"I wish I never breastfed my baby."
That's how Maddi Wright, a mom to two sons and the star of an Australian TV show about home renovation, "House Rules," began her Instagram post on March 8. "A strong statement and many would disagree but here's why..."
She went on to write:
"3 weeks post stopping breastfeeding with my 4 month old I am a completely different person. I'm a better mum and better wife. I have more energy. I actually have gaps where bub is NOT on my body so I get to miss him a little. I have more time for my other son. I am more affectionate towards my husband. I don't dread going out in public. I enjoy my clothes again as I'm not leaking everywhere or having to wear uncomfortable maternity bras. I'm able to leave the house by myself without getting anxiety. I'm able to go to the gym again."
She went on to explain that she's aware her actions probably won't be among the most popular of opinions in the circles of breastfeeding advocates and moms.
"I know I will cop alot [sic] of negative comments about this post but I think its important for mums to know that they have choices. There are so many ways to be a mom. But what many mums forget is that MUM HAS TO BE HAPPY TOO," she wrote.
Her post did indeed receive negative comments. "Selfish, Selfish, Selfish. Yes mom needs time too, but you can get that AFTER breastfeeding. It is only for a short time in the scheme of things. A year of sacrifice for lifelong long benefits for the baby (and the mother). Just selfish she puts going to gym above her baby," an Instagram user wrote as a comment on her post.
But many more comments commended Wright. "No judgement [sic] here! Rock on with your mum self," one wrote. Another wrote, "YES. After 8 indescribable weeks, I had to stop trying to breastfeed. My whole little family's lives were improved because I became a happy mommy."
One prevalent comment was "breast is best."
The phrase refers to breastfeeding and how it's the preferable option opposed to formula, for example. But within the past few years, scientists and parents, alike, have rebuked that notion. "A recent study in Social Science & Medicine found that many benefits attributed to breastfeeding — from reduced rates of obesity and asthma to higher intelligence — have been overstated," Drew Himmelstein for Time magazine wrote in 2014.
Himmelstein also cited an article published in The Atlantic in 2009 titled, "The Case Against Breastfeeding" that found similar information on overstated benefits. "And yet," Himmelstein wrote, "the message that 'breast is best' has permeated parenting circles and the American medical establishment. The American Academy of Pediatrics — and many OBGYNs and pediatricians — recommends that mothers breastfeed for at least a year."
This isn't to suggest moms stop breastfeeding, but rather that "breast is best" is not for every single mother. As one Instagram comment pointed out on Wright's post: "Those of you judging mothers for whatever reason they have for not breastfeeding is what makes it so hard for the mothers that can't breastfeed/have trouble breastfeeding. FED IS BEST!"
Some considered Wright "selfish" for not wanting to breastfeed, isolating her line, "I'm able to go to the gym again" as though that were the sole reason for her not breastfeeding. But it's not about the gym, it's about mental health. "I'm able to leave the house by myself without getting anxiety," Wright wrote.
It isn't as though she completely stopped feeding her baby. She simply stopped breastfeeding him, and she isn't alone.
One mom named Jennifer Killi Marshall wrote an essay for the pregnancy website What To Expect titled, "My Mental Health Made the Formula Versus Breastfeeding Decision for Me."
She described how it was a struggle for her, writing, "milk finally began to flow and I even felt confident enough to breastfeed in public" — but it didn't last:
"Despite our new found success, the mania was taking over within my brain because of the accumulation of lost sleep due to middle-of-the-night feedings. Still, breastfeeding was something I was not willing to fail at. Possibly fueled by all the 'breast is best' information I had read, I had created this self-inflicted urgent need and more than anything else I wanted: to breastfeed my baby.
I thought quitting breastfeeding would make me look weak. I wasn't going to surrender to feeding him formula just because I needed to take medication and couldn't do both because I knew it was not advised."
Wright didn't reveal if she's on medication for her anxiety or not; but either way, it's not relevant. Based on a previous pregnancy, Wright made the decision she felt was most beneficial for herself and her newborn son, and ultimately, that's what's best.