As if being a new mom wasn't hard enough! When Annie Muscato walked into Target to buy some formula for her baby daughter, she certainly didn't expect a complete stranger to take the time to stop and remind her that "breast is best." This formula-shaming so affected Muscato that she took to Facebook to post an open letter to the person who really should've minded their own business. And its clearly hit home for a lot of moms, as the post has garnered over 100,000 likes and 48,000 shares as of this writing.
She opens her letter with the following:
"Dear Stranger in Target:
"You didn't need to tell me, 'breast is best' as I was buying a can of baby formula, because I already know.
"I know that my husband and I excitedly took the four-hour breastfeeding class when I was pregnant. I know that my baby immediately did skin to skin and ate from my breast within an hour of her birth, because it was important to me. I know that we saw a lactation consultant before we took her home, and again a few weeks later. I know that we struggled at first. That some nights, we both cried together. That my dear friends swore it would get better. I know they were right, and it did. I know 'breast is best' just like you do."
She then goes on to detail all of the struggles she's had attempting to breastfeed her baby—from having her baby "writhing in pain" to seeking out multiple lactation consultants to undergoing an elimination diet to exclusively pumping for months on end. All this, she says, "because breast is best."
The heartbroken mother goes on to detail how finally they tried out a hypoallergenic dairy- and protein-free formula, and that for the first time in her daughter's life, she stopped screaming and started smiling and interacting. But this didn't make Muscato feel any better and the mom guilt was overwhelming. She reveals, "And I cried. Because I thought breast was best. I thought my body failed her. I thought she wouldn't be as healthy on formula."
She acknowledges that the stranger may have thought they were "genuinely trying to be helpful," but reminds her how wrong she is. "What I know that you don't is that breast ISN'T always best. I know a happy, healthy baby is best. I know FED is best. What I'm sure we both know is that parenting is hard. Really hard. That sometimes what we plan for and what we want just doesn't work out, but we are all here trying to do what's best for our babies."
At the end of the day, the loving mom has put it all behind her and learned what really matters. And she admonishes this stranger to "try to remember that mamas should support each other. Think about everything you might not know. Remind yourself that 'fed is best' and smile because it means someone loves their baby enough to do what's best for them."
Truer words couldn't be said.
Photograph by: Annie Muscato