In the first post of my 'Making Babies' series, I talked about motherhood & non-judgement -- Here I delve into the hot topic of breastfeeding and the freedom mothers need to feel surrounding this.
It wasn't until my 38th week doctor's appointment that a medical professional actually asked me if I wanted to breastfeed.
I was caught off guard. I told her she was the first person to ask me that, everyone else just assumed I was. I wanted to hug her.
Until this point, it was presented as if breastfeeding is the only option and I have been given tons of resources to help me achieve this ultimate goal of womanhood.
I have been referred to classes on breastfeeding, videos on breastfeeding, given pamphlet after pamphlet of the benefits & how to find people who can come over to my house to help me breastfeed, told that nurses would come into the hospital room after I delivered and show me how to breastfeed, taught that a great latch is the key, you need this this and that, get a breast pump so you can get milked even when you aren't breastfeeding, and get special bags to store this milk. Do this every two to three hours for months. You must. Don't complain. Its going to hurt. You might need to go to special clinics or join support groups because its so hard to do.
Make sure you don't confuse your baby by giving them breast AND bottle or you're going to ruin their lives. Always be available, never rely on someone else to feed your child. If this bothers you, you are a sub par woman.
Basically, you must breastfeed or you are not a good mother.
I understand that there are fantastic nutrients and immunity boosting magic in breast milk. Breast is best, I get it. Please relax.
I will give breastfeeding my solid effort, but am not going to stress or freak out if I can't sometimes. I will also supplement with formula if I see fit, thank you very much.
There are barely any resources talking about combining both breast feeding and formula feeding because this is such a controversial subject that the concept of doing both simultaneously is just totally groundbreaking (?), or women are scared to talk about it.
Maybe it's just my limited personal experience, but I've had friends feel way too much pressure to follow some magic "right way" of doing this and end up feeling like absolute failures when they can't. I've heard stories of women who suffer anxiety and depression and feel terrible for not being able to breastfeed.
Some women can't, some women can, some women want to and some don't. It's not really anyone else's concern.
Here's a little reminder to those non-asking-breastfeeding-enforcer-people and something I've been wanting to say and something I hope all women feel they have the right to say or at least think:
They're my breasts & my baby & my damn decision!
That felt really good even just to type :)
I'm literally hiding formula in my cupboard and have been too embarrassed to tell anyone but a few close friends that I'm doing so for fear of being ostracized by the breastfeeding police. It's my emergency sanity formula, OK? Sheesh. I may never use it, but I'd like to have that option.
Please don't let anyone pressure you into doing anything you don't want to do. Don't agonize over not being able to breastfeed if that is your struggle, don't beat yourself up for it.
Try your best, learn, study the master techniques and apply them. Check out this website for awesome tips & tricks. Breastfeeding can be really tough (as I'm currently learning) so take advantage of all the resources available - youtube has great videos, there are books, public nurses, and private consultations to guide you. For me, personally, just having some sanity formula waiting just in case brings me so much stress relief -- and to me that means a better mom.
A nurse told me "Look, people are going to tell you so much differing advice. You have to just pick and chose what works best for you & your baby." Amen, sister.
And to the "breastfeeding is the only way" or the "formula feeding all the way" people: Please just worry about your own personal life, and boobs, and stop pressuring or judging others.
Next up in my Making Babies blog posts I'll be talking about some medical interventions that may not be as necessary as they are presented...