Current media is saturated with stories of women who are fighting to normalize public breastfeeding. In most mommy circles, breastfeeding is expected and praised. There’s a sense of pride and accomplishment that comes with the act of breastfeeding. It’s a beautiful gift that mothers give their children. Women who choose to breastfeed deserve credit for their sacrifices and devotion.
However, the same grace is never afforded to women, like me, who made the choice NOT to breastfeed. I have been judged for being an uncaring mother, criticized for not having to monitor my diet post pregnancy, and considered selfish for the choices I made. No one asked me why I didn’t breastfeed. They were sure they already knew. So, I’m here to stand for the mom’s that choose not to breastfeed.
Here’s the Reason Why:
I Didn’t Want To:
Pure and simple. I waited for that feeling or internal draw to breastfeed. I waited for the desire to arrive. I felt guilt that I never had that same feeling other Moms have. There was no inner motivation or deep desire to nurture my child in that way. I had the opportunity to attend classes. I considered it for a long time. But I just never wanted to. That was all there was to it.
My Husband Wanted to Be Involved:
Breastfeeding creates a special bond between a mother and a child. But it also means that unless you pump on a regular basis, you’re providing the majority of the feeding experiences with your child. My husband wanted to be an active part of the feeding process. He wanted to be responsible for his equal amount of the feedings. We created these children together and we cared for them together.
I Didn’t Feel Comfortable Nursing in Public:
Other people nursing in public doesn’t bother me at all. I commend them for their confidence. However, I am a hot mess, not so graceful person. I always felt incredibly uncomfortable with the idea of nursing in public. I was afraid of the inevitable nip slip or having some kind of major mishap. I couldn’t handle side eye from onlookers or judgmental people. I was already judging my own parenting skills. Not only would that incredibly embarrass me, but the idea made me very uncomfortable and solidified my decision not to breastfeed.
It’s A Lot of Work:
Rashes, and diets, and sitting for hours. Pumping, and pads, and special bras. It all sounded like a giant chore. Latching, and football hold, and lactation specialists. Scared me half to death! Pregnancy alone threw my body into a giant tizzy. I wanted a little bit of my normal self and routines to come back. I wanted to be able to concentrate on caring for the baby… not whether or not I can eat broccoli.
It Felt Un-Sexy:
It’s ok. Put down your pitchforks. I know, sexy is different for everyone. But something about having romantic encounters and breastfeeding just felt awkward to me. I wanted to be able to continue my sex life post baby as similarly as it was to pre-baby. I’d done the research. I was not going to leak milk all over my husband because I was having a rush of the right kind of hormone. I didn’t want to have sore and insensitive breasts for months. I also wasn’t sure that if the milk bar was open all day for the baby that I would have energy left for my husband at night.
So I didn’t breastfeed. We used a wonderful formula. We spent a lot of time and money picking out specific bottles and formula we thought would be the most beneficial for the baby. We read and compared labels until we understood the difference in the .2% of iron or DHA in one formula over the other. We bought slow and fast nipples and replaced them when worn. We boiled everything and used an antibacterial soap to be sure that every tiny germ was killed.
We took feeding time seriously. Just because I didn’t breastfeed does not mean I propped up a bottle and walked away from my 2 month old. Just like a nursing mother, we made a bottle and sat and fed the baby while holding them in our arms. When they were small we did this skin to skin to ensure bonding was achieved. Yes, it started with formula, but it ended the same way it does for those who breastfeed. A full and happy baby. Or even better, a peacefully sleeping baby.
Today, all of the bottles in my house are gone. I have fully healthy and happy babies. They are smart, kind, and contributing humans. They are exactly the same as your nursed child. My 13-year-old son studies astrophysics for fun. My 2nd grade daughter is reading at a 4th grade level. My toddler, well she’s destroying things before my eyes. They are just as smart and equivalent to your nursed child.
So yes, medically and statistically, breast is best. But for me, mentally and emotionally, breast was wrong. It doesn’t make me selfish. It doesn’t make me a bad mom. It makes me the kind of person that knows themselves and what they are capable of. It means that I cared enough for my child to know what was healthy for me. It means I was strong enough to stand up to the criticism of my mom’s group. It also means my kids got a mom who loved caring for them in her own way. So nurse on my friends. I’ll just be over here scooping formula.