Watch: Bette Midler addresses backlash for 'try breastfeeding' tweet
Bette Midler has responded to a backlash she received after urging mums to "try breastfeeding" amid the baby formula shortage in the US.
The 76-year-old Beaches star weighed in on America's baby formula shortage last week, responding to a tweet about the issue by writing: "TRY BREASTFEEDING! It's free and available on demand."
Her response prompted criticism from some parents, with many pointing out that some mothers are unable to breastfeed.
While some don’t produce enough milk to feed their babies and must supplement it with formula, others have infants experiencing trouble latching, are raising an adopted baby or surrogate baby, while many need to use formula to balance work with feeding their baby.
Of course, other mums also take the decision that breastfeeding is not right for them.
"First, there are a million reasons why some women can't nurse at all, or can't nurse full time & supplement with formula," author and former gymnast, Jennifer Sey wrote.
"Second, women don't even need a 'reason'. She can decide not to just because she doesn't want to. Period."
“There are a 1,000 reasons why this isn’t possible for all mums and babies,” another user agreed.
This is profoundly insensitive.
First, there are a million reasons why some women can't nurse at all, or can't nurse full time & supplement with formula.
Second, women don't even need a "reason". She can decide not to just because she doesn't want to. Period.
— Jennifer Sey (@JenniferSey) May 13, 2022
"Bette, respectfully, this is a very bad take," another user commented. "I had twins. I didn’t produce enough milk for both. Without formula, I would have had to have chosen which one got to eat. To say nothing of kids that get separated from the birth mothers very young."
"No. Please – we all love you, but delete this now," another user commented. "There are soooooooo many reasons a woman cannot or chooses not to breastfeed. This sentiment is not helping the mothers trying to keep their babies from starving right now."
“Bette – do better,” another user added. “Breastfeeding doesn’t work for all women. It’s really hard work. Not all kids latch on. Some are allergic. For adopted kids. For premature kids. For working mothers who don’t get breaks to pump, or a fridge to store it in, or a room for privacy.”
"I love you Bette but this is totally tone deaf," another tweet reads. "My mother was unable to breastfeed me and my brothers, she couldn’t produce enough milk. We’d have starved without formula. Not every parent is the birth parent, what do you propose adoptive parents do?"
People are piling on because of former tweet. No shame if you can’t breastfeed, but if you can & are somehow convinced that your own milk isn’t as good as a “scientifically researched product”, that’s something else again. The monopoly news is news to me, tho, no lie. #WETNURSES
— bettemidler (@BetteMidler) May 13, 2022
Some Twitter users did speak out in defence of the views of the Hocus Pocus actor, however.
"So many people immediately triggered when all she said was TRY," one user wrote. "Some women don't ever even try. If some did decide to try and it worked, then maybe that would free up some formula for those that truly need it."
"Nothing wrong with encouragement to try," added another.
"Bet [sic] Milder was just making a suggesting [sic]. She didn't say anyone has to do anything," a third added.
Midler has since addressed the criticism, returning to Twitter to tweet: "People are piling on because of (my) former tweet. No shame if you can't breastfeed, but if you can and are somehow convinced that your own milk isn't as good as a 'scientifically researched product', that's something else again."
TRY BREASTFEEEDING! It’s free and available on demand. https://t.co/15xetgg1ps
— bettemidler (@BetteMidler) May 13, 2022
The furore comes after US president Joe Biden announced several actions his administration is taking to help alleviate a shortage of infant formula that has left desperate parents searching for supplies across the country.
The shortage has occurred following supply chain issues and worsened in February after a recall of formula by Abbott, the nation’s largest manufacturer of formula.