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Formula-feeders have rights, too!

Both my kids were breastfed. Let's get that out of the way upfront. Though neither were what you'd call rip-roarin success stories in the way that many breastfeeding supporters would have you believe.

I'm not ready to jump on the "angry nursing mothers" bandwagon. My son was definitely a different story than my daughter who was in the NICU for a month. A NICU, mind you, that had to wheel screens over to the bedside area along with uncomfortable visiting chairs for mothers. There was a pumping room. Yay?! They were Nazis about tubes and parts and bottles and storage though. Not exactly the squishy happy feeling and bonding you so desperately want with your new baby...who is in the NICU to begin with.

Cole was a happier story. Great support from dedicated lactation staff at the hospital. He made it until Kelly had to go back to work. Then there just wasn't enough in the freezer for me to continue using as a SAHD. Bring on the formula.

Not every baby is destined for breastfeeding success. And I can speak here for the families who opt-out, fail-out, or otherwise don't nurse...there is a lot of guilt. Yet the huge selection and wall of infant formula at your local store clearly tells you that somebody is joining you in your formula feeding your baby.

There is a certain amount of shame, too. Mothers are out there fighting for breastfeeding rights and we're constantly given a stream of information about breastmilk being best. But where is the support for the formula-feeders? I'm sure, breastfeeders, that your aim is not to belittle formula feeders and make them feel less worthy as parents because of your supposed superiority. Anybody engaged in caregiving for children is doing a noble deed, right?

I have my doubts.

Did you know that in Illinois you can be excused from jury duty if you are a breastfeeding mother? Surely, any parent who needs to be at home feeding an infant should be excluded from jury service, right?

Then there's this new law which begins Jan 1, 2013 requiring hospitals to push breastfeeding. (What caught my eye in a list of new IL laws this morning and prompted me blogging on the topic.) Let me be clear, parents who state that they wish to formula feed still have that right. And don't get me wrong, I'm all for encouraging breastfeeding. But the problem the breastfeeding agenda currently has with new parents is that it is not simultaneously putting out the "formula feeding is fine" information stream.

Thank goodness we had a set of pediatricians who never blinked about our preference for formula. Or our switch after attempting breastfeeding. That's the right attitude to have. Whatever YOU AS PARENTS prefer, that's what we'll go with.

All I ask is that the next time you promote breastfeeding as awesome, healthy, the way to go, what worked for you, natural, pause and first consider the families you're excluding from the conversation. Formula-feeders deserve/need to be included, too.