When I was pregnant with Emma, I went to childbirth classes, La Leche League meetings, and Attachment Parenting groups. I knew what kind of a Mom I would be. I would be a drug-free, intervention-free birther, a child led weaning breastfeeder, and would never yell at my kids. I was going to be the best Mom ever, no doubt about it.
When Emma was born though, it was a different story. She was footling breech, so I needed the expertise of a good Doctor to deliver her via C-Section. She was a sleepy baby, so I came thisclose to using the formula the hospital gave me. She didn't live long enough for me to lose my temper with her, but I am sure I would have.
In the last 9 years, my parenting has shifted, changed, and adapted to what is best for my children and my family.
I have always been blessed with an abundance of breastmilk. Actually, I am blessed with an over abundance of breastmilk, which can be a problem in and of its self.
I am going to be brutally honest and tell you something. When Emma and Seth were babies, I looked down my nose at those who were bottle feeding. I thought to myself, "They just didn't try hard enough." or "they are lazy and don't love their baby as much as I love mine, because I am giving my child the best" or "They just didn't have the right education or support because SURELY if they did, they would be breastfeeding".
While I am ashamed to admit it now, that was my attitude until Amelia was a baby. I was at a La Leche League meeting when a Mom came in and was feeding her baby with a bottle. I was a bit taken aback and was shocked that she would bring artificial nipples and BOTTLES into LLL. Then, I looked at her baby. Her baby had a cleft palate and couldn't nurse. She pumped all the time to still give her baby breastmilk, it was just in a bottle.
My attitude started to shift. I began to see Mamas giving their babies bottles a little differently. I realized that just like no one knows my struggles and my story, I don't know theirs. A bit of tolerance was born.
In the last 5 years, I have met MANY Mamas who try and try and try to breastfeed and for one reason or another, they just can't. Either they don't have a great supply, they have to go back to work and can't afford a good pump, or they have health issues that keep them from breastfeeding.
When I got pregnant with Seth, I hated when people assumed that he was my first. I hated that they assumed I knew nothing about having a baby. I hated that people thought that Seth was the oldest...I still do actually. But, that experience taught me to never judge by what I see on the outside.
There are Women who struggle with their decision to breastfeed or not. But here is the thing, it is their decision, not ours. It is not anyone's place to judge what someone else chooses for their family. As long as it is not putting their children and family at risk, who are we to judge?
The breast vs. bottle debate is a big one and it has been going on for decades. There have been Moms in both camps saying they are right and the other is wrong. I feel that now, we are starting to actually listen to each other, and that we are learning that what is right for one person, might not be right for someone else. We are listening and learning and growing together.
While I believe that unequivocally breast is best...I also believe that sometimes it isn't enough. I know that I am very blessed to be able to nurse my babies and have them be healthy, happy, and thriving. But, I am also not so naive as to believe that is the case for everyone. I know that there are women who try, and just can't. I know that there are women who don't even want to try and while I *cough* still have a hard time with that, I respect them and their choices they make for their families. See, I can not agree with something you do, and still respect you and your choices. Just like I would hope you would do for me.
No one likes to be judged. No one like assumptions to be made about them. We will not make any headway in educating people about breastfeeding by being militant, close minded, and down right rude. Annie, from PhD in Parenting, just wrote an amazing post about this very issue. Until we can stop yelling and stop judging, we won't get anywhere.
So, let's stop for a minute and listen. We may be amazed what we will hear in the quiet.