Breast is best… but for who?
Have you ever noticed that one of the first questions any mother will ask you after you’ve given birth is ‘Are you breast feeding?’. For a new mother, this is so overwhelming. It’s bad enough that you are sleep deprived and recovering from the physical and emotional demands of giving birth, now you have to answer to a whole panel of other moms. I felt so much pressure to breastfeed that I honestly did it out of guilt. Maybe not at first, but after weeks of constantly getting asked if I was breastfeeding, I seriously was just doing it just so I wouldn’t have to answer ‘no’ to the dreaded question. It was horrible. I remember one night I was so exhausted and upset that I sent my husband to the Toys R US, five minutes before closing time, and demanded that he not come home without a breast pump.
I won’t get into the nitty gritty of all the problems I had, but I will say that breastfeeding was one of the hardest parts of those early months with a newborn. And pumping when you also have a two year old toddler, is just a side order of insanity. I wish I would have felt some sort of support from other moms. It seemed that everyone I talked to would tell me how ‘easy’ it was, or how it was such a ‘bonding’ experience. I must have been the mutant mommy, because neither of these words seemed to even remotely describe how I felt about breastfeeding.
Looking back, I wish I would have never breastfed my daughter. I was miserable. I feel that I missed out on those precious moments and I can never get that time back. But what I can do, is be honest with other moms, so that they don’t feel guilted into doing ANYTHING that isn’t working for them. I am not embarrassed to tell other moms about my struggles, because what I needed to hear was something other than how easy breastfeeding was. I think mothers should do what works best for them and their family, because after all a happy mom = happy household. If you can breastfeed and are happy doing so, that’s amazing. Any mom who is that dedicated deserves a pat on the back. If you need to formula feed, that’s great too. Boiling water, sterilizing bottles and mixing formula on a daily basis is also a lot of work. Seriously, we need to stop focusing on our differences as mothers, and redirect our energy to supporting and encouraging one another. Next time you visit a friend or an acquaintance who’s just given birth, instead of asking her if she is breastfeeding, why not ask her how she’s feeling. What better way to support another mom, by letting her decide what she needs or wants to share with you.