For mamas who have complicated feelings about breastfeeding, August can be a challenging time. It starts off with #worldbreastfeedingweek, turns into #breastfeedingmonth, and can leave some mamas feeling like they don't have a place in the conversation everyone seems to be having.
It can be difficult to see a flurry of social media posts in your feeds celebrating something that you wanted to do, tried to do, couldn't do or chose not to do because it wasn't what was best for your particular baby in your particular circumstances. Sometimes feeding a baby formula is the best thing for mom and the baby.
That's why it's important (this month and every month) to remember that while breastfeeding is recommended, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists also officially recognizes that a baby's mother "is uniquely qualified to decide whether exclusive breastfeeding, mixed feeding or formula feeding is optimal for her and her infant.
There's more than one way to feed a baby, and these celebrity moms prove it.
Mowry planned to breastfeed her oldest son, Cree, for longer than she did, but her body had other plans.
"Wasn't able to breastfeed Cree for long because of low milk supply! However, this time around I have plenty," she captioned a recent photo of herself and baby Cairo.
Mowry believes "lots of teas, water, #fenugreek, and a high protein diet" are helping her out this time around (but researchers don't put as much stock in fenugreek's milk boosting power as Mowry does).
Coco Rocha intended on exclusively breastfeeding her first child, Violet, but switched to formula after having low milk supply.
In a 2015 Instagram post, she clapped back at her negative followers who had an issue with her decision. She stood up for all the mama's out there, saying, "This is not a democracy, everyone doesn't get a say."
"Not that this is anyone's business - I loved breastfeeding Ioni for the first 5 months of her life and then one day my milk went dry,'' the supermodel captioned the post. "She's been on formula for a few weeks now and seems to be doing just fine".
After the birth of her son, Titan, back in 2014, Kelly Rowland had the intention to nurse her baby through breastfeeding. But in 2017, the songstress revealed to Parents that she switched to formula.
"I had my heart set on breastfeeding, but I wasn't producing enough milk," Rowland said. "I got down on myself, which I think was mentally limiting my supply."
After the loss of her mother three weeks after Titan was born, Rowland had to focus on what nursing method was best for her mental health.
She switched to formula because that was the right choice for her.
Jana Kramer felt guilty and received shade from her followers after choosing to formula feed her second son, Jace, back in 2018. She told Us Weekly that truthfully she had trouble breastfeeding from the first day.
"I guess I'm saying this to, also, the moms out there that feel this way too," Kramer explained. "Let's not feel like we have to defend our decision. Let's just be the best moms that we are."
The country singer shut down the shamers and instead made nursing her own private and personal decision. It was especially not a big deal for Kramer considering that she was formula fed as a child.
When baby True was born, Khloe breastfed like her sister Kourtney, but eventually followed in Kim's footsteps and switched to formula.
She revealed the change during a Twitter conversation with a follower who asked if she pumped while at work. "I had to stop breastfeeding," Kardashian responded. "It was really hard for me to stop (emotionally) but it wasn't working for my body. Sadly."
She shared some more details that many mamas who've made the switch can relate to. "I fought and fought to try and continue but then when I actually stopped, I didn't realize what a relief it was for me to not stress and worry anymore," Khloe wrote. "Any sec I had of downtime I was stressing to produce more for the next feeding."
Without that stress, Khloe was able to spend her downtime enjoying her time with True.
It's been 8 years since the birth of Elisa Donovan's daughter and the actress opened up about her struggle with nursing on her blog on People.
Not only was it not working, and excruciatingly painful for me beyond anything imaginable ,I also realized that I hated it" said the former Clueless star. "My guilt was so enormous and so complete, that I l felt like I would be catapulted into a special place in hell reserved for bad mommies who don't breastfeed."
Shortly after making the decision to use the formula, Donovan was reassured by her doctor that she and her daughter were going to be fine.
Emily Maynard Johnson
The mom of four spoke before about the difficulty in breastfeeding multiple kids at once, and feeling ashamed to tell others that she used formula.
"I didn't want to tell anybody that I quit,'' said Johnson. "I was trying to hide the formula"
Back in 2017, the star shared with People that after the birth of her fourth child, Gatlin, she stopped breastfeeding after developing a condition.
"I breastfed Ricki, I breastfed Jennings for a while and then Gibson, it's so hard with other kids running around"the former Bachelorette star said.
"And then I got mastitis (a painful infection of the breast tissue) which is like the worst, worse than childbirth I feel like."
The Honest Company founder started off breastfeeding all three of her children before eventually turning to formula to feed each of them. In July, she told Motherly breastfeeding her new son Hayes has been especially challenging due to milk supply issues.
"I felt like I had the most milk with Honor and then it got less with Haven and even less with Hayes. And so that was just tough for me," she explained.
Demanding work schedules were a factor in Alba not being able to breastfeed any of her kids for as long as she would have liked, but she did what worked for her family, and she wants other mamas to recognize that in themselves, too.
In her book, The Honest Life: Living Naturally and True to You, Alba writes: "Whatever you do, trust that you're doing the best that you can for your baby."
The mom of three has been open about how breastfeeding became difficult as she was transitioning from being a mom of one to a mom of multiple kids. It can be difficult when your attention and time are divided, and in 2016 Kim shared how she stopped breastfeeding her second child, Saint, pretty early as she worried her oldest, North, was feeling left out.
It just goes to show there are a lot of reasons why a mother may stop breastfeeding, and no reason should be judged.
"I just hit a breaking point," the star explains through tears, "and [I] said, 'I can't do this. It feels as though someone is slicing my nipples with glass.'"
The physical pain she experienced was challenging for Port, and so was the emotional pain, because reality wasn't lining up with Port's expectations. "I tried and tried and suffered from that self-imposed guilt from quitting that so many of us new moms suffer from," Port later wrote on her blog.
"For some reason, I told myself I wanted to make it to 6 months, but 5 months came and I really couldn't do it anymore. I was sacrificing too much of myself and it was only at the expense of me. It was at the encouragement of my husband that I finally decided to stop torturing myself and find an alternative route that would nourish Sonny just as beautifully," wrote Port.
Mamas, though it may feel like everybody around you is exclusively breastfeeding, remember that is not always reality, as these celebrity mothers show.
Whether you exclusively breastfeed, exclusively pump, supplement with formula or feed only formula, you are feeding your baby in the best way you can. That's what matters.
[A version of this post was originally published August 9, 2018. It has been updated.]