15/10/2014 11:21 BST | Updated 20/05/2015 06:12 BST

Mum Who Had Double Mastectomy Attacked For Not Breastfeeding Her Baby


A new mum who had a double mastectomy has hit back after she was criticised for not breastfeeding her baby .

Emily Wax-Thibodeaux, from Washington, D.C., said an 'aggressive band of well-intentioned strangers' insisted 'breast was best' and even after she told them about her battle with cancer, one suggested she could deliver milk through her armpits.

Emily was 32 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer and had her breasts removed.

She had reconstructive surgery but was unable to breastfeed her son, Lincoln, when he was born five years later, so fed him formula milk.

Despite this, Emily said she felt enormous pressure from other mums and nurses to do so.

The first instance occurred in the hospital the day her son was born.

Even after the new mother told nurses that she was going to use formula, they insisted: "You really should breastfeed."

Writing in the Washington Post, Emily recalled: "So, holding my day-old newborn on what was one of the most blissful days of my life, I had to tell the aggressive band of well-intentioned strangers my whole cancer saga."

And one nurse told her: "It may come out anyway, or through your armpits."

In another example, while giving her then-three-month-old formula at a baby-and-me yoga class, one of the other mothers gave her the unsolicited advice: "You know, breastfeeding is optimal."

And a Facebook friend commented on one of her husband's photos, which showed him giving Lincoln a bottle: "So you're not breastfeeding? It's better you know?"

When Emily responded that formula was perfectly fine she said the criticism continued – and one friend even offered to give her some of her own breast milk that she had frozen.

Emily said: "The irony, of course, is that women who breastfed in the 1970s say they were judged for being crunchy Earth mothers by those who gave the bottle.

"Now they are considered mainstream and judging formula feeders. Can't we all just get along?"

Emily added: "I think that women who have made the difficult decision to have bilateral mastectomies have already grieved the loss of not being able to breast feed.

"No group should make a woman feel guilty about the decisions she made . . . or make her feel inadequate about not being able to lactate."

Reactions to her article have been mostly positive, with one fellow parent calling it a 'powerful' story.

Another person commented: "Thank heaven people are finally coming to their senses about breastfeeding. Women my age have put up with listening to this bunkum about the superiority of breast feeding for 40 years and it's really getting old."