I couldn’t let World Breastfeeding Week go by without a blog post, especially since the I Support You movement is under way and quickly gaining momentum. This is a movement I am so proud to be a part of, and I hope all mothers–currently breastfeeding versus bottlefeeding (or both), or who had previously breastfed or bottlefed (or both)–can once and for all cease and desist in the mommy wars when it comes to infant feeding choice!
I am SO glad that I was oblivious to the extremist views at the time I was struggling to feed my baby 8-1/2 years ago. Now, don’t get me wrong. I was aware of all the marketing of breastfeeding paraphernalia galore that appeared EVERYWHERE I looked. I took it all as a subliminal message that was trying to tell me that breastfeeding was the ONLY right way to feed my baby. I had people that didn’t know me well ask me whether I was going to breastfeed my baby once she arrived. And boy, did I want ever so badly to come out and say to these people “Um, can we all just mind our own business, thank you?” I was of the mindset, because my brothers and I were all formula fed, that formula feeding was just as good as breastfeeding. Granted, I know there are certain nutrients present in breast milk that can’t be 100% reproduceable in formula. And I get that breastfeeding helps with bonding. But as I’ve said before, breastfeeding is NOT the only way to bond with the baby. Just look at adoptive parents, for one.
But my circumstances postpartum were not good. I did the best I could with the resources I had, the support I had, the health conditions I was suffering at the time, and the breast milk I was able to produce as a result. I had ENOUGH problems as it was. Fortunately, I didn’t dwell on or obsess with the fact that I failed to meet my three-month goal, which I attribute to the fact that I wasn’t into social media much at the time, and that’s probably what saved me from feeling even more of a failure. I wasn’t on social media that could cyber bully a mom into thinking that she failed because there seems to be an overwhelming number of people who are ever so ready to attack others for their infant feeding choice.
Once I came out of my postpartum depression (PPD) journey, I was able to see the BIG PICTURE. I was able to see that each mother has her own preferences and circumstances for choosing one way to feed over another. Often times, things don’t work out as planned. You start out with every intention of breastfeeding only to have some unexpected development like physically being unable to breastfeed (yes, some women just CAN’T, period, no matter how they try….and forcing a woman to keep trying until their own health and the baby’s health are jeopardized is a bad idea no matter how you look at it), or not being able to produce enough (like me and so combining pumping with formula is how the baby is ultimately fed), or developing a postpartum mood disorder so serious that medication (also like me, that may not necessarily be recommended for breastfeeding) is a must if the woman were to recover.
I marvel when I hear the success stories of women who breastfed with ease until their child’s first, second or even third birthday. I would’ve been so thrilled if I were even able to at least reach my 3rd month target for breastfeeding. But I didn’t. Instead, I had to stop pumping entirely once I had to start taking medications. Moms who have had the fortune of not only breastfeeding easily but breastfeeding the number of months they were aiming for may find it hard to empathize with those moms whose circumstances may not allow them to do the same. They need to realize that just because things may have worked out for them doesn’t mean that everyone else is as fortunate.
Just as the saying goes “Do things in moderation,” being extremist in thinking is never a good thing. Being empathetic, especially when it comes to supporting others, is CRITICAL! Can we all just learn to support each other, rather than tear each other down with our “My way is the right way, and you’re doing it the wrong way” attitudes? Can we all just try to see the BIG PICTURE, rather than dwell on our approaches to parenting, infant care and feeding choices?
Please join me in this mantra:
I support a woman who breastfeeds
I support a woman who formula feeds
I support a woman who does a combination of the two
Please share widely:
- the Fearless Formula Feeder blog hop post
- the Huffington Post article by Lisa Belkin titled “I Support You: The Conversation We Should Be Having About Breastfeeding And Formula”
- the Youtube video about the I Support You movement
Can we count on you to join this movement?