Monday, March 25, 2013

"You couldn't even breast feed"

This post was inspired by someone who attempted to challenge my ability to care for my child. One of the things this person said, was, "you couldn't even breast feed."

My first response was to be seriously hurt by this. But why? It wasn't true. Baby C has had nothing but mommy's breast milk since his very first moments of life. But even still... If I couldn't breast feed, then so what? What did it matter to this person HOW I feed my son, as long as he is being fed? What business was it of this person's and why would not being able to breast feed make me such a terrible mother in his/her eyes? Well, the first blaringly obvious thing to me, was that this person doesn't understand that as a parent, you DO NOT openly pass judgment on another parent for how they choose to raise their child. You guessed it... This person does not have children. So why would they be passing judgment at all anyway? The only answer I could come up with was: People who do not know or understand, judge. Even fellow parents will sometimes openly pass judgment on us. But why!? I know I sure don't have all the answers! I have my own experiences, but that doesn't mean that what works for me will absolutely work for everyone else.

Okay... Back on topic.

As a crunchy mommy, I absolutely believe that breast is best. Still... There are conditions to that- I believe that breast is absolutely best for US. There are so many benefits of breast feeding for both mom and baby. However, there are also reasons why breast feeding could be bad for mom and baby.

Here are some reasons that I love breast feeding:
- It is a great bonding time with baby C that I alone get to have.
- It helps the uterus to contract more, encouraging a swift return to "normal". (What IS normal a out our bodies after childbirth?)
- Barring serious issues, breast milk is in constant supply!
- I don't have to worry about bottles when C is out and about with me.
- Breast milk provides baby C with nutrients and antibodies as his body tells my body that he needs them. (When he or I is sick, my body receives the signal to make the antibodies that C will need to fight off the sickness.)
- The fat content of my breast milk changes as C grows.
- Reduces risk of breast cancer.

Now... These are all great reasons to nurse my little man. However, sometimes there are instances when continuing to breast feed or attempt to breast feed can cause much more damage to both mommy and baby, outweighing the benefits.

- If a baby is born prematurely, mom's supply may not come in in time, and it may be necessary to supplement with formula. Most of the time, this makes it nearly impossible to get baby to breast.
- There are situations when mom's supply doesn't come in at all.
- Sometimes, there are situations when mom is so distressed at the thought of breast feeding (due to pain, discomfort, frustration) that continuing to attempt, only upsets baby as well. This ruins bonding time with mom and can leave both mom and baby feeling unsure of each other and can even trigger post partum depression in moms.
... There are so many more reasons that a mom may not want or be able to breast feed. So who are we to judge?

I know of a girl who had some serious problems with breast feeding. For her, in this culture where people are advocating for nursing moms, but not explaining that it's okay if you can't, deciding to formula feed her angel was a very difficult decision. It was a choice that she made for her and for her baby. It was the BEST decision for them. Still, a stranger thought it was her responsibility to walk up to a struggling brand new momma in the formula aisle and let her know that her decision was "wrong". This stranger told this mom things she already knew and encouraged her to try things she had already tried. Can you imagine how this poor mom felt? I would have either broke down sobbing, socked the stranger in the face, or been absolutely stunned silent. Hearing this story, I was stunned into silence. Who did this stranger think she was to judge a new mom? What made her more qualified to make decisions for my friend's baby than my friend? And biggest question of all... What business was it of hers!?

We are all mommies. We may not do everything the same way, but we all have the same goal: to raise healthy, happy littles who know that they are loved and adored. So why on earth would we pass judgment on each other? We can understand each other's struggles, can we not?

Now going back to my judge. This person who decided to pass judgment on me does not have kids. So, while incredibly annoying, it's a little understandable that such an assumption that being unable breast feed equals a bad mom, would be made. It was an assumption based on the cluelessness of which I was accused of being guilty. Now, for me, breast feeding did not come without struggles. We had to start baby C on a shield for the first few weeks of his life. So when we weaned him, it was like starting nursing from the very beginning, physically. It hurt. A lot. But I was lucky... I was able (somehow) to find a way to make it work. Let me be very clear, though... If I had been unable to make it work, I would have PROUDLY fed my son formula. Formula is not evil; it is not the enemy. Formula is something that moms are very lucky to have now! I wonder what moms did years and years ago before formula was even an option?

Well, I hope this post wasn't too all over the place. I've been writing it as I run back and forth between my iPad and my little man. :)

Have a lovely evening and remember that moms are on the same team! Let's not judge each other... Let's support each other! And to those childless folks who find the need to judge us... Let us laugh and remember that they will understand soon enough. :)