I am a breastfeeding mom -- and proud of it! I know the benefits of breastfeeding and was lucky enough to have been given all of the support and resources that I needed to help me breastfeed successfully. I was lucky, and I hope that other moms will be just as lucky in having all of the support and resources that they need as well. I support breastfeeding and believe that there is nothing better for our babies.
Are you a breastfeeding mom? Have you ever stopped to wonder why the "formula feeding mom" next you isn't breastfeeding?
Was it by choice, or could it be due to a lack of knowledge about breastfeeding? Could it be that she didn't have the resources or the support that she needed? Does she have an underlying health problem that makes it unsafe for her to breastfeed?
Maybe she tried various methods, but was unsuccessful. Maybe her doctor told her that she couldn't breastfeed due to health reasons. Maybe she has a condition that makes it impossible to breastfeed.
These are all very real reasons why some moms, unfortunately, are not able to breastfeed successfully.
The story that hurt my heart is of one mom who tried everything to nurse: she saw the lactation consultants, she tried pumping, and she went to clinics. Nothing worked. This mom was also suffering from Postpartum Isolation, loneliness and depression. One day, she walked into a room and started feeding her baby and was called a "MONSTER!"
Why? Because she was formula feeding.
Was that fair? Should we do this to our fellow mothers just because they are not as lucky as we are?
When we see another mom bottle feeding, would it not be more helpful to give that mom some support? To tell her about the benefits of nursing, and try to find out her reasons for why she was not successful? Shouldn't we give her more resources, and point her in the direction of what worked for those of us who are successful? Maybe she was not aware of the breastfeeding clinics available, or maybe she didn't know about some of the breastfeeding myths out there.
Would it not be more effective to encourage this mom to try harder next time, if she has a second child, by being supportive instead of resorting to name calling, judgment and criticism?
If you are not sure how to broach the topic, you can use these Three Easy Steps to Discussing Breastfeeding, an adaptation of Best Start’s Three-Step Counseling Program©:
Step 1: Ask open-ended questions about breastfeeding.
Step 2: Affirm the mother’s feelings.
Step 3: Share appropriate information and refer mother to a breastfeeding expert.
For more information on the steps, visit www.beststart.org/courses
It’s sometimes easy for us to feel that we are better than other mothers just because we breastfeed. But motherhood is not a competition – it’s a sisterhood!
So let’s stop the judging. Yes, breastfeeding is superior, by far, to formula – there is no comparison. But a breastfeeding mom is not better than a formula feeding mom.
We should all make a conscious decision to be more empathetic towards our fellow mothers. Remember, most of the time, we do not know why a mother isn't breastfeeding, and she may have a very good reason. So let’s not make assumptions anymore.
Parenting is challenging enough without feeling like we have to compete with each other.