The “fed is best” discussion unfolded on Reddit after a woman bought her breastfed niece baby formula and consequently triggered a family fight.
The 18-year-old woman, who posted on the website’s “AITA” forum, first stated, “I don’t have kids and I have no experience with babies or motherhood or children.” However, while delivering groceries to the home of her brother and sister-in-law, she learned that her SIL was struggling to breastfeed her newborn.
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. “…I was shocked at how bad my SIL looked,” wrote the original poster (OP). “She literally looked like the walking dead. Barely awake and not showered and she was actually crying because she was so frustrated. It actually scared me how bad she looked. At first I didn’t want to butt in but it bothered me so much I went back to the store and got a can of baby formula. I figured it would give her a break and my niece could eat.”
Her SIL was very grateful. “[She] broke down and I was honestly scared because she was weeping,” wrote the OP. “Like in the movies when someone dies kind of weeping. No one told her it was okay not to breastfeed.” That’s in part because Cousin Rachel, a “big believer” in breastfeeding, had been encouraging the mom to nurse — perhaps a little too much.
“She felt so guilty because of Rachel butting in and no one telling her formula was okay,” explained the OP. Angered that her brother had not offered support to his wife, she returned to the store to purchase more formula. “My SIL actually stopped crying, showered and slept and the next three days she looked better and didn’t cry again,” she wrote. “My niece gets full. My idiot brother smartened up and told Rachel to stay away and everyone else especially our parents and SILs parents to butt out. They take turns feeding so they both can sleep.”
However, now the grandparents and Rachel are “furious” at the teen for what they perceive as meddling and the mom’s sister even left the poster “an angry voicemail full of swearing.” The family drama has made the OP second-guess her behavior.
More than 3,000 comments accumulated on Reddit, many from users who felt that the mother’s mental health trumped any nutritional concerns for the baby. “You probably saved the baby’s life,” wrote a commenter. “Husband should have taken her to the hospital and they would have probably done the same thing, giving the baby formula.” Another added, “You totally did the right thing. Some women no matter how much they want to breastfeed, just can’t for various reasons. The mom and the baby should not have to suffer for it.”
Other commenters shared their breastfeeding struggles, which are experienced by 60 percent of women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While health experts recommend that babies are breastfed for at least one year (and exclusively nursed for the first six months), feeling unsupported by family or pressure to conform to cultural norms are just a few reasons mothers stop.
“My supply was awful,” someone wrote. “I pumped every three hours and could only produce enough for one feed a day for my son. I did it for six months to get him all the good stuff from the breast milk and the rest was formula.”
Added a former labor-and-delivery nurse: “I remember trying to help mothers nurse at 3 a.m. while they were still in [the] hospital and just sobbing in pain, exhaustion, frustration, and being beyond sleep deprived” adding, “Breast is best is bullsh*t and completely undermines a new mom’s confidence. You know what’s best? Food!”
Another wrote, “[My] baby was staving [and] I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. And I knew that it was fine to use formula.”
The OP seemed relieved for the affirming response. Even better: “My brother seems to have woken up and is actually helping with the baby now.”
Celebrate the beauty of different breastfeeding journeys through these photographs.
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