This mom’s honest and heartfelt response to a formula shamer is going viral
Women are shamed for breastfeeding all the time, but too often we forget that formula feeding moms take just as much shit. Case in point: a Florida mom who recently wrote an open letter to a woman in Target she says rudely reminded her “breast is best” as she was buying a can of formula for her daughter.
In a now-viral post on Facebook, Annie Ferguson Muscato called out the unhelpful stranger, writing, “You didn’t need to tell me, ‘breast is best’ as I was buying a can of baby formula, because I already know.”
Muscato explains how excited she was to try breastfeeding — that she took the “four hour breastfeeding class” when she was pregnant, that she immediately did skin-to-skin and breastfed her baby at birth, and that she saw a lactation consultant to work their struggles. “I know ‘breast is best’ just like you do,” she asserts, “but let me tell you what else I know.”
From there, Muscato details the myriad ways breastfeeding didn’t work out for her and her baby. Her daughter began “screaming after she ate” and “writhing in pain.” Muscato tried everything — cutting foods from her diet, meeting with lactation consultants, and even seeing her pediatrician “at least twice a week” for the past month — all to no avail.
“I have exclusively pumped and tried slow flow bottles of breast milk, I have tried different positions,” she writes, “I’m still pumping- enough to have hundreds of ounces of breast milk in my freezer even though she will likely never be able to eat it. All because ‘breast is best.'”
Finally, Muscato says she tried a “hypoallergenic dairy protein free formula” and it worked. “The screaming lessened. And my baby started smiling. She started interacting. She started sleeping,” writes Muscato. “And I cried. Because…I thought my body failed her. I thought she wouldn’t be as healthy on formula.”
Adds Muscato, “I know you think I must not care or I’m lazy, or maybe you were genuinely trying to be helpful and thought no one had ever told me the benefits of breast feeding. But, you are wrong. What I know that you don’t is that breast ISN’T always best. I know happy, healthy baby is best. I know FED is best.”
Like so many of us, Muscato had to learn the hard way that how we feed our babies is not a measure of our value as mothers. It’s a difficult lesson, especially when you’ve committed yourself to breastfeeding and everything around you keeps reminding you of the importance, benefits, and supposed superiority of breastmilk.
It’s heartbreaking when the plans you’ve made for yourself and your baby don’t work out how you thought they would. Even more heartbreaking, though, is well-meaning strangers who compound the guilt and shame by offering their misguided and unsolicited “advice.” We’re each fighting a hard battle, and the last thing any of us wants to be told is that we’re not doing what’s right for our babies.
For people who feel tempted to offer their opinions to unsuspecting moms at the grocery store, Muscato offers some advice of her own: “Next time you see someone buying formula, try to remember that mamas should support each other. Think about everything you might not know. Remind yourself that ‘fed is best’ and smile because it means someone loves their baby enough to do what’s best for them.”
Couldn’t have said it better ourselves.