A recent Instagram post from Jessica Simpson that contained a full bottle of pumped breast milk started a conversation around "milk shaming" online.
My wife breastfed both of our children and, in fact, is still feeding our daughter who's hitting the year mark pretty soon. It opened up my eyes to a lot of things that I never knew existed.
Like the fact that the stuff is pretty darn magical and comes with a host of healing and growth properties you'd probably never learn about until you had kids.
It also contains a bunch of antibodies specially designed to keep your baby healthy. The proteins and fats in breast milk also aid in brain development. It's no wonder why bodybuilders are willing to shell out tons of cash for high-quality boob juice. Breastfeeding also naturally burns calories, and helps to induce contractions in a mother's belly, aiding in reducing a mom's belly size after giving birth.
But the other phenomenon that I was introduced to was the seedy underbelly of "breast milk shaming." Yes, it actually exists, there are tons of moms on the internet who will raise pitchforks and judge other moms for electing to formula feed their babies.
While breastfeeding children is natural and inexpensive, there are plenty of reasons why some moms go the formula route.
If you ask a bunch of women who breastfed their kids about mastitis, they'll tell you it's not pretty. The ducts in a woman's breast get clogged with milk if they're not pumped frequently, and sometimes they get clogged because, well, nature's annoying like that. Mastitis also hurts and, if not treated in time, can be harmful to the mother, not to mention the "spoiled" milk can make a baby sick.
Then there are some women who just can't, for some reason, produce enough milk for their baby on their own. The psychological effects of not being able to provide for your child "naturally" is something I can't imagine anyone would use as ammunition to shame another mother, but there are some unsavory people online who do that sort of thing.
And there are some moms out there accusing Jessican Simpson of doing this very thing with a recent Instagram post.
Simpson's been very vocal about her struggles with pregnancy and the toll it's taken on her body. From swollen feet to terrible acid reflux (babies pressing on organs is fun!), plus retaining water and all of the extra weight that comes along with carrying a baby to term.
Then there's the little question of raising a newborn, which is a super delicate and nerve-wracking task. You're a food farm for them for the majority of the first year, constantly feeding them every few hours, being woken up at all hours of the night and being the one thing that keeps them from dying of starvation. That's a lot of pressure.
So, many understood why she was so happy to share a photo of a full bottle of breast milk with the rest of the world and deem it as a "success." Those "little" victories of motherhood are everything, because you're basically a slave to another living organism that's completely changed your body in ways you can never be truly prepared for. Plus, getting through a pumping session isn't exactly fun.
Although there were tons of people online who applauded Simpson for her full bottle of milk, others took offense to her choice of words. Some users thought it was condescending to mothers who had to formula feed their babies. Some also felt posting a photo of a full bottle of milk attached to the word "success" indicated that moms who are unable to do so are somehow unsuccessful.
I hate to use the term, but there were many who thought this was a "snowflake" mentality and that Simpson didn't mean any harm by it.
But it did turn into a great conversation about the attitudes mothers have towards one another regarding breastfeeding and how there are some pretty crazy beefs out there between the two camps: breast vs powders.
At the end of the day, many concluded that all that matters is that your baby is fed. A mother who's having a difficult time breastfeeding isn't doing her child any good by trying to force it when they aren't lactating enough to sustain the baby. Better to bite the bullet, fork over that money for some formula, and get the kid used to the taste of that stinky sustenance an infant so direly needs.
One Instagrammer's comment probably summed up the whole controversy surrounding the harmless pic best: "For me this is success in her efforts and has absolutely nothing to do with what you were or weren't able to do. Look for the negatives and that [is] all you will ever find."
What do you think? Could Simpson have chosen better wording? Or are people getting their breast pumps in a tangle for no reason whatsoever?