We were all raised (or maybe mainly women) in regards to feeding our babies, that “breast is best.” And that breastfeeding is the way to bond with your baby and is just what women are expected to do. Everyone tells women throughout their pregnancy that breastfeeding is difficult, don’t give up, it’s painful, your nipples and breast are gonna turn into mush and so on.
But what “they” don’t tell you is that it is also O K A Y to decide not to breastfeed. It is okay!!!
There are a few different ways to feed your baby that unless you’ve been there you don’t really know. There’s exclusively breastfeeding, exclusively pumping, a little bit of both, breastfeeding and supplementing with formula, and strictly formula feeding.
Breastfeeding is a difficult journey for many reasons.
Before I left the hospital the lactation consultant told me not to start pumping until the baby was 4 weeks. This way the baby could establish a good relationship with the nipple. She also said don’t pump and nurse because you’ll create an oversupply. It was easy in the hospital, but once I got home breastfeeding around the clock was making me crazy. The baby was cluster feeding (eating non-stop) and was basically always on my boob. I would feed him for 30 minutes, go pee, and he was hungry again. My husband also couldn’t help me with late night feedings because he has no tits! I was so exhausted and upset that I couldn’t sit down to paint, shower long enough, or go see a friend without worrying about the next time my baby would be hungry. So my husband introduced the idea of pumping now instead of waiting. We knew it might mean the baby would refuse my nipple and only feed on the bottle. I BAWLED crying because I felt like such a failure. As a woman and a mom. But why was I crying?? Because now I could never bond with my baby without him being at my breast? Because I hated to admit it was too hard for me? Because I put my mental health first? Or because society has told me and all the other women “breast is best” and “don’t give up no matter how much it hurts!”?
My baby is still getting the same. exact. milk. THE SAME MILK.
Anyway, I make the point because I chose to primarily pump.
This means a decrease in my supply (because baby’s saliva has much to do with our production although it still IS possible to exclusively pump). Thos also means I will have this pump attached to me for 15 minutes every 2-3 hours EVERY day, yes at work too. I also had to change my diet and take supplements. And I make the sacrifice of my baby rejecting my breast because he is used to the bottle.
Do you know how hard it is to go back to school and work while trying to breastfeed? You end up breastfeeding in your car or for in my instance a small crowded office in a restaurant. Then you have to wash the pump pieces and store them. How long will you be out? Will it still be good by the time you get home? How many breaks will you need to take? This is what can make a lot of moms go through depression because they are unable to fulfill their own needs due to feeling unable to leave their baby’s side. (And yes we love our babies and know our responsibilities, but mom’s schedules still matter too.)
I am not a bad mom for making the decision to primarily pump instead of breastfeeding.
Neither is the mom who exclusively breastfeeds and never leaves her baby’s side.
Neither is the mom who supplements with formula because she doesn’t make enough milk.
And neither is the woman who chooses to strictly formula feed. Yes, we all know breastmilk and formula are not exactly the same.
But maybe she doesn’t have enough milk.
Maybe she works too much.
Maybe she simply doesn’t want to.
Let’s stop shaming moms who formula feed and mind our f*cking business.
Either way, breast is not best. FED is best.