After breastfeeding their first child longer than average, one overwhelmed mom is ready for a second baby … and ready to give formula a try. However, her partner says that’s a deal-breaker.

Old White Truck/Flickr

Writing on Mumsnet under the username Missy450, the mom explained that her mention of formula-feeding their second child turned into an argument with her partner:

He replied he wouldn’t want another one if I was going to formula feed. This then turned into a big argument which when we got to the bottom of it, what he really meant was he wouldn’t want another baby if even before I’ve got pregnant, I had decided to formula feed I.e. not wanting the best for our baby without even trying.

Far from being opposed to breastfeeding, the mom had breastfed with her first child and was willing to try with the second. But she was also being practical, believing that it would be more difficult to breastfeed a newborn while caring for a toddler.

Because her partner is a nutritionist, breastfeeding is very important to him. However, his total refusal to have a formula-fed baby left the mom angry and frustrated. She wrote:

[H]e’s basically saying, the babies [sic] life isn’t worth as much if he/she is formula fed, right?

While some felt that she was overstating things with her last line, many of those who responded agreed that she was right to be angry:

Horrified at this and the responses. Of course [breastfeeding] is good if and if and if. But it’s your body. It’s your physical breasts. It’s your energy you are giving over. It’s your sleepless nights and mastitis. Your choice. He gets to nod and agree.

Some commenters suspected his motivation for opposing bottle-feeding weren’t solely about nutrition:

He’s an idiot. The method of feeding is no reason as to whether you have another baby or not. He probably doesn’t want to help out with feeds, particularly in the night!

And others found the ultimatum of “no breast, no baby” to be too controlling:

Your husband saying that you must agree to use your body and your breasts in a manner he deems best is utterly creepy. All the more so when he is elevating this issue to the same level of importance as whether to have another child or not. He is being completely disproportionate and behaving very inappropriately.

More than a few felt that the person who makes the ultimate decision about breastfeeding is the person with the breasts.

I am 100% that any bloke has no effing say in this AT ALL.

Because they’re not the ones with cracked, bleeding nips and sobbing in to their phone screen at 4am, because the baby is cluster feeding and you haven’t slept in 21 days.

However, some commenters thought the dad’s position was reasonable and urged the mom to commit to breastfeeding her second child:

I know people will say your body your choice, but your [husband] does have a point. Why don’t you try? It would be better from that position, rather than immediately ruling it out.

There are always things which are hard as a parent. Does that mean we should always take the easy rather than best option?

Another echoed what they wrote:

I think he has a point … Saying you don’t want to even try to breastfeed the second is a bit like saying you can’t be bothered, which implies you’re less committed. You did it once why not try to do it next time? It sounds like you’re just thinking of what’s easiest for you.

And just as those defending the mom felt that she had the final say because it was her body, defenders of the father had a similar argument:

Your body, yes. His sperm too. You have no entitlement to it. He can place whatever conditions he wants on his sperm. You can place any conditions you want on your breasts. If you want him to respect your decision you have to start by respecting his.

A few focused on the mom’s concerns about breastfeeding while caring for a toddler:

[Breastfeeding] is not harder with a toddler — your newborn still has to feed. If anything, the extra work of making bottles, washing them, sterilizing them would be more time consuming that [sic] breastfeeding.

Though this turned into an argument about the relative ease of each feeding method:

Trust me, formula feeding with an older toddler is a perfectly feasible plan. I’m always struck by feeding threads on here where breastfeeding women are at pains to describe how much hard work formula feeding is; strangely you don’t tend to see formula feeding parents actually saying that…

However, the most insightful commenters might have been those who believed the argument pointed to other problems in the relationship. As one commenter noted, the fact that the dad put his willingness to have another child in such terms is a bad sign:

Speaking for myself, I wouldn’t have a second child with someone who cared so little about whether or not it came into the world that they were willing to hold me to ransom like this. As soon as he said it it would rule it out for me.

And a few pointed out that the argument could be a way for her partner to avoid telling the truth — that he doesn’t want another baby at all. As one commenter wrote:

“It’s like saying, ‘We can get a dog, but it will have to be on [expensive] food and you’ll have to do all the walking and poop lifting and pay the vet bills,’ when actually what they mean is, ‘I don’t want a dog but I’m too chicken to say it.'”

Leave a comment

We are excited to announce Dearly has joined forces with Mama’s Uncut. Helping Mom’s across the United States answer questions on life’s big challenges.