Breast might be best for you.
Or maybe your kids are older and it was best for you.
But it wasn’t for me. Like so many other new moms, I was woefully unprepared for the difficulty and pain that would come with nursing. I was unprepared for the latch issues. I was unprepared for the bleeding. The mastitis. And I was definitely ill-prepared for the challenge that I faced in eking out any more than a few ounces of that liquid gold at a time.
My sister, she didn’t have any of these problems. Like a bountiful fountain, the milk flowed from her.
Clearly that makes her a better mother, right?
Some think so.
Here’s the thing – this line of thinking is idiotic.
If you are among the group of people who enjoy attacking other mothers for the reasons why they opted for formula over breast milk – then the sad truth is – you have some unresolved insecurities that are about you. Like the very bully on the playground that you hope your child isn’t, you make yourself feel better by knocking down others and better yet – telling them what’s best for their baby.
But I think this: There’s no reason to dump these feelings on other moms, especially new moms. Those women – and we’ve all been one once – they need a break.
I was well prepared to handle, with confidence, the breastfeeding challenges I faced with my second child. And certainly those challenges were different from what I faced with my first. I had support. I met with lactation nurses. My husband was there to encourage me.
Rah Rah Rah.
Guess what – still didn’t work out so great.
If only I’d had that level of confidence the first time around, I might have had a happier and less emotional entry into the minefield that is new motherhood.
Earlier this week, I proudly chimed in when Rebekah of Stay-At-Home Pundit asked for opinions from formula feeding moms on why it worked best for them – for a piece she published on the site Babble. I pulled from a blog post I wrote back in 2008 titled “I hated breastfeeding.”
That post still gets a decent amount of traffic and often comments from new moms grateful for the insight that they are not alone.
Naturally, Rebekah’s piece brought out the trolls that we can always count on when it comes to hot bed issues. These bullies enjoy saying things like this in the comment section:
“I know that breastfeeding advocates have a reputation of being inflexible in their opinion but we need to forget about opinions when it comes to the safety of our babies and look at the facts. If you choose to formula feed your baby (and unless you have a legitimate medical reason which prevents you from breastfeeding then it is a choice) then you should first educate yourself about the risks – and there are several. In the west we have come to regard formula as being comparable to breastmilk and have convinced ourselves that feeding formula is basically the same as breastfeeding, but that’s simply not true.”
Well isn’t that special?
How about this one, apparently this woman is confident in being the spokesperson for another woman’s baby – a stranger’s baby at that:
“Never even tried because the formula was right there. And who knows – She might have absolutely loved breastfeeding. Guarantee that her baby would have preferred it.”
Should I keep going? If you’re interested in the article and the vitriol that comes from some nursing advocates, you can read it all here.
Instead, I will end with this. I’m only 7 years into motherhood but that’s a lot further in than when I was still nursing a baby. Especially that first time. I’ve grown. I’ve gained confidence. And I have a much longer view of parenting right now. The markers of a great mom aren’t things like
- How long you breastfed for
- If you gave your child formula
- How quickly your child slept through the night
- If you shared a bed
- If your 2-year-old never had a tantrum
- How quickly your child gained mobility
- How quickly your child started talking
- How quickly your child potty trained
Should I keep going?
Because that’s just the beginning and we all have challenges, hurdles, pure joy and plenty of stress in front of us. Much like most of us have grown bored with the “Mommy Wars” debate and we couldn’t care less if you work or not, most of us also couldn’t care less how long you nursed for and certainly don’t care how your success in nursing demonstrates your greater commitment to motherhood. The same is true for all of the above. Your child who potty trained so fast? Let us know how your second child turns out. Those full sentences your brilliant toddler is speaking? Isn’t it fun now that they can yell at you and negotiate endlessly?
Should I keep going.
My kids are awesome. I gave them breast milk for 13 weeks each. And when I spend time volunteering in my first grader’s class, there isn’t one person in there wondering if they were nursed by mommy. Trust me.
My kids are awesome because me and my husband have worked hard all these years.
So if you are a new mom and having guilt issues over whether or not you are nursing enough – don’t waste your energy on that guilt. Take a nap. Read a book. Read your baby a book. Go out to dinner with your partner and taste the food.
And if you get off on insulting other women because you nursed for longer, enough already.
Have you hit “Like” on the Wired Momma Facebook page yet? I hope so……