You couldn't or didn't want to breastfeed. There it is said. Despite all the pro-breastfeeding pressures and a ton of guilt, many times you bottle-fed your baby.
So what? It's time to play down the bottle.
“Do you feed him? »
“Until what age did you breastfeed your child? »
“Ahh! Do you give the bottle? Why didn't you breastfeed? »
What to answer when we haven't breastfed our child? Whether by choice or because our bodies just couldn't do it.
How not to feel attacked by these remarks? Our fragile self-esteem as a new mother is shaken each time by these little phrases. How to feel the weight of society, of scholarly studies and the gaze of mothers who breastfeed and who praise all its merits and benefits to us, when it is necessary to make the decision to breastfeed or not, alone in a small hospital room with a newborn screaming his hunger?
Breastfeeding is not always easy. Sometimes one may just not be comfortable with this method or comfortable doing it publicly. Sometimes our milk production is not enough for our little glutton. Sometimes we justnot want to be the only person who can take care of our child. Sometimes, after days of breastfeeding almost 20 hours a day, we want to stop so we can have some time to simply enjoy our new life. Sometimes, we may find the experience not so great as our friends and neighbors told us.
There are dozens of reasons not to breastfeed. Like there's so many to do. The fact is that for nearly ten years there has been a strong pro-breastfeeding wind throughout Quebec. Breastfeeding seems to be the only choice. Yet, that is not true. We always have the choice. Because being a good mom is not limited to the question: are you breastfeeding or not?
Better or not: that is not the question
Let it be clear right away, breast milk is the best food for babies. That is. But giving a milk formula is not as dramatic as some studies or some well-meaning people would have us believe.
The speech of Dr. Michael Kramer, eminent researcher at McGill University, is guilt-free. According to him, breastfeeding your child is neither more nor less important than not smoking, tying up your child, reading with him, playing with him, etc. According to him, we tend to exaggerate the benefits and place the blame heavily on mothers who opt for bottle-feeding for whatever reason.
Breast milk is not the miracle food claimed by many studies. The Pressmade quite a case of it last year. Although many studies boast of its benefits on intelligence (better IQ and enhanced cognitive performance), the immune system, the reduction of allergies, the prevention of obesity and diabetes and other aspects of he alth, Dr. Kramer raise a flag. Don't take everything at face value, he says. Some benefits would only be observable during breastfeeding (such as prevention against various infections), nothing more! Then, children fight viruses the same way whether they were breastfed or not! Even some children who have not developed any antibodies during breastfeeding are less able to fight off small viruses.
Follow the flow…or your instincts?
When you become a mother, everyone has advice for you. It's hard to sort out what we should do and what we shouldn't do. Everyone interferes with education and the way we take care of our children. Being more and more informed, we try to weigh the pros and cons of each study, inevitably wanting the best for our child, we end up going with the flow without even asking questions. We forget that we can – even that we must – choose what is best for us and our child. Not best dictated by major studies.
We would like not to send our child to daycare until he is two years old, but is this really possible and feasible? We can like our job, want to go back to itwithout being a bad mother. One can also simply have no choice; Unfortunately, the bills don't pay themselves! And then, we are not all made to stay at home to raise children. It's the same for breastfeeding. Even if the ambient discourse praises this practice, that does not mean that it suits us. And we must refuse to take the blame. We are not guilty of anything by giving the bottle.
Even the Quebec government has largely supported this pro-breastfeeding movement. The hard blow: remove from the guide Better living with your child, given to all future or new mothers, the pages concerning bottle-feeding. How the mothers, exhausted, very often feeling guilty for not breastfeeding and not following the precepts of the echo of society and not wanting to expose the fact that they are not breastfeeding or no longer breastfeeding, could meet there? How much to give? What are the tips or tricks? Exit! We had eliminated everything. Would it have been thought to remove the information on how to recover from a cesarean simply because it would be better to give birth as naturally as possible? Finally, in the new guides, the pages dedicated to baby bottles are back…
No shame…only choice
In the file of La Presse, mothers admitted to having had the feeling of being looked at askance because she gave the bottle. Some even said “I felt likegive him rat poison”, no less! However, there is no shame in giving the bottle to our baby. What should be remembered is that even if breast milk is always the best food for children, it is not the only possible food. Whether we breastfeed or not, it doesn't make us a better mom. Is a woman who has had a caesarean less good a mother than one who gave birth naturally with a midwife? Is the one who returns to work judged better than the one who stays at home? Being a good mother cannot be described simply. It is a set of factors that make us the perfect mom for our child and our family. And that ultimately only concerns us. It is a choice to be made that involves several others (are we ready for this investment of time and energy?, if we have other children, do we feel capable too?, etc.). Like all the choices we will have to make next for our child…
More so, a mom who is doing well, who feels good in this new role - probably the most important of her life-, who is comfortable with her decisions, she will be the most able to take good care of her child. Give the breast while crying all the tears in our body because we're tired, we can't take it anymore, we don't feel good, we don't like it without daring to admit it, it is not better for a child and his mother! A child needs a mother who is confident, loving and as rested as possible and able to spend good time with her whether she has chosen to breastfeed or not!
How did you feel about the decision to breastfeed or not? Enter your comments in the space provided for this purpose under the article.