I chose not to. “What?! You mean you can and you didn’t?!” Yep. I was poorly after I had Florence. I expressed the colostrum for about 4 days but that’s it. I wasn’t in a good place physically or mentally so Ben and I decided formula was best.
With Eden it was a slightly different story. Great labour and I was much stronger emotionally, however I still stopped after two weeks. Why? It wasn’t right for us as a family. I was in tears whilst doing it through physical pain and stress, and I saw this made me completely unavailable to Ben and Florence for as long as I chose to do it.
Sure I’ve felt some guilt – and that was the killer. I know mums who absolutely love breastfeeding so why would they not do it as long as they could? But I’ve also known mums who do it in spite of pain, in spite of not enjoying it. Why? Obligation, social pressure, fear, a strive for perfection and more. All too often mum’s sacrifice their own happiness and do ‘the right thing’, and I’m not saying they’re wrong. I’m simply saying that we don’t need to conform to people’s judgement or scientific evidence, it’s way better to do what makes you happy and just love ’em. That’s what’s more important than anything. Feeding our babies is taking care of their basic needs, and vital for their survival for sure. But love is what makes our babies grow into healthy, happy adults.
So how do you love a baby? Work on eliminating your fear and guilt as much as possible because it’s impossible to be afraid and be loving at the same time. Relax about breastfeeding. Forget about what people might think. Remember always that you are going to do the best you’re capable of and right now that’s enough. We’ll all make mistakes with our kids that are far greater than giving them a bottle of formula. When we do make a mistake with them, we need to tell someone who can love us and let it go.
Breast feeding might boost your baby’s immune systems and even their IQ’s but does it make for happier people? Is it such a big deal that it should divide mums, create martyrs or mum’s riddled with feelings of guilt and inadequacy?
For the 50 or so years that you’ll be a parent, choosing to focus on what we feed our babies in the first 12 months seems a weird thing to focus on. Surely we should be asking: “How do I keep my cool and remain loving when I’m at my wits end?” “How do I raise happy, responsible children?” “How do I make my partner a priority when I give so much to my kids?” And a million other questions.
As I said, breast milk is amazing, this isn’t news. But how about creating happy and loving families? Now there’s something worth talking about.