Tag Archives: books

Disarming the “Mommy Wars”: One Mama’s Fight to End the Guilt and Stigma of Bottle Feeding AND Support Breastfeeding

4 Oct

My friend Suzanne Barston has been writing at The Fearless Formula Feeder for a long time.  When I say “my friend”, though we’ve never met in real life, I mean it.  Suzie has walked almost my entire motherhood journey along side of me.  We began blogging at approximately the same time and found one another because, well, way back then, nearly five years ago, there weren’t many of us out there.  Moms who had postpartum struggles that is, especially with breastfeeding, who were willing to talk about it publicly were few and far between in 2008.

I had been suffering from a paralyzing and life-threatening (I was so ill that for many weeks I would tell my husband daily that I wanted to die.) postpartum depression and anxiety, and a big source of my irrational guilt was my son’s initial inability to latch (enter never-ending pumping sessions and bottle feeding breast milk), followed by my “decision” to switch to formula when pumping was getting in the way of my recovery.  I was vulnerable and isolated (figuratively and literally, as the few friends and family members I had around me at the time had either formula fed by choice and didn’t understand my desire to breastfeed or had successfully breastfed and were a silent reminder of my “failure”).  I hadn’t found much support online either, as most of what I read encouraged moms to breastfeed to combat the blues and even supported breastfeeding while on psychiatric medications, if under the care of a physician who supported that choice.  Now, I totally agree with those statements for those mamas for whom that feels right.  However, I was not that mom and that made me feel even more like a failure, especially after my dreams of a natural childbirth were already dashed thanks to a very unexpected c-section after a ridiculously long labor.

Finding Suzanne’s blog and forging a relationship with her was probably the number one factor in my eventually overcoming constant anxiety about not having breastfed my son and moving past the guilt that riddled me for months and got in the way of positive thoughts and interactions in the beginning of my motherhood experience.  I knew that not only was she a support and ear, but that she actually did her homework to provide factual information, not just opinions.  The emotional and analytical sides of me were appeased and reassured by reading her blog posts and eventually joining the Facebook page associated with her blog.

Please know that this blog, Atlanta Mom, is not ever going to promote taking sides or making judgment about moms’ choices, if they are well-intentioned.  However, as the author here I wouldn’t be exhibiting integrity if I didn’t share my own story honestly and encourage others to end the stigma and the competition that has arisen within parenting in the past few decades.  I believe strongly that mothers need to band back together, not tear each other apart.  That’s why I started Beyond Postpartum over four years ago and it’s also why I’ve created this blog.  We are stronger.  We are better.  We are more informed.  We are doing good, when we share and care for one another.

One of the ways that Suzanne has decided to reach out to mothers and even healthcare providers is to publish a book she’s written based upon her diligent research on infant feeding.  Unlike just about any other parenting “expert” out there, Suzanne’s unusual position to support families no matter how they choose to feed their babies is a breath of fresh air.  Below you’ll find a press release about the book and a link so that if you’d like to you can easily purchase it on Amazon.

BOTTLED UP: How The Way We Feed Babies
Has Come to Define Motherhood, And Why It Shouldn’t
by Suzanne Barston

As the breast vs. bottle feeding debate heats up, some experts believe breastfeeding advocates may have gone too far. While breast is certainly best from a nutritional standpoint, thousands of mothers find themselves unable to breastfeed for physiological, emotional, or situational reasons. Once breastfeeding has “failed”, they are unable to find the support they need, and some are even feeling shunned or bullied.

BOTTLED UP: How The Way We Feed Babies Has Come to Define Motherhood, And Why It Shouldn’t by journalist Suzanne Barston (University of California Press, August 2012), probes breastfeeding politics through the lens of Barston’s own experiences as well as those of the women she has met through her popular blog, The Fearless Formula Feeder.

“Breastfeeding has become the yardstick by which parenting prowess is measured,” says Barston. “Yet, it’s not always the right choice for every mother and every child. 
In fact, in some cases the pressure to breastfeed has created a dangerous atmosphere for both mothers and babies.”

Barston, who was devastated when she was unable to breastfeed her son, calls herself a “lactivist” and a formula feeding defender. “It’s an odd stance, but one that is sorely needed,” she explains. “I understand the debate on a level most don’t because I have engaged in the conversation on BOTH sides for nearly four years. My point of view is controversial, but it shouldn’t be: Support those who want to breastfeed, and support those who don’t want to.”

Incorporating medical literature, expert opinions, and popular media, Barston offers a corrective to our infatuation with the breast. Impassioned, well-reasoned, and thoroughly researched, Bottled Up asks us to think with more nuance and compassion about whether breastfeeding should remain the holy grail of good parenthood.


Suzanne Barston has worked for the past decade as a writer and editor for health and parenting publications, including as the Editor-in-Chief of Los Angeles Family Magazine. She has impressive internet following within the mommy-blogosphere at The Fearless Formula Feeder, and is also the resident “Bottle Feeding Expert” for a video-based website launching in September called KidsInTheHouse.com.

Because, like I said earlier, Suzie rocks and all, she’s also agreed to send a signed copy of the book to one reader here at Atlanta Mom.  To enter all you have to do is comment below with your email address so that I can be in touch if you win!  If you’d prefer not to share your email address publicly, please comment that you’ve emailed your mailing address to atlantamom930@gmail.com.  The winner of the book giveaway will be randomly selected on October 15, 2012.  GOOD LUCK!

I hope those of you who aren’t familiar with Suzanne’s work will take a moment to browse her blog, to join The Fearless Formula Feeder Facebook community, or to consider reaching out to moms who make different feeding choices than you and reassure them that you support them.  We’re all in this motherhood thing together, so let’s be good to one another instead of guilting each other, k?

Bless your heart ;-),


Beyond Birth Atlanta

gentle care for the whole family from birth into motherhood

Lessons From the End of a Marriage

A "How to Thrive" Guide After Divorce

The Forgiven Wife

Learning to Dance with Desire

Motherhood is not for Sissies

Keeping it real...since 2010

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