You know what is no one’s business?
How a mother decides to feed her baby.
I feel silly even writing it, because it’s common sense, right?
There are the (minority) extreme breastfeeding proponents who will unleash a barrage of disapproval or even hate at the mention of baby formula, yes. But what actually irks me more is the subtle digs at bottle feeding.
I see it a lot when women flaunt their successful breastfeeding. And I say flaunt, because while I completely understand their pride in this difficult task and their desire to share their happiness, I don’t appreciate sentiments such as “I wouldn’t feel this close to my baby if I weren’t breastfeeding”, or, “The inconvenience of bottle feeding would be terrible. We can feed anywhere we like!”
Breastfeeding organisations aren’t much better. Any pregnancy or parenting magazine you pick up will have at least one article on why breastfeeding is so much better for your baby. Every once in a while, you may find one that says, if you have to, formula feeding is ok.
This quote from a local newspaper was part of an article about a breastfeeding group, which did a very good job of making me feel both inadequate and cranky.
“No matter what size or shape your breasts are, they are capable of producing all the nourishment your baby needs for the first six months of life.”
Because, see, mine weren’t.
The size and shape of breasts doesn’t determine their capability of breastfeeding, no, but merely having breasts does not mean that you will be able to breastfeed your baby.
We had trouble from the very beginning. I sought help from several nurses in the days and weeks after Devin’s birth, and while their suggestions made things slightly less difficult, they didn’t make it easy.
Armed with the information from a thousand books and magazines, I carried on, assuming that, as they all said, it would get better.
At the time, I thought it did. I thought that dreading every feed a little bit and holding awkward positions just to get the baby to stay on was normal. And, though Devin was average length but well under the curve for weight, he did keep gaining weight.
I’d reached the end of my rope after three months. I felt stressed and discontent, Devin was always fussy and still quite small, and I’d had enough of being stuck on the couch, struggling to just feed my baby.
Finally pushing my guilt aside and switching completely to formula was relieving. I was much happier and more relaxed, Devin settled down and steadily put on weight, and I’m sure Jene felt better by association. In the end, I don’t think I was producing enough milk. In less than a week, my boobs had forgotten they’d ever been involved in providing human sustenance.
Breastfeeding – great. We are all well aware of the benefits by now. If you can do it, good for you. I’ll stand up for your right to do it anywhere.
If you can and don’t want to, that’s fine, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
If you can’t do it, hey, that’s normal, too.
It might take a village to raise a child, but the village can mind its own goddamn business when it comes to how the parents nourish it, because it’s not the villages body, it’s not the villages mental health, and the village isn’t getting up at 3am in the freezing cold to feed the screaming baby.