Breastfeeding is the "gun-control-in-the-bible-belt" topic of parenting...and I am not here to offend anyone.
But it's World Breastfeeding Week and I have alluded to my strong feelings about breastfeeding on the blog before.
So here we are! Here's my story..
I, myself was nursed until I was 6 months old. In the words of my mom: "There was no fuss...no right or wrong way...you just did it". No obsessive weekly weighing of babies..no expectations...I am not sure if it was the right way, but certainly a lot more simple than it is today.
I decided very early on in my pregnancy that I wanted to breastfeed. A. was very supportive for a number of reasons...but the main one: it's cheap. In it's purest form: free.
I listened attentively during my pre-natal class's session on breastfeeding...bought the pretty nursing pillow, the bras and the breastpump...ready to go, I was.
Then I had Emma...who promptly lost 9% of her birth weight in the first day (which I come to find out now was probably because I had a bolus of fluids via IV prior to getting an epidural, which can often inflate a baby's birth weight). Lost a few extra ounces the next...and so we were well over the "cut off" for no more weight loss than 10% of baby's birth weight...prior to discharge.
We had to stay an extra night in the hospital. I was so miserable.
I remember being told by the lactation consultant, at the time, that there was no way a doctor was going to let me go home with a baby that had lost that much weight.
I am not sure if she thought that was helpful.
But it really wasn't.
It planted this unhappy little seed of self-doubt.
Then when I asked a nurse how frequently a baby should breastfeed, she responded every three hours or so (HA!!!!!!! I don't even remember when Emma stopped nursing every 1-2 hours).
..and so I headed into this downward spiral of misinformation and doubt.
|The nursing pillow was mostly helpful for tummy and nap times.|
Long story short...breastfeeding for me was like running a marathon.
Add a dash of post-partum depression and I had serious thoughts of switching to formula full-time (we already had done some supplementation with formula).
But breastfeeding my baby was my goal. So kept on going..finding ways to meet my goal.
But what about the moms that didn't meet their breastfeeding goal? These moms may not have met that goal..but they probably met other goals in their life. Goals that they decided were more appropriate at that time. (I won't even list any of the possibilities....because I am sure there are a lot of different reasons.)
Here's the next part of my story...how I became really aware of this really uncomfortable rhetoric. This push and pull between mamas that breastfeed and then can't anymore (for whatever reason) and this impression of judgement.
When a mama decides not to breastfeed or decides to stop breastfeeding you often hear these words..."well my baby had formula and he/she is fine. He/she is smart. He/she is healthy..."
When I hear that...it makes me feel so deflated.
These mamas respond this way because of fear and often anger. Fear of judgement....from others...from moms...from me! Possibly anger that they received judgement...or perceived judgement.
Of course your baby is fine/smart/healthy and they had formula! Why wouldn't they be?
I think in the end...we as moms sometimes think that just because one mom has a certain goal...it infers that she thinks we should all have that same goal. And it really shouldn't be that way. Everyone should decide their own goal.
|My nursling shortly after her first birthday|
Let me fill you in on a little secret......
I HAVE ABSOLUTELY NEVER HAD A GOAL TO RUN A MARATHON!
I have several friends that have run a marathon.
Does that mean I infer, that they want me to run a marathon?
For a variety of reasons...but when it comes down to it...it's just not going to work for me.
I will never run a marathon....and I am ok with that!
I don't have to defend my lack of marathon-running-ness.
But here's the thing....let's say I did want to run a marathon....and I was having a lot of trouble....but still really wanted to.....do you think I would be ok if my friends came to me and said: "Ya know what Katie? maybe you shouldn't run this marathon after all...I know you wanted to...but...it doesn't seem to be working out....so-and-so hasn't run a marathon and they are fine...".
It probably wouldn't make you feel too good about yourself...and in the end...if you stopped...it was because someone was influencing your confidence to make that goal.
And that's never a good position to be in.
(Do ya get what I am saying here?)
Take home msg: If you want to breastfeed...have a goal. Surround yourself with people that are supportive of your goal. Don't let the seeds of doubt overtake you...and if you change your goal to one that doesn't include breastfeeding...don't feel the need to defend your new goal...cuz maybe you decided to learn how to race a bike instead of a run marathon...and damn it...that is hard too!
Feeding babies is hard work. Regardless of our method.
Happy World Breastfeeding Week to all the moms, that nursed a baby with milk of any kind....and be kind to all the moms and their choices.
(p.s. thanks to my supportive people....especially A. cuz he encouraged me to make my own decisions about my body.)