Sunday, July 29, 2012
The Great Boob Debate
Breastfeeding VS. Bottle Feeding. It is a well known debate that can make family, strangers, message boards, and even the best of friends turn against each other. It is a decision that I am finding myself right smack in the middle of right now.
I have three kids and have breastfed and formula fed. My first born was a preemie and never really got the hang of breastfeeding, nor did I really have the patience given the fact that I was 19. The hospital wasn't very helpful either. After I gave birth they threw a breast pump in my room and told me I could pump if I wanted to. No one gave me instructions or offered to help me so I just gravitated towards formula since it was easier. When I gave birth to my second at the age of 24 (at the same hospital) the nurses were very helpful in assisting me with my desire to breastfeed. They brought in a lactation consultant, and instructed me on how to get my milk to come in. At the same time they also offered me the option to decline and take advantage of the formula they had there. That was back in 2010. I gave birth again this year and let me tell you just how crazy and pushy breastfeeding has gotten. First off, I will mention that I have given birth at the same hospital all three times and each time has been very different. The most recent time I went breastfeeding wasn't only encouraged it was pretty much forced. I was informed that they were a "pro breastfeeding hospital" which meant basically that they would no longer provide pacifiers, and were even very reluctant to allow me to supplement with formula until my milk came in. It wasn't a HUGE deal given the fact that I had already decided ahead of time that I intended to breastfeed. The nurses talked NONSTOP about how much better breastfeeding is and blah blah blah, I agree, but I didn't need it pushed down my throat.
I sat there in awe after one nurse had gone on, what I will call a tangent for over 30 minutes telling me how much better breastfed babies are compared to ones who are on formula. Now as I mentioned I had formula fed my first born and let me tell you, he has no problems and is incredibly smart, as we were asked if we wanted him to skip a grade. He also rarely gets sick and he did all of that without my "magical" breast milk. I took offense to her bashing formula fed babies and the parents who decided to put their innocent babies on that poison. However, as usual I kept my mouth shut...I mean lets be real she WAS in charge of my pain meds and that was the last thing I wanted to do was piss her off! But after she left I sat and thought to myself "who the hell does she think she is?" "How does she get off thinking she can tell me how to take care of MY baby, and try to force something down my throat (and technically my baby's)?" Essentially she was implying that only breastfed babies are healthy, smart, and better off, which just isn't the case.
Now before I piss too many people off, yes I know how beneficial breastfeeding is, I have breastfed two of my kids remember? I am in no way saying that it isn't scientifically the better option, but what I AM saying is that women who decide it isn't for them shouldn't be ridiculed or put down. It just isn't for everyone and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. It is good that this country is pro-breastfeeding and encourages it, but no one, and I mean no one, should tell someone how to take care of their baby unless the baby is not being taken care of, or unless a parent ASKS for advice. Other than that it is no ones place to instill their opinion on how one decides to feed their baby.
This all came about because while I have been breastfeeding my newest addition for the last 5 months (almost) we are having a lot of trouble, and so I have been tossing around the idea of "quitting", if you will, and going to formula. I have actually been thinking of doing it for a while but every time I think about it I get an enormous wave of guilt. That guilt comes from society in my opinion, that nurse, and just about everything I read lately that claims (pretty much) that if you don't breastfeed your baby, then your baby is doomed. In fact I Googled "want to stop breastfeeding but feel guilty" and 115,000 different posts popped up, all with multiple responses within each post, which means I am for sure not alone in having these feelings. Breastfeeding has to be something that you want to do, not something that you feel obligated to do, because if you feel obligated it will be a horrible experience for both mom and baby.
Ultimately I have decided that I am going to switch to formula. Maybe I am a little selfish but I am just ready for my body to be MY body again, and that's OK. I am exhausted from being on demand 24/7, not being able to go out when I want, or even having to time my grocery shopping to make sure I will be back in time to feed my baby again. Breastfeeding is a very demanding task and while some people may decide to breastfeed until their child is ready to stop, I am just not that parent. I think it will benefit both my daughter and I to switch because I am sure she is sensing how burnt out I am. Plus my husband and other family members can feed her once in a while, and my boob wont have to be "on call" 24/7.
The bottom line is that you should always do what you feel is best for you and your baby. Whether you want to give your baby the boob, or the bottle it is your choice and yours alone, I'm not judging. Please don't let people put you down one way or another. As long as your baby is being fed then I would say you're doing a good job! Just remember if EVERYONE breastfed then there would be no market for formula and they would go out of business, and I'm pretty sure they are doing OK.
So whip it out or mix it up...the choice is yours :)
So I guess you could say I'm pro-choice? Ok ok thats an entirely different debate for another day ;)