Sometimes being a parent is a bit like being a grizzled Vietnam veteran in a cliched American film. The only people who understand the struggle are those who have been through the same. The ‘all-in-it-together’ nature of hanging out with other parents provides a safe space to share fears and to provide support. But it’s not always the case. Sometimes people can be so judgemental of other parents and there is no aspect more ripe for it than when it comes to breastfeeding choices.
The medical consensus is that, with all else being equal, breast milk is best for baby. But all else isn’t equal. No one parents in a vacuum. In addition, the vast majority of parents (we’re talking 99.9% here) make their decisions based on what they truly believe to be in the best interests of their children, depending on their personal (and private) circumstances.
Definitive Guide to Judging Other Parents’ Breastfeeding Choices
With that in mind, please direct people to this definitive guide to other parents’ breastfeeding choices before they unleash their judgements. Simply find the parents’ choice of action on the list and note the appropriate response beside it:
- Breastfeeding – none of your business.
- Entirely formula feeding – none of your business.
- Mixed feeding (breast and formula) – none of your business.
- Mum expresses and bottle feeds – none of your business.
- Mum expresses and dad bottle feeds – none of your business.
- Breastfeeding for six months then moving on to formula feeding – none of your business.
- Breastfeeding for six days then moving on to formula feeding – none of your business.
- Breastfeeding for six hours then moving on to formula feeding – none of your business.
- Does not attempt to breastfeed – none of your business.
- Breastfeeding until the child is four-years-old – none of your business.
- Mum does all the feeds – none of your business.
- Dad does all the feeds – none of your business.
- Parents share the feeds – none of your business.
- Breastfeeds in public – none of your business.
- Breastfeeds in private – none of your business.
Issues Behind Breastfeeding Choices
You never know what lies behind another couple’s breastfeeding choices. Just because someone’s decision differs from yours doesn’t make it wrong. In all aspects of parenting we have to make judgement calls on what works best for us and our kids, and that varies from family to family. Bringing up kids isn’t a one-size-fits-all affair.
Decisions on how to feed babies are shaped by a host of factors. There are medical issues to consider, physical barriers such as tongue ties, practical considerations to do with when parents have to return to work and so much more. And none of these are anybody else’s business either.
But it’s easy to judge. It’s simple to knock out an angry Facebook comment. It’s more difficult to concede that parenting doesn’t have definitive answers. It’s frustrating because we live in an age where we can find solutions to most of our issues by tapping a few words into our phones. Unfortunately all you tend to get on these kinds of parenting problems are opinions and experiences that are all very good, but don’t necessarily reflect your own circumstances.
Breastfeeding is like teething and childbirth. It’s one of those things that you would have expected evolution to have made a lot easier by now. So let’s not judge. Let’s be there for each other and support each other in the parenting decisions that we make in the best interests of our families rather than to please anyone else.