There’s an interesting article that was posted this weekend in Saturday’s Globe and Mail by Margaret Wente illustrating the ongoing battle (yes battle) between the breastfeeding and formula feeding camps. I promised myself I wouldn’t let myself get sucked back into the debate now that I have an infant again. It seems like it’s so prevalent when you have a baby under the age of one – some people get outright hysterical about defending their position on the topic – and then once your baby moves on to the next stage of life you’re dealing with other issues altogether and the big bad breast vs. formula debate suddenly isn’t as interesting.
A few months ago when I was still pregnant, I wrote a post explaining why nursing products wouldn’t be a part of my reviews on the blog and was humbled and saddened by some of the comments left by readers. It makes me angry that so many of you were left feeling guilty or inadequate having not been able to breastfeed or for choosing not to as I have. I feel especially bad for those who educated themselves, made the decision to breastfeed and passionately wanted to do so only to have problems along the way. I can’t relate to that but can certainly understand how frustrating that must be.
Reading some of the comments left after the article by Ms. Wente, I was again saddened…and then angered at some of the stgories left by moms who shared that they were left feeling guilty for either not being able to breastfeed or choosing not to – whether it was from comments given by nurses, lactation consultants, their mothers or even their best friends.
Before each of my babies was born, when sharing my choice to formula feed with friends, I was always given at least one warning to “be careful” or “look out” when in the hospital because surely some aggressive nurse or LC was going to hunt me down and go head to head with me while my feet were still up in the stirrups. I prepared myself – Feisty girl was ready to brawl – but it never once happened.
Three deliveries in three different hospitals here in Saskatchewan and not once did a nurse, doctor, or anyone even turn their head to the side to ask, “Why?” and I’m not sure why that was. My only guess is that, each time, I stated my choice was to formula feed exclusively so there was no indication that I was on the fence and therefore had the possibility of being swayed one way or the other. My opinion is that, if there is a chance a new mom might breastfeed, there is therefore an argument to be made to her on why she should. Add in the exhaustion from labor, the fear of everything that comes with being a mom to a newborn baby, and you’ve got a mom open to most anything you’d suggest (yes, formula too…it goes both ways, it’s just that the posters and pamphlets in the hospital are all about breastfeeding).
I don’t know what would have happened should a nurse or doctor been silly enough to go toe to stirrup with me on my choice – I doubt I would have felt guilty or pressured but that’s likely more to do with my personality than anything.
Since this wasn’t my experience, is it still very common to feel pressured to breastfeed while in the hospital? It’s a fine line here – there’s a difference between being pressured and being educated on your choices. Is the pressure something real or is it the perception of the new mom? Breast is best, we hear that over and over and the medical community shares this message which I don’t think there’s anything wrong with. My issue is with the pressure and the guilt inducing comments some people say are coming at them in the hospital.
This wasn’t my experience – was it yours? Is the guilt being put upon new moms or self-imposed?
If it’s self-imposed guilt for the perception that you’ve somehow failed at motherhood, mama you need to rest up. You’ve got a lifetime of failing at being the perfect mother – because she doesn’t exist. Do right by your children and be the best mother you know how to be. The sooner we all stick to that mantra and ignore the judgement of others, the further ahead we’ll all be (on our way to the playground). Meet you at the sandbox.