This is a story that a gorgeous mother has shared with us. It has really taken a lot of guts for this mother to share this, but I am so glad that she has because it sums up everything perfectly.
My first daughter was born in 2002 and we breastfed for 19 months. During my pregnancy I read everything about breastfeeding that I could get my hands on, and so consequently was so biased in my opinion that “breast milk from the breast is the superior way to feed baby.” I was even so arrogant that I actually had the audacity to feel sorry for babies who were bottle fed. (I did not have the humility to consider what may have led their mother to decide to bottle feed them).
My second daughter was born in 2004. I was determined to have a long breastfeeding career with her also, remembering that I thought it was the ultimate way to parent, not just feed. However, after having mastitis for 1 month, ending with a huge abscess that needed surgery, and a sudden onset of serious post-natal depression, it turned out that my beloved second daughter was weaned and fed formula from a bottle from her Nana. Given my expectations and that breast milk from the breast is the ultimate form of mothering I was devastated and felt failure.
Now I am pregnant with my third child. My experience of parenting so far has taught me a thing or two:
- Breast feeding is not always easy, and even when it is going well there are some annoying discomforts. I found with breastfeeding exclusively that I had two companions – hunger (any spare time was spent eating and I ate 3x my normal amount) and fatigue (it is hard work for your body!!)
- Bottle fed babies are still very loved. They still gaze up at you, they still get “milk drunk”, and they still fall asleep in your arms.
- Bottle feeding can be quick – it took less than 1 min from hearing baby cry to heating a bottle and her being fed. It is transportable, and if baby wants more milk it can be readily made up (no 3 day lag in supply as in breastfeeding).
- Mothering is about how you care for and interact with your baby – not how you feed them. It is a relationship between your whole self and your babies whole self – not just your breast and their mouth.
So if breastfeeding is going well for you, enjoy the experience!! If it’s not,remember the important thing is that your baby is fed and well loved by their family. In New Zealand we have the advantage of clean water and available formula. The women who tell you, “just keep trying and it will come…or it’s natural so will work ..” (and any other clichés that make you feel stink) have the same sensitivity level as if saying to a woman who’d had a cesearean that she just didn’t try hard enough. And doesn’t that sound ridiculous.
Breastfeeding is natural but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Indicators of this are the infant mortality rate of developing countries, and the fact that other mammals can also have trouble – ask a dairy farmer how much he spends on mastitis management, or a sheep farmer how he mothers lambs onto other ewes due to milk fever in the birth ewe.
The important thing to remember is that you have become a mother and that is a joy regardless of how you feed your baby. Happy Mum – Happy Baby..
Thank you for sharing this story lovely lady. I hope another mum who needs it, will find it, read it, and stop this guilt thing!!