Or so they say.
Personally, I breastfeed and I love it. My breasts don’t hurt, I have more than enough milk, I love the proximity with my baby. But when the people around me learned that I was pregnant, one of the first questions they asked was “are you going to breastfeed”. I didn’t think much of it at first and always answered “if I can, I’d like to”. I mean, for me, it was a no-brainer: it’s practical (no bottles to warm up or carry along when I’m out and about with the baby), cheap (I was shocked when I found out how much formula costs) and good for the baby’s health. However, there was always an exit door in my answer, always the “if”.
You see, my mother tried to breastfeed. She really did, really wanted to. But she didn’t have enough milk for me (or for my little sister, for that matter). She eventually switched to bottle feeding, after my 1 month appointment, when she learned that I hadn’t gained any weight. After that, not only did I gain weight, but I also stopped crying so much.
Both my boyfriend and I had kept an open mind about feeding. I told him that I wanted to try nursing, but not at any cost. I did not want to put any pressure on myself. I wasn’t going to start supplementing with a feeding tube whilst I hoped for my milk to come in. I wasn’t going to cut down my rest and sleep hours even more than they would be because my child was perpetually hungry. My boyfriend, of course, fully supported my decision. I think he was even relieved by it; he wouldn’t have to worry about me potentially getting depressed by the thought that I am a failure as a mother because I can’t breastfeed.
I’m happy I made up my mind about this matter quickly, that I decided that I wouldn’t put any pressure on myself, because there was a whole lot of outside pressure.
It’s actually rather troubling, that one of the first questions you are asked by the people around you and the random people you meet is if you are going to breastfeed. I mean, what do they care? They are certainly not the ones that are going to be getting up during the night. They are certainly not the ones whose body is going to change to adapt to its new function. And they sure as heck are not the ones who will be drinking the milk! So what do they care?
I was bottle-fed, so were my sister and brother as well as my boyfriend and his sister. We are all very well adapted to the world and healthy. Drinking formula sure doesn’t seem to have had a negative impact. Of course, some might argue that we can’t know how breast milk could have effected us, but who cares!
Though I find it fine to inform a new or expecting mother on the benefits of nursing versus bottle-feeding, it is ultimately the mother’s decision. Once her decision is made, I believe that no one has the right to put extra pressure on her or judge her.
Would love to hear your thoughts on the matter.