Have we turned a corner on mom-shaming? Once upon a time, a mom declaring that she was 100 percent into bottle feeding her baby, especially a newborn, would have been cause for a four-alarm social media fire. The level of debate would make it necessary to block commenters, delete followers, and maybe even turn an account that was once “public” to “private.” But not last night, when HGTV’s Home Town decorator and host Erin Napier shared a post on Instagram about feeding formula to her baby daughter, Mae.
The IG picture features Mae, who was born on May 28, in a lemon-adorned onesie with her tiny baby legs on display, while mom Erin feeds her a bottle.
“Just a little encouragement for you mamas who weren’t able to breastfeed, like me,” she shares in the post. “Don’t let anyone make you feel less than or belittled because of it.
“Helen was a formula baby and has no allergies, has always been a healthy weight, no big sicknesses, slept through the night by 6 weeks, smart as a whip, and is just as in love with and attached to her mama as her breastfed friends are to theirs,” she continued, referencing her other daughter, who is 3 years old. “Formula is our friend at this house! Just watch as these little matchstick legs get chunky and strong.”
A post shared by Erin Napier (@erinapier)
Amazingly, it was all love in Napier’s comment section: “I’ve got 3 formula kids and they’re fine. One of them screams like a freakin pterodactyl but I’m sure it’s unrelated,” one mom shared, while another said, “No one looking in on a kindergarten class will be able to point out the Formula Fed or Breast Fed babies. Fed is ALWAYS best!” Another mom expressed “On behalf of all is adoptive mamas who had no choice and were shamed. Thank you for this.”
Even a lactation specialist chimed in with support, saying “As a lactation consultant I support ALL moms and help with whatever feeding method works best! Moms are all wonderful!!”
Fans of Napier may already know that the designer is not able to breastfeed, likely because of her years-long health issue. She has a perforated appendix, starting when she was 19, according to People. Her appendix had been bursting and healing repeatedly for years causing her organs to become wrapped in scar tissue and bound together. After doctors removed the tissue, there was so much damage done that she and her husband, Ben, weren’t sure they’d be able to start a family.
Regardless of the reason a parent chooses to breastfeed or not, the breastfeeding vs. formula-feeding debate has been going on for decades. On one side are those who feel that breastfeeding is the healthiest way to feed a child and it ensures a bond between the parent and child. On the other are those who feel that baby formula provides needed nutrients and that bottle-feeding can be a similarly bonding experience. The other branches of the debate also include those who don’t want to see breastfeeding in public and companies who have not been supportive of breastfeeding parents at work.
But maybe we’ve spoken too soon about this Kumbaya mom-moment because it was just a couple of weeks ago that snowboarder Torah Bright shared an impressive breastfeeding picture on her Instagram and received an unbelievable amount of flack. She was sharing a series of unfiltered photos and moments in celebration of Mother’s Day, and one of the photos pictured her breastfeeding topless while doing a headstand. It’s a stunning photo, and there were some comments that showed support — but others were not so kind.
“That’s just fucking weird. What are you trying to prove?” wrote one hater, while another sniped, “Well done on getting the attention you clearly crave … sad and pathetic.”
Bright responded in her Instagram stories and also shared a video in her Instagram feed, once again saying she felt “a bit silly” even having to address the Instagram post, but that it was necessary because the breastfeeding photo had sparked so much attention and conversation.
“Mothers, we need to encourage one another, we need to lift each other up. We need to pay each other compliments, we need to support each other,” she reiterated in the video. “We need to be each other’s biggest cheerleaders because motherhood is so beautiful, but reality is we are the only ones who know just how hard those hard moments are, and we need to have each other’s back. But did anyone really think that’s how I breastfed?” Bright concluded, shaking her head in disbelief and smacking her forehead.
It all comes down to letting people live their lives the way they please, especially if they’re not hurting anyone else in the process, and especially if they’re not hurting you. As a fan on Napier’s post shared, “And if you simply choose not to, that’s absolutely fine as well! People need to take care of their own and stay out of the private business of others!”
These are some of the reality-TV alumnae we love to follow as they tackle motherhood.
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