To Breastfeed or Not to Breastfeed?

>I know…it’s been more than a minute since I’ve blogged, and my re-entry into the blog world is about breastfeeding? What’s up with that? Well, remember we talk about a little bit of anything and everything here, and parenting issues are near and dear to my heart. This is probably the most widely discussed parenting topic out there, right next to “cloth vs. disposable” (diapers, that is).

This afternoon, I was reading this blog/article on parentdish.com (http://www.parentdish.com/2010/04/13/baby-formula-is-not-rat-poison/), written by a woman who actually DID breastfeed her children, but was also a supporter of formula. I thought I’d add my two cents for all those moms-to-be out there. Be careful, I also feel a rant coming on! It’s been 3 1/2 years since I first had to contemplate the breastfeeding choice and that’s exactly what it was…a choice. I am so very sick of mothers (and fathers for that matter – contrary to popular belief, men need to be able to at least voice their opinion about anything that concerns their children. And no, I will not duck when you all throw the tomatoes at me for that statement. I’m not afraid to stand up for the Dads out there) being chastised for the decisions they make concerning their children. The bottom line is, any parent worth his/her salt is a “real parent” not because they conceived and bore a child, or not because they chose one form of something over another, but because they have made a commitment to put the welfare of their children before their own. And that they have committed to being the best they can be for their children. Now that’s a pretty tall order – we are selfish by nature, so even though they’re real cute and cuddly, it is sometimes difficult to put their needs before our own.

But as usual, I digress…I was talking about breastfeeding, right? Actually, no. This blog is more about choices and the consequences of the choices we make for our children. Well…I guess I’d better stick to the breastfeeding issue and I’ll come back to choices later. (Note to self: Start a series of blogs on parental choice – public vs. private school, to spank or not spank, hmm…)

OK – I’m focusing, I’m focusing…Breastfeeding, right? It saddens me that a woman’s motherhood is tested by her decision to breastfeed. To me, breastfeeding is not the end all. Yes, there are health and nutritional benefits, and bonding opportunities, and all that other good stuff. But when we put that kind of pressure on mothers, especially when there is a perfectly legitimate alternative, it makes non-breastfeeding mothers crazy! When I was pregnant with my son, I actually read the benefits of breastfeeding, and I decided to give it a try, but had also decided what formula we would be using, just in case. I chose to breastfeed because of the health benefits, and the bonding opportunities, but did not think formula was the devil. I did not think that breastfeeding would make me feel like more of a mom. I knew my baby would love me whether I gave him breastmilk or formula – as long as he got fed!

The irony is that we still put pressure on ourselves. I had difficulties breastfeeding. When I came home from the hospital, I was so obsessive about getting Izzy (our son) on a schedule, I didn’t like the arbitrary-ness (yeah, I know that’s not a word) of the breastfeeding schedule. If I couldn’t measure it, I didn’t know if he had had enough, and I was just a hot mess. After a month, I decided to stick to formula and after a few days of grieving my decision, I got over it and moved on. I was disappointed because I felt I had betrayed my commitment to breastfeed. I wasn’t worried about losing any health benefits – there are perfectly healthy formula-fed children out there. So by the time our daughter was born 2 years later, there was no choice. I didn’t want to go through the emotional struggle again. We were going straight to the formula. Enfamil had served us well.

So to breastfeed or not to breastfeed? The purpose of this blog is not to provide you the answer. There is no correct answer. My only answer is to do your homework and make a wise decision. But also realize that sometimes biology is not in line with our decision, and you may have to go another route. Just know that if you make parenting decisions with love and due diligence, then don’t let anyone get on your case about them.

Let me get off my soapbox, before someone knocks me off! Love y’all!

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