Wednesday, September 02, 2009

OH MY GOD WITH THE BREASTFEEDING

I think that breastfeeding is a great thing to do for your baby if you can make it work. I also think that there are a lot of reasons one might not be able to make it work, and that those reasons are many and varied and formula is a-okay and let's all just move on.

I am breastfeeding my baby, almost exclusively, and yet I feel defensive about it. I think it's the right choice for me and Eve because I can, because I'm at home with her and because she took to it. Great!

But what if I couldn't?

The information out there -- blogs, books, hospitals, everywhere -- practically criminalizes the use of formula and I just don't understand why.

It seems to me that there are bigger issues in the world than whether or not I regularly stick a boob in my baby's face, but you would not know this from researching anything on the internets, ohmygod.

I guess it's just that I don't know why so many people care sooooo deeply about what I feed my baby. I ask in earnest: What is this all about? Do the strongly vocal "Nursing Nazis" (my nurse's term for herself, by the way, not mine) care equally about what, say, impoverished non-infant children eat? Does the La Leche League take a stand against Lunchables? (I'm pretty sure that Lunchables are far less nutritionally sound than formula.) Maybe it's just my own myopia, but it seems to me like there's some oddly misplaced ferver over encouraging women to breastfeed at any cost that would be better spent on, oh, I dunno, figuring out a way to ensure that all expectant mothers can afford to see a doctor regularly?

I'm not even anti-boob! It's just, well...

Once upon a time, when I knew virtually nothing about breastfeeding, I just kind of casually assumed I would go ahead and breastfeed when I had a baby. I thought breastfeeding was something that would come pretty naturally, and easily, and made sense, and gosh, doesn't everyone do it? Much like having babies in general, breastfeeding is something women have been doing since the dawn of humankind, so what's the big deal?

So.

A few months into my pregnancy I decided, rather haphazardly, to look into formula-feeding versus breastfeeding. I realized I didn't really know anything about either. Oh, I knew it was cause for some debate on mommyblogs, but I assumed that argument was fairly innocuous, like arguing over what color you should paint your baby's room.

HAHAHAHAHA.

Let me illustrate what every website ever developed that has anything whatsoever to do with "breast or bottle feeding?" looks like:

!!!!!!!!!!!!!BREAST IS BEST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!BRRRREEEEASSSSST IS BEEEESSSSSSSSSSSTTTTTTTTTTTTTT!!!!!!!!!!

Forgive my politicization, but I feel like asking the internets what safe and healthy bottle feeding options exist is maybe a little like asking your Catholic priest what safe and healthy abortion options might be.

But before you jump down my throat about that comparison, don't get me wrong. The "BREAST IS BEST" movement is like this crazy omnipolitical rallying point, where people on the far end of the conservative and liberal spectra unite. Those ultra-conservative Christian moms who blog about serving the Lord and their husbands? They LOVE the breastfeeding. Those crazy wacko granola socialist commune dwellers (and their urban SF counterparts I'm so fond of)? They ALSO LOVE the breastfeeding! And the wealthy stay-at-home moms? You betcha! And the power-lunching Type-A corporate types? Yep! And everyone in between! (Well, everyone except moms who have to go back to work and aren't given time or opportunity to pump. But that's a whole separate issue.)

The point is, it took me about four minutes of internetting before I felt like a complete asshole for even considering formula. GEEZ, I guess I should breastfeed, I thought. And left the topic completely.

A few weeks later, however, I happened upon the (aforementioned) Atlantic article called "The Case Against Breastfeeding." The article isn't actually against breastfeeding, it's just the author's take on how breastfeeding isn't the only option, and that research has only proven that the breast is maybe somewhat better possibly than formula even though you'd never know it from all the current pro-breast hype.

I appreciated the article, because it helped put into perspective what I'd already started to feel: guilt. I hadn't even had a child, hadn't even really considered not breastfeeding, and yet I was already feeling guilty about considering using formula.

Well. As my due date drew closer, it occurred to me that "Geez, I guess I should breastfeed" doesn't actually count as being informed about it. So I started gathering information about the details of nursing. I had zero idea about any of it. What tools would I need? Do I buy bottles? Do I need a poncho? How often do you do it? Do I need a pump? When do you start? When do you stop?

And THAT is when I stumbled onto a very popular blog and a very popular blog entry that had something like 200 comments all about the travails of breastfeeding. The author and the commenters were all pro-breastfeeding, but the post was about how it had been so difficult for the blogger that she eventually had to go to formula...and felt miserable about it. I spent hours poring over every comment posted in co-misery.

I'd had no idea it could be so hard. Know why? Because the "BREAST IS BEST" articles do not like to talk about how hard it can be. They like to say things like, "If you have any trouble, there are tons of resources available to help you 24-7," and "There's no need to give up!"

Give up? I wondered. Why would you give up? What don't I get about this breastfeeding thing?

And then I read and learned. I learned two things in particular:

1) Breastfeeding is HARD. At least, it can be. I mean, holy hell. Women who were dead-set on breastfeeding were sharing their stories of how they tried for days, weeks, MONTHS (like, months and MONTHS) of painful, stressful, sad, humiliating experiences before it either "clicked in" or they had to give up entirely.

Until that point, I'd believed that women who didn't breastfeed chose not to because they didn't want to be inconvenienced. (Which, by the way, I think they have a right to feel.) But I did not know that breastfeeding is this life-altering thing, rife with potential difficulties and physical challenges.

2) The ultra-pro-breastfeeding folks can sometimes feel like a cult. To this VERY VOCAL group, it's not enough to want to breastfeed. You must want to breastfeed exclusively. You should breastfeed for a minimum of a year, preferably two. You need to beware all nipples that aren't sticking out of your own breasts (no pacifiers, no bottles, not even bottles with breastmilk in them). "Supplementing" with formula is a baaad idea. Your body produces everything it needs to nurture your baby, period, end of story.

And I got mad all over again.

Here's what it boils down to for me:

I wish the "conversation" about breastfeeding could be a lot more honest.
  • Don't bombard me with all the reasons that breastfeeding might, possibly, potentially help my baby. Just say, "Hey, it's totally natural and clearly good for your baby." And if we engage in this conversation, maybe "...And here are some of the benefits that have been linked to breastfeeding."

  • I don't mind if we all start out saying BREAST IS BEST, but let's not also say, in the same breath, that FORMULA SHOULD ONLY BE USED AS A LAST RESORT. There are benefits to formula feeding. Let's not completely ignore them.

  • Let's not paint a false picture about how awesome breastfeeding is. Can it be awesome? Absolutely! Is it totally cool when it works and everything is in synch? Ohmygod YES! But it's not all nipple-sucking unicorns. There's engorgement and blocked ducts and mastitis and leaking boobs and nursing pads and pumping and trying to plan your day around on-demand feedings. And none of that is any fun. No, not every woman has problems, but many do. Let's TALK about how sucky those things can be (no pun) instead of pretending that they don't exist or that they're just minor inconveniences that women should just work through, la la la.

  • And while we're talking about how challenging breastfeeding can be, let's also discuss how breastfeeding is not the same for every boob size. Women with large breasts can't use the same positions or carriers or methods of "discreetly" feeding that other women can.

  • Let us be honest and sympathetic to women who can't breastfeed. I know several women who were physically unable to, and who were wracked with guilt because of it. Why make them feel worse by telling them -- at every juncture -- that they should really consider breastfeeding! And if they haven't tried it, breastfeeding is really the best way to go! And have you thought about breastfeeding?!

    Side note: It's my personal belief that Eve and I have bonded because I am the one who feeds her whenever she gets hungry, not because the food comes out of my boob. I sincerely believe that bonding happens when the baby recognizes you as provider/nourisher, regardless of where that nourishment comes from. I also feel strongly bonded to Eve when she falls asleep in a sling, skin-to-skin. Which, you know, any mom or dad can do.

  • Let's tone the conversation down just a bit. Some women will breastfeed and some won't and let's remember that one woman's decision doesn't have ANY IMPACT WHATSOEVER on YOUR decision. There isn't just one right way to do things. We're all trying to do the best that we can.

I'd talk more about my personal experience with it so far, but this post is long enough already and I haven't started packing yet and we're getting on a plane first thing in the morning, hoo boy. But I'm looking forward to sharing because I know some of you reading this are pregnant and worrying about what to expect and would probably love to have someone tell you that breastfeeding is no big deal and can be totally easy. Which is what I'm going to say.

42 comments:

  1. Honestly, both breastmilk and formula contain nutrients for the baby. The only real difference I suspect is the presence of maternal antibodies in breastmilk. All these will do is give your kid a slight head start fighting off whatever you may have been exposed to if such should come around again. But the child will soon begin making their own antibodies to everything, and there is no guarantee that Baby is going to run into exactly the same common cold that Mommy did once upon a dream. Also, most illnesses in the developed world are either not that serious, we have vaccines (or herd immunity) to prevent them, or they're REALLY hard to catch as a baby (unless obviously transmitted from the mother already).

    So... I don't understand the uproar either. This sounds like the same sort of deal as religion, where everyone is telling each other the same damn thing, but they're all so busy TALKING that they can't hear that.

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  2. "boob sucking unicorns" may be the best phrase in the history of the internet.

    My daughter wasn't breast fed. Neither was I after month 3 when I decided I'd rather not be and according to my mother "screamed until they plugged my face with a rubber nipple". One of my sisters was until age 1 year. The others for various amounts of time between birth and a year. The time length determined by a variety of factors. Like one sisters absolute need to attmept to bite everything that came in contact with her mouth firmly in two and anothers allergy to milk proteins. And you know what? WE ALL TURNED OUT JUST FINE.

    Women need to support one another rather than make a contest out of everything. No one is a "better mother" than someone else for choosing to breastfeed. You just made a different choice. A choice that was best for you and your baby. The end. Let's move on to something important like "should you allow your child to watch Dora and that stupid ass talking map".

    The answer to which is obviously NO. Unless you are a bad mother.

    Just kidding. But not very much.

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  3. You left out another reason for toning down the condemnation: there are families which have a genetic quirk that makes it impossible to breast feed (they do not produce sufficient milk). Those women feel bad and like a failure because they cannot breast feed. There is no need to heap more guilt on them for what they cannot physically do.

    I know, I'm married into a family that for generations has not been able to breast feed. It hurt my wife immensely when all the judgmental comments and media barrage hit her.

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  4. I absolutely love this post, especially what you say about the hardcore pro-breastfeeding clubs and leagues and organizations not being (or at least not seeming) as rabid about child nutrition. God, no one is handing out pamphlets at McDonald's or starting a Leafy Greens Are Best campaign. I mean, sure, we all want healthy kids, but why make hormonal, terrified new moms feel like such a failure and then turn a blind eye to all the overweight, undernourished children.

    Made me think of this debate in a while new light. Thank you!

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  5. I got hit so hard with the MUST BREASTFEED hammer that I spent the first 30 days of my daughter’s life pumping to keep up my milk supply while desperately trying to get my little, little girl to latch to my big, big boob, which she did exactly ONCE and never again. I had "resource" after "resource" after "expert" after "expert." They all had the answer. Unfortunately none of them ever worked for me.
    My memories of that time are so muddled and sad that I can barely dredge them up without crying. It was a happy day when I finally stopped all of the drama and sobbing and worrying and started feeding her formula. Mealtime finally became a glorious, joyful time for both of us. And motherhood grew into a joyous thing.
    To the Nazis I say, fuck you. I used to think you wanted what was best for every baby. Now I believe you just want to control other people’s lives and make women who aren't you feel like shit.
    Stop, please. You're not helping. And the pain you cause is unconscionable.

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  6. I'm going to chime in my two cents - for what they're worth ...

    16 1/2 years ago the whole "Boob-Nazi" thing was very popular here in the land of Zion. So I breastfed my daughter until I went back to work when she was 2 months old. I HAD to go back to work ... we were 2 crazy and poor kids making minimum wage. My beautiful daughter survived drinking formula and is now vegan, I wonder if it had anything to do with consuming mother's milk?

    Fast forward 3 years - we are making a bit more money I can stay home and want to have another baby. So we do. I breastfed my son for a whole 2 weeks...we were both MISERABLE ... he wasn't getting enough to eat ... I was always sore and engorged because I swear to this day that boy was born with a full set of teeth! We switched him to formula after 36 hours of both of us crying non-stop...much to my "Boob-Nazi" sister and best friends dismay! My son is now a strapping 13 year old 5'9" 140 pound, football playing, back talking, typical pain in the ass teenager who has never had an illness more than a bad cold.

    I say - whatever works best for Mommy and Baby is BEST!!!

    So to the Mommies to be - Good Luck with your precious ones - hold them tight - they grow up all too soon!

    Blessings : )

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  7. When I had my first child I tried so hard to breast feed. It wasn't the mania it is today to HAVE to do. My doctor just told me that if I could then my daughter would get immunity from a lot of pathogens...that doesn't happen with formula. However, after a while I just couldn't deal with my poor hungry little baby wakiing every two hours. It was just better for both of us that the bottle was in vouge in 1962. The children who were born later..well, they were bottle fed and not one is a serial killer. The youngest is a "cereal killer" like me, but what the heck....blame it on society. We just like cereal :)

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  8. Ok this is what I don't get about it, particularly in the US. Everyone is yelling about "breast is best" but maternal leave is what? 6-8 weeks? (I'm Canadian, this is what I've heard, please tell me if I'm wrong. I know we gey *way* longer.)

    I know that in some states they have to legally allow working mothers pumping space, and in others they don't (and in some states taking breaks to pump can get you fired).

    So...all these people who are judging moms for not breastfeeding, do they have extended maternal leave? Are they allowed to pump at work? Is their family financially well off enough that the mother doesn't need to work? There's so much more to it than just boobs.

    I just wish (yet again) people, but women especially, would stop judging other women for making the best decisions they can for their family. I know, I'm a broken record on that point aren't I?

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  9. One of my friends had the WORST pain when breastfeeding with her first child and had it again with her second. She also doesn't have enough milk. So she tries to breastfeed as much as possible and supplements with formula. Unfortunately, a "lactation specialist" heard this at my shower and berated her about it for 15 minutes. The woman just gave birth 12 DAYS ago and you are going to subject her to your opinion?? Ridiculous.

    Needless to say, I felt AWFUL for my friend. She let me know of the psycho "breast is best" people and if I am lucky enough to be able (or want for that matter) to breastfeed any future kids, I WILL NOT be a psycho breast is best person.

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  10. Sassymonkey, if the company is over 100 people they have to give you 6 - 8 weeks. BUT they don't have to pay you for it.
    I work for a teeny tiny small business, I had my baby in November and came back to work part-time in January. We were so slow that I ended up being on unemployment til the end of March.
    This was the only reason I was able to breastfeed as long as I did. Once I came back to work (still part-time)There was no where at work to pump really. And on the days I was home I couldn't produce enough to both feed her AND have bottles for the work day. So we supplemented forumula took over, I pretty much dried up by 6 months. She's in fine health, hitting her milestones, will be a 1 yr old here soon.

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  11. Thanks for your honesty. Now, no matter what I end up doing, I won't let people judge me.

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  12. I really have nothing to add because wow...you really covered it and covered it well. It's been years (11.5...gasp) since my kidlet was young enough to nurse but I'm anxious to hear about your experience.

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  13. I must be leading the world's most charmed life, because I've never had anyone speak to me in authoritarian and condemning fashion regarding anything personal (well, except my mother and she was busy raising me... so she gets a pass). It's hard for me to fathom anyone attempting to force their opinion on another person regarding personal decisions: one's health, weight, choice of spouse, religion, politics, etc. Why does such a self-centered people care so much about what others are/are not doing? My mother didn't breastfeed, and I can't due to breast reduction surgery (and have no interest in it anyway) but I do believe if anyone took me to task about that or any other personal issue I would say "This topic is not open for discussion and mind your own fucking business."

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  14. Love: "asking the internets what safe and healthy bottle feeding options exist is maybe a little like asking your Catholic priest what safe and healthy abortion options might be." AH HA HA HA HA HA, and also YES.

    I didn't even really liked getting PRAISED for breastfeeding, because I didn't like the feeling I got from it: "Good girl, doing The Right Thing. Otherwise, we'd have something to say about it, but you're on the side of right THIS time."

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  15. I had that feeling of guilt a bit when I had my daughter too and this was 28 almost 29 years ago.(Why do I feel so old saying that my daughter is soon to be 29?) Anyway...She'd only take one side and the side she took got too sore to feed her on so I pumped a bit then went to formula and never looked back.
    My sister-in-law said once that my daughter never would have had to have braces on her teeth if I'd have breastfed her. But even after breasting feeding her daughter for three years she still needed braces. And she did breast feed three kids for 7 1/2 years straight! But the oops fourth kid was bottle fed, I can't imagine why!!

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  16. Thank you for this. Before I had my daughter, I had always just assumed I would breastfeed. I even went to breastfeeding classes when I was pregnant. Then I had to go on some medication that both my doctor and my daughter's pediatrician told me I shouldn't breastfeed with, and they both advised me to switch to formula. Even so, I felt horribly guilty about it, and I literally cried when my milk dried up. Being in that situation, it really didn't help when people would take it upon themselves to tell me about how I should really breastfeed. I once made the mistake of mentioning on an internet forum that I wasn't breastfeeding without going into details about why, and I got tons of replies saying I should be, with some going as far as saying I must not love my daughter if I didn't breastfeed. Even some people I knew, who knew what the situation was, told me I should just go against my doctor's orders and go off my medication so that I could breastfeed. I still feel kind of sad that I couldn't, but since I've read what you've written and the article you linked to, I don't feel so guilty anymore. And for the record, my daughter's three now, and she's perfectly happy and healthy, and we've bonded just fine, despite her having been bottle-fed.

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  17. This is the most brilliant, pro-woman, feminist, honest, intelligent essay I've ever read about breastfeeding - and I am 3 years out from my experiences of nourishing my newborn. I especially hope all new mothers get a chance to read this.

    I was one of those women who tried, who suffered, and who spent 6 weeks of hard-core training on HOW to breastfeed my newborn. I spent 12 hours a day either attempting to bf or attached to a hospital-rented, industrial-sized breast pump. I had books, supplies, expert help from my neighbor who is a lactation consultant, and luckily lots of friends, a husband, and a mother who supported me and whatever worked to keep our baby human nourished and content and loved. My mother told me that while I was in labor, my OB looked at her and said, "Don't make your daughter bf," and winked. My OB told me the same thing, I just wanted to soldier on and make it work for all of the reasons we all know. In the end, I couldn't - and once I made that decision, I was free to just enjoy and love my sweet little newborn and truly life got SO much better at that moment. He also slept through the night after a few "dream feeds" of formula. Today, he is healthy, happy, funny, smart, strong, and full of joy - and today we are off to meet his pre-school teacher.
    Thanks for writing this. It's awesome and I hope it travels far and wide and reaches many good, sane, loving people.

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  18. With my first daughter I had started out the preganancy with the same "If it works, that's great" philosophy. But then I got all the PRESSURE and after she was born I was miserable trying to breastfeed and she was miserable and hungry but I had SUCH a hard time quitting because it was WRONG! And I think I got right to the brink of depression before I finally did.

    With my second, my husband said right away WE WILL SUPPLEMENT. She was only five pounds at birth and she couldn't latch on and at the hospital at 2am I called the nursery and told them I needed something to feed my baby. And guess what? When all the pressure was gone and I could give her formula when I needed to, breastfeeding (well, pumping because she couldn't latch) didn't feel so difficult anymore and I did it until I went back to work. And I didn't cry over it once.

    Thanks for writing this. I know you took a chance on lots of judgmental comments. I hope some pregnant women read this and lose the pressure!

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  19. "Maybe it's just my own myopia, but it seems to me like there's some oddly misplaced ferver over encouraging women to breastfeed at any cost that would be better spent on, oh, I dunno, figuring out a way to ensure that all expectant mothers can afford to see a doctor regularly?"

    This is an excellent point. Thanks for bringing this up! I'm not going to rant in your comments, but I've thought about this a lot! I was friends with a single mom a few years ago, and one day I saw the list of what she could buy with the WIC program...it was all processed junk. Fortunately, things have gotten somewhat better since then (NJ started a program where you could use food stamps and such at farmers markets).

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  20. Excellent. Now please post about:
    1) SAHM vs. WM
    2) Sleep-training vs. co-sleeping
    3) Deciding how many children to have.

    I think you can have the Mommy Wars wrapped up in two weeks, tops, and then for bonus points you can address teaching religion (aka OMG), corporal punishment, and how kids can and are raised just fine by a single parent.

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  21. "Do I need a poncho?"

    I love you, man.

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  22. After two weeks of searing pain, little to no milk, crushing guilt and sobbing, little to no sleep, beginning to resent being a mom, I switched to formula and all was well. My son is now a strapping 13 year old and by the looks of things will hit about 6'2".

    By the way, "nipple sucking unicorns?" BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

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  23. I was born in 1962 and back then, formula was all the rage. It was considered to be better than breast milk, so my mother was given a shot to dry her up, and I was sent home with formula. Only I was allegic to it, and puked all the time. They ended up raising me on milk and karo syrup...

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  24. I was always annoyed by the people who said if you do it right, it doesn't hurt. Oh yeah? I WAS doing it right, and it HURT!!!

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  25. Thanks for posting this. My son is 11 days old and I've been trying to breastfeed but we have had latching problems it's been so difficult that I'm not sure I can keep going with it. On top of that I wasn't producing enough milk and we had to supplement with formula for a few days. I've spent so much time crying and feeling horribly guilty for even thinking about giving it up, but unfortunately when I go back to work in 4 weeks, I just don't think it's going to be possible to continue. All of the crazy Breast is Best people and literature out there really do a number on new moms who are struggling enough already. It's nice to read your post and see so many commenters speaking rationally about it.

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  26. I abolutely adore your blog and love this post. It's great to read about both sides for once, not just the "Nazi" breastfeeding side. You never hear that it's "ok" to formula feed a baby. But honestly, if it wasn't "ok", they wouldn't make it, right?!

    My very healthy almost-13 year old son, who is almost taller then I am, and who has not missed a day of school in years, was never breast fed. Ever. I had several reasons not to breast feed, but the most important reason was that it was my choice and my decision. And I'm ok with that.

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  27. Thanks for the sanity injection. Selby had a crazy sensitive stomach and no matter what I cut out of my diet, my milk made her scream and puke. What a nightmare of guilt and failure. So I felt completely justified for flipping off the total stranger who lectured me on the damage I was doing by depriving my baby of the manna from my tit. Telling her to mind her own f*&^ing business? That was probably over the line.

    I'm really glad breast feeding is working out for you and Eve. It was such a joy with my oldest and youngest.

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  28. I must say this post is amazing! With my first son I was encouraged, wait HOUNDED to bf by my mother & mother-in-law who both bf for 2+ years. Well he came out 2+ weeks overdue STARVING!!! I tried and tried while he starved and screamed. After 5 days of screaming and constant suckling, he was losing weight and I had no milk. So a short 14 month later when the second one came along I thought surely I will get a boob full of milk... NOPE nothing not one single drop. I pumped the entire 4 days I was in the hospital only for the doctor to come in and suggest I give it a rest because for some reason I wasn't producing any milk. I never once leaked a drop on my bra or shirt, they never got big, hard, hot, & glamorous (WHATEVER!). My boobs are simply BROKE! I feel guilty about it a lot, I am thoroughly bonded with both my sons but I sometimes wonder if I could have bonded more if I would have nursed them. Thankfully they are both healthy BIG boys & I think that science has come so far in formulating formula that it's pretty darn close to the REAL DEAL!

    Heck will probably thank me someday because I wont have those GOD AWFUL stories like my mother does of nursing me in church, work, grocery store, and anywhere else I decided to get hungry.
    Great post!

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  29. I was fortunate in being able to nurse both my sons for about 5 months each. However, since one was about 2 1/2 months old and the other 4 weeks old when I went to work, I was not able to nurse all day -- and I didn't pump-and-store. They had formula (gasp!) during the day and continued to nurse successfully at night and in the mornings. They both thrived and grew and didn't get attached to pacifiers or other substitutes. And were easy to wean when they (and I) were ready. As a child of the 70's, I wanted the "whole" experience, but being somewhat of a rebel about authority, I did my own thing and it worked for me. A friend of mine tried breast-only for a couple of weeks and her daughter almost died -- they were not able to tell how much she was getting and, being inexperienced parents, weren't clear on the signs of malnourishment. I believe in taking advantage of new research and ideas, but using a BIG DOLLOP of common sense. Do what is right for you -- babies adapt.

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  30. You are awesome. I breastfed my first exclusively and my second almost exclusively, supplementing with formula occasionally. Amen, sister. AMEN. You have made some fantastic points!

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  31. Here's my question. It's one that I've always had when this comes up. And duh, I'm not breastfeeding nor will I be at any point in the near future. Here goes:

    Who cares? Really. I don't understand how women make it their business to see how another woman feeds their baby. Some women behave as if it's physically painful to them to see/hear that another woman isn't breastfeeding. But why do they give a damn? Maybe I don't understand because I'm not a parent. Or maybe because I come from a family of avid breastfeeders and so it was never debated in my everyday life.

    I don't know. I suppose I'm being silly for wondering why so many others care.

    It seems that things are going swell for you and your kid if your kid is gaining weight and healthy. Which should be the end but it isn't.

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  32. To Heather B.: Because people are rude and just can't mind their own business. I chose to have just one child and when he was younger EVERYONE, friends and strangers told me I should have another one to give him some company. That wasn't a valid reason to me. Another reason perfect strangers gave me was "in case something happens to him, so you'll have another." WTF? He's a child, not a car tire. Like I'm not going to be devastated just because I have "another one." Sheesh. Mind your own damn business, people. Whenever this came from someone with three or more kids I felt like saying "I think you have too many kids, it's irresponsible of you and you can't give them all what they need emotionally and financially. I think you should give one up for adoption." See how THEY like it.

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  33. Amen, sister. Good reminder that all moms want the best for their baby, so let's be supporting of whatever decision is made. What's funny is that in a couple years none of this debate will matter to your happy, healthy, well-adjusted, perfectly fine kid - it'll be "Is she walking yet? How many words does she have? What preschool did she get into? Does she play any sports? What swimming ribbon does she have?" And on and on...

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  34. Thank you. Really, really. I wish I had read this two years ago when I was having so much trouble. I wanted to breastfeed and I gave it my all. My baby was literally sucking blood from my nipples and I still tried for weeks. This post has really helped me let go of some more of the guilt over that.

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  35. THis post was awesome. I am one of the women who CHOSE to use formula rather than breastfeed - and boy did I get a scolding from the nurses at the hospital. The way they treated me was almost as if I was intentionally abusing my child or something. Because of the shame society tends to make you feel about not breastfeeding, I told everyone that it was because I had to return to work, and I didn't want to go through the hassle of starting something and then having to pump at work. But honestly, I just didn't WANT to do it. It's my body, my boobs and I've known plenty of formula fed babies who've turned out just fine. I even love Jesus and I'm pretty sure He's cool with my choice to not breastfeed. My son is almost two months old and aside from a little colic, he's healthy, happy and growing. And me and my boobs are happy. I'm glad you wrote this. It should be published in every mommy magazine!

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  36. My 2-year-old's Mother's Day Out teacher let us know she "frowns" on the use of Lunchables. Just so you're prepared for the judgment the lunches you pack are subjected to in the future. It's amazing to me what we can beat one another up about. I think people try to convince others to do what they're doing because they don't really feel self-confident inside and if they can convince others to do what they do then they'll feel "right" about their choices.

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  37. Oh my god, it hurt like hell and I gave up after a month. He's now 27 and perfectly fine, thank god.

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  38. Hurrah! And Thank you. What a wonderful post.

    When my first daughter was born, she was premature and would not latch. After 6 weeks of tubes, finger feeding, pumping, nipple shields, engorgement, and holding a screaming baby to my breast, I went out bought a damn bottle to feed her with. I did pump, so she drank breastmilk, but I have been informed (by people who apparently judge such things) that I did not breastfeed her because she didn't suck that milk directly from my body.

    I pumped for 10 months. TEN MONTHS. And know what? It was worth it. Being bottle fed meant my husband could bond with her, and (shocking) I could go out if I wanted to.

    When baby #2 came, also premature, I brought my own pump to the hospital, and was providing the nursery with bottles of pumped milk within 48 hours of her birth. And when the Nursing nurse came by, I told her to go away. I didn't need lectures about how pumping wasn't sustainable without nipple contact or ideas of how to make her latch on. I pumped for 9 months with my second daughter. NINE MONTHS. Go suck on that Breast is Best.

    Again, great post!

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  39. Thank you, thank you, thank you! This is the best thong about BFing I've ever read. As someone who was unable to BF for MANY reasons, I truly appreciate it.

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  40. Thank you for this. I am adopting a baby who is due in August, and this stupid CNN article came out right in time to make me feel like a total failure. I appreciate more than you can know someone who is able to look on both sides and even while able to breastfeed, able to make me feel like less of a dick for not being able to.

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  41. As a mom who tried to breastfeed but couldn't, thank you for this post. I think I love you.
    : )

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