Breastfeeding is amazing.
There’s nothing else quite like it in the mother-baby relationship.
It’s nutrition, protection, warmth, bonding, comfort and love all wrapped up in one simple act.
To think of all the wonderful things a mother can give her child just by feeding from the breast, it’s staggering the kinds of benefits that can be reaped from such a thing.
Breastfeeding takes on a far bigger task than just filling a baby’s belly. It contributes greatly to neurological, immunological, digestive and social development. Just by sucking on the nipple, a baby receives a major boost to her overall health, before any milk ever gets in the mouth.
Breastfeeding is a go-to for any problem a baby might have.
Nighttime fussiness, teething, illness, injury, emotional distress and a lot of other things can be soothed by simply nursing.
And while breastfeeding might come with a special set of issues, the amount of convenience it provides can make up for it. Sleeping longer, staying snuggled up warm with baby when it’s cold out, no exorbitant expenses, nothing to clean, no worrying about fetching a bottle or warming a bottle up, less air bubbles in baby’s tummy and less tummy upset overall too!
As long as baby is with mama, there’s no worrying about how to feed. Breastfeeding really is amazing.
I don’t breastfeed.
On October 4th of this year, I had a baby girl and she has never been breastfed.
The exact reasons as to why are unimportant. This isn’t about what happened or what I should have done or still be doing. For now, I have made the choice to pump my milk, though I also suffer from low milk supply. The keyword here is that I suffer from it.
I suffer from not breastfeeding.
At the start of my pregnancy, I set my goal for a year.
At 6 months though, I would wean to a bottle and pump. As time went on and I learned more about breastfeeding, I ended my pregnancy with visions of breastfeeding a toddler, her happily nursing away for two, maybe three years, maybe even more.
I was in love with the idea of nursing.
By the time my baby girl reached a week old, she still hadn’t latched.
We both spent hours upon hours crying.
It took me a while to admit, but I finally came to terms with the fact that I had postpartum depression and it was almost entirely related to my failure to breastfeed.
While no one was telling me I had failed, I believed it was my failure. And every time she drank from a bottle, it tore me up inside. It killed me that I wanted so badly to breastfeed and couldn’t, but there are so many women out there who think nothing of breastfeeding and could do it with little effort.
Everything about it was heartbreaking and I became embarrassed by it, ashamed that I couldn’t feed her from the breast.
I was afraid to be seen in public using a bottle, couldn’t bear the idea of being seen as one of those mothers.
But that was a horrible attitude to have. What if one of those mothers were just like me? What if they were just as distraught about bottle feeding as I was? Why did it even matter?
After realizing I was in a very deep pit that only I could haul myself out of, I sought out help from the internet and was blessed to find MOBI, an online support group for women with breastfeeding problems, many of whom don’t breastfeed at all.
It was also then that I found out just how common it is for women to not be able to breastfeed. It was then that I knew I was very far from being alone and there were women out there taking it even harder than me.
A few things became abundantly clear: sometimes, no matter how hard you try, how long you try for, how much help and support you get, how many tools and tricks you utilize, it just doesn’t work out.
It is not the end of the world.
Motherhood is not defined by any one act and the more important thing every mother can give her baby is love.
For me and my baby girl, the mantra is “Mother is best,” not the breast.
Every time I pump my milk, I’m pouring my heart out for her, giving every bit of my love not because it’s my milk, but because it is all the effort, time and pain I go through for her. The simple fact that I want to give her the best is enough to declare that I am not a failure as a mother.
Giving your all to your baby is all it takes to be a good mother, regardless of whether or not your parenting plans work out.
Maybe you have severe back problems and can’t wear your baby in a sling. Maybe you have a sleep disorder and can’t snuggle with her at night. Maybe you just don’t have the time and patience to dedicate to elimination communication. Or the one many women can relate to: despite all of the work and research you put into having a natural birth, you ended up with a c-section or heavily intervened birth. Sometimes, things just don’t work out and it really is ok.
There are so many other things you can give your baby every day that more than make up for any perceived shortcoming by not having those things work out as planned.
Giving her love, affection and attention, cuddling and rocking her to sleep, singing and dancing with her when she fusses, playing silly games with your fingers and face to make her smile; these are all things that comprise a wonderful mother.
If you’re pregnant now, just had a baby or trying for one, always remember to give yourself a break. It’s great to plan for things, but reality doesn’t always work out how you want it to.
In the end giving your baby the best in life is all about loving her. Nothing can beat that.
My name is Cassandra. I’m a SAHM with an October baby. My husband and I were both raised in traditional American environments, but after a lot of research during pregnancy, found ourselves drawn to the attachment parenting and holistic lifestyle. We love learning and growing as first time parents right along with our wonderful baby girl.