I read an article the other day about perspective and breastfeeding. Okay…confession time…I only read the little comment that came up on my phone. So, from the tiny little bit that I read I may (or may not if other comments are anything to go by!) have gotten the completely wrong impression of that article – so I won’t link it. But it seemed to be all about how breastfeeding is unimportant.
Which given that importance is subjective could be entirely true for some people.
Breastfeeding is often a difficult and thankless task for which you will be judged. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
But what I also got out of the comment was the whole “I really wanted to breastfeed but couldn’t” vibe. Which annoys me. Most evidence suggests that approximately 5% of women have a physical abnormality or condition leading to a physical inability to breastfeed. Most evidence also suggests though that for huge numbers of women the social support is not there to encourage breastfeeding and it therefore becomes too hard. Or that we have unrealistic expectations of newborn behaviour – which stands to reason because how many of us have spent huge chunks of time around a newborn who is demand fed? It just doesn’t happen these days so we have no idea what we can realistically expect.
One of the lines the comment included was: “My children inherited my inability to breastfeed.” My first thought at that was that it was more likely that your children inherited your philosophy that breastfeeding is not important and therefore they decided that if it didn’t come easily they wouldn’t do it. Now maybe the woman quoted and her children have some sort of physical condition which prevents breastfeeding – but there was no mention of illness or medical conditions…just this vague condition of inability.
Which (finally!) brings me to my point. If you don’t want to breastfeed or don’t feel that it is important for you and your family that is fine. Make your choice and own it! Stop the excuses. Stop the “I wanted to, but couldn’t” (Unless you do actually have a medical condition preventing you from doing it of course!)
Just so we are totally, 100% clear – this post is NOT about breast vs bottle. It’s about owning your decisions.
Formula feeding is also often a difficult and thankless task for which you will be judged. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
If you don’t want to breastfeed, or you decide that it is not the best choice for your family then don’t do it! Make the decision and be proud that you are empowered enough to do so. Sure some people will judge you and criticise you…but trust me…they’ll do the same if you choose to breastfeed. No matter what choice you make some people will always condemn you. I felt seriously judged when choosing to persevere with breastfeeding my first. I felt like everyone thought I just wanted to starve my child or just wanted to prove myself or get bragging rights and I seriously wanted to stab those who kept telling me to “just give her formula, it’s no big deal.” No matter what you choose you will likely feel judged.
I know first hand how very hard it is to get good breastfeeding advice and support from medical professionals. So when I hear a woman say “I really want to breastfeed but my doctor / midwife said I need to give formula” I ask questions and explore further. I offer advice and support based on my own experience (I am certainly not an expert in this field, nor do I ever claim to be!). Which, if you don’t actually want to breastfeed, is a total waste of my time (and yours). I have a lot more respect for a woman who says “I wanted to breastfeed, but once I experienced how hard it would be I decided that formula would be a better option for my family”. Or even, “If I’d known this is what it would be like I wouldn’t have wanted it at all.” Now I know that it was your decision (rather than potentially dodgy advice) and neither of us has to go through that uncomfortable feeling of me offering advice for something you don’t actually want.
I can assure you that if you don’t want to breastfeed I am not going to waste my time trying to convince you that you should. If we are talking about it in my capacity as a doula I will ask questions so I can ascertain if it really is your decision or if it’s based on dodgy advice, but at the end of the day if you tell me that formula is your decision I will support that. I keep literature on safe formula feeding and am more than happy to discuss tips on positive formula feeding if that is what you want.
My goal is for happy, healthy, confident and empowered mothers, through pregnancy, birth and parenthood. No bullshit and no excuses.
If you would like support achieving your breastfeeding goals please get in touch with the Australian Breastfeeding Association or a Lactation Consultant in your area.