FEEDING A BABY CAN BE A STRUGGLE
Some people who are very dear to my heart struggled with breastfeeding, one of them being my own mom. She nursed me for an incredibly painful month and a half and decided to stop when she found me spitting blood from her injured nipples.
She had absolutely no support. There were no lactation consultants she could talk to and her own family was very far away, on the other side of the country. She is, of course, not the only one who has been failed by a system that tells parents breastfeeding is best but gives them no tools to overcome the many challenges they might face.
As a woman and as a parent, it seems like no matter what you do, you can be shamed. Some formula feeding parents are shamed for "not doing the best" or "not trying hard enough." Some mothers who breastfeed are shamed for doing so in public and carefully scrutinized on how they do it (for how long, how often, etc.)
I personally had to defend my choice to feed on demand, my choice to not give my 4 month old any water during the hot months of Mexico’s Northern dessert, my choice to exclusively breastfeed during the first six months. My choice to continue nursing all the way until my son was three and my milk dried up during my second pregnancy.
There is pride on reaching your goals, especially when you had to overcome big challenges.
There is pride on formula for saving lives and providing nutrition when breastmilk is not available.
There is pride on breastfeeding for its many benefits to mom and baby.
And more than anything there is pride on finding solutions that work for you and your unique situation while muting the noise of unwanted advice and opinions.
But the way in which you feed your baby is not the bar by which to measure how good of a parent you are. There is no such bar.
I’m a fierce feminist and I strongly believe in people’s right to chose whatever works best for them, but I want these decisions to be well informed and supported. And definitely, I would hope those decisions are not influenced by abusive cultural attitudes like the objectification and shame surrounding the female body or the constant blaming of mothers for whatever choices we make.
If you're one of the mothers who struggled with breastfeeding week, I feel you.
If you're one of the mothers who has been shamed for breastfeeding in public, I feel you too.
I can only hope that our culture keeps progressing towards supporting parents and stop the comparison madness that is coming from these "us vs. them" attitudes.