Earlier this month, Annie Ferguson Muscato was shopping for baby formula at Target when a stranger stopped her and quipped, “Breast is best.”
Shocked by the stranger’s judgment, Muscato took to Facebook to pen a moving open letter.
“Dear Stranger in Target,” she began. “You didn't need to tell me, ‘breast is best’ as I was buying a can of baby formula, because I already know.”
The mom went on to explain how she and her husband did everything by the book. They took a breastfeeding class during Muscato’s pregnancy, did skin-to-skin contact with their daughter immediately after birth and first breastfed their baby when she was just one hour old.
The couple did all this because “it was important to me,” Muscato said.
However, when they took their now two-month-old daughter, Ellie Jo, home, they encountered some terrible struggles. “My baby began screaming after she ate. Writhing in pain. Inconsolable,” the mom explained. “I know I have held my child, my baby, while she screamed for hours- one day for eight hours straight.”
After countless trips to the pediatrician and even trying to change her diet, nothing improved for Muscato’s baby girl. It wasn’t until the mom tried a hypoallergenic, dairy- and protein-free baby formula that Ellie Jo started smiling, sleeping and interacting like normal.
“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.”
“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 breastfeeding,” the mom continued on Facebook. “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.”
Can we get a mic drop, please?
Since being posted nearly two weeks ago, Muscato’s Facebook post has been shared over 48,000 times. In the comments, users are applauding the mom for putting her baby first.
“Great job momma and hold your head up high because all that matters is that you have a healthy and happy baby at home,” one wrote.
“Mom's should do whatever they like,” another said. “I've fed my kids both ways and never saw any difference in their development or happiness. It's just as easy to bond while bottle feeding. Some of these nuts just need to mind their own business.”
There are a number of benefits to breastfeeding, but studies in recent years have found that these attributes are exaggerated. This has only reignited the big debate over whether or not breast is best.
Despite this, it is always a mother’s personal choice whether or not she chooses to breastfeed.
ALSO ON HUFFPOST:
If you see a woman -– not a close friend -– bottle-feeding her baby, don’t ask why she’s not breastfeeding. It’s not the same as asking, “How is she sleeping?” It’s personal and it may not be something she feels like talking about to with a stranger at Starbucks.
Diet Pepsi and formula are not the same and suggesting that what a mother has put in the bottle is as nutrition-free a cola is nasty.
Kids can have allergies for many reasons, like inheriting them from their parents. And since you don’t know, zip it!
File this along with formula-fed babies being more prone to obesity and asthma, etc. The mind reels. It’s a wonder that many of us born in the 60s and the 70s can even walk given how common formula was then.
Guess what, when I held my babies’ bottles, I still did it while holding them and gazing into their eyes.
Perhaps, rabid internet commenter, but consider that bottle feeding is sometimes the best choice a mother can make for her child. And that allowing others to bottle-feed your baby – like, say, the father -- does not make you a lazy slacker. Just a thought.
You don’t know that. No, you really don’t.
This isn’t so much a say as a do. Do not touch the body of a woman you wish wasn’t bottle-feeding. One mum I spoke to had someone grab at her chest and offer to help her breastfeed. Just don’t.