Like most new moms, Annie Muscato knew the phrase "Breast is best," and planned on breastfeeding her newborn daughter for as long as possible. But her daughter Ellie Jo rejected her milk from the get-go, and after trying everything possible, Muscato found a hypoallergenic, dairy protein-free formula that finally worked.
That's what Muscato was buying when a woman came up and told her, "Breast is best."
"You didn't need to tell me, 'breast is best' as I was buying a can of baby formula, because I already know," Muscato wrote in a Facebook post that went viral, gaining 27,000 likes and almost as many shares. "But, let me tell you what else I know. I know that my baby began screaming after she ate. Writhing in pain. Inconsolable."
Muscato goes on to explain everything that she's tried to get Ellie Jo to breastfeed – visiting with multiple lactation consultants and going to the pediatrician at least twice a week, pumping and feeding from a bottle instead, testing different breastfeeding positions, and even changing her own diet, cutting out soy, dairy and leafy greens – but nothing worked.
"I have pumped – and I'm still pumping – enough to have hundreds of ounces of breast milk in my freezer even though she will likely never be able to eat it," Muscato says. "All because 'breast is best.' "
"Finally, we tried the hypoallergenic dairy protein free formula you saw me buying today," Muscato writes. "And the screaming lessened. And my baby started smiling. She started interacting. She started sleeping."
"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."
"But, you are wrong. What I know that you don't is that breast ISN'T always best. I know happy, healthy baby is best. I know FED is best."
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"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," she says.
"So, dear stranger, next time you see someone buying formula, 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."