Hey Mama's! Before I begin this post let me just say this one thing. I truly believe that #fedisbest and I think most everyone would agree with me! I was hesitant to write a blog on breastfeeding this week even though I did last year for world breastfeeding week! I hesitate because it is such a controversial topic and in no way shape or form would I want anyone to think that I'm against using formula or that because I breastfed my baby I think I'm better than other Mama's. Those things couldn't be further from the truth!
I believe that there is a bit of an issue when it comes to the education of whether or not you should breastfeed or formula feed your baby. I also believe that there is a choice and whatever choice you make shouldn't be followed up with judgment or shame or feelings of guilt. I mean really, we put enough Mom guilt on ourselves we don't need it from each other. I also understand that not everyone is able to breastfeed and in that case thank God for formula, right?!
Let's talk about what World Breastfeeding Week is. It is celebrated to commemorate the document signed by WHO, UNICEF and other organizations to protect, promote and support breastfeeding! This comes from the shame, laws and stigma that used to surround breastfeeding prior to 1990. There is nothing in the document that says you shouldn't formula feed.
This year, the organizations are working towards 18 weeks of paid maternity leave, paid paternity leave, better laws regarding mothers who are breastfeeding and pumping at work and affordable childcare. All wonderful things, right?! Ummmm second baby please!
Here are some things that are often missed by us in the document which I believe lead to so much judgement surrounding the way we choose to feed our babies....
•breastfeeding promotes better health for children and mothers alike
•increasing breastfeeding worldwide could lead to 800,000 saved lives per year, the majority being babies under 6 months old
•breastfeeding decreases the risk of mothers developing breast cancer, ovarian cancer, diabetes and heart disease
•breastfeeding promotes bonding between mother and baby
•you can still receive help from your partner even if you are breastfeeding (this is done by pumping bottles)
•breastfeeding supplies baby with antibodies to protect them from viruses and bacteria
•breastfeeding lowers your babies risk of having asthma and allergies
•breastfeeding provides better digestion for baby
•breastfeeding provides the hormone oxytocin which helps the uterus go back to it's normal size quicker
•breastfeeding plays a role in the prevention of SIDS
I breastfed my baby for 10 months. The majority of these months were exclusively breast milk. Some of the months I used formula as a supplement for growth as well as the amount she was getting. I did not have a clue about any of these educational things before deciding to breastfeed.
Whether or not I was going to breastfeed was not something I decided to do until after my baby was born but it was a quick decision because I fell in love with it. It was an electrifying feeling that I had never experienced before. Here's why I didn't make a decision until Johanna was born...
•every Mama is different, every baby is different
•not everyone is able to produce milk or enough milk to feed their newborns
•breastfeeding is hard work
•not every baby is able to latch properly
•I wasn't sure if I would enjoy it
With that being said, I was told by multiple people during my pregnancy, doctor's included that if you don't enjoy breastfeeding, you shouldn't do it. Things can happen such as resentment, PPD, feeling like your stuck or that your baby is always on you. That life is absolutely not for everyone and there should never be any judgement about it. Again, every Mama is different!
Despite some shaming for choosing to breastfeed my baby, I really enjoyed the experience. I was so disappointed that I didn't make it until she turned a year old. During the time I breastfed, I felt empowered, overjoyed, bonded to my baby and incredible. I won't lie, it was really really hard especially because I had no education on how breastfeeding would go. I did not imagine that it would be as much work as it was.
To this day, I am shocked that I was shamed for choosing to use my breasts for what they were made to do. This shame even came from family and other people who were close to me. I am also shocked at the amount of shaming I see on social media for other Mama's choosing to breastfeed. I was even encouraged to formula feed rather than breastfeed by people close to me. I truly believe that women who breastfeed are viewed as "shaming" Mom's who use formula.
I also believe the same can happen the other way around. I've seen Mama's who feel guilty for using formula when they shouldn't ever feel that way. I've seen Mama's embarrassed at the fact that they aren't breastfeeding because they feel the judgment coming their way.
Either way, the shame, the guilt for feeding your baby is not okay!
My hope is that we learn that no one will ever be shamed for feeding their babies! Let's join together and celebrate the fact that our bodies do incredible things like making babies, staying awake for extended periods of time to take care of those babies, breastfeeding, etc.
Mama's, you got this!