In honor of world breastfeeding week, I wanted to share some thoughts on breastfeeding. I will start off by saying that I am (obviously?) very much in favor of nursing. It creates a wonderful mother-child bond and is really the best start you can give your child.
I am not going to bore you with all the statistics on how "breast is best" for your child, rather I'd like to focus on another aspect of breastfeeding-tolerance. Before you say, "huh?" let me explain.
Breastfeeding, like childbirth, tends to bring out the worst in people when they meet people who disagree with their take on things. Those who want an intervention free birth are livid that there are woman who would want an elective cesarean. Women who want an epidural before even getting to the hospital think women who want natural childbirth are crunchy, masochists and weird.
The same goes with breastfeeding. There are moms who exclusively breastfeed until their child is two who think mothers who don't are feeding their children poison when they give them a bottle of formula.
There are mothers who struggled with breastfeeding or never tried and feel very happy bottle-feeding their child.
I think every woman should be allowed to make her own choices without facing the wrath of other mommies who are judging her. I also think, though, that woman should have all the information before making these decisions. Read up on breastfeeding, speak with lactation consultants and/or other women who have successfully breastfed before you decide it is not for you. Most importantly don't judge.
I have been on both sides of this equation when it came to breastfeeding. I struggled for literally months with my oldest to breastfeed. Due to Down Syndrome, he had low muscle tone and just never got the hang of it. I spent hours with lactation consultants, pumped and took medications and teas to bring up my milk supply. I pumped milk for six long months before I felt like I couldn't do it anymore. I felt very conflicted about giving him formula, especially when he seemed to be allergic to it and projectile vomitted everything until we found him a (super expensive) special formula he could tolerate. I realized then that breastfeeding is not as simple as some had said it would be.
With my daughter A, on the other hand, I had no trouble at all. She latched on and nursed beautifully right away. In fact she never even took a bottle because she refused to drink from it, even if it was my expressed milk. I nursed both A and M for over a year and definitely incurred my quota of comments of "You're still breastfeeding?" or looks when I would breastfeed discretely in public. I realized then that breastfeeding is not as difficult as others had said it would be
My personal experience and talking to others has taught me not to be so quick to judge and condemn others for the way they choose to feed and/or mother their children.
So in honor of breastfeeding week, take advantage of some of the great information on breastfeeding that is available on the Internet. Then embrace what you are doing and respect the choices that others make.
PS: Please excuse any typos or grammatical errors. I currently have 3 children jumping on me as I attempt to finish my train of thought.