Breastfeeding or not, you are a great mum!
by Madlena Szeliga • email@example.com
Each baby is different and so are the mothers. While acknowledging the benefits of breastfeeding we cannot let mums who feed their babies with formula feel less of a good mum. And vice versa.
Oh, how we love to judge. It’s so nice and easy to have a strong opinion. We know best, don’t we? And we seem to think that they are usually wrong. And if by ‘they’ we mean young mothers, we can skip the ‘usually’. People tend to think they are wrong. And know nothing.
As a mum of 2 myself, I’ve heard it all - he is too hot, he is too cold. Let him cry a little (it will make him braver and more self-dependent), don’t let him ever cry (otherwise his brain will be damaged forever). He should wear a hat, he shouldn’t wear a hat. You just can’t get it right.
It’s the same with feeding. My first son was formula fed and when we’ve shared a picture of him being fed by his dad, one of the first comments we got was: “The bottle already? Where is his mom?”. It felt horrible.
A lot of close and not-so-close friends came with genius pieces of advice:
“You should drink some ginger tea.”
No one really asked, why I wasn’t breastfeeding. The truth is - neither I nor my son knew how to do it. He was (still is) very impatient and would cry if the milk was not pouring into his mount immediately. I was stressed about him not eating. One thing led to another, and the milk was gone.
This is just a bunch of judgmental things I’ve heard through the first year of his life:
“He will have a terrible immune system” - not true, really. He is the healthiest boy I know.
“He will learn to speak later than his peers” - again, they couldn’t be more wrong. He was speaking in full sentences by the age of 1.5.
“The bond between you two will not be as strong” - can’t imagine a stronger one, trust me.
“You’ve chosen the easy way” - only if you call preparing formula at 1am, and then at 4am easy.
“Mother should always do what is best for the baby. And breastfeeding is the best” - while I agree that breastfeeding is the most beneficial way to feed a baby, I have to stress this - a mother must do what is best for her & the baby. And sometimes the best she can do is to feed with love, but using a bottle.
My second son was exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months of his life. Exemplary, right? The truth is, he just knew how to do it from the very beginning and it suddenly got easy for me, too.
You would think this time there won’t be any judgmental comments in the air. But of course, there were.
Some would say: “So how much longer are you going to be breastfeeding?” with a strong suggestion that it’s high time to quit - I still am breastfeeding & he is over 1 year old.
But I’ve also heard: “I would not give up my freedom for so long” - meanwhile I feel as free as a bird, being able to go with my baby anywhere not worrying about food preparation facilities.
“You will never sleep at night” - while the studies show that breastfeeding mums get 45 minutes of sleep more each night.
“Your breasts will never look good again” - we will see about that, but I don’t really care.
And the worst one, from another mum: “I find breastfeeding repulsive” - and this is just very, very sad.
It seems like there is no right way to be a mum. You are always doing something wrong. But I really think it’s the other way round - any path you take as a mother, you can be a great one! Breastfeeding or with a bottle in your hand.
It’s very similar really. Seating in a comfy chair, with a baby looking at your face. Day and night. Every 3 hours (or less). You are being close & together.
Think about this for a while, please. And never criticise a mum, who is doing her best.
Parenthings is a series of articles for all mums & dads from one mum, who tries to stay calm no matter what, but hardly ever achieves this idealistic goal.
When you are a parent, each week brings new challenges, worries, victories, naps that came too late, nights that ended too soon and stories that will be told every Christmas from now on.
You will hear all about it. If you want to share your PARENTHINGS - write to me - firstname.lastname@example.org.