Breast is best… but for who?

me and jocelynNow before all the breast feeding advocates get upset, please know that I am a huge supporter of breast feeding. I think that there are so many positive advantages to breastfeeding, however it needs to be a good fit for both mom and baby. For me, breastfeeding was not a good fit for anyone. I struggled with both my children and eventually threw in the towel after three months of frustration, tears and anger. Looking back it still bothers me that I had very little to no support from fellow mothers. As I mentioned in my article, Pregnant…let the judgment begin, I thought that I was entering this wonderful world of motherhood where we would all support each other through hardships. I was shocked when the challenges that came along with breastfeeding was half the battle. It was dealing with the constant negativity that came from other moms, that was so disheartening.

 

Have you ever noticed that one of the first questions any mother will ask you after you’ve given birth is ‘Are you breast feeding?’. For a new mother, this is so overwhelming. It’s bad enough that you are sleep deprived and recovering from the physical and emotional demands of giving birth, now you have to answer to a whole panel of other moms. I felt so much pressure to breastfeed that I honestly did it out of guilt. Maybe not at first, but after weeks of constantly getting asked if I was breastfeeding, I seriously was just doing it just so I wouldn’t have to answer ‘no’ to the dreaded question. It was horrible. I remember one night I was so exhausted and upset that I sent my husband to the Toys R US, five minutes before closing time, and demanded that he not come home without a breast pump.

I won’t get into the nitty gritty of all the problems I had, but I will say that breastfeeding was one of the hardest parts of those early months with a newborn. And pumping when you also have a two year old toddler, is just a side order of insanity. I wish I would have felt some sort of support from other moms. It seemed that everyone I talked to would tell me how ‘easy’ it was, or how it was such a ‘bonding’ experience. I must have been the mutant mommy, because neither of these words seemed to even remotely describe how I felt about breastfeeding.

When I would open up and share with other moms, I would get the most unhelpful comments and discouraging advice. ‘It’s not supposed to be easy’ or ‘You just have to stick with it’, or even better, ‘You don’t want your baby to be unhealthy, do you?’ Believe it or not, these are actual quotes. The comment that bothered me the most was when a so-called friend said to me, ‘Don’t you want what’s best for your baby?’ The comment brought tears to my eyes. I thought about how I had been forcing my cracked bleeding nipples into my child’s mouth while demanding, ‘Why won’t you just eat?’ Seriously…is this what was best for my baby? I can tell you now that it was not what was best for my baby, myself or my family. Now, for all you soon-to-be moms out there, don’t be discouraged, I know lots of mothers who didn’t struggle at all with breastfeeding. You just need to figure out what is best for YOU.

 

Looking back, I wish I would have never breastfed my daughter. I was miserable. I feel that I missed out on those precious moments and I can never get that time back. But what I can do, is be honest with other moms, so that they don’t feel guilted into doing ANYTHING that isn’t working for them. I am not embarrassed to tell other moms about my struggles, because what I needed to hear was something other than how easy breastfeeding  was. I think mothers should do what works best for them and their family, because after all a happy mom = happy household. If you can breastfeed and are happy doing so, that’s amazing. Any mom who is that dedicated deserves a pat on the back. If you need to formula feed, that’s great too. Boiling water, sterilizing bottles and mixing formula on a daily basis is also a lot of work. Seriously, we need to stop focusing on our differences as mothers, and redirect our energy to supporting and encouraging one another. Next time you visit a friend or an acquaintance who’s just given birth, instead of asking her if she is breastfeeding, why not ask her how she’s feeling. What better way to support another mom, by letting her decide what she needs or wants to share with you.


Comments

Breast is best… but for who? — 19 Comments

  1. You could be writing my story. I breastfed my first child for 3 weeks (yes, only 3 weeks) and we both hated every single minute of it. She didn’t latch, I was frustrated, she screamed, I got mastitis. I finally decided that my baby and I hating each other wasn’t the result I wanted, and the best thing I ever did was start her on the bottle. As far as I can tell she is thriving and did not suffer (she is 26 now!).

    I was told the same things you were, as well as “Did you consult a lactation specialist?” You know what? Nope. Feeding my child should not be that hard nor should it require the services of a specialist.

    • It’s so hard when you’re not getting the help that you need. All I wanted was to talk with someone about what I was going through without having that feeling of ‘guilt’ put on me. So glad you could share your story with us.

  2. Hello! I totally relate with what you said here. I ‘tried’ nursing both my children up until 3 months and finally decided I have had it! They won’t latch, its really hard and the milk is not coming to name a few problems I had. I did pumping for a while after and fed them my milk that way..it was always a struggle.. Eventually I introduced formula wto them and everyone’s been happy ever since.. anyways, found you at bloggy moms and liked your place. feel free to visit my place and connect with me in the social medias..If you don’t mind, I will leave all the links here :)

    http://momlessmom.com/

    http://www.facebook.com/momlessmom

    https://twitter.com/LuckyMomofKK

    http://pinterest.com/momlessmom/

    See you around!

  3. I’m actually going to address this from the other side of the argument. First let me say, I’m sorry that some of the comments were offensive. No one should question that you are doing what you feel is best for you and your baby. I wouldn’t want that either. Having breastfed all three of my children, it was a completely different experience for each one. The first two were great, but the third liked to gnaw – literally gnaw from day one. I still breastfed, partially because I was lazy and there was no way in heck I was getting up in the middle of the night to get a bottle.

    Next, I just want to say that I don’t find all of those comments judgmental. Yes, it’s something we say to get a conversation started. Some of them didn’t have it easy in the beginning, but after consultation or help, it was easy and seamless. Some of them were coming from a place to give advice. I have some friends who breastfed and some who didn’t. For those who chose not to, I would ask, but no more than I would ask whether you have your child in sports or activities.

    Part of me thinks that because you are ready for the judgment for not breastfeeding, you are particularly sensitive on the topic. I’m not saying that’s bad. It’s like when people ask me what my daughter says, and she’s now 14 months old, and she doesn’t say anything… i mean, she talks jibberish, but nothing sounds much like it should sound like. So, I know I can get defensive when people ask if I read to her or talk to her or things like that, because I do. I know they are offering suggestions, but after being asked over and over again, you just get tired of it and you don’t want to justify it because you are NOT asking for advice.

    Great column! Of course, I’m probably not going to make any friends from stopping by, but I came by your site from Bloggy Moms Blog Hop.

    • First off, let me say that if you are reading and offering your advice that you are absolutely a friend. This site is all about supporting other mothers, and I certainly feel that your comment is doing just that. I completely agree that at times we can be super sensitive to comments especially when we feel insecure about something. I wanted to make sure that mother’s who did want to stop breastfeeding would read and feel supported. I thought I was also encouraging breastfeeding mothers to continue, but if that did not come across I certainly want to make that clear. I love that you provided the information about lactation consultants, and I hope that information will be of some support to mothers who want to continue breastfeeding. I hope you will continue to follow and read. Thanks for the great comment!

  4. aw I’m sorry you didn’t get the support you needed…you would think that moms would support fellow moms but sadly they don’t. :( I breastfed all 5 of mine for as long as they wanted but I would never tell another mother that they’re doing their child a disservice by giving formula. And if it didn’t work for either me or baby so be it. You have to do what’s right for BOTH mom and baby…and like you said, happy mom=happy household.

    stopping by from bloggy moms :)
    The 5th Level of Motherhood

  5. I can relate to this so much! I only attempted to breast feed my son for two days then realized it was just not a good fit for either of us. I was frustrated and he was hungry so I switched to formula. I remember not getting support from the nurses, only one nurse told me it was okay to not breastfeed all the others made me feel bad for “giving up”. You are right it has to be the best fit for both the mom and the child and for me and many moms out there it isn’t.

    I found your blog through bloggy moms and started following by the way.

    http://www.mama-untangled.net

  6. Wow…I don’t have kids yet, but I’m glad you posted this. Many people around me have kids and I didn’t realize how frustrating this can be for them.

    • For some of us, it is surprising how difficult motherhood can be. It comes with so much joy and happiness but we often don’t talk about the struggles that accompany them.

  7. I can so relate to this article. I did breastfeed my oldest daughter. I did it only because I thought it was the “right” thing to do. Not because I really wanted to. It was a painful time, if you ask me. I try to stick with it for a couple of weeks, but finally surrendered and was all too happy to give her a bottle. Second child, the nurse asked, “Do you want to breastfeed her?” My response, “Can I EAT first?” After 16 hours of labor, with no epidural, I wasn’t in the greatest mood. I breastfed her once, gave her the bottle next, and never looked back. However, my hats off to those ladies that have had a wonder experience with breastfeeding. Thanks for stopping by my blog, Make It or Fix It Yourself. Following you….

    • Hi Sharon. Its so true that often we are told what the ‘right’ thing to do is. We really need to just reflect and figure out what is best for us and our families. I’m glad you were able to find what worked best for you.

  8. Wow, you just wrote about my experience with breastfeeding; thank you so much for sharing! I love the theme of your blog, too. Keep it up, please!

  9. Thanks for posting this! Breast feeding is something that I really wanted to do, and was very excited about. My experience was a nightmare, despite seeking the help of my wonderful lactation consultants and our pediatrician. I tried for 3 weeks, pumping around the clock, taking supplements, using a supplemental nursing system, and fighting everything within me telling me that I was a bad person because I wasn’t making enough milk to feed my baby. I had to tell my mother in law to tell people to stop asking me about breast feeding because I was about to have a nervous breakdown. I felt like I really missed out on those first 3 weeks with my baby, and I can’t get them back. My baby and I are much happier now, and 10 months later I can say that I am happy with my choice to stop!

    • Thanks for sharing your experience. I too felt like I missed a lot with my daughter because unfortunately I stuck with it for a little too longer. I think I lost every shred of sanity I had. Hope you will continue to read and share with us.

  10. Totally my first two children! When I was two months in and my daughter was screaming and I was crying I was like, “Is this bonding!?” We were both so happy when I switched to the bottle. My third one? Breastfeeding was awesome. I loved it. Every child, every mom is different. Do what is best for YOU and YOUR child!

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