do what is right for you

The amount of time  you breastfeed your baby doesn’t define your worth or success as a mother.

— @bumpbox (from a Facebook post)

id-10093202-baby-bottle
Breast is not necessarily best! (Image courtesy of kjnnt at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

This is something that has been festering inside me since my children were babies.

I couldn’t breastfeed. Physically couldn’t.

Believe me I tried … probably for longer than I should have because it took a huge toll on my mental health and my bonding with my gorgeous kids.

My daughter pretty much chewed me apart. I was expressing tomato juice for a while. Scabs everywhere.

My son just stopped putting on weight. It was horrible.

Both of them took to formula immediately. Neither of them ended up obese or with poor immune systems. They didn’t catch any more bugs than your average child — less actually. We were happier overall, and a bottle meant that my husband, parents and grandparents could experience the joy of feeding (and being puked all over) as well.

Why did I persevere for so long doing something that clearly wasn’t working?

The breast-is-best-brigade.

The breast-feeding-nazis.

Whatever you call them, this is the media, the ‘parenting’ guides, the medical staff, the well-meaning friends and family who say ‘Oh, aren’t you breastfeeding?’ or ‘Just keep going, it’s natural, you’ll get the hang of it, you won’t regret it.’

Just shut up already!

Breastfeeding does not work for everyone!

I don’t resent the mothers who can. Good on you. If it works for you and your baby, go for it. (And do it in public, whenever your baby is hungry. The people who pull faces about that can go get a life too.)

What I do resent is being made to feel like a failure as a new mother because I couldn’t breastfeed.

I know that nobody controls how you feel. Nobody makes you feel a certain way, you choose to feel that way. But, for a new mother who is struggling with fluctuating hormones, is on  a steep, steep learning curve and who is having ‘advice’ (which is frequently conflicting) shoved down her throat by every Tom, Dick and Harry — well, please excuse me for passing the blame. (I also know that advice is often well intended. But honestly, at the rate and volume at which this comes, I cannot merely say the advice is ‘offered’ even though the intent is good.)

Let me give you a hint … keep your advice to yourself unless the new mother asks for it.

The real kicker though, worse than all the comments about how to hold the baby, how to relax, how get the baby to attach … yada, yada, yada … is when people say, ‘Oh, you gave up. What a shame.’

Gave up? Really?

Formula smells awful! It is a pain in the neck to prepare, a hassle to transport and it is expensive. Formula puke also stinks to high heaven and the stains it causes do not come out.

Why would I put myself through that if I had any other option?

I wish it didn’t take me two children and two rounds of unsuccessful breastfeeding attempts to realise that I need to trust myself and do what is right for me and my family. Everyone else can go jump! I missed the joy of the first few months of my children’s lives because I was so consumed with the need to breastfeed.

My message to anyone out there who wants to pass judgement (about anything, not just breastfeeding or bottle feeding mums) — don’t.

Just keep your trap shut, because the odds are you don’t know the whole story.

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4 thoughts on “do what is right for you

  1. Loved reading and consuming the contents of your writing. How the joy of being a mother can be quantified with successful breastfeeding is beyond my comprehension!! As I’ve reiterated so many times, ‘One size doesn’t fit all!!’ and ‘To each his own!!!’.
    How well-meaning parents and friends dictated our lives , particularly in the past! I was a successful breastfeeder, yet much of the joys of parenting were denied me because I was seen not to be coping with the challenges that being a new parent presented. I often felt I was a failure. How sad!!
    Your writing is so thought provoking and invites me to ‘bare my soul’. You write so honestly and competently, Kellie. You may not have been a ‘successful breastfeeder’ but you are certainly a successful parent and writer!! Go girl!!!!
    Janet

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  2. Can relate to this. Louise was 6 weeks prem and was tube and bottle fed in hospital. When she finally came home I was breastfeeding then topping her up with a bottle then expressing. After a couple of weeks Louise was loosing weight (and she was tiny to start out with) and I was a wreck. I was terrified when I told the nurse that I wanted to fully bottle feed. Thank goodness she was understanding and assured me it was OK but I still felt very self conscious when I gave her a bottle in public. Fortunately Megan was full term and took straight to the breast but it was only then that I finally realised that the most important thing was that mother and baby we’re happy and healthy.

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    1. Thanks for commenting on the blog Anne. So many people have mentioned to me about their experiences since reading my post. Sometimes it just takes one person to open the flood-gate. I am honoured, in this case, to be that person.

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