Tropical storm Harvey continues to rip through Houston, leveling homes, stranding families, and leaving little but devastation in its wake.
The ferocity of the hurricane has left many scrambling for the bare necessities to get by — and for some mothers, access to food for their babies is in jeopardy.
Frenzied mothers have taken to social media, namely Facebook, to make desperate pleas to kind-heartened internet users to donate formula, diapers, and other basics vital to keeping their babies alive.
Please help us help Houston Mothers in need! If you would like to donate items directly such as diapers, wipes, baby…
Mother in need of formula for her 3 month old!!! 2221 Greens Rd Houston tx 77032
But these panicked moms are being hit with a salvo of insults from social media “formula shamers” — those who rebuke the practice of feeding children formula over breast milk.
Facebook user Chasity Boatman and Texas mom, owner of the page “Every Child is a Blessing: The Journey Through My Pregnancy,” shed light on the attacks in a lengthy post Tuesday:
"I breastfed both of my babies. With my blog, I help women through their breastfeeding struggles and provide them with…
Boatman, an avid breastfeeder, observed certain Facebook users commenting on posts asking for formula donations that discouraged and judged the mothers for turning to formula, even in these dire straights.
A screenshot obtained by Dearly shows one user blaming in-need mothers for not breastfeeding their child from the beginning:Screenshot/Courtesy of Every Child is a Blessing Screenshot/Courtesy of Every Child is a Blessing
After seeing the status, Boatman couldn’t help but speak to her audience of 30,000 about the harsh realities and cruelty of formula shaming.
She wrote in her status update that she felt “disgusted” at the lack of solidarity between mothers in a time where support in all forms is integral for survival.
She spoke directly to those who wished to “shame” mothers, pulling no punches in her rebuttal:
“Don’t you dare tell these women they’re feeding their babies poison. Don’t you dare tell these women they should have tried harder and they wouldn’t be in this position with a flood. Don’t you dare tell these women that you hope this taught them a lesson.”
Boatman spoke candidly to Dearly, taking a hard line with those who want to lambaste mothers affected by the storm:
“As mothers, we all do the best we can for our families. We all love our children. For some women, giving their children formula was a necessity due to latching issues, postpartum mental health, or going back to work. I’m contacted by a lot of women who deal with guilt from not being able to make breastfeeding work. But being a mother who gives your children formula doesn’t make you a bad mother. It doesn’t make you less of a mother.”
She added that raising a child is a difficult task, and judgment and ridicule only hurt:
“Motherhood is already hard enough without us judging one another, and it’s not appropriate to shame any mother during a disaster who is trying to do her best to keep her baby alive. Mothers are making public posts on Facebook begging for formula. All that we, as fellow mothers, should care about is doing what we can to ensure that these mothers have the necessities that they need to keep their babies alive.
Even local mothers are repulsed by the behavior of the few. Texas mother of four, Sarah Henry, told Dearly:
“It truly hurts my heart to imagine that anyone would stoop so low to shame a mother for formula feeding her baby ever, really, but in these circumstances? I hardly have words. There is absolutely zero excuse for that.”
We are Houston ❤️ #texasstrong
When pressed on how she would behave in a similar situation, Henry imagined she’d be in shambles:
“It would have been my worst nightmare. To be in an already terrifying situation like a hurricane with catastrophic flooding and THEN wonder whether I would be able to locate food for my baby? It would be too much to bear. I would have been a basket case.”
Instead, Boatman stressed that generosity, rather than condemnation, is the best way to send support.
She suggested donating to Houston area relief effort “A Mother’s Sanctuary,” which provides assistance to mothers in the areas affected by the storm. Formula donations can be sent to 26134 Cypresswood Drive, Spring, TX 77373.
As the topical storm continues to hammer down on Texas, hope — and the generosity of strangers around the country — remain.
To Boatman, that hope is enough.