When it comes to breastfeeding, we all start out with the same thought:
I’m a woman. I have boobies. How hard could it be?
Enter the irony of breastfeeding. It seems like breastfeeding should be all so very natural and instinctual and yet it just isn’t. Breastfeeding takes practice and support and lots and lots of lanolin cream. My breastfeeding struggles caused many a 3 a.m. nervous breakdown. They caused many a painful nipple blister. They caused many a feeling of failure. With BooBoo, I pressed on, and on, and on like I had something to prove even when nothing but guilt kept me going. In the end, I was ever so glad I did press on (and on and on) but I’m far from a lactivist.
To the mother who is riddled with crippling guilt and suffering super dramatic breastfeeding breakdowns, just know, it’s OK not to breastfeed. I wasn’t breastfed and look how well I turned out. Ooo, maybe not a good example. Boy Wonder wasn’t breastfed for medical reasons and look how well he turned out (better example). Baby formula isn’t rat poison. Choosing to formula feed doesn’t make a bad mother. You aren’t lazy. You aren’t uncaring. You aren’t anything but a mother who made a choice.
This choice is only the beginning. You hold the cards. Yes, you. The one who feels like she doesn’t know what she’s doing. The one who wants so desperately to do it right. The one who will learn in time she can never truly fail so long as her heart is in it.
I know breastfeeding feels like the end-all/be-all of good mothering and I’m here to proclaim loud and proud that it just isn’t.
Yes, yes, breast milk is best, let’s say it all together now. Of course you want the best for your infant but if you’re nothing but a postpartum train wreck on account of breastfeeding and you don’t have the access or energy to seek out the support you need for success, I’m here to give you an out. Permission even, because sometimes all you need is a random person without medical training to offer permission. So there you have it. I probably just lost half my readers but you might as well know how I really feel.
Your mental health as a new mother matters; it matters more than anything – even more than breast vs. bottle. Your baby has an amazing connection to you and deserves the best you can emotionally offer. Allow yourself the freedom to protect your fragile postpartum psyche, please.
OK, so the guilt might follow you for a while, I know how that goes but take comfort in knowing your decision was made for a reason, and a good one at that.
For those deeply committed to breastfeeding success, latch on! Even the formula mamas of the world applaud you for your decision.
They’re your boobies, it’s your baby. Do what makes sense for all three.
Sound off; tell me about your breast vs. bottle decision!