The Romanticized Myth of What Constitutes Successful Breastfeeding- An Apology

by Jessica Martin-Weber

Dear Leakies,

This is my 5th version of this letter. I’m going to finish this one.

But first I’m going to do something I’ve never done here before:

To hell with the WHO Code

That’s a picture of Sugarbaby receiving a bottle. A bottle of my milk. Taken 2 years ago by my wonderful husband, I love this photo. So much love and pride captured in this moment. A vital moment in me reaching and achieving my breastfeeding goals. And that bottle wasn’t even kind of a “booby trap” to my breastfeeding goals.

Still, I never shared it with any of you here, on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

Why haven’t I shared this or images like it with The Leaky Boob community before now? Why is this my 5th attempt at this letter? It’s simple:

Shame.

Yep. I have harbored shame. Not shame that my babies have received bottles, no, I have absolutely no shame that I’ve fed my children as I needed to. No, my shame came from using a bottle made by a WHO Code violating company. (To learn about what the International Code of marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes is, go here.) Only, that’s not really the shame I’m holding either, do you know how hard it is to find a bottle that’s not made by a WHO code violator? Nearly impossible.

No, my shame goes way beyond even the WHO Code, bottle feeding, or supporting a WHO Code violator.

My shame is that I haven’t cared about the WHO Code for 3 years, but felt I had to in order to be a “good” breastfeeding supporter.

My shame is that I played along, even became a part of the self-appointed WHO Code policing brigade for a time, even though I knew all along, deep down in my heart, that the almighty WHO Code was creating barriers.

My shame is that I felt righteous supporting the WHO Code. The original purpose of the WHO Code was so pure, so right, so good, how could I not support it?

My shame is that I upheld an artificial picture of what it looked like to successfully breastfeed and called it supporting the WHO Code.

My shame is that my actions supported the WHO Code more than they supported women, babies, and families.

But my shame is not that my babies were fed, not that they were loved, not that they sucked on an artificial teat.

To hell with the WHO Code

Look at that big sister love and pride!

Screw shame. I’m done. And I’m sorry. I’m deeply sorry that it has taken 3 years for me to find my courage to take the stand I live but never shared here.  I’m sorry that I’ve not been honest.

Because this is what successful breastfeeding has looked like for me:

To hell with the WHO Code

And so is this:

to hell with the WHO Code

For every single one of my 6 beautiful children, bottles and breast have been a part of me reaching my goals. And not just because I had to go back to work. I choose to go back to work, I love working and am a better parent when I work, but even when I didn’t work outside the home, I elected to partially bottle feed my milk to my baby. This was a positive thing for me as I get physically stimulated very easily and as an introvert found the need to create some space for myself. I did better mentally and emotionally, which meant I was in a healthier place mentally and emotionally to parent my children. It was the best healthy choice for us. I have never, not once, regretted it. Today, with a breastfeeding 2.5 year old, I also don’t believe it ever interfered with our breastfeeding nor did bottles have a negative impact on me reaching my breastfeeding goals.

In fact, I firmly believe that without bottles, I would have quit breastfeeding early on.

And see the big child in this photo bottle-feeding her baby sister my milk?

to hell with the WHO code

Do you see that eye contact? *melt*

She was mostly formula fed.

I don’t have any shame about that either. In fact, I’m damn proud that when the time came I could make the right decision for us to stop breastfeeding and switch to formula. The regret I have felt about that has been artificial and circumstantial, never true. It took a lot of courage for me to make that decision and it was the right one. I would make it again if I had to. I will support you if it’s the decision you need to make as well. We’ve been vocal here that breastfeeding doesn’t have to be all or nothing to be successful, I just haven’t been visible with that reality for myself.

Through The Leaky Boob I have contributed to a beautiful yet often unattainable depiction of what it looks like to breastfeed. In my attempt to normalize breastfeeding and provide support up what breastfeeding looks like, I have held up at the breast breastfeeding as being more beautiful, more important, more viable, more worthy of sharing and discussing and promoting than any other infant feeding methodology.

I support people before I support a feeding method.

to hell with the WHO Code

Sugarbaby’s big sisters loved to give her a bottle

I look at these photos of my baby receiving bottles and I see a beautiful, important, viable feeding worthy of sharing and discussing and promoting. Normalizing breastfeeding (bottle-feeders will tell me they feel that is normalized) and normalizing bottle-feeding(breastfeeders will tell me they fell that is normalized) shouldn’t be in competition with each other. What really seems to need to be normalized is caring for children. Parenting. Without it being a contest or a platform to boost how we feel about ourselves.

Feeding your child is real, no matter what they are fed or the mode of delivery. It’s real, it’s important, it’s complicated, and parents deserve support as they navigate this terrain. I am sorry that The Leaky Boob has, at times, failed to communicate that. I a sorry if instead of being a part of building your confidence, I’ve been a part of tearing it down. Deeply sorry.

I know there are those who will tell me I haven’t failed and I appreciate that.

I also know there will be those that will tell me that I haven’t failed until now. I appreciate that too.

But for the last 4 years as The Leaky Boob I have not been entirely honest with you. As a public voice in breastfeeding support, I have contributed to a mythical image of breastfeeding. I wish I could say it wasn’t intentional but it was and of the 4 years I’ve been doing The Leaky Boob, I have wrestled with this for three years. Motivated by fear, I allowed myself to present a picture of my breastfeeding journey and an idealized image of “successful” breastfeeding that simply wasn’t true. Well, not true for me anyway and likely not true for many of you. And I know holding that ideal up was damaging for some and a sort of betrayal for others. It wasn’t that I overtly lied, it was more of an omission of truth. I was wrong to do so and I am sorry.

A few weeks ago I was sitting with a friend of ours, a new dad who was bragging about how his wife and son had worked so hard at breastfeeding and just the day before, at close to 8 weeks old, had fed directly from the breast for all of the feeds. He said something that struck me: “you know, I think they’ve been breastfeeding, we’ve worked so hard but it’s not like you ever see pictures of breastfed babies getting bottles. Our lactation consultants were great but it’s a lot of work, a lot of time, a LOT of money, you know? The work you do is so important, we were on The Leaky Boob all the time and we have found a lot of help and support there but we still felt alone. I mean, it feels like it’s not as real if we’re giving a bottle, nobody ever talks about that. Does anyone else go through this?”

I was confronted with the reality of my failure on my couch.

to hell with the WHO code

Babies feeding babies here. So much big sister love!

Leakies I am sorry I never shared images of my babies and other babies receiving bottles. I was wrong to only ever present a side of my infant feeding journey that was safe for me as a public breastfeeding supporter. Anxious that I would be inviting drama and attacks from other breastfeeding supporters, educators, blogs, organizations, and my own readers, I didn’t want to risk being accused of being a WHO Code violator by posting pictures of my babies with their bottles. Specially since I do make some income from The Leaky Boob, I was concerned that if I ever even showed bottle feeding some would think it was sending the wrong message.

But message or not, this is the truth: my babies, all 6 of them, got bottles. One got mostly formula in her bottles. Back when I was attending women as they had their babies, often I was helping a new mother and baby pair with their first few feedings while my baby was at home getting a bottle of my milk. And every single bottle my babies have received was manufactured by a WHO Code violating company. I’ve never once regretted that, never once felt guilty for it, never once wished it was another way. But I did feel afraid to show it.

My incredible husband, Jeremy, The Piano Man, has never had a problem sharing these images though and not because he doesn’t understand the WHO Code or is unaware of the barriers women face when it comes to breastfeeding. When he came home one day with a new bottle and I stressed about having a WHO Code violating bottle in our house, that it couldn’t be posted anywhere online, and that I felt sick giving money to a Code violating company, he simply looked at me and calmly said “I thought this was about feeding our daughter.” I sterilized that bottle and moved on, knowing I wouldn’t post any photos of the offending bottle. But he did. And the very first comment on the photo was this:

WHO Code

E bottle feeding A copy IG bottle feeding comments redacted

I understand where the commenter was coming from and she wasn’t giving anyone a hard time but it’s true, because of the half truth I had shared, it was strange to see one of my baby’s drinking from a bottle. But it wasn’t strange that she was receiving one, it was actually a part of our normal infant feeding routine.

Bottles were an important part of me reaching my breastfeeding goals. Without bottles, I’m not sure I would have made it as far as I have and I’m pretty certain I would never have even started The Leaky Boob. I have talked about using bottles and formula feeding my second daughter, but I never shared images and I carefully couched sharing those experiences as safely as I could so as not to invite controversy.

I have let go of my shame and my fear.

By intentionally keeping that part of my breastfeeding journey quiet, by not sharing images of my baby receiving a bottle, by just sharing images of my babies feeding only at my breasts, and by neglecting the real life bottled-up aspects of the breastfeeding journeys of others, I perpetuated a romanticized myth of what constitutes successful breastfeeding.

I am sorry. Please forgive me.

With all my love, sincerely,

~Jessica

bottle feeding and breastfeeding The Leaky Boob Sugarbaby

Do you use bottles? How do you feel about using bottles? Do you share pictures on social media of your baby receiving bottles? Need help bottle-feeding your breastfed baby? Check out this articleFacebook page, and this book.

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Comments

  1. Thank you!!!! I never nursed our first child, adopted at the age of 5. Wasn’t educated enough to nurse baby #2, exclusively pumped for first six months then switched to formula. I am currently bf’ing baby #3 who is almost 17 months old. All three of my kids have had bottles and formula and the youngest two breastmilk. They are all healthy and happy and we made the decisions that were best for our family at the time. We need to encourage moms to be the best moms they can be and help their kids be the best and healthy kids they can be. I think you do a wonderful job at this, Jessica. I wouldn’t be where I am, nursing beyond 12 months if it wasn’t for the information and support I find on your page. Thank you! You are an inspiration.

  2. Thank you for sharing this, Jessica! I have always admired you for wanting to help women reach their goals, whatever they may be. I feel like you have always been true to your statement, “I support people before I support a feeding method.” Thank you for being vulnerable for your readers. Thank you for your honesty. I have nothing but respect for you. With my baby I wanted to nurse, but ran into many booby traps in the early weeks which led me to exclusively pump until she was one year old. I am familiar with “bottle-nursing” and proudly share that I fed my baby with both a bottle and a breast. I’m so public about it that I shared my story about exclusively pumping and later donating breast milk on my blog! This was a beautifully written piece and lives up to the standard expected from TLB. Much love!

  3. You. Are. Awesome. I know how hard it is as a public parenting figure in the blogosphere to feel like you have to uphold a certain picture of what you are and who you support. I adore you for this post, and am so happy you finally published it! Kudos to you.

  4. Miranda Johnson says:

    Dear Jessica,
    It takes a ton of courage to fess up when we’re wrong. I love that you are willing to set aside your breastfeeding prejudice and acknowledge that all moms struggle to do their best. In our journey of breastfeeding, it is far to easy to embrace the idea that my way is the best way, without taking into account the hundreds of reasons that it doesn’t work for others. But, if our babies are healthy, growing, loved, nourished, and protected, what does it matter? We are all moms, and there is enough mommy shame to go around, that, in my opinion, feeding method is the least one we should be concerned about!!

  5. I had no idea there was a WHO code for bottles. I have zero shame. Cause I just like when people feed their babies. Lol 😉

  6. Thanks for being vulnerable and sharing. My eldest son was exclusively bottle fed pumped milk due to a slight facial deformation that caused him to be unable to latch. When I attend my first LLL meeting I fed him before we came and sat through an hour of bottle bashing. I asked my questions about pumping, and never went back.
    Breast is best, the biological norm. Sometimes however breastmilk gets to babies in different containers be it bottles, cups, syringes, NG tubes or by SNS.

  7. I posted a photo of bottles boiling one day and was attacked by a mother who tried to tell me breastfeeding was easier and less messy and overall better. I replied… Yes. I know. And that’s why I breastfeed my child. My husband uses these bottles
    To feed him when I am at work or honestly when I just need a Break. She automatically assumed because I had photos of boiling bottles I must be filling them
    With formula. I was also only about 2
    Weeks post partum at this point so she got an earful from my emotional standpoint. What if she had said that to a woman who tried so hard to breastfeed and just couldn’t for any reason? What if that woman felt guilt in her choice. Horrible that people just jump to conclusions. It’s also horrible that people look down on bottle feeding, even when they are filled with mothers milk.

    • I think it’s sad that woman are judgy and non-understanding when it comes to bottle feeding. I am an exclusive pumper, I would have loved to nurse, but my son had tongue tie when he was born and latching onto the breast nipple was impossible for him even after his tie was released. We even went to an amazing physical therapist that specializes in helping get babies to breast. Unfortunately we were unable to accomplish that. I tried so hard but the important part is he is getting all breast milk in bottles.

  8. Enough with the self-flagellation!

    The Code is about shaming what marketers do — not mothers and families. The Code does not for a screaming minute forbid the use, sale or purchase of bottles. It forbids their predatory marketing by large companies that are tapping (very effectively) into New Family Vulnerabilities.

    The Code works best when governments of whole huge countries have passed laws to curb predatory marketing behaviors. It isn’t federal law in the USA, and will be hard to enact without a centralized Public Healthy Ministry to enforce it.

    There are an awful lot of shame-and-blamers in the lactation support field when it comes to the Code … I call them “halo-adjusters.” I have no doubt you’ll hear from a few this after this blog, and its gorgeous pictures. I prefer to **reframe** such pointless, accusatory, guilt-inducing conversations by examining whether a family is getting the support it needs to meet its feeding goals.

    I can name few figures in Lactation Land who have helped more families reach their feeding and parenting goals than you. Keep it up, shed your wholly unnecessary apologies about the Code, and continue to be a strong voice for families to built strong loving bonds on their own terms.

  9. christina says:

    So great that you shared this! I completely relate and I think this message is something every mother relates to.

  10. I guess I never thought about a stigma with bottles and breastfeeding. After I had my daughter, it was very important to me to get healthy again, and I do that by playing semi-professional football in a women’s league. I NEVER would have been able to get to the gym enough, much less go to practices or games, without bottling my milk. I am proud to be the first team member in history to pump in the locker room before games (and wherever I could on the roadtrips). It also gave my husband some of that special “feeding time” with our daughter that he was kind of missing out on. He is an amazing daddy, and it gave him the chance to be able to provide that special time with her too. Without bottles, I would not have been able to play with my daughter, after our games, doing the thing that I am second most proud of!

  11. Thank-you for sharing your story. Bottle feeding expressed breast milk is the only way I managed to nurse my eldest Son. After incredibly painful boobs early on, numerous courses of antibiotics and mastitis I stopped ‘breastfeeding’ him at a few weeks old and bottle fed him expressed breast milk for almost a month. After that, when I was all healed and feeling more confident in myself again we transition back to him getting his milk straight from my boobs, but without those bottle feeding weeks I probably would have given up on the breastfeeding gig altogether. We went on to breastfeed happily and easily for 26 months.

  12. Amanda Grice says:

    I read this as I was feeding my four month old. When I was pregnant, I was dead set that I was going to breastfeed exclusively. No bottle, no formula, straight from the tap only and I found myself feeling pretty judgmental when I saw a person feeding their child any other way than the way I intended to fed my child. I thought that breastfeeding would come naturally to us, everything I read said that babies naturally know what
    to do. That wound up not being the case with my son. His latch was extremely poor, he fought the breast, or simply wouldn’t wake up to eat. He lost a lot of weight, and was really jaundiced. Two full days, one with him under the Bili-lights, and it wasn’t getting any better. His Bili Reuben levels were going up and not down and he wasn’t having the wet diapers he should have been. I was exhausted. I went into labor on Sunday afternoon, had him Monday morning and by noon in Wednesday I hadn’t slept more than 5 hours. My milk also hadn’t come in yet. The on call pediatrician came to see me after getting his latest blood work in. He explained that while he wanted me to continue breastfeeding, and pumping like crazy, he thought that we should start supplementing with formula to get his levels down because he was really concerned about possible damage to his liver with the way things were going. I’ve never felt like more of a failure. What was wrong with me that I couldn’t feed my son the way nature intended? Why wasn’t my milk in? Nothing I read said that this could happen. No one told me that failing was a possibility. I cried. I wanted to scream. Self pity claimed me. Then I realized that wallowing had no place in my mind, because the most important thing was to make sure my baby got what he needed. So I fed him formula. Then my husband fed him next. His face lit up when he got to hold him and feed him. He looked at me and said, ” I know how upset you are about the formula, but I’m not going to lie to you. I really like the chance to feed him too.” The happiness in his voice and in his face made me feel a lot better about the formula and the bottle. My milk came in the morning after we were released from the hospital, but breastfeeding was still a challenge. I started pumping so that he would at least get my milk. I responded well to the hand pump, but not to my electric and my supply started dipping. I did everything. Mothers milk tea, lactation cookies, fenugreek, steel cut oats, a gallon plus of water a day. But nothing worked. Then I got put on my birth control and that was the end if it. 8 weeks after my milk coming in, I was completely dried up. Formula was my only option. But you know what I realized? My son was getting fed. He was gaining weight, he was happy, and he was healthy. I was still devastated though, and ashamed. I didn’t want to post pictures of him eating, because I was scared of what my breastfeeding friends would think. I didn’t want them to judge me like I had done to others while I was pregnant, to say that I clearly didn’t do enough, didn’t try hard enough. Its sad to think about now. So all of this to say, thank you for writing this. Ithelps validate that no matter what we feed our babies, that its the right way.

  13. I’m so thrilled to see how this has evolved- I cut ties with several companies once I realized they were in violation of the WHO code, some of them who made products I WANTED to tell people about and felt were the best. Some I secretly told about because I too was ashamed to promote them even though I don’t carry the same level of “lactation” street cred as TLB.

    The general public never even knew this was a thing and still don’t care it is/was, they just want to know what will work for when they need it- be it full or part-time.

    Kudos for posting this, putting it out there, and being an approachable and sensible resource for moms everywhere.

  14. As a mommy with a stay at home daddy, I went back to work at 12 weeks, so baby got pumped milk. After about a month, he refused the breast when I was home, except for at night. I cried. I felt so rejected. I felt like a failure. I felt like a breastfeeding phony. My husband kept saying, “He is still getting breast milk. He’s still being loved and cuddled at feeding time. He is still getting fed. “… But I felt so inadequate. Time helped me make peace with it. We are still exclusively nursing, pumping, and bottles at 7 months. And I am so proud.

    • Oh my gosh. This happened with my DS1 as well–I STILL feel guilty sometimes and wish I could turn back time. It’s amazing how that feeling just seeps into your soul, tempering the joy of having this beautiful, perfect little one right in front of you, no matter the manner of feeding. I am having better luck with DS2 so far, thankfully, and have forced myself to “see” him and to enjoy our nursing relationship while it lasts. Take care 🙂

  15. I feel whether you used a bottle or not you still breastfed if it was your milk. I am also not against formula but I don’t think you should be ashamed. From where I stand you feeding your baby your breast milk from a bottle you still breastfed.

  16. Thank you for all you do. ❤️

  17. Thank you for sharing! My oldest was exclusively breastfed in the sense that he never got formula, only my breastmilk. However, a lot of his milk was delivered in a bottle because I had to go back to my full time job, where I pumped a number of times every day. My little one will be in the same boat when my maternity leave ends soon. It’s also nice to know I have some freedom to go do things on my own. I love feeding him when I’m home, but in our society working full time outside of the home is a necessity for many moms. We all have to do what works for us! 🙂

  18. I wish this was written a few weeks ago. I definitely would have made sure I met you and watched your presentation at MommyCon Philadelphia. I didn’t attend your part of the day because I didn’t think I fit it. Bottle feeding and formula feeding for the first three weeks of my daughter’s life allowed me to heal and get confident in my abilities. Without it I would not be breastfeeding today. She is eight months old and hasn’t had a bottle in 7 months and a few days. I’m incredibly proud of how far we made it and I cannot deny that bottles helped us get here.

  19. Thank you. Thank you, thank you. I had an opportunity to speak at a conference when my babe was six weeks old. We we’re fortunate to figure out breastfeeding, figure out pumping and figure out bottles before then. Not without tears and lots of worry that we would “confuse her” or be looked down upon by others. We somehow made if through a long day of flying, another long day of rehearsing, and finally a full day at the conference…where every two hours I pumped and resupplied my partner with “the goods”. We only had one person make a comment – an older genteman approached my partner while he was feeding my daughter and started giving him a gentle lecture on how breast is best…thankfully Scott is a kinder soul than I – he politely informed the man that breast milk was in fact in the bottle….and was meg with a blank stare of incomprehension.

    I’m so grateful my breastfeeding experience so far has been mostly successful with only a few meltdowns and a few weeks feeling like we’d never get the hang of it in those stressful early weeks. But I’m also grateful this little bug of ours can continue to recieve my milk when I’m working. This hits home particularly tonight after spending three days away to teach a course eight hours away from home. I came how with a cooler full of milk and a lot of appreciation for the options we have…and really should embrace more publicly.

    Up until now, I haven’t really talked about my breastfeeding experience at all…but this post is the first one that made me want to…so I just might. Thank you.

  20. bodnoirbabe says:

    This makes me angry all over again. Bully for you coming out a fucking hypocrite and prostrating yourself before your adoring readers but fuck you and fuck all the others like you. You hid those fucking images and I personally suffered. You banged on and on about breastfeeding the right way and I fucking spiralled into a sick depression of hate and resentment. I looked for support and I found judgement and shaming and now you say “oops!”?

    Fuck. You. I am so fucking angry because I can feel the desperation all over again. I feel that darkness, I remember those long nights, my crying, screaming son, my silent, terrified husband and my wracking sobs and intense pain. And I feel so much rage that you were lying through her mother fucking teeth while those who needed support were mocked and shamed.

    I survived. I shudder to think of all those who didn’t.

    Fuck. You.

    • I am so sorry you did not receive support threw your hard time! I can only imagin how hard it must have been. I had pretty bad PPD with my first baby and it can just freeze us in our tracks and make even something as simple as getting off the couch so hard.

      Jessica has never said or shamed anyone for using a bottle. Her mission with the leaky boob has always been support of all methods. The shame you felt never would have come from her. Try and reflect on where the shame you felt came from, was it other moms? Yourself? Friends or family? That shame would not have come from Jessica. We all do what we need to do for ourselves and our children and no one should shame anyone for doing what they needed to do. Do we make mistakes? Of corse we do! Hind sight is always 20/20 but just as I would like for those around me to be understanding of my mistakes, we should always be forgiving for other people’s mistakes! Life as a momma is very difficult and we rarely get understanding about how difficult it can be but that is even more reason to try and be understanding of other people’s struggles. I hope you have found some support threw friends or others on the leaky boob. I know there are lots of people on here that didn’t breast feed or did all kinds of combinations.

    • concerned anon says:

      shame on you for putting the weight of YOUR struggle on someone else’s shoulders. There are many resources out there that could have helped you. When you didn’t find what you needed, you could have looked further. As a mom who had to pump to maintain supply, I am still very grateful to Jessica for always encouraging direct breastfeeding — not giving up that connection, although it had to be worked for. But then again, I don’t allow others to determine my self worth, or weigh that heavily on my mind. I don’t know that you’ve truly “survived” your ideal. I think you need to seek professional help – for the health of yourself, and those close to you.

      • While I agree that the weight of the previous poster’s struggle is unduly put on Jessica, I must say that the notion that “many resources” our there could have helped her is false. For myself, no resource on earth was going to help me get milk directly from my boob to my baby’s mouth. Sometimes, mothers do not produce enough milk. Sometimes babies are not able to nurse directly due to physical issues. Neither of these situations constitute a tiny fraction of a percent, either. It’s very hard to find exact numbers, but somewhere between 10 -20% of women experience primary or secondary lactation failure. If 10-20% of the population had 6 fingers, it would be considered a variation of normal, and yet over and over women are told that nearly all women can nurse and that failure to do so is about lack of education, motivation, or the allure of hospital samples. It’s beyond absurd.

        I feel sad for bodnoirbabe for feeling bad because faceless, dishonest internet strangers have made her feel guilty. If she was my friend I would have said “darling, formula is a lifesaving resource that we are so lucky to have it available. It is a perfectly good substitute for breastmilk. You will be bonded to your child completely, no matter how he/she is fed. Your child will be healthy and happy, no matter how he/she is fed.”

        I formula fed. I feel zero guilt because there is nothing to feel guilty about. I feel so badly for women who cannot obtain formula or clean water because I know that not everyone has a choice. Not everyone can simply work harder to make it work. Much in the same way that diabetics cannot simply make their pancreas work. Or people with poor vision don’t just need more education to see properly.

        And I’m sure Jessica will confirm that her mostly formula fed child is no less bonded, no less happy, no less healthy.

        I’m sure she will confirm that there is absolutely no difference between her formula fed and breastmilk fed children which can be attributed directly to feeding choice.

        And I use the word choice loosely. Sometimes the only choice you are making is between your baby surviving or not surviving, and in those situations there is really no choice. No one chooses dogma over the life of their child, not even when you’ve built your whole image around it.

      • No. Just no.

        I’m glad Jessica admitted this. But the fact is that she just admitted she fed her children formula. That’s totally fine. It’s awesome, actually.

        But the fact is that there is a whole group of women who do nothing but shame other women. Didn’t have a natural home birth? YOU FAILED. Maybe next time you can have a “healing HBAC”. Didn’t EBF? How DARE you abuse your child? Do you know that women have actually been told that they shouldn’t have children after a mastectomy because they knew they couldn’t breastfeed and you shouldn’t have children if you can’t give them “the best”?

        And places like this are wonderful resources…. for people who actually CAN breast feed. But if you want to, or feel like you have to because you’re a child abuser or a failure for not giving your child “the best food”, then websites like this can cause a lot of mental stress. Because people like bodnoirbabe come here looking for help… and they see nothing but judgment. How about a webiste that says “no matter what you feed your child, you’re doing a good job?” They exist, sure… but when you’re knee deep in this “natural”, attachment parenting society, you’ll do anything to not be labeled a failure.

        Not everyone is as awesome as you are because you have enough wherewithal to not “allow others to determine [your] self worth.” And THAT is a super judgmental statement, too. You just judged her for not being strong enough.

      • voiceofreason says:

        The reason bodnoirbabe feels like this is because this blog encourages mothers to feel that anything but EBF from the boob is on par with the Holocaust. If this attitude of breast or nothing would go away, there would be no reason for women to feel shamed. It is disgusting that a woman who pushes such an agenda while doing exactly what she rails against. That the “all or nothing” attitude does not apply to her elitist position. Hypocrite to the nth degree.

        • “this blog encourages mothers to feel that anything but EBF from the boob is on par with the Holocaust”

          Bull.

          bodnoirbabe is entitled to her feelings, and I understand her anger. But the above is not just outrageous (and offensive!) hyperbole, it is completely false. If you feel that way about other blogs or breastfeeding-supporters, okay. But you haven’t read this one if you are saying that about The Leaky Boob.

          • <3

          • Totally agree with The First Mommy Ever. I have posted this before, but your stance of it doesn’t have to be all or nothing got me and my daughter to 14 months of breastfeeding. Before that I never heard of anyone doing both. Severe reflux, inverted nipples, nipple shield, premature baby, and not being able to pump. Oh and a upper lip tie-undiagnosed. Just a snippet of my experience. You have been nothing but supportive of all mothers however the feed their children.
            I can understand the other posters anger and I am sorry for what she went through and that she still feels angry about her experience. I know there are certainly other blogs and groups that anger could be directed towards. My daughter still has reflux (almost 3) and at every gastro appt when I am around other babies with reflux my ovaries are diving out my ears. But it never occurred to me that you ebf and I don’t think I ever recall you stating that specifically. I think I assumed you must have used bottles bc of your pregnancy experience and that you travel for work.
            I don’t understand the uproar and hate for you specifically stating that you used bottles or formula. How on earth does that affect anyone’s life but yours?? So, in contrast to the above post I want to say thank you for your help and support. Without it I would have given up completely.

      • “Concerned”
        How concerned can you be when you turn bodnoirbabe’s comments right back around and make them her fault all over again? For BLAMING her for not finding the right resources when the resources she did search out (like THIS website) told her she was doing everything wrong.

        You’ve obviously never been on the “other” side of this struggle – when you pump and pump and pump and still can’t make more than 1-2 ounces at a time and your baby is screaming and losing weight. But we’ve gotta encourage “direct breastfeeding”!

        Screw that. How about we encourage fed, happy, healthy babies and happy, healthy mothers – no matter what is in the bottle.

    • I’m not quite as vehement as you, bodnoirbabe, but I had the same thought. This makes me angry. As for the waste of breath that is the first reply (“concern” as a troll perhaps), I’m sure you did look to other resources. I know I did. And what we found was a romanticized wall of lockstep bf’ers who paid lip service to “struggle” in order to gloss over it to the parts where they were so successful. I, too, remember the feelings of the walls closing in. Of starting to cry one day and still crying three days later, convinced that I was surely going to kill my baby.

      Yeah, I’m angry, too. Really, really angry. Damn it.

    • also concerned says:

      I feel very sad for you that you have such anger and resentment built up inside of you. We do what is best for our children and our families. If a website or someone does not support us, we have to learn to move on and look for support elsewhere. There are always going to be people that do not agree with us or do things differently. I, too, was unable to breastfeed and had to pump. I did find it hard (& still do) to talk to some people about it because some ppl are quick to throw out insensitive comments. Issues with my daughter were also missed despite me asking over and over again for help. I would be lying if I said these things didn’t/don’t bother me. I think it’s only natural for us to want approval & affirmation & the right kind of help, but there is no point fixating on the ppl who did not support us in the way we needed as then we will become very depressed & angry – the latter of which you are. While I have not gone to this site very much at all, there seems to be a lot of people who have been blessed/touched by it. It doesn’t seem that you had a good experience with it, and it made you feel angry/hurt/guilty? Then it’s best to stop using it as a resource and seek other help. That’s just my take on the matter. I hope you find the support you need. Make decisions that are best for your baby and your family. What matters most is that we love the children we have been blessed with. You may not get approval from other people in the process, but that doesn’t matter in the long run b/c you are the one raising the child. Chances are there is someone else out there that has had the same experience as you – keep asking around and looking around – eventually you will find a person who hopefully supports you.

    • You can’t blame another person for your struggles I had to pump for a year constantly for my daughter to receive my milk I didn’t care what other said because my baby was getting my milk…….I had to look and look for help too but didn’t blame other

    • Nichole Tomlinson says:

      It really sucks that you didn’t get the support you needed on your breastfeeding journey, but there are thousands of women out there that get no support or input at all, weather it be good or bad. I personally didn’t need support to feed my children, two of them were breastfed for the first month and then strictly formula fed from that point on, and my now two month old is EBF, with no pumping or bottles at all. Honestly, I haven’t asked anyone their opinion on how I should feed my children because I really don’t care what anyone thinks, it’s strictly up to me and my babies and whatever is best for both of us. I think it’s absolutely ridiculous to blame someone else for your feeding struggles. If it was difficult for you, but you still wanted to push through it, then the only real strength and support you’ll find is from yourself. The first mistake you made was going to websites and blogs that only support breastfeeding and completely bash bottle and formula feeding. You can’t expect to get the support you feel you needed from places like that. The leaky boob is not one of those places, she has never bashed formula feeding, and has clearly stated that she hass done so herself. Just because she didn’t post pictures of it doesn’t make her a hypocrite. The best advice I can give you, and any mother, is don’t count on getting the advice and support that you personally need from everyone, because not everyone has the same views on feeding children and a lot of people are very judgmental. Who gives a shit what anyone else in this world says is “best” for your baby, do what you want and don’t care what anyone else thinks!!

    • Wow. bodnoirbabe’s comment definitely strikes a chord and though it stings, it’s a chord of truth.

      “You banged on and on about breastfeeding the right way and I fucking spiralled into a sick depression of hate and resentment.”

      I shared leakyboob’s post on my FB page and it got a pretty huge response. I think there are many of us who have struggled with nursing and felt like a failure, felt judged, or felt smacked by the moral superiority of “perfect nursing” put forth by many nursing support resources (which may rhyme with belly nom). Because nursing and caring for your baby are such intimate and personal things, when it doesn’t go according to plan it is a VERY personal failure. It stings like a bitch. It’s a vulnerable space.

      bodnoirbabe’s sentiment echo feelings I’ve shared and I suspect, those many people have shared. It’s a stinging comment but a true one.

      But I would also say this: Leaky Boob’s confession here IS a brave one. We want more nursing resources to come forward with this sort of transparency. Was she dishonest before? Yes, and you’re within your rights to be chuffed about it. But another way to look at this is to say, “Fantastic, somebody who is a noted nursing expert is coming clean about this! This is a great step towards honesty and acceptance!”

      Personally I love this post and I’m hopeful that it’s a first step towards a less dogmatic and more flexible approach to breastfeeding support. So cheers Leaky Boob, well done!

  21. I exclusively breastfed my baby for the first six months, and at 9 1/2 months we’re still going strong (plus solids)…but that definitely involved him receiving my milk in bottles. I went back to a full-time job when he was 4 months old, and so from 7am – 4pm every day he received only breastmilk in bottles, and I pumped during my lunch break at work. I entirely agree that having the option to give him bottles made me a better mom. It allowed me to get out of the house, to feel productive in a way outside of just being a mom, and to preserve the identity that I held before having a baby, to feel like my old self. I have also been so thankful that he could have bottles of of my milk, allowing me to go out and see friends and do other things on weekends. He still needs me and my breasts to fall asleep, so I’ve been kind of stuck in the evenings, but those daytime outings have been life savers.

  22. My baby received my pumped milk while I worked. I returned to my office job when little man was 12 weeks old, pumping was the only way for him to receive my milk as I worked. However, even if I had the opportunity to be a stay at home mom, I would have still pumped occasionally. Seeing my husband and my baby gaze into each others eyes, seeing my mom/grandmother/and other family members enjoy the cuddles and share in the feeding experience was wonderful. Having the opportunity to take a nap knowing that my baby would be fed and I could get some much needed rest was crucial some days.
    I see myself as having a successful breastfeeding relationship not because my son received only breastmilk for the first 6 months, not because we are still nursing at almost 13 months, not because I will continue to nurse until he decides to stop. I see myself as successful because I nursed, provided breastmilk in bottles, and because I fed my baby as needed. Bottles allowed for me to help provide nutrition to my baby as well as a roof over his head. Bottles were essential to our breastfeeding journey. If we ever needed formula, we would have used it without shame. I would have still been a successful breastfeeder, and my son would have received what he needed.

  23. I love this piece. I know a woman who lied to all of her friends about her formula supplementation because she was just too afraid and ashamed to tell them. I’d love to connect with you about my forthcoming book for working, breastfeeding mothers!

  24. Darlene Henderson says:

    I breastfed all my kids until they weaned themselves around 2+ years of age. They also fed each other bottles of my breastmilk when I went to work or sometimes after school so they could wind down from the day and I could get their dinner.
    Anyway a baby gets breastmilk is breastfeeding, sometimes their is a transition period or learning period, like progressing from tube feeding with intermittent sucking on a soother, to breastfeeding while tube feeding for the skin to skin; breastfeeding with a nipple shield to stimulate the palate, switching from bottle/nipple shield to bare breast as part of a learning process. (I worked NICU for > 25 years). Moms would cry and ask if their babies would ever breastfeed. I’d ask them, whose milk is in that feeding tube? Mine!. You’re breastfeeding! When you are home pumping we are feeding your breastmilk to your baby. You are breastfeeding!! When your baby starts sucking on that feeding tube, yours’ will be the first nipple he feels in or near his mouth, even if he just licks the dribbles — you are breastfeeding. When he starts to suck on a soother when you are away, we will put him to breast when you are here. Step by step he will get there. Remember, he is still not supposed to be here. You are getting a sneak preview and giving him the best start you can. I’ll be here through ALL your breastfeeding steps. AND, for many reasons this process can be necessary for term infants as well;and for some Moms they choose, again for many reasons, to continue bottle feeding their breastmilk to their babies. THEY ARE BREASTFEEDING. As long as you hold your baby close to your heart, or someone else (brother, sister, Dad) holds baby close to their heart, talks to them, smiles at them, gazes into their eyes .. THEY ARE BREASTFEEDING. If for some reason you need formula, just realize it is no where near the same as breastmilk, but, must meet minimum nutritional requirements. Any amount of breastmilk can help digest formula, and the protective properties are life long!!
    Blessings! Keep on leaking!! Honesty rules!! Loving Moms and babies rules. Making them happy absolutely rocks!!!

  25. This is your best post yet! Though, it’s been a few years since I read one of your articles. I stopped for the feelings of shame I got from your site. I nursed all 3 of my boys exclusively. Pretty scary thought? Well, my first and I had a horrible nursing relationship. I was guilted and shamed into it by a so-called friend. By the time he was 4 months old I literally would cry in fear of the pain I knew would come with each feeding. I continued because I felt like I would be a bad mom if I didn’t. He nursed until he weaned himself at 10 months. Pregnant with my second was when I first came across your page. Every bad feeling came back to me with some of your posts. I stopped opening anything with The Leaky Boob on it. When he was born, I sat with an amazing LC for 2 hours and as a result I lost all that shame and went on to have an amazing nursing relationship with both him and baby 3! All 3 of my boys took my milk from a bottle on occasion and I was a better mother for it. I appreciate your honesty and apology on your previous presentation. As you said, it’s about feeding our children!

  26. Amen. Thank you for sharing this – it made me tear up. I’ve never been able to produce enough for either of my two kids; we had to do IVF because I stopped getting my period for years, and it seems you need the same hormones to produce milk that you do to ovulate, so without one, you’re kind of screwed for the other. I’ve done everything – pumping boot camp, fenugreek, tea, you name it – and I’m only ever going to produce so much. I stuck with it for six months with my daughter, though we started supplementing her at two months, and I’m coming up on six months with my son, who we started supplementing at about ten days. I’m nursing in the morning and pumping 2-3 times a day at work, which gets me a total (total!) of maybe 6 ounces. I have no guilt about giving him formula, since the kid would’ve died at this point without it, but I still feel guilty and conflicted about the fact that I can’t just make enough damn milk.

    For me, successful breastfeeding means that I’m giving him what I can, and that’s probably going to stop at some point soon; I’m not sure how long I can justify taking the time to pump when I’m getting so little, and I basically can’t convince him to nurse except for first thing in the morning – he’s too distracted and social at other times. But I’ve been hoping to get to six months, and I try to remind myself that (a) doing what I can is a success, and (b) keeping him alive and healthy and happy, by whatever means (e.g., mostly bottle and mostly formula) is a success too. It’s really hard when most of the messages out there are “breast is best” and “if you can’t feed all milk, all the time, you’re doing something wrong.” I think we need a lot more messages saying that there are all sorts of ways to breastfeed your baby – and all sorts of ways to feed your baby, full stop.

  27. Great article! I had babes who adamantly refused bottles but I would have loved this option.

  28. Yeah you should feel bad for “omitting” the fact that you used bottles. As someone who was not able to direct feed my twins, I felt isolated and alone in many of these breast feeding boards and groups. Never mind that I woke up at all hours while my family slept to pump. I managed to breast feed for a year which would never have happened without a pump. It was so hard and it makes me sick to read your letter. Ommissions are lies and by the tone of your letter it’s clear you understand that. Shame on you for not supporting the rest of us.

  29. voiceofreason says:

    Too little, too late there. You lied. The reason you lied is because you were ashamed of what people might think, which is ironic as the culture you have helped cultivate encourages women to be shamed. I was directed to your site while pregnant and the vitriol that was on the blog and Facebook page was disgusting. And now to admit that you did everything you shame other women for doing just makes you a hypocrite and a horrible person. Apology not accepted.

    BTW, I am an EBF mother who has never pumped nor given formula to my baby, but to me all three are equal – there is no “bad” option among them. If for some reason I had to pump or give formula, I would have no shame as my baby being fed is the most important thing.

  30. A short term leaky boob follower says:

    Wow I feel incredibly sad for you that his behind this persona for so long. It must’ve been difficult living a big online lie for so long. At least you ‘came out’ eventually, that would have taken a lot of courage from you. Better late than never.

    I followed your FB page for about two weeks while I was (unknowingly) coming towards the end of my breastfeeding journey. I thought The leaky boob would help inspire me to push through the hard yards of breastfeeding in those first few months, however your picture perfect breastfeeding persona was definitely not up my alley and I knew I could never be that kind of breastfeeding mother. I stopped following you, made the best decision of my mothering career to date (1 year and counting) and switched to formula. I came out of my depression, my baby was fed and full and both of us were happy and healthy. While your pages definitely not like The Alpha Parent’s FB page, I’m glad I stopped following your page back then because the fact that you depicted this ‘perfect’ image of breastfeeding and for us to now find out it’s all a lie by omission could have been devastating had I continued to try and continued to ‘fail’ by bottle feeding my child.

    Anyway all the best in your online journey

  31. Still no pictures of a bottle containing formula though…because a “successful breastfeeding relationship” can’t possibly also include formula.

    3 steps forward, 2 steps backward.

  32. Julie Molloy says:

    I appreciate your honesty.

  33. Julie Molloy says:

    I am a big advocate for supporting women and their efforts in breastfeeding their children. I agree about the importance of honoring our differences and how every family must make choices that are best for them, which also looks like bottles in photos. I used bottles with my first child due to many struggles and mostly pressure and constant conflicting information from every angle. Thank you for posting the link about the WHO Act. I think this is very important information that will help us understand why there’s been such a struggle for many women to find peace of mind in our mothering choices. There is a real corrupt thing happening and a lot of conflicting messages that are making many of us feel confused and unsure of ourselves. I hope that you and others out there will continue to share real stories, even though they may sometimes hurt to hear, it confirms the reality of this problem in our society. Thanks for reminding me of the importance of listening and supporting all mothers in their journey. And I hope you continue to be an active participant in empowering women with information about corrupt problems such as the WHO Act, so that the next generation of mothers will not have to be so overwhelmed with the mixed messages and controversies. I highly recommend seeing a new documentary made called “The Milky Way”! It explains a lot and will ignite a passion for us all to think about getting to the root of this problem. We deserve better maternity leave, consistent encouragement and knowledgeable breastfeeding support from health care providers, and the formula companies tactics need to be exposed. I am not an expert on any of these topics but I know enough to say that it’s time for us all to band together and demand change so our journeys can all be smoother.

  34. another thoughtful post, jessica. it’s a strange thing to put your self, your family, your beliefs, your mistakes, your thoughts, etc., etc. out there in this crazy internet world. i think this post is another example of a human being, a passionate mother, letting another piece of herself out into the world, bravely & with good intentions. i hope you won’t be too hard on yourself or let that intensely negative comment above get to you. as another commenter said, there are all kinds of opinions, information, and resources out there. that person’s troubles are not yours to shoulder. i’ve always found tlb to be a very open, encouraging, positive, inclusive forum, and you’ve set that standard. peace to you.

  35. Thank you for sharing! Great job doing what was *best*, as a mom, to look after your babies. 🙂

  36. Speaking as a mom who exclusively pumped*, I can tell you there are a lot of women out there who will appreciate this. EPers struggle a lot with the question of “Am I really breastfeeding?” and feel the need to qualify it, justify it, and even defend themselves when out and about. But it really is all about doing what’s best for you and your family.

    I spent 6 months walking a very lonely road as an exclusive pumper, not really “fitting in” with the breastfeeding groups or the formula moms. It is exceptionally difficult to find support for “the middle” (but very easy for the “extremes”); glad to have someone like you with a large forum from which to speak finally addressing those of us in the middle.

    (Also, if any of you ladies are walking the EP road, do consider joining the Exclusively Pumping Group on Facebook – those ladies will change your life for the better!!)

    *and supplemented with formula

  37. I teared up reading this – in a good way! We were an exclusively pumping breast milk family, and I felt like I had to explain our bottles to EVERYONE! But your wise husband is right, it’s about feeding the babies and little else matters as long as they are healthy and happy! You are doing good things for all us struggling mommas, and showing bottles as a realistic option will only continue that help! Keep it up and let go of that guilt once and for all!

  38. I EPed for a 13 months, too. It was a different road, certainly!! I found a very kind group called iBreastfeed on facebook. Although the founder is a very proud breastfeeding momma, I never felt any judgement when I posted questions related to pumping.

    I was very comfortable saying that I breastfed, but we never ‘nursed.’ I am proud that I fed my little one (and 4 other babes) milk I produced. In fact, I am pregnant again &, with my husband’s blessing, plan to EP again!

  39. Mary Contrary says:

    My first child was breastfed til 6 months, then formula. My second child was EBF from the source until a year and still nurses occasionally at 21 months. I don’t owe my success with the second to you or any other blogger and in fact, most of my sympathies lie with formula and pumping moms. I avoided sites like this because I felt if I started holding myself up to the standard of EBF – and nothing else, by god, or you’re doing it wrong – instead of going with the flow (ha!) it’d cause undue stress and I might crack if there were any major bumps in the road. It made it easier to deal with the problems since I was able to tell myself “Well, if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. I’ll try for another week/do this thing/whatever and if it isn’t happening we’ll do something else.” The lack of pressure and stress from external sources gave me more clarity of mind and calm to put up with the few problems that arose.

    I don’t doubt you and others like you help many, many women. I also don’t doubt that there are tons of silent ones out there that you’ve hurt – or like me, generally avoid this sort of thing. I have a lot of respect for anybody who can own up to their mistakes publicly and apologize – but I know, and I think you do as well, that one apology won’t fix the hurt you’ve been partially responsible for in a lot of womens’ lives over the past few years. Your own desire to keep up an image at the cost of hurting other women . . . incredibly immature. The shame is well-deserved.

    At the very least, this is a step in the right direction.

  40. <3 Thank you :')

  41. Two of my favorite photos are of my husband bottle feeding our first child. The first was a ready-made formula bottle in the hospital which allowed me to finally sleep after almost 48 hours (24 of labor followed by surgery…). The second is a bottle of breast milk when he was a week or two old. Some friends had brought us dinner and their son, 2 weeks older than ours, was with them. All 6 of us sat and ate dinner at the same time (we were new at this… we can both nurse and eat at the same time now, but hadn’t mastered that skill yet!) That picture reminds me how precious a man I married who loves me and takes care of me and who loves our children and takes care of them – diapers, discipline, and dinners included 🙂

  42. We are human. We do things and regret them. You are no different than any of the rest of us. We do the best we can for our children and go on with our lives. I’ve never once come to your page and felt judged because my daughter got bottles with my milk in them while I worked. Not once. I think you try your best to be supportive in all ways. It makes me sad that you, yourself, was worried about judgement if you shared pictures of non WHO compliant bottles! This is exactly what this page tries not to do. They’re bottles, babies need to eat! Your children are beautiful and I’m sure it took a lot of courage to share this post! Keep up the good work Jessica!!

  43. I’ve been reading your blog/facebook for a long time now. After a rather rocky experience nursing my daughter when she was an infant (now 4) I knew I had to find good resources. Now I’m pregnant with my son, and due in March. Your blog and fb page have been so valuable in helping me gain insight to the struggles and joys of breastfeeding. This post meant a lot too, I know there will be times I will need a bottle, and this post is so reassuring. Thanks for all you do!

  44. bekindtooneanother says:

    YIKES there are some really angry women here. I too have felt angry about this topic and felt judged by women who don’t know me. But do you not think perhaps your anger is misdirected? And do you really think the correct response to an apology is rubbing a person’s face in their own admitted shame about the topic? How are you any better? You are now just as much of the problem in this shame-cycle.

    I get your anger and your pain and frustration. But simply venting your anger at this woman isn’t the solution. Use your bad experience to help other women who are in the same position as you or gently explain to someone who is painting a false picture of what the “right” way is that there are women like you who see it differently. Swearing and cursing doesn’t change anyone’s mind, and it won’t take your hurt away.

  45. pookawolf says:

    I appreciate this post, your blog and your honisty. When I first found The Leaky Boob I was drawn in by tue realness (especially not enjoying bfing). I stayed because you are a valuable tool in my tool box. You walk a fine line as a public parenting figure. Everything you do and don’t do is open to critique. You chose to keep this part of your life private and I respect that but I am glad you opened up to the world (I always figured there was a bottle in there somewhere). I went back to work at 13 weeks pp and pumped for my child and was blessed to donate milk to another baby. Nursing beyond 1 is not a common sight around here but reading your posts made it normal. I am proud to say that my 3.5 year old is still nursing but I know the end is near and I can come here because of the amazing community you have created.

  46. Ashley walsh says:

    It’s actually really nice to see a breastfed baby getting a bottle. I was so worried about nipple confusion I refused to give my LO a bottle. In a lot of ways the close relationship we have as a result is amazing. However it would have been nice to have some time away in the first year. Hopefully I’ll be more relaxed about it with the next one. Especially knowing that giving the occasional bottle of breastmilk is not horrible and does not necessarily lead to problems.

  47. ..Could it now stand to be said that.. *GASP* formula and bottle feeders actually face more adversity than breastfeeders??

    Seriously, I love your blog, but screw you for making me feel ashamed and like a failure for being unable to successfully breastfeed my child. You can apologize and spin this into more hits for your blog, but there’s no real apology for all the times you’ve made FORMULA feeding moms feel like the lowest of the low. I put myself through all of that hell and you were holding up this ideal that wasn’t even true for you!

    • Jamie I could not agree more. In my experience it is the “breast is best” “don’t supplement” so called advocates that are the real bullies. All of these people are fakes. Do they not understand that what they are doing hurts women and children?

  48. As someone who has exclusively expressed for13 weeks (so far) – thanks for this x

  49. Thank you for this. I had a well-meaning friend who is a major breastfeeding advocate discourage me from purchasing a breastpump that had worked great for me with my first child because it violated WHO code. So I looked into the WHO code, and I made the decision that, in my opinion, the WHO code, while well intentioned, is unreasonably restrictive. It was the right decision for me and my baby, and that’s what matters!

  50. Who gives a fuck how mother’s feed their babies??? As long as they’re fed and loved!

  51. I didn’t even know this was a thing. Frankly, I didn’t know that a stigma on nursing mamas feeding breast milk in bottles was a thing. Both my sons got only breast milk, but how they got it just seems like another silly thing for moms to debate. Don’t we all have anything else going on in our lives? Seriously. Healthy, happy children are the most important no matter how you fed them. As our local “Pump and Dump” show moms say to all moms: You are an awesome mom!

  52. Thanks for sharing! I have a preemie and breast milk is arguably more essential for the health of littlest babies. Feeding directly from the breast isn’t an option initially (suck / swallow isn’t developed yet) so it’s nice to see someone post positively about other ways of getting the breast milk in. For our daughter the first feed was 0.2 mL (yes really!) delivered via syringe. She progressed to receiving breast milk through a NG tube, and then a few mL placed into a nipple with no bottle attached. Although society seems to favor breast feeding, for us it was so exciting just for her to be able to eat through her mouth without any tubes, gavages, or medical pumps attached.

  53. Thank you so much for this post! I am in the middle of starting a clothing line that caters to breastfeeding moms but have been worried about people finding out that I supplemented my son for the last 6 months of our breastfeeding time. I am a supporter but not a fanatic, I, like you believe that you have to do whatever works for your family.

    I can’t thank you enough for sharing and helping me to feel more normal and less worried as I start this new adventure of a clothing line.

  54. Thank you for posting this. I had such anxiety about combo feeding that I really did a number on my emotional health. DS had bottles from the beginning as he was a preemie but eventually latched around 8 weeks. From then I became this crazy EBF mom because I had so much anxiety about my supply (tanked when I went back to work). I was ok with bottles but not formula. I have since recovered a bit with help and I’m much happier.

    He’s mostly getting formula now (10 months old) and we only nurse x2 day. He’s happy, I’m happy and my family is happy. I wish more pro-breastfeeding sites, etc would post on this. I’m glad I’m not the only one who felt in the dark!

  55. Wow I have so many thoughts about this. But ultimately I don’t want to waste my time on you. You didn’t merely “romanticize” breastfeeding – you LIED. This is a horrible thing to do to other women. So now that you’ve created this audience for yourself…now you are going to tell the truth, show the reality. Well isn’t that convenient for you. You would never have this following if you had been truthful from the beginning. This is precisely what is wrong with this breastfeeding “movement”. It is no longer about teacher women about how to feed their baby – it is now an aggressive ideology. An ideology that is not grounded in reality, science, truth, and accurate info. Your story is proof of this. Do you tell the women ypu “help” that you bottle feed your children and use formula? Or do you lie to them also?

  56. I just had my 3rd and nursing is taking a lit of time I feel I need to be spending with my other 2 children ages 3 and 1. I hate that I have this guilt I nursed my other 2 until 4 months I need to nurse this baby that long. The guilt we as mothers put on ourselves is so silly. I and 1st doing the best for my baby whether I breast feed or formula feed.

  57. Thank you for sharing, Jessica! Definitely makes me feel better about the occasional bottle of mamas milk my little one gets. Thanks again!

  58. Nicole Ramirez says:

    Thank you for sharing, it’s a refreshing truth 🙂

  59. Great post. Rather taken back by some of the comments though. I have been following for a couple of years so despite never seeing an actual picture of sugarbaby with a bottle in her mouth, it really was not a shock revelation for me. Why? Because I never for one moment thought that whilst you were out at work, you were starving your child. Of course she was receiving expressed milk via a bottle. So a little perturbed by the reactions. I have seen you answer many questions about pumping whilst you were away at conferences etc too. And although I have never used a bottle or had to pump (because I had a year of maternity leave with all my babies) I have to say that it is lovely to see beautiful bottle feeding pictures such as these 🙂

  60. I think that successful breastfeeding does exist, but it looks different for everyone. It is a place in which mom and baby are supported to meet *their* breastfeeding goals, and when that doesn’t happen we as a society fail because we failed to support moms and babies.

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