Happy World Breastfeeding Week! In honor of this week, I have a post up on Mid-Michigan Moms Blog titled: Breast May Not Always Be Best – But It’s Worth a Try! And as you can guess by this controversial topic; it ruffled some feathers. I was prepared for it – because I field negative comments about breastfeeding all day at work and well, it’s social media, so you’re kind of asking for it voicing any kind of strong opinion like that.
I wasn’t set out to change anyone’s mind. Can you really ever do that? And I certainly didn’t set out to hurt anyone’s feelings. My intent was just to educate. To reach people who aren’t on any certain side. Who are asking themselves these questions when they are making decisions on how to feed their future babies. To let them know there are people out there to help if they want to pursue breastfeeding.
The slogan for World Breastfeeding Week this year is: Foundation of Life.
Breastfeeding helps prevent malnutrition in all it’s forms, ensures food security for infants and young children, and thus helps to bring people and nations out of the hunger and poverty cycle. It is therefore, a foundation of life. Protecting, promoting, and supporting breastfeeding is vital to a more sustainable world.
I don’t want to rewrite what I wrote about in the post – so you should probably go read it first. But our society sets women up for failure. There are many health professionals who are not educated when it comes to breastfeeding. Access to lactation help is often limited. Workplace settings and maternity leave policies often do not support breastfeeding.
For someone who has no support, who has been misinformed or never received any positive encouragement – it’s almost like they never had a chance. I advocate for breastfeeding because I believe it is valuable but is often not treated that way.
I am not talking about the mom who has tried her hardest to breastfeed and it just hasn’t worked out. I’m not talking about those of you who for one reason or another were just not able to get their bodies to cooperate the way you wanted them to. I 100% understand that it physically does not work for everyone no matter how hard you try or the number of interventions you’ve sought. I understand there are so many other factors to consider that might mean breastfeeding just isn’t right for you.
I doesn’t matter to me if you decided formula is right for your family. Or if it was a necessity. That is your choice and no one knows better than you. That doesn’t make you a bad mom or a failure. And it doesn’t mean we have to put ourselves on opposite sides of the fence. It’s hard to encourage moms to breastfeed without talking about the benefits of breastfeeding which often leads to offending a mom who gave her baby formula. But it’s fact – breast milk is the optimal infant food. There’s research. That is not my opinion. Where do you think they got the recipe for formula?
But does that mean the nutrition of breast milk outweighs everything else in your world? Your mental health? Your baby who’s blood sugar levels are dropping? 24 hour a day screaming? NO! Mama’s – you gotta do what you gotta do! If breastfeeding is making you crazy or if it’s just not working, stop! You don’t have to breastfed! If it hurts – get help. It’s not supposed to hurt! There are other ways to do it!
People get so hung up on breastfeeding vs. formula feeding. You do you! I don’t care! I’ll help you either way. Just don’t bash people who are doing what they think it best – and that goes for both ways. I am a certified lactation specialist – part of the job is knowing when breastfeeding is not a good choice. If you need someone to talk to – I got you, too. We all need to support each other and I tried really hard to make that come through in my original post.
Thank goodness for formula, right? Formula exists for a reason and without it some of our babies would not. I completely understand that and would never want to shame a mother for doing what is best and what is necessary for both her, her baby, and her family.
The problem is – right in our own communities, formula is the first and only choice because no one told them otherwise. But you see, not everyone can afford formula. Even with the help of supplemental government programs that don’t cover everything baby needs in a month. Do you know what happens when a mom can’t afford formula? They put cow’s milk or almond milk in their 2 month’s old bottle. They mix twice as much water with the formula to stretch the bottles. Do you think those babies are thriving? Do you think formula is the best choice for that mom? But what other choice did she have if she was never told.
Being a breastfeeding advocate is about educating so that every mom has a fair chance to make the right decision for themselves and their families. It’s about supporting and empowering and congratulating every single drop a mom was able to give her baby. It’s not about creating sides or shaming moms into breastfeeding. It’s a good choice is all I’m saying – so give it a try. If it doesn’t work out good thing it’s 2018 because science is pretty amazing.