There seems to be awareness days for a LOT of hot topics these days, including breastfeeding. In fact, breastfeeding awareness has an entire MONTH now you guys… August.
When our parents were growing up, breastfeeding was taboo and people were not supportive of nursing moms, especially in public. So awareness was necessary so that the SHAME WOULD STOP. But as time has passed, it feels like it is now shameful to NOT breastfeed. Kind of similar to how we all grew up sleeping on our tummy and now “Back is Best.” The pendulum just loves to swing back and forth.
Since I have yet to see any sort of FORMULA Awareness anything, I thought I would use my little voice to bring awareness to how this “Breast is Best” culture feels to a girl who is not able to breastfeed by creating my own Formula Awareness Post.
The way I perceive breastfeeding in our American culture right now is that you do everything in your power to make it work and if you can’t, you “failed.” EVEN IF YOU PUMP 24/7… Your baby MUST ONLY drink breast milk. And no one mention the “F” word. If you have to supplement at all, you make sure to follow up with “BUT my baby is still getting X mL of breast milk every day…” like we owe people an explanation and reassurance about something that is really none of their business. Did you know that “How is he/she nursing?” is the most common question I got after every delivery? This is innocent enough but put a tremendous amount of pressure on me to “succeed”, whatever that means.
Women these days LOVE to talk about how long they breastfed their baby. It is like a badge of honor AND for someone going through the hormone crash and all the complications with breastfeeding, it doesn’t feel good to be on the other side. You don’t see anyone else posting about how long they bottle fed, right? Let’s be honest, we are not going to send our kiddos to kindergarten and have to check a box on if they were formula or breastfed. In fact, I didn’t even know I was formula fed until I was having a baby of my own.
So how does it feel when you have to stop nursing against your wishes? Horrible. We thought I had postpartum depression from all the crying and emotions pumping through my body but 98% of those feelings were directly related to stress regarding feeding my babies. Logan sat me down one morning and said I know what you want… but we need to decide what is best for the entire family. (I had a 4 and 2 year old that were getting ZERO attention as I fed/pumped/supplemented each feeding. ) Once we were able to get over the hump of weaning and my milk drying up (which made for plenty of crying in the shower sessions) I started to enjoy my baby SO MUCH MORE. I still had hormones, but the anxiety from how much is he getting and is he gaining weight was gone! I also was able to delegate the 12am bottle to Logan and get a longer stretch of sleep. AND no pump & dump here! I was able to eat and drink whatever I wished.
So lets talk for a minute about how to change the conversation to “FED IS BEST.” THIS is a great article detailing the pressure society puts on women to breastfeed that really struck a chord with me and introduced me to the “Fed is Best” campaign.
‘Last year Dr. Christie Del Castillo-Hegyi, an emergency-room physician in Arkansas, founded Fed Is Best. The organization, run by a group of doctors, nurses and mothers, raises awareness of feeding options in order to inform mothers on under-recognized risks of exclusive breastfeeding, ranging from jaundice to starvation. She would know. Several years ago, in her quest to exclusively breastfeed, she nearly starved her infant son to death. Some of the mothers who work with Fed Is Best have had similar experiences, in a few cases leading to their babies’ death. They are determined to keep such tragedy from striking others. “If you have leaders telling you this is what’s best, it becomes ideology, policy, identity,” says Del Castillo-Hegyi.’
If your baby latches and your supply is good and your baby gains weight, you are very lucky! Please know that this is NOT THE CASE for everyone. In fact, the more I have opened up about our struggles, the more I have found that I am NOT alone in this. You know what is also interesting? I have several friends who were able to breastfeed but just flat out didn’t enjoy it and felt guilty about THAT. Why do they feel pressure to do something they HATE for months and months and months? Could they be allowed to just PREFER bottle feeding? (GASP!) Is that a sin?
So let’s stop trying to one-up each other. Let’s support the working Mom who chooses to pump at work or the SAHM who has crazy kids running around and needs the freedom of the bottle for her sanity or the woman who truly LOVES to breastfeed and everything clicked and worked for her. We each have our own journey and we need to just allow each other to have the freedom to not only do what’s best for our family, but not have to explain WHY. No one’s business! Truly.
God made YOU… SPECIFICALLY YOU to be the PERFECT Mom for your baby. If you love them fiercely, feed them, and do the best you can… You are a RAGING SUCCESS! And to all my FORMULA MAMAS OUT THERE – HATS OFF TO YOU!!! You are AMAZING and do not let ANYONE make you feel otherwise because truly, FED IS BEST!