Some of my fellow mommy bloggers may have seen One Sleepy Mom's post 5 Reasons NOT to Breastfeed. If you check out some of the 400+ responses, you'll see that many readers wrote some pretty horrific and hate-filled comments. Both blogger and bloggee are entitled to their opinions. After the enormous attention that her blog post received, she wrote a follow-up post entitled "How important is my opinion to you?" To me, not important at all. While I might not agree with the blogger's reasons, she can feed her baby in any way that she sees fit. As can I.
Breastfeeding was always something that I was going to do. There wasn't a question in my mind. I had a rough start. Latching issues, mastitis, blocked ducts...breastfeeding didn't come "naturally" to me. I didn't enjoy it initially. For the first four weeks, attempting to breastfeed Quinn made me feel extremely anxious because she would scream at the sight of the boob. I tried to look beyond all of that. I set my sights on the flexibility and ease of breastfeeding anytime, anywhere. The nutritionist in me loved the health benefits of breastfeeding. The mother in me loved the closeness to your little one(s) that only a breastfeeding mom can understand. 20 months into breastfeeding, I could write a post dedicated to this alone. After the struggles that I encountered, I can understand why a new mother would stop breastfeeding.
I do not think that anyone can deny that breastMILK is best for a baby. It doesn't matter if baby gets it directly, via pump or even via donor milk. But, it isn't that simple. New mothers focus ever ounce of their being on their new babies. For most, their mental, emotional and physical health takes a huge beating. Mom usually has to hit a wall before remembering to "put on her own oxygen mask before helping others."So, my point. 'Breast is best', but not at the cost of mom's health. A good friend of mine had her twins prematurely, so they both spent time in the NICU. Her tiny 4lbs babies couldn't latch but desperately needed to grow. She pumped. She pumped 8-10 times per day for two months straight. She was exhausted, stressed and never saw her little ones. At that point, she decided to switch to formula. She told me that she felt guilty for months following that decision.
Here's where I stand: Unless there are underlying medical issues, I think it is selfish for a new mother to not give her newborn baby some colostrum. That baby never has to touch the breast, but given the enormous health benefits of colostrum, he/she deserves it. One or two days of colostrum can have a dramatic impact on that newborn's immune system.
I've read a few responses by other mommy bloggers to One Sleepy Mom's post. They all talk about the Mommy Wars and how the "Breast is Best" campaign is detrimental to new mothers. Parenthood has become an unbelievably competitive, high-stakes "sport." If it isn't breastfeeding, parents are judging one another on something else; letting babies "cry-it-out", discipline techniques, forgoing vaccinations, solid food introduction, daycare choices... It is easy to get sucked in. If you attended a mommy/baby play group, closed your eyes and replaced the words poop, sleep and rice cereal for boys, biology and beer, you'd think you were listening to 17-year old girls gabbing while drinking Frapp.ucino's at Star.bucks.
New mothers know that 'breast is best' without having it shoved down their throats. In Canada, almost 90% of new mothers attempt breastfeeding, according to the WHO and Health Canada. Pre-T&Q, I will admit to catching myself judging a bottle-feeding mother. Looking back, I knew NOTHING but the health benefits of breast milk, learned from a book and a professor. Not everyone can walk a mile in a breastfeeding mother's shoes, so I can't really use that analogy. I've known many moms in my 20 months of parenting who have stopped breastfeeding at various points. I can tell you that none of them came to the decision lightly. Most of them were flooded with guilt, sadness and even doubt. But, like the other thousands of decisions that we need to make as parents, it was best for them, physically, mentally and emotionally. If Mom's health suffers, how can she take care of her little ones to the best of her ability? Mom's health is best. No more judgment.