If you've been following my Facebook page, you know that I am a huge advocate for breastfeeding. I regularly post articles about how to be successful at meeting breastfeeding goals. However, I also recently posted a blog post about Why I Don't Love Breastfeeding.
Here is what I really think: Breastfeeding is the biological norm. For women who wish to breastfeed and are able to, it is the best option. I don't really need to go into why when a quick Google search will do the trick.
However, we do lots of things that aren't the biological norm. Vaginal birth is the biological norm. However, it's not an option for all women. Conception through intercourse is the biological norm. But many families are built in other ways. To take it to an extreme, nudity is the biological norm. However, we recognize that in most environments, either because of cultural values or weather (or both!), clothing is pretty awesome. We may choose to pursue biological norms through various lifestyle choices such as diet. However, it's important to recognize that today we do many things outside of the biological norm by choice or by necessity.
I do actually love breastfeeding. I'm fortunate to live in an area where breastfeeding is mostly accepted (at least with a cover), I had access to adequate support, my babies were able to breastfeed without too much difficulty, I was able to stay home during the first 12 months of my daughter's life, and, most of all, my body made it easy for me. I also didn't have any religious restrictions, medical problems, a history of sexual abuse, or any other reason to make me wish to do otherwise.
Not everyone has my history. Some women simply do not wish to breastfeed for whatever reason. Some women are truly unable to, and for others, the obstacles outweigh the positive aspects of breastfeeding. Only the mother gets to decide how many obstacles are too many. Some women choose exclusive pumping or donor milk over formula. For others, formula is the best alternative to feeding at the breast. Suzanne Barston, the blogger behind Fearless Formula Feeder, wrote about her own journey here.
So here is what I promise:
If you have a desire to breastfeed, you have my support. I will connect you with information, resources, and support.
If you reach a day when attempting to breastfeed is no longer working for you and your baby, you have my support. I will help you find information about what to do next, resources, and support if you need it.
If you decide to feed your baby formula on day 1, day 30, or day 365, you have my support. I will help you find information about bottle feeding, resources, and supportive people.
If pumping exclusively or donor milk is the right choice for your family, you have my support.
If you are using an SNS system with donor milk, pumped milk, or formula, you have my support.
If you use any combination of these ways to feed your baby, you have my support.
I won't ask you why you choose to feed your baby that way. I will simply ask you if you feel supported, and if not, how I can help.
The graphic below illustrates two of Our Baby Class's Guiding Principles and sums up my feelings about how mothers feed their babies.