As many of you probably have already seen, the month of August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month, and this week was Breastfeeding Week. It comes as no surprise that the blog/social media world has been taken over by TONS of great articles meant to promote breastfeeding awareness. But along with all of those super positive posts, I've also seen an abundance of drama as well. In fact, I've even seen some say that this whole week/month is just a slap in the face to formula moms, or a way for breastfeeding moms to show they are superior. Personally, I do not see either of these statements to be true...but they do remind me of the bigger issue. You see, it seems that regardless of what side of ANY parenting issue you fall, there is always going to be someone who is going to criticize your decision. From how you diaper your child to vaccinations to the food you give them, someone somewhere is going to have something negative to say. Today, we're going to focus on the topic of breastfeeding.
For the formula feeding mom, they are often made to feel guilty. We all know that breastfeeding is the best and healthiest option, but it's not a decision that everyone chooses (or is made to choose). Those moms feel as though they are being told they are not being a good enough mom and that they should have tried harder to breastfeed.
For the breastfeeding mom, there are two primary complaints I see. First off, the issue of nursing in public. They are made to feel ashamed for feeding their child while out and about. They are asked to cover or feed their child in an unsanitary bathroom stall. Personally, I cover every time in public and yet I STILL get the dirty looks. For whatever reason, people are offended by and/or grossed out by it.
Should you choose to nurse beyond a year, the criticism becomes even worse. Despite the World Health Organization's *minimum* recommendation of two years (and as long as mom and baby are willing/able), so many people still find issue with a mother nursing even one day past a year. Having nursed my son for 3.5 years I've heard everything from the innocent inquiries ("You're STILL breastfeeding!?") to being told that it is disgusting, inappropriate and even likened to pedophilia. (What!?)
So if you don't breastfeed, you're criticized...and if you DO breastfeed, you're still criticized? Hmm, does this make sense to anyone else?
I'll be the first to admit that I am a VERY passionate supporter of breastfeeding. I do hope that all moms will at the very least TRY to breastfeed their babies. It has been such a rewarding (though not easy) experience in our family, that I want other moms to be able to experience that as well. Ever been to see a really good movie...or ate at a great restaurant and loved it so much that you just had to share with the world and share that experience with them? It's kinda like that. I am the first to offer advice and support to those who want it, because I see so many moms who truly, desperately want to be successful with nursing but were given bad advice and not been successful. Who can be of more help than moms who have been there?
STILL, I know what works for MY family may not be best for all families. I'm blessed enough to have the opportunity to be home with my children at all times. If I were to have to pump exclusively, would I be able/want to? I honestly don't know. I've pumped just a few times and it was a pain in the behind, with very little reward. I give moms who exclusively pump the utmost credit for doing so, because its certainly not something that everyone can do. I also experienced a LOT of issues in the first few months with my daughter. From allergies to foods I was eating (eggs) to severe pain that would literally have me in tears, it was not an easy experience the second time around. Sure, it was short lived and I was able to push through that, but had I not had the experience I had with my son before her, would I have been as determined to push through? Again, I couldn't say. It's hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel when you've not experienced it before. I could certainly see why many mothers would decide that it wasn't worth it.
Again, I don't see this month or this week as any type of insult to those mothers who choose not to breastfeed for whatever reason. I feel the real purpose is to support those women who HAVE chosen to breastfeed. To normalize it so that they can feed their babies whenever and wherever without fear of judgement. To educate those that believe that there is something wrong or gross about nursing. To encourage mothers who may be struggling with support and advice.
Do some make it otherwise? Perhaps...just as some belittle those who DO breastfeed. And that's truly the bigger problem isn't it? At the end of the day, we are all mothers. As mothers, we strive to do everything we can to take care of our kiddos in the way that works best for our families. For my family, that includes breastfeeding. For others, formula works better for them. And that's OKAY! At the end of the day, as long as our children are being fed- however we deem appropriate- then we are doing a good job. But if we are so busy arguing over who is doing it right, what are we teaching our children? Are we teaching them that it is okay to belittle those who think differently? That it's not okay to have an opinion? There is absolutely nothing wrong with feeling passionately about the subject and seeking to educate others on it...as long as you do so RESPECTFULLY!
There are great mothers who breastfeed, and there are great mothers who don't. Motherhood is hard enough without arguing over everything, so let's stop the mommy wars. Let's agree to disagree and remember that we don't ALL have to do everything the same way. How boring would life be if we did?
Did you breastfeed? Formula? What are your thoughts on the Mommy Wars? As always, I look forward to hearing your opinions, but do ask that you remain respectful in doing so...after all, that's what this post is all about: respect!