I couldn’t stop coming up with reasons why someone either couldn’t breastfeed or suffered financially for doing so, despite it being ‘free’ and ‘natural’, so that probably tells you that there are many, many more reasons why breastfeeding isn’t free, no matter what some asshole mutters behind your back in the formula aisle.

Having both breastfed and formula-fed Momo, I got it from both sides on this one – you’re both shamed (subtly and overtly) for formula feeding, or (also subtly or overtly) pushed out of public spaces, careers, and social events for breastfeeding. People love to shame parents for all of their choices, women especially, and with the formula shortage going on right now in the States, there’s plenty of opportunity for it. Now, everyone with a Facebook account feels entitled to snipe off a quick ‘that’s what you get for not breastfeeding’ and go on with their day, feeling a momentary rush of endorphins for getting to be Judgey McAlwaysright.

‘Breastfeeding is free’ is also a statement of desire, and ignores the worth of the work that goes into breastfeeding. The calories it takes to sustain milk production, the time to form that bond (cluster feeding is no joke), the impact it makes on the person’s career and future earning prospects. It assumes that the breastfeeding relationship is healthy, largely pain-free, and supported. And it wants all of that labour to be made invisible, so it can be bundled back into ‘a mother’s duty’, relegating her to the controllable private sphere of home and family.

Every child needs to eat, and we are blessed with a variety of safe, usually accessible food options – options that our not-so-distant ancestors, who lost fully half of their children to now-preventable conditions, would have called a miracle. When people snidely comment ‘what did people do before formula?’, the answer is bury their children, statistically.

I’ll always support any method of feeding that results in a living baby. I don’t know, I feel like that’s the baseline, here. And if you’re currently affected by the formula shortage, I’m so sorry – I hope the shortage is over soon. No one should have to worry about how to feed their babies.