While motherhood is not exactly an easy journey, what makes it harder is the constant judgment that new mothers face. From how they are taking care of their babies to whether they are going back to work, there is constant scrutiny that can leave new moms feeling overwhelmed.

Among other things, it is the breast milk versus formula debate that rages on. For any new mother, their priority is to ensure their infants are all right — that they are getting sufficient food and nourishment.

New mother Addite Shirwaikar Malik shared a similar predicament when she gave birth recently, and worried about her baby’s health. Ultimately, she opted for a supplement for her baby, instead of breast milk.

Explaining her situation and her choice in an Instagram post, the actor wrote that mothers must “choose” their path. “There’s nothing greater than a mother’s instinct. I felt that my child wasn’t fulfilling his needs with just breast milk and hence I’m a mother that’s chosen supplementing. And trust me a lot of judgements may start with this….(sic)” she wrote alongside a picture of herself and her newborn, whose chunky fingers are visible.

Addite continued her post, saying that while she is aware her child will get antibodies via breast milk, “but with it if he needs more, why shall he stay hungry?”

She added that she is simply “making this process of motherhood happier”.

“Let him have formula which is slightly heavier, keeps him sleeping for a few hours as he doesn’t cry out in hunger and that’s what suits me. I’m less worried about what happens if I have to step out ever for a few hours of work, I’m less worried about whether my child’s stomach is full or not.”

Agreeing with her, motherhood and lifestyle blogger Harpreet Suri told indianexpress.com that parenting is complicated. And that while the society expects mothers to breastfeed, “formula is not evil”. “In fact, sometimes it can be a tool to support breastfeeding — by supplementing newborns that have lost a risky amount of weight, by supplementing the milk supply of mothers, by allowing working mothers who can’t pump enough milk for all their hours of work to keep breastfeeding as long as they would like.”

Suri said she had had to formula-feed her kids. For her son had started to develop “symptoms of lactose intolerance” weeks after his birth, and the pediatrician advised on stopping breastfeeding. She, however, “continued to breastfeed, because [I thought] ‘what will people think?’”

Her daughter was born with a protein allergy, and she was “advised against breastfeeding yet again”.

“This time, I realised I had to do what works for me instead of basing my life decisions on what the society thinks,” Suri shared, adding that because she had been producing a lot of milk, she got into “milk donation“.

“When we demonise formula, we also run the risk of shaming women who, for a good reason, choose not to breastfeed. There are many other ways besides breastfeeding to help babies grow and be healthy. So, if breastfeeding is not working for you, resort to a combination of feeding breast milk as well as formula,” she said.

Dr Seema Khanna, a consultant nutritionist, had previously told this outlet that formula milk is manufactured and regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and contains lots of nutrients to match the breastfeed. “A family member or caretaker can feed your baby when the mother is not available. A mother can regulate the amount of milk consumed by the baby during each feed. The gap can be more as compared to breastfed infants, the tummy remains filled for a longer period of time,” she had said.

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