She recently opened up about being proud to breastfeed her three-year-old at the age of 44, and now one outspoken mother has taken on the topic of formula feeding versus breastfeeding in a candid opinion piece.
Writing on her blog Mama's Word, Stefania Giraldi asks why breastfeeding and formula-feeding mothers appear to be ‘at war’.
‘Those who are breastfeeding feel discriminated and often ridiculed, targeted by all those who consider breastfeeding inopportune, ‘not so great’ and weird, especially once the child reaches 6 months age,’ she says.
‘Those who give artificial milk feel equally attacked by those who constantly tell them how important and amazing breast milk is.’
Stefania goes on to say that, as a breastfeeding mother herself, she has been wondering why mums ‘who have not nursed their babies feel offended when they hear or read about breastfeeding’.
‘I am aware that this post of mine will unleash a tussle of no small amount but I truly want to understand what happens in the mothers who experience such negative feelings,’ she writes.
Last month, Stefania – who turns 45 next June - took to her blog to hit back hit back over comments made at a doctor’s surgery about being too old to breastfeed.
Her post led to her receiving messages and comments from mothers ‘defending their choice to formula feed’, she says, adding that ‘their choice was not attacked by me in the first place.’
‘As if just by writing about breastfeeding, my intent (and those of others that do the same), was to blame those who could not breastfeed.
Far from me!’ she writes.
‘So I ask myself: What happens to mothers who have not nursed their babies? Why do you feel so guilty? Why do you always feel like your feeding choices are called in question? Why are you offended? And why are you so angry against nursing mothers? Against us.
‘My intent is not, I repeat, to offend or hurt the mothers who have not nursed.
‘Whether you believe it or not, I despise judgment in any shape of form, I believe in support rather than war. What is this battle really about?
‘Should we not be the first supporters of ourselves? Should we not be empowering each other instead of tearing each other apart?’ Stefania goes on.
‘And I wonder why if I, or any one else writes that artificial milk is deficient compared to the maternal one (FACT), we are being crucified by those who accuse us of offending and insulting formula feeding mothers?
‘Basically, as soon as anyone talks about breastfeeding, here comes the army of those who wrongly translate every word you say into a threat, an offense towards those who did not breastfeed.
‘There are mothers who choose not to breastfeed and they do it with awareness. If you did not breastfeed it was your choice, why do you hold it against me?
‘I believe in spreading correct information on breastfeeding, in encouraging the creation of a breastfeeding culture and in making it easier for mothers and families to breastfeed.
‘If a mother breastfed her child, she is not lucky or a genius or a myth. It is simply a mother who had the correct information or a mother who had a strong motivation and wanted to breastfeed,’ Stefania continues.
‘It is, perhaps, a mother who has been supported and helped by well-trained breastfeeding consultants or midwives.
‘Because, while it is true that breastfeeding is a natural thing, nowadays there are so many external interferences (artificial milks, pacifiers, baby bottles and multinationals that try to speculate) that yes, sometimes succeeding in breastfeeding is almost an act of heroism.
‘I know mothers who have failed to breastfeed and feel guilty. They feel at fault for failing. And I get that. I was almost one. I had a glimpse of what if feels like.
‘Mothers that at the time of delivery may have felt alone and abandoned by everyone.
‘Not surprisingly, one of the reasons why most mothers do not breastfeed is precisely the lack of support and help from healthcare facilities.
‘Considering this, I can empathize with the way these mothers react, I can also understand it.’
But what about those ‘who chose not to breastfeed or who chose to stop breastfeeding?’ Stefania asks.
‘Mothers who do not breastfeed say they are tired of being subjected to external pressure by those who consider them to be inexperienced or unnatural mothers or selfish.
‘Do we want to talk about the pressure I suffer from nursing my children?
‘If you nurse on the street you’re a shameless woman who shows her boobs to everyone. If you nurse to natural term you are a fanatic or a weirdo.
‘If you are nursing you’re old-fashioned and you do not understand anything. You are a mother who wants to raise a “dependent” child. If you breastfeed beyond the year of life, your child could have serious problems.
‘If you refuse to wean your child according to the pediatrician’s instructions, you are crazy.
‘In short, it does not seem to me that the life of breastfeeding mothers are full of people who compliment you and tell you good.
‘On the contrary: If you bottle-feed in public no one feels offended by your gesture. Nobody takes you away from the post office and the Minister does not have to make a law specifically for you.
'For us, yes, because we are not free! If you feed your baby with a bottle, you’re a cutting-edge mother.
‘Your child will not be a mama boy but will have a good chance of being a ‘normal’ child. My son no! If you bottle-feed you might get a chance to do some shopping, hairdressing, jogging. Not me. I’m chained with my son in tow!
‘I go to the hairdresser with him attached to the breast. But then I get criticized: ‘If you do not learn to take your space you will become a slave to him!’
‘So dear mothers who have not nursed, try to understand, it is not a war between us. It is not a war against you.
‘We need solidarity between mothers, not people who are offended and blame each other. Let’s help each other.
‘We are always and always will be mothers. Only in this way we can live in a world free of prejudice.’
To see Stefania’s full post click here