Scrolling through social media I am guaranteed to see a precious picture of a mother breastfeeding her baby with the inevitable hashtag #normalizebreastfeeding. Breastfeeding is a beautiful gift mothers are able to give to their children and should be absolutely celebrated as an accomplishment. This is what we are made to do. Before formula if a woman couldn’t breastfeed her child he or she would perish unless a wet nurse or other nursing mother would step in to help. Breastfeeding is as old as we are.
I always have another thought however when I see these social media posts. I feel a pang of sorrow sprinkled with resentment towards this mother who is sharing this picture without thought of how it makes those who couldn’t breastfeed feel.
My view wasn’t of a sweet babe at my breast but of a pump attached to me every two hours. My twins were born very early and never gained the skill to suckle. We had to keep them on slow bottle nipples for a long time because too much too fast would cause them to vomit and also make it difficult for them to breathe.
I did the best I could to keep up supply but when you’re only pumping, and need to provide for two, it’s hard to keep up the supply. I was about five months in when I started having bad bleeding and swelling. I would sit there are cry as I pumped and watch the milk turn red. My husband begged me to stop, asking why I was torturing myself. Formula was just as good he told me. We were using it anyway to supplement.
But it wasn’t good enough for me. It was good enough to all the other moms which is why we are pressured to breastfeed amid the many other options that are out there. Yet my husband was right, I couldn’t do it any longer and formula was perfectly acceptable. I was exhausted and 1 1/2 hour feeding sessions (pumping followed by feeding two babies) with an 1 1/2 break before starting it all over again was too much. I’d be going back to work soon too.
Why We Should Think Twice
So many women can not breastfeed for a multitude of reasons. Preemies, babies with health issues, food intolerances too vast to dissect, cancer, other health ailments, or the simple choice not to. Instead of normalizing breastfeeding we need to normalize feeding our babies. While I know much of it is to do with people getting uncomfortable seeing a woman breastfeeding her child in public many of the posts I see do not embrace this.
Let’s celebrate feeding our babies! Don’t make formula feeding so taboo that a mother using formula feels like she needs to be the one hiding in the restroom. Embrace the differences in each of us as mothers and as parents doing the best we can in the best way we know how.