Today, Yavonda has opened a discussion on breastfeeding over on her blog, Baby and the Beasts.
Skip over there for a moment and read the recent opinion pieces Yavonda shares.
Back now? OK.
So at the end of her post, Yavonda asks:
Has our society placed too much of an emphasis on breast-feeding? Or is it a reasonable response to the widespread use of formula in previous generations? Are the 6-12 month targets realistic or not?
What do you think? Did you breast-feed, use formula, or a combination of the two?
For several decades, American women veered away from breastfeeding. I blame that gap for turning what used to be a perfectly normal, maternal experience into something foreign and “scary.”
The fact that we now feel compelled to TAKE CLASSES for something that our bodies are equipped to do says a lot.
Couple that with all the “breast is best” propaganda and the nagging and the judging— and, well, that only ramps up the fear factor.
But there’s more.
Now we also judge women on how long they nurse.
On the one hand, you’re told to do it for at least a year.
On the other, people judge you if you’re still breastfeeding when your little one starts walking.
Women in other places — Europe, for example — don’t worry about all this crap. They just nurse their kids.
(For the record, I was still breastfeeding my two when they started toddling. In fact, Tootie would walk over and asked to “nur-nur.” So enough with all the judgey commentary. Nursing is about providing nutrition and comfort. End of story.)
All this societal pressure has resulted in so much analysis and fretting among nursing moms — Am I producing enough milk? Is the baby getting enough? Then why is he still fussing? Is my baby latched on correctly? Omg I will NEVER get the hang of this. — that many simply give up.
Or they spend the entirety of their nursing experience feeling terrible about themselves.
(Now pumping? That’s a whole other issue, one that involves a nursing mother’s work environment and bosses. For too many mothers, finding a time and place to pump are very real problems. It’s damned difficult, to be honest.)
I nursed my first child for 16 or 17 months. She never had a drop of formula. Why? Because I’d had an emergency C-section. And because of that, I believed that since my body had “failed” my baby during labor, I would have to make up for it by being a stellar, awesome, superstar nursing mother.. In other words, I breastfed exclusively for a year and a half out of a misplaced sense of guilt.
My second baby arrived via a VBAC. This time, I swore not to make breastfeeding such a do-or-die experience. I nursed the E-man when we were together and I pumped at work. BUT — I always sent a bottle or two of formula to the daycare as a backup. That took away so much of the stress and pressure, knowing that if I missed a pumping session, or just didn’t obtain as much milk on a given day, my baby would still have plenty to drink.
As a result, my second go-round was what I wanted it to be. I nursed the E-man for a year exactly.
The thing is, there’s a lot of talk about the logistics of nursing — the latch, the position, the let-down, etc.. But there’s very little focus on the bonding it nurtures between mom and baby. The human touch is powerful. It comforts. It heals. It fosters empathy. Nursing is perhaps the strongest physical connection between a mother and her child.
So why are we, as a society, set on making it something miserable?
Breastfeeding, when you think about it, is an amazing thing. I found it absolutely incredible that even after pregnancy, my body was still capable of sustaining a human life.
In conclusion, and this is something I learned from having a baby who was 5 pounds, 2 ounces when we were discharged from the hospital: Your baby is not going to starve.
If you’re having trouble nursing, there are people to help you. There is formula. There are doctors who will tell you if your infant isn’t gaining enough weight.
The best advice I can offer — whether you choose to nurse or use formula —is to ignore what others say.
Your focus is YOU and YOUR baby. Not society’s dictates.
Now scoot back over to Yavonda’s blog and share your own experiences!
3 thoughts on “The boob wars”
Hear, hear. Great post, Cathy.
I was criticized for not breast feeding. I was on some meds that would not allow me to do so. I was told over and over how breast milk was better but I think my baby turned out perfect.
You and me both..