In honour of Mental Health Awareness Month, we've decided to address the topic of formula shaming.
Formula shaming is a form of parent-shaming that can have a devastating impact on new parents. It occurs when parents who choose to formula feed their babies are made to feel guilty or inferior to those who breastfeed. This can happen through subtle comments or more direct criticism from friends, family, or even strangers.
Formula shaming can create feelings of intense grief, guilt, and inadequacy for parents who are already struggling with a myriad of demanding life changes that come with a newborn. It can also make it harder for parents to bond with their baby, which can lead to postpartum depression and anxiety, causing long-term impacts on both caregivers and their children.
It's important to recognise that there is no single "correct" way to feed a baby. Behind every parent is a range of experiences that we’re most likely not aware of: a challenging mental battle, a traumatic birth, a mastectomy, a prolonged stay in the neonatal intensive care unit, a thyroid condition, a breast reduction, or simply an informed personal decision to formula feed, without any justification needed.
All of these factors can influence a parent's feeding choices and should be respected.
Parents should feel empowered to make the feeding choices that work best for their family, whether that be breastfeeding, formula feeding, or a combination of both. Criticising or shaming parents for their feeding choices only adds to their stress and anxiety and can contribute to feelings of isolation and shame.
The Australian Government is currently reviewing the Marketing in Australia of Infant Formula (MAIF) Agreement, an agreement which aims to encourage breastfeeding as the first choice and optimal option for infants. While we 100% support this position at Sprout Organic, we also strongly believe that this message needs to be re-conveyed with compassion and respect. For decades, the phrase "breast is best" has been pushed without consideration of parents’ who are either unable to breastfeed or have made the the informed decision not to.
By recognizing the importance of inclusivity and respect for all parents, regardless of their feeding choices, the MAIF can take a step towards improving the mental health of parents across Australia.
We are proposing the scope and messaging of the MAIF Agreement to be revised in recognition of the following:
If this article has resonated with you, we encourage you to put your views in writing to the Australian Government.
Consultation on the MAIF agreement is open to all interested parties until 12 May 2023. You can email your views directly to: email@example.com.
If you are a parent who has experienced formula shaming, know that you are not alone. We encourage you to seek support from friends, family, or a mental health professional. It's crucial to recognise that you are doing what's best for you and your baby, and you should never feel ashamed or guilty for your feeding choices.
It's time to put an end to formula shaming and embrace a culture of inclusivity and support for all parents.
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It’s industry regulation in Australia to present the following information about breastfeeding before you can enter our site.
The following statements may cause emotional distress for some parents, so it’s important for us to reiterate that this is an operational requirement. We know you are doing the best you can and are making decisions that are right for you and your baby.
If you are able, breastfeeding provides the optimal balance of nutrition for your baby. A healthy diet is important during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. If you make the decision not to breastfeed, we recommend you seek advice from your GP or health professional. Should you need an alternative form of nourishment to breastmilk, we recommend considering the social and financial implications. Introducing formula feeding can impact your breastmilk supply and is difficult to re-establish. Should you decide to use a breast milk alternative, please take care to use the formula as directed.
We support your choices and your feeding journey - whatever that may be. We understand breastfeeding isn’t always possible, so please click "I Understand" to confirm your understanding that Sprout is supplying the information contained on this website for informational or educational purposes and should not be substituted for medical advice.
You’re doing an amazing job.
Love, team Sprout