummy Mummy

    I too have discovered there’s no ‘we’re all in it together’ attitude when it comes to breast feeding, or not. I’ve just started my own blog as I prepare to stop breast feeding my 17 month old daughter and was totally unprepared for the debate it would spark!

  26. Katharina Schnitzer-Zach

    Hello from Austria,
    sorry, my English is not perfect, but I’ve got something to say: 1) you are absolutely right, bullying/badmouthing/…says nothing about the victim but all about the bully. 2) I have breastfed my daughter (almost 3 now) and i thought it was more exhausting than the Last weeks of my +20kg pregnancy. I was sure I won’t wanna ever do it again. I am now 33weeks pregnant with twins and having had an exhausting pregnancy so far, I am just wanting my Body back. So: Formular Feed from Day 1, another planned sectio since the 1st was super and back to the work that I love in Part Time as as ist feels ok for me & the Rest of my family, i.e. Me, my hubby & the 3 kids. No One else there is where I Need to explain or justify myself and my decisions. And so I also See it Vice Versa.
    At the end of the day everybody has to life with his/her decisions and the consequences on his/her own.
    All the best!
    K
    PS: Oh, in order to have come to conclusions like this I also had to be bullied for years
    And as an “expression”/Ventile of this had to suffer panicattacks for years in my early 20′s. So turning 30 and a mum i have decided that you can make healthy decisions WITHOUT having had to suffer for ages before that…also form my 3 Kids a more healthy rolemodel than the Other way around!

  27. EmmaK

    Seems wierd that these Breast Nazis want to torture you about your decisions while you are knackered beyond belief and have decided to give the baby a bit of formula to save your sanity. You are right IGNORE them and hope they go away!

  28. Kate Allott

    Nasty people. What you’ve got to remember is that these people were effectively commenting behind your back rather than ‘face to face’ on your blog – a true sign of a gossip and bitchy bully. Looking at the comments above you have soooooo much support as everyone invariably has come up against this sort of thing at some point.
    I tried breast feeding, thinking it would be the most natural thing in the world. How wrong! I struggled with a sicky baby and ended up introducing more and more bottles over the weeks to keep me sane and because my milk flow seemed low. Now I realise perhaps that was just inexperience and more feeding would have brought on more milk. But anyway, bottle feeding gave me so much more freedom and energy! It also helped him sleep through. I didn’t feel guilty, I felt a huge amount of relief and knew he’d had the most important part, the colostrum, from the first few days.
    It’s your family, your body and your decision. Other people on their high horses should just get on with their own lives! you’re fab x

  29. Elina

    Hi there….ohh…hate when people saying that….my daughter is 3 months now and i breastfeed now just at night and it`s makes my life a bit easier because I still have my life you know and just need to do what is better for that situation. So my daughter is happy and nothing wrong with mix feed ;) SO keep doing what u are doing because you know what is best for you`r baby ;)

  30. Susan

    I am so sorry you had to hear stuff like this. Breastfeeding craziness is one of the things I hate most about motherhood, I just can’t comprehend why anyone cares so much about how someone else chooses to feed their child. I fell victim to the pressure, refused to pump or supplement for a month, just kept giving the breast. I got quite a shock at my 1 month dr visit to find out my baby lost almost a pound and was well below HS birth weight because I has low supply. Low supply doesn’t even exist according to the breastfeeding crazies, it is an excuse to give formula. I would like to hear them explain how even doing everything right I still couldn’t produce enough for my baby. It still upsets me to think I starved my baby while trying to do the “right” thing. We started supplementing and he did great, still got breastmilk and managed to finally gain weight. Everyone should mind their own business. And

  31. Kelleyn

    Amen!! I have had the same experience though not on my blog or on FB . I have 4 children and was not able to breast feed for various reason. One child had a heart condition and had he breast feed would not have gained much weight because it required to much work for his heart. Another was born 6 weeks early and could not suck. I bumped for various lengths of time for each child, but many thought it was their business to tell me how to raise my babies. Sorry you had others be so down right nasty as if you need the stress on top of your daughters difficulties .

  32. farfromhomemama

    I don’t get the judging wholier-than-thou attitude. You are feeding your child, clothing your child and ultimately providing a safe and loving environment for her. How dare you be criticised for this? End of!

  33. Iota

    I’ve just seen your comment on Expat Mum’s blog. I’m never going to be able to make myself beans on toast without singing that song now.

  34. Soooo Fedup with other peoples attitude towards bottle feeding!!!!

    I have just read your latest blog and I totally understand where you are coming from, I have two sons, one who is 8months( BOTTLE FED, so shoot me) and another who is 3 and WAS bottlefed.

    Ok so I have my reasons for bottle feeding both my boys, mine being I had a terrible first birth with my first son and I was very ill afterwards, having to take morphine as I had a spinal leak from my epidural and if I’m totally honest I couldn’t even hold my head UP let alone breast feed, I didn’t want too if I am honest, I was in too much pain to breast feed and that’s being honest, I needed help with my baby and so I bottle fed and had help from my husband and family . I’ve never been someone who ‘had’ to breast feed ( I was bottle fed and I am not over weight or ill) and I guess I felt it was ok to bottle feed if I had too. My son has never (so far) been ill with colds etc, in 3 years I can count on one hand..no two fingers how many colds he’s had! I chose to bottle feed my 2nd son also ( both babies were c sections) and again this caused a lot of pain for me and I needed some help with feeding to start with. My 2nd son has an intolerance to milk and so he is now on soya milk.

    So all in all, I am a bottle feeder, I totally support woman who choose to breast feed, of course it prob is better for the baby, but I also feel that these woman SHOULD support woman who choose to bottle feed!

    Its every womans right to choose, there is too much pressure to do this and that these days…as if being a parent isn’t hard enough!

    I follow my own lead, I ignore peoples opinions because they don’t count.

    I had an incident in boots recently where I was buying my baby milk and two men who worked in boots basically told me that I was doing the wrong thing by giving my baby ‘fake’ milk…I was so enrage as was my husband, how dare they give me a lecture on what to feed my baby…. Its my choice!

    The goverment are being out of line as well for ‘not allowing boots to give advantage card points’ on baby milk….why not? Isn’t that discrimination

    Like I said to my husband when we left the boots store

    And I said it loudly so everyone could hear

    What the hell would I do ( and they don’t know I haven’t) had a double masetomy due to cancer and I couldn’t breast feed!?

    Just because people breast feed does not make them better parents!

  35. krystal/village

    girl, i hear you. i read those baby center forums and people are FREAKING out about stuff. it’s so sad that they waste so much energy and emotion on other peoples opinions and lives. clearly they have something to compensate for. or maybe they should go spend time with their kids.

  36. Charlotte Musha

    I don’t have children, I don’t know a lot about breastfeeding – I’d like to give it a go when I eventually do have children but I know it is not the be all and end all.
    All I have to say really is your boobs and babies are you business, breastfeeding bullies should bugger off and find something better to worry about…like their own children!!!
    (Yes, I am quite proud of the amount of alliteration in that last sentence!)

  37. Ingrid

    I simply do not understand people who write hurtful comments. I think it takes a certain type of individual to go to the effort to do this. If I do not like a post I move on. The world is made up of all types but I choose to spend my time with like minded people.

    I enjoy your blog your honesty and I know a lot of people who pretend to have a perfect life and certainly do not.

    Keep on doing what your doing your simply great.

  38. Margarita

    Well said, Deb! My goodness, these types of stories are the reason I started staying away from many popular baby “forums” and facebook mum pages – we as women all say that we should be supportive of each other, yet when it comes to how we feed our children, what’s the problem? What does it matter?

    I think many people are surprised that I’m a “breastfeeding” mama, but I always say how jealous I am that a baby takes a bottle – because mine refuses… I would LOVE a little break, LOVE one.

    Ignore the bullies and stay strong, Met Mum, you’re doing great :)

  39. louboo

    Hi – I am late to the party but Oh My Goodness I can feel my hackles rising when I read that you’ve been subjected to troll-y comments. This is one topic that is so utterly personal and intimate that the idea that others should critique on the web, like they might an outfit choice or a hair-do is just dreadful. But as you (wisely) say – ignore it. I could write reams about experience on this matter but I shall refrain!! Good for you for rising above. Lou x

  40. The Reluctant Launderer

    Firstly – what a beautiful photo! Little Pea is clearly doing wonderfully. And you! Glowing – quite revoltingly so.
    God, the whole breastfeeding-nazi thing annoys me SO MUCH. Who gives a flying flip (trying to watch my language around the kids…) how other women choose to feed their kids? WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO SOME PEOPLE?? (am shouting now) Seriously, if you want to take and raise my child, fine – but otherwise shut the fuck up. (oops. I let one slip out there).

  41. Evie

    Well said. Feeding your baby is personal and not up for public scrutiny! And plus breast feeding doesn’t work for every mother and baby…people should know that! My husband who is a paediatrician prescribed formula top-ups for our daughter because she wasn’t gaining enough weight and has had many babies admitted to hospital with severe weight loss, electrolyte abnormalities (which can cause seizures, coma and death) and sometimes organ failure. This could be avoided if new mothers are approached with a healthy and balanced attitude towards breast feeding and formula. Making new mothers feel guilty is counter-productive to a baby’s well-being. And at the end of the day, hurling abuse will always be more harmful to everyone involved, including baby.

    PS Thank you for our lovely prize. We received my daughter’s outfit a couple of weeks ago and it’s absolutely adorable! Will post some pics on my site when I get the chance.

    All the best,

    Evie:)

  42. jen

    You do what is right for you and your child and you tune everyone else out.

    I supplemented with both my kids. It was right for us. With my firstborn, I wasn’t quite as confident about the choice and remember telling people it was ‘breastmilk’ in the bottle to avoid confrontation. Looking back it was ridiculous for me to do that, but I think it was a way to avoid confrontation or get into a debate I did not want to have. In a few years, nobody will ask you if your kids were breastfed. However, it will be a different battle about something else involving older children.

    Life is not a competition. I tell myself this often. I have two incredibly, healthy and happy little boys so that is all I care about–definitely not what somebody that doesn’t know me thinks of my parenting choices.

  43. cartside

    I think it’s awful that you got such negative comments. It’s not right and fair play to you for standing up for yourself and not letting it get to you. I truly believe that most people who managed to breastfeed are very understanding and kind and pro choice, and aware of the difficulties that people can have. I can read in the comments about “Nazis” which is just not a term I want to see used with anyone supporting breastfeeding. That extreme language is not right either (not your fault MM!) as it divides further instead of bringing together. It’s about sisterhood and mutual support – and the other side of the story is how hard it is to breastfeed when all you get is “just give her a bottle and give yourself a break”, when bottles are everywhere and it is expected that from 6 months baby gets bottles only. That doesn’t help either. We do live in a society where bottle feeding is the norm (I can quote some stats that totally prove that, only 1% of babies are exclusively breastfed at 26 weeks, so I’m officially a freak), and that’s why brestfeeding mums may sometimes come across as pushy, because they feel pushed into a corner. (For the record – I mix fed my first from 12 weeks because she was hungry and I didn’t receive the right support to exclusively breast feed although I sought hard for it. I had a rotten time for the first 8 weeks too. My second I exclusively breastfed – yet I knew that with 2 kids if there had been anything like the problems I had first time around I would have supplemented without any guilt. However I was also exposed to a lot of pressure to stop breastfeeding after 6 months, and my GP even gave me a lecture how I shouldn’t be breastfeeding my 10 months old, which I think is appalling). So boo to the ones who tried to bully you, but also boo to those who generalise all breastfeeding advocates into being pushy. The vast majority are not.

  44. geekmummy

    It’s like breast feeding is the new religion, and those of us who can’t or don’t are heretics who threaten the very existence of the Believers.

    Happy mum, healthy baby, that’s what matters. Bullying is never nice, but hopefully the comments here will reassure you that there is also plenty of support for however you choose to feed your baby.

  45. C

    My 2nd baby wouldn’t have thrived if I hadn’t topped up with a bottle. He couldnt breastfeed despite huge help from bf councilors and hospital.Wonder what the bullies would say to that. Well done you, sounds like you’ve had a stressful time. X

  46. Laura @ Chez Mummy

    With my first child, my breastmilk didn’t ‘come in’ for ages and my baby and I ended up being re-admitted to hospital because she was extremely dehydrated as she hadn’t been getting any milk from me. The doctors made me give her formula because it was the only way they would know for sure that she was getting any food. Does this make me a bad mum? Absolutely not! We do what we believe is best for our children and I hate it that some people are so horrible and judgemental. Like you say, we should be supporting each other, not sniping. Glad you’re taking the ‘ignore them and they’ll go away’ attitude

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