This week, Chrissy Teigen, our favorite mom ally, called on the Twitterverse to normalize formula feeding. Although Teigen isn’t currently feeding an infant — her son, Jack, was stillborn — she expressed the difficulty she had breastfeeding her two older children, Miles and Luna.
“The point is not how great breast milk is. WE KNOW THAT. the point is FORMULA IS OKAY …” Teigen wrote, after her post, predictably, set off a firestorm online.
Moms who have fed their infants with formula, through choice or circumstances, were thrilled to see a celebrity speaking honestly about how breast isn’t always best, for mom or baby.
“I am insanely excited that high profile celebrities are starting to push the envelope on normalizing formula feeding,” said Holly Nordenberg, a Wisconsin mom of two girls, ages 3 and 5.
Both of Nordenberg’s babies spent time in the NICU, and after both deliveries she was on medication that made it unsafe to nurse for 24 hours. Despite that, she felt overwhelming pressure from her healthcare providers to pump and later breastfeed.
“It wasn’t positive encouragement. It was shaming and bullying,” she said. “When I finally made the decision to embrace formula to keep my babies fed, it was a huge relief. It was only then that I realized the breast-is-best pressure was actually negatively impacting my physical and mental health. After starting on formula, I was finally able to bond with my babies, who have since grown into amazing little humans. I hope we can truly normalize formula for moms who decide thats what’s best for their family.”
Kealy Hawk, a mom of two from Washington state, is a lactation consultant. But despite that, she combo fed her daughter with both breastmilk and formula, and she’s glad to see Teigen starting a conversation about choice in feeding babies.
“Moms’ decisions should just be accepted. And we need to acknowledge that formula is nutritionally everything a baby needs to live and thrive,” Hawk said. “Breastfeeding or formula feeding, the baby is getting fed and that’s what is most important.”
Lorie Anderson, also a mom of two from Washington state, wasn’t able to breastfeed because of medication that she’s on. She said that formula wasn’t only good enough — it was a great option that let her husband feed their children. Despite that, she had some lingering guilt about not formula feeding.
“When someone with a huge platform like Chrissie Teigen steps out and says, ‘It’s okay, you don’t have to feel bad,’ you feel less alone,” she said.
Despite the breast-is-best narrative that has become common throughout postpartum and infant care in the United States, most babies are fed with formula. According to 2018 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only 25% of American babies are exclusively breastfed by the time their are six months old, and roughly 43% of infants aren’t breastfed at all, meaning they’re relying on formula.
With nearly half of all babies and moms utilizing formula, it’s safe to say it’s time to embrace the fact that “fed is best.” Nicole Sud, a mom of three from Virginia, feels that mindset is especially important this year, when new moms are dealing with more stress than ever.
“Having discussions around normalizing formula, such as Chrissy Teigen’s recent post, can help individuals who cannot breastfeed, or choose not to breastfeed be more at peace with their situation or decision,” she said. “Having a baby right now, in a pandemic, is hard enough. Let’s try to make it easier by normalizing formula feeding, and woman’s choices on how they feed their baby.”
That’s a message that Teigen wants all new moms to hear.
“‘Normalize breastfeeding’ is great. ‘normalize formula’ is great, too! so yeah. that’s all! normalize formula! your baby is gonna be BEAUTIFUL, PERFECT, AND OKAY,” she wrote.
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