Disclaimer: Before I begin this post, I already can imagine the *eye rolls* as you read my title but please, keep in mind, this is my opinion from personal experience as a mother of 4. While I fully support breastfeeding, and those who CAN breastfeed, I felt like getting some things of my chest, if you will. With all of the breastfeeding politics going on so to speak, I felt this was the perfect time to do so especially as I am gearing up to the birth of my son.
There has been a lot of controversy lately in the BF’ing world, from the very famous Time magazine cover to Mayor Bloomberg’s decision to hide formula in hospitals. Here is the thing: they are YOUR boobs. Not the lactation specialists’. Not the pediatricians’. Not your husband’s. Not your mother-in-law’s. They are yours. Therefore, it’s YOUR choice what you do with them. No one should be making the decision for you. My heart hurts for those who feel the pressure to breastfeed, especially those who just can’t do it and for those who are miserable because they feel like if they don’t breastfeed, they are a bad mother. Well, let me tell you – you are far from it. You should never feel the need to Google “am I a failure for not breastfeeding?” because you aren’t.
I have 4 girls that are perfectly healthy and none of them were breastfed. Sure, they may have been for a day or so. And sure, we tried to make it work. But, it just didn’t; each time, it was a different reason. Yet they are no different than my many friends who breastfed. Yes, I understand breast milk is the best choice when it comes to feeding your baby; however, I don’t think it is right at all for a mother to feel pressure to breastfeed. It isn’t only “right” to breastfeed your child. You just need to feed them. Period. Breastfeeding, bottle feeding – whatever way you can. It can be very hard for a new, first-time mom to feel the pressure to breastfeed and if for some reason she can’t, even after all the help she gets, she still can’t do it. How do you think that mother would feel? I know I would feel awful, which is why I am totally against pressuring breastfeeding. If you can do it, more power to you. But don’t make those around you who can’t feel like bad moms because their milk supply may be insufficient or the newborn can’t tolerate her milk for health reasons.
Many mothers just can’t produce enough milk even after medications and going to extreme measures. Maybe they are just in too much pain. I don’t think you should ever feel like you’re letting your child down by not forking over the breast. I don’t think we should ever feel that pressure as a mother. As if we don’t feel enough pressure already. You aren’t wrong for not breastfeeding. You aren’t wrong if you didn’t even try and you just went straight to the bottle. Whatever your decision is, it’s your decision and that is all that matters. It’s your body. Your boobs. Your decision to be made.
I am a good mother. I do everything I can and more for my children. I didn’t breastfeed. Not for 4 weeks, not for 6 months and maybe not even 3 days. Breastfeeding your child should not be an obligation, but a mother’s choice. I am not trying to knock breastfeeding. Like I said, more power to you if you can do it. A serious fist pump in your honor. I am just trying to share with those who may feel pressure that it doesn’t mean you’re denying your child proper nutritional value by bottle-feeding. Sure, breast is best as they all say, but you shouldn’t receive negative comments because you can’t breastfeed or because you choose to bottle-feed your baby. It’s not right and it’s just not fair. We should all be on the same team here. We should just give support where support is needed, whether it’s in breastfeeding and bottle-feeding.
You may be surprised to hear that even after 4 non-breastfed children, I do plan to try once more and breastfeed my 5th. However, I can tell you, I won’t be feeling the pressure to do so if it’s just not meant to be. I can promise you, I won’t be bashing anyone. Including my breast.
Cheers to the breasts and to the bottles! Just remember, to follow your heart, listen to your body and know that whatever you decide is the best choice. As a mother you have to learn to just trust your instinct.
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Image: My daughter, a 34 weeker who had no choice but to bottle-feed.