Friday, August 8, 2014

Breastfeeding: Does it define me as a Mother?

Posted by Tara

Breastfeeding. I have thought long and hard about this topic. I am seeing more posts and comments lately about it since it's National Breastfeeding Awareness Month and thought I would give my opinion on the topic. This post is in no way trying to stir up controversy, but I felt like I should talk to all those mother's that chose or never got the opportunity to breastfeed.

Let me give you a little background. I have five kids. I chose breastfeeding for my first, but after arriving home from the hospital, and waiting the first week, my milk never came in. I never felt engorged... nothing. I was DEVASTATED. I felt like in order to be a good mom, I HAD to breastfeed. This pushed my postpartum into full throttle and I struggled with depression for most of the first 6 months after having him. I hated myself for not being able to do the one thing that so many other moms made look easy. 

Second child, my milk came in. It was a very small supply, but I was happy to be producing anything at all. But my second child had a VERY small mouth and it made breastfeeding very painful. I gave it a good solid 6 weeks and finally had to call it quits. I remember sitting in my bathrobe on the couch and my husband telling me it was time to stop beating myself up and to just give the baby a bottle. I remember sobbing and feeling defeated.

Third child, I tried AGAIN, and decided that no matter what, I wasn't going to give up. I finally got to breastfeed. It was hard, but I did it.

My point in sharing my first couple of experiences is that our society makes "New Moms" feel like they HAVE to breastfeed. I find this silly. Is it a natural thing? Yes. Is it for every girl? Not necessarily. Every mother is different and every situation is different. Why do we put so much pressure on new mom's to do something that is sometimes much harder than it looks? Not every girl will be able to get it and some will walk away feeling terrible. After my first 3 kids, I didn't even attempt it with my last 2. It wasn't worth all the stress and depression that it would put on me to try to do it again. It boiled down to this: my children had a happier and less-stressed mom when I was bottle feeding my babies. What was more important?

I think after my 3rd child I finally realized that, hey... this isn't for everyone. Does it make me a terrible mother? No. I am just as good of a mother as the girl sitting next to me breastfeeding.

I know that breast milk has tons of nutrients in it that the baby needs, but I also know that formula has come a long way. Every bottle fed baby of mine was just as healthy and chubby as the breastfed babies. Did I have less bonding between me and my babies because they weren't breastfed? No, they were all just as much a momma's baby.

Here are a few PRO's that I learned to find in bottle feeding. Daddy Time. My husband was going to support me any way I wanted to feed our babies, but when it came to bottle feeding, he loved that he got to feed the babies too. He felt like he got an opportunity to bond a little more with them because of it. I often here how for the first year the baby prefers mom and many dads feel a little left out. My husband didn't feel that (except with the 3rd child that I breastfed). Date Nights. We could go out on a date alone for more than 3 hours. Sometimes when I was breastfeeding, by the time we got to dinner, we would have to head back and wouldn't be able to see a movie. And my in-laws loved the baby taking bottles as well. It made for an easier and more enjoyable babysitting night for them. Roadtrips. Roadtrips were easier with a bottle fed baby. Heck, even going to Walmart for groceries was easier. When I breastfed, I was always worried where I was going to find a seat to breastfeed in the middle of the store. After comparing the two, the only time I felt like breastfeeding was easier was at night. Until the baby started sleeping through the night, it was exhausting waking up to make a warm bottle. 

Breastfeeding is a wonderful experience for many women and babies, but if it doesn't work for you, please know that you are a good mother too and your babies will still be happy and healthy. I think overall, we all just need to be grateful that we have the opportunity to bring such blessings into this world and not focus so much on the little details.

I hope you understand that I know not every mother is going to agree or feel the exact same way that I do. These are just my feelings and thoughts on this topic based on my experiences. I hope that this finds its way to a new mother who couldn't breastfeed but really wanted to. Share it with those new moms that you know will benefit. Help them to know that they are amazing for bringing a precious baby into this world and they will grow to be an awesome mom!

Linking up with: Just us Four // Practically Functional // 

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At August 8, 2014 at 8:19 AM , Anonymous Linda said...

Just to affirm you and others who may have gone through this or believe it does make or break our worthiness as mothers, breastfeeding does not define us as mothers at all! Ever. Over from Domestic Superheros. Linda

At August 8, 2014 at 9:39 AM , Blogger Tara Carroll said...

Thank you Linda! Couldn't agree with you more! Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

At August 8, 2014 at 10:02 AM , Blogger Brie said...

I choose to breastfeed because I'm lazy and cheap! Lol. All jokes aside, before I became a mother I thought, just like you, that breast feeding was easy and natural and could see no reason why someone would really have to bottle feed except personal preference. Now, 6 years and three kids later, I have countless friends and family members who have shown me all the many reasons that bottle feeding is necessary. Wether it be poor supply, intolerances to moms milk, or returning to work and the inability to pump. It's hard to think that someone would feel like any less of a mother because of what her baby eats. There's an unfortunate stigma and controversy no matter what we moms do!

At August 9, 2014 at 12:54 PM , Blogger Stephanie Daigneault said...

I think Mom's have to do what they feel comfortable with and helps them stay relaxed while bonding with their babies. For me that was breastfeeding. I had to get back to work after six weeks so I pumped and did that until they were about a year old mixed with breastfeeding when I was able to be with them. It was certainly hard at times and I worked with a primarily male workforce. So there were for sure obstacles to overcome. I always breastfed in public and no one ever said anything to me. It seems like lately people seem to be voicing their opinions strongly for and against breastfeeding and I don't really understand why? A Mom needs to do what is right for her, the baby and their unique situation. Everyone else needs to butt out. My 2 cents.

At September 17, 2014 at 9:13 PM , Blogger Jen B. said...

Thank you for posting on this topic, Tara! As a health professional, I hate to see mothers beat themselves up over this. Yes, breast is best and it is specifically formulated for your baby and provides many benefits, but for some mothers it just doesn't work for multiple reasons including poor milk supply, medical or health reasons, or lifestyle/career. The fact is that formula is a perfectly acceptable substitute. I recently read some history facts on breastfeeding over the centuries which was very interesting...provided courtesy of an orthodontic journal (?):


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