So many women are walking around feeling inadequate for either not wanting to breastfeed or not being able to. We need to stop being so hard on ourselves and get comfortable with the fact that everything is not for everybody!
After breastfeeding all three of my children and for different lengths and reasons, I have concluded that breastfeeding is a decision that needs to be made on a case by case basis.
I had my first child when I was 21. I knew I wanted to breastfeed, but I had no idea how intense the whole process would be! It was hard, and I struggled. I didn’t have the support that I would have liked at the time, and I did my best. Everyone around me was telling me to, “Give her a bottle already.” When my little girl was about two months old, I felt like I wasn’t making enough milk, and I panicked. Without a second thought, I switched her to formula. I was upset because I wanted to breastfeed for at least six months, but I got over it because I just wanted her to be healthy. I wasn’t willing to risk that because of my pride.
Ten years later, I figured I would give it another shot. There was so much more nursing support. Lactation consultants were showing me how to position my baby correctly, and they offered tips and tricks for milk production. They even showed me how to pump my milk, which was a long way from me trying to express milk a decade ago manually!
The first two months were difficult again, but I got through it. I preferred nursing because I didn’t have to get up and make bottles, but it was equally exhausting. After six months, I began supplementing with formula during the day and only nursing at night. People had a lot to say about that as well. How could I give her formula if I was able to breastfeed? In retrospect, the answer should have simply been because I wanted to. Instead, I expressed concern about my milk supply, as if I needed to explain myself! I stopped breastfeeding my second child when she was 11 months old as soon as I found out I was pregnant with my son!
Nine months later, I was seriously over breastfeeding. If I’m totally honest, the thought of another year of someone hanging off of my breast was irritating. This time I made the decision based on finances. My husband and I agreed that for obvious reasons, it would be cheaper for me to breastfeed instead of buying formula while we had two babies under two. The cost of diapers alone still makes me twitch. This time around, I ended up breastfeeding for 15 months. I got two teeth pulled, and I wanted to take medication without having to worry about what was getting into my milk. So, I cut him off cold turkey.
Each experience brought different drama and unwanted opinions. I had people telling me to put my child on formula and not to stress about nursing. Then I had people judging me for choosing to do both. Finally, I found myself in the position of being totally over it but doing it anyway. Each time I was so focused on what everyone else thought or would think of me. I never even considered what I wanted or what felt comfortable. So here is my advice to you…
Who cares if your best friend breastfed all five of her kids for two years each, that was her choice. Good for her and her babies. Seriously, good for them! I promise you her kids won’t turn out any better than yours because of her breast milk!
It is OKAY not to breastfeed. Whether your baby was born tongue-tied and couldn’t properly latch or you don’t want to be bothered with someone sucking the life out of you, it is your choice and at the end of the day and no one else’s opinion should matter.