Having a baby is obviously a wonderful time for a family, but there is a lot of stress involved. One of the biggest sources of stress for a new mom is other people's unwelcome opinions on how she should raise her child.
It seems like everyone and anyone who comes in contact with a new mom has something to say, and while they may mean well, it gets really frustrating really fast.
Meghan Koziel was having a baby, and she had heard from friends that there is often a lot of criticism and "formula shaming" from the hospital staff. They told her that they were encouraged to breast feed, even though they were unable to do so.
The problem for Koziel was that just a few years earlier she had to have a double mastectomy. In 2015, Koziel was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer, and while her breasts have been reconstructed, they are not capable of producing milk.
She was worried about having to explain to all of the nurses and lactation experts that her friends warned her about, so she decided to make something to save her the hassle.
"It took me a while to come up with the perfect poem that wasn't too aggressive, but was also direct enough to get the point across," Koziel said in an interview with TODAY Parents. "I simply made the banner as a subtle visual for the hospital staff who may not be entirely aware of my complex medical history."
The banner hung above her hospital bed and read: "No Breastfeeding Zone. Though breastfeeding is a very special task, please be aware before you ask. Our miracle baby will be formula fed, and it will not affect her future ahead. This mommy is a survivor."
Koziel was relieved when she realized the banner was working.
"Whenever someone would come in, their eyes would go up to read the banner first, then they were aware of my history and continued what they had to say," she said. "I experienced no surprise visits from lactation counselors, and I had no staff members try to push their views on formula feeding onto me. It was received in a positive fashion and I didn't have to repeat my story a kazillion times."
But it was when she posted the photo to Instagram that she realized that her concerns over formula shaming weren't done yet.
There was a lot of debate in the comments over why Koziel didn't opt for donated breast milk instead of store-bought formula.
But Koziel answered the critics by explaining that donor milk is not covered by insurance, which means she'd have to pay $3 an ounce, making it far too expensive for her and her child.
Kozeiel responded to a lot of the shammers, clarifying once again that it's not that she didn't want to breastfeed, but that it was literally impossible for her to do so.
"I had cancer at age 26... and I was having a baby who would reflexively be turning her head to my chest in attempt to breastfeed even though my body is incapable of doing that for her — it's heartbreaking," Koziel shared. "Sure, if I had the parts, I would have at least tried to breastfeed, but I am physically unable."
However, she maintains that based on her research she was perfectly comfortable using formula for her child, and loves how it's going now.
Koziel and her daughter Kendra Jane are doing great, and it's so nice that she was able to take a stand and remind people that just because they think something is the right way to do it, doesn't mean that it works for everyone.