You may have guessed the word I’m referring to right away (Hint: it DOES NOT rhyme with “witch”). Whether you are a new mother, grandmother, or, most especially, pregnant, you are well aware of the stress and attitudes that can accompany the word “breastfeeding”. Now that my little man is eight years old and our new baby is five months, I’ve formed some opinions of my own. But, the debate over breastfeeding vs bottle feeding is so prevalent today that expecting mothers sadly need a survival plan to deal with the opinions and comments thrown carelessly their way.
I remember how annoyed I was when I was pregnant and people seemed to move mountains just to ask me “Are you planning on breastfeeding?” The truth is that I wasn’t, I didn’t, and I was OK with that. But, apparently, not everyone seems to be. The problem was that I didn’t feel like the people asking me were just being friendly or curious; too often I felt like they had an agenda, and that agenda was to convince me to BREASTFEED. Or not!
No matter what, I just can’t shake the looming question: Why do women put such pressure on other women when it comes to breastfeeding vs bottle feeding? Shouldn’t we all be in “this motherhood thing” together and be a support for one another?
Scientific research has shown that, while breastfeeding is natural and beneficial to babies, there is nothing wrong with feeding a baby formula either. And no baby grows up and puts this little factoid on their college applications! Yet there are still some women that will hound you until they get an “OK, ya, I’ll give it a try” out of you, as if they receive commission on getting you to join La Leche League. Or, there are those working moms who act supremely superior to the mothers who choose to commit their time and body to breastfeeding their baby. There is something wrong with the judgmental nature of either one of these pictures.
As women and mothers who are going through this together, we should be more supportive of each others’ life choices, whether we choose them for ourselves or not. We are faced with so many daily parenting decisions ( i.e to babywear or not) Not everyone is a stay at home mom, and, due to work pressures, might not have the time or the ability to have their baby nearby or to pump milk for their infant when they are absent. (Try heading up a Board Meeting with milk stains on both sides of your Dressed for Success silk blouse…!) Even a stay-at-home mom doesn’t always time or energy or inclination to nurse, so no judgmental looks allowed for pulling out a bottle at the park! Nor should a mom be given sideways glances or eye-rolling for visibly feeding their baby from their breast! And come on, sometimes there are physical reasons for the choice made! Whatever the case, it is no one’s business but your own.
Personally, I loved formula feeding because it allowed my husband to share those intimate feeding moments with our son. (Not to mention it also allowed New Daddy to take a turn at waking up at night with our new baby, giving me time to recuperate and be more rested for the busy day ahead.) It also gave family and friends opportunities to feed him or take care of him for a few hours if I needed a break. That worked for me and was my personal feeding experience with Branden. Had there been different circumstances, I would have weighed the factors and perhaps have decided differently. Or not. Whatever.
Obviously, what worked for me may not work for everyone. Some women feel that breastfeeding their child is their special time and don’t really want to share that with others, which is totally OK. Others love to pump exclusively or even take breastfeeding selfies – personal preference, again. On the other side of the coin, it is not uncommon for women to have physical issues that make breastfeeding difficult or impossible. Should these women be bombarded by comments on the street that “Breast is best!” when it is no one else’s concern? One woman may try breastfeeding to learn for one reason or another (infection, low milk production, discomfort, etc.) that it doesn’t work for her, while her best friend finds breastfeeding to be an extremely convenient and wonderful bonding experience with her baby. There are purists (breast milk only), and there are those who do a little of both (breast and bottle). It’s enough to make your head spin! But the bottom line is, whatever you decide, this is a very personal and individual decision.
Let’s face it…a mother-to-be has many choices she must make… obstetrician vs mid-wife, pre-natal care, type of delivery method, or whether to circumcise or not. The bottle vs. breast debate is one of many, many issues that we as parents must decide, and that is BEFORE the baby can even hold its own head up. Dealing with the “B” Word is preparation for decisions to come…what Pre-School to enroll in, whether to “hold back” your child, what age your child can have their own cell phone…all of the many choices that emerge for parents on the long winding road of helping your child to grow up.
In the end, we need to do what works best for us, our lifestyles, and our daily routines. If breastfeeding isn’t a hand being dealt to you or a hand that you choose to play, that’s OK. And it’s OK to breastfeed your baby, too. Let’s remember that there’s no need to push one’s view on another, especially when the issue is as personal as this one!
So, ladies, B or B? YOU decide. I want to hear about your feeding stories…comment below!
If you enjoyed today’s motherhood post, I know you will have some strong opinions about our post Now Trending: Breastfeeding Selfies! We can’t wait to hear your feedback!