Posted by: Genny Colby | December 6, 2011

Breast is best…right?

Do a google search on breast-feeding and you will get millions of hits.  If you are looking for specific details about the health benefits of breast-feeding, please visit the CDC website, the World Health Organization website, or you can do your own Google search.  You will literally come away with millions of options of sites to view.

I knew, from the time we started talking about having a baby, that I wanted to breast feed.  I had done all the research.  I knew the health benefits for both my future child and myself.  But more than that, I was going to be the mother, I was supposed to provide for my child.  That was my job.  Luckily, I have a very supportive husband who agreed that we should give breast-feeding a shot.    I also had a very strong support network between our doctors, our family, and our friends to breast feed.

We followed a child-led nursing pattern.  She got to eat on demand, as much as she wanted.  And we both thrived!  But at times my husband felt a little left out.  Here we had a brand new baby girl, whom he cherished and would move the sun and moon for, yet there was a part of her life he could not share in.  We agreed that once we had the go ahead from our doctors, we would start to introduce one bottle of expressed breast milk a day so he could be a part of this stage of her life, and so that mommy could consider at some point, going out to dinner and maybe even a movie, leaving little one with daddy or grandma, or her aunt.

At three weeks we got the okay to introduce the bottle.  And she took to it, at first.  Then somewhere around 5 weeks she decided that she was not going to have anything to do with the bottle.  We tried EVERYTHING!  We bought every different bottle under the sun.  We tried me leaving the house.  Daddy tried every chair/room in the house.  We even tried formula.  Nope, she was having none of it.  She would see the bottle coming and just start screaming.  She would rather go hungry and wait for mommy than deal with that bottle.  So we stopped.  No more bottles did mean daddy could not be a part of the feeding, but it also meant less stress for our baby girl and daddy!  Daddy just found lots of other ways to be involved and he took a very active role when we started solid foods at 6 months.

We followed her lead when it came to feedings, though she developed a routine for nursing fairly early on that she stayed pretty consistent with all through weaning.  It is funny, friends would talk about the challenges of weaning-getting them to sleep through the night, replacing some nursing times with solid foods.  None of these were problematic for us.  We let the monkey lead the way.   At 3 months she was sleeping through the night and self weaned on night-time feedings.  As she became more interested in table food, she was more willing to take that as “snacks” and thus nursed less often by the time she hit one year.  By 15 months, she had completely self weaned and had moved on to table food and milk in a sippy cup.  And since she never took a bottle, we did not have to wean her off that either!  Yup, she was a pretty easy and amazing baby.  Still is a pretty easy and amazing little girl to be honest!

So, listening to my story, you probably think I am all “Breast is best” “All mother’s should breast feed”  “Bottles and/or formula are evil”.  But really, I am not.  Breast feeding worked for my family, worked well in fact, and for that I am extremely happy and grateful.  But that is not always the case.  I have friends who HATED every minute of breast-feeding, or who found it extremely painful (not just uncomfortable, but truly painful), or who just found they could not produce enough milk to keep with the demands of their child.  So what should a mom do in these cases?  Continue to force themselves to nurse, causing them to begin to hate the moment their child needs to eat, resulting in a stressful feeding time for momma and baby, which then may result in the mother coming to resent the demands of her child?

There are many out there, (again just do a google search and read the message boards) who would berate, criticize, name call, and other forms of put downs to mothers who bottle and/or formula feed.  But really, we are the parents.  We must each find what works for our families.  What choices will help us to raise strong, smart, kind, caring, and compassionate adults.  No one choice is right for everyone.  Yes, those mothers who elect not to nurse, or who can not nurse for some reason could look into purchasing donated breast milk.  And if your family can afford this option, has access to such a resource, and you feel comfortable with this choice, then by all means  go for it!

But this option is not always feasible either due to financial considerations, availability, or personal comfort level.  So what other choice does a mother/father/custodial grandparent/foster parent/adoptive parent have?  They have formula.  Many advancements have been made since formula was first introduced.  Is it the same as breast milk?  Of course not, but that does not mean that a child can not grow and thrive if this is what they are fed.  Can you honestly look at a room of kindergarteners and know who was breast-fed and who was formula fed?  Of course not.

So why do we, as mothers, attack each other for the choices that we make?  Do I always agree with the choices I see others making with their kids?  No, and I am sure there are those that do not always agree with the choices I make for my daughter.  But they are MY choices to make.  I have to decide what is going to work best for my daughter and my family.  And since you do not live in my life, how can you know what the best choice is?  How could I know what the best choice is for another family?   I get so depressed when I do take the chance to visit some of those parenting sites and see how much bashing is done to one another.  We should be there to support, encourage, and assist one another on this journey through parenthood.  Not put one another down, or criticize the choices someone else makes.

I will always be a champion of breast-feeding, encourage others to give it a shot, and offer what ever advice I can based on my experiences.  But my experiences are just that….mine. What worked for me, may not work for someone else.   All we can do is try our best, make the best choices we can based on the information we have available, and hope for the best.  Beyond that, we have to stop attacking others for the choices they make, telling other moms that they are wrong, or poisoning their children (yes, I have honestly seen/heard people accuse those who elect to use formula of poisoning their children!).  We should be supportive, kind, compassionate,  understanding, and non-judgmental.  All those things we are trying to raise our children to be.

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Responses

  1. As a disabled mum on pain meds i did endless resurch on breast feeding on meds. and found i could but sadly with my oldest son i lost so much blood in the first thew days of his life that when i finely could try and fed my prem baby they found that there was not enough nutrition and was told that as he was fighting for his life it was best to give him some and give him some formula as well which did nothing but give him bad tummy. so in end got told to just give him formula. with youngest i was breast feeding for 8 weeks and he was not gaining wieght well went form 4pound 4onz to 2pnd 2onz. and when he was 8 weeks old he got really sick he ended up in hospital and we were told he had a really bad dairy intelligence. iv had people say why did i not change my diet to help him which would of taken 48 hours to get all dairy out of my system changed everything i attended work out if that would work with my illness. so for me its nice to see someone not putting down mums that dont breast feed. i had a friend that had server pnd and breast feeding put more pressure on her she ended up in a mother and baby unit with her depression and when she took one pressure of breast feeding her baby things got a bit better as she did not feel she failed if he would not take breast or didnt feed long ect. and it took some time but she ot better but that one stress gone did help but when some mums have ago at her she takes a step back on recovery people should realize like you do that its not easy for every mum.


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