What is it with women? If we can't be supportive, can't we at least be respectful toward each other? Do we always have to disdain women who have different opinions or make different choices than us? My specific gripe is with women who insert themselves into your personal choice about how to feed your own baby.
If you've had a baby, you know that you have a choice right off the bat: formula feed or breastfeed. We all know that breast milk is best, but the fact is that not everyone wants to go through the effort to establish a nursing relationship. I can totally understand their feelings as I had a loooong learning curve when it came to breastfeeding. I suffered mightily for seven weeks before I didn't hurt with every feeding. And feedings occurred every ninety minutes. Imagine pain visited upon your impossibly tender and sore nipples every ninety minutes around the clock for nearly two months. Breastfeeding may be perfectly natural, but it sure did not come easily to me!
I really hated breastfeeding in the early days and it's hard to say who cried more in those early weeks, the baby or me. Okay, I'll admit that it was definitely me. I was stubborn though and I wanted to give my son the very best nutrition so I kept moving forward in my attempts to establish a good nursing relationship with my son. I'm very thankful that I was able to become a SAHM for many reasons and a big one is that I know I would have quit breastfeeding and just went with formula had I returned to work.
As I've indicated in previous blog posts about breastfeeding, I am a fan of the practice. I exclusively breastfed my son until he was around five months old. That means that he only received nourishment from my breasts for that entire time. I continued to nurse him until he was over one year old and fully weaned him shortly after his first birthday. Though we had a rocky start, I ended up having a remarkably easy breastfeeding relationship with my son.
Look, we all know that breast is best, but it is no one's business how someone else chooses to feed their own baby. Some moms don't get the support and resources to establish a good breastfeeding relationship so they turn to a bottle of formula out of desperation. Some just don't want to for other reasons; maybe they think it will make their boobs droop, maybe they don't want to be tied down to their new baby, maybe it's some other reason. A very small percentage are physically unable to produce enough milk no matter what they do to increase their milk supply. And some simply cannot because their medications are contraindicated; chemotherapy patients, for example. Regardless of the reasons, it doesn't matter because it is ultimately their decision how they feed their own baby and *it has nothing to do with anyone else.
Breastfeeding was the best way for me to feed my son, but that doesn't mean that I should be hurtful toward someone who chooses to formula feed - for whatever reason. Since I was so determined to nurse our son, formula feeding was NOT going to happen, my husband is always surprised by my opinions on this topic. I know that I'm incredibly opinionated. Heck, this blog is primarily made up of my opinions and thoughts. While I've been known to forcefully state an opinion or two, I hope that it's clear that my opinions aren't indictments toward others who feel, act, or raise their children differently - vaccination being the notable exception. Vive la difference, as our French friends would say. . .
Women tend to judge themselves harshly and it's a rare woman who meets her own standards. No matter what we do, it's never enough and this causes plenty of Mom Guilt. Since we are our own worst critic, we don't need other moms heaping it on too.
Come on, ladies, you don't have to approve of or even support different parenting choices, but can we just try to be nice toward each other?
*Ignoring the long term health impact of mothers & children and the societal impact of breastfeeding v formula feeding infants.