I was about eleven when I sat in my little brother’s room watching my mom struggle to breastfeed him. She was crying in pain and was frustrated. The pump that my father had rented out, was loud and awful and she hated using it, because it hurt!
I watched her and saw how disappointed she was in herself for being unable to enjoy these moments of feeding her baby. He was three months old when she finally weaned him off. Enough was enough. She did her best, and it just wasn’t working out. Considering the fact that my brother was spitting up blood instead of milk was probably the biggest indicator that it was time to call it quits.
Breastfeeding is considered to be best. I am a breastfeeding mom and I support it completely. I love the bond and closeness that I share with my baby girl, and wouldn’t trade it for the world. However, I don’t think I am a better mom because of it.
Is breastfeeding really the only measure of a good mom? My mom is a strong and wonderful person. She had breastfed both myself and my older brother for over a year each. It was so heartbreaking for her to stop feeding my younger brother at three months. However, I don’t think she is any less of a mom to my younger brother than she is to my older brother or me.
Our society is so fixated on the idea that there is a “right way”, a “normal way” of doing things. Nevermind how women are put down by men, women put down each other. We are too quick to judge each other for anything and everything, and breastfeeding is no exception.
It is wrong to assume that women who don’t breastfeed are bad moms. Often they are put down for it because they are considered lazy, selfish, or stubborn. It is unfair. Breastfeeding is a choice that a mom makes, but sometimes despite how desperately she wants to do it, it just doesnt go according to plan. The judgement that people place on these moms is horrible. Comments such as “if only you were breastfeeding” or “what kind of a mother refuses to give her child the breast?” only breaks a woman down. What about moms who become overwhelmed or stressed, or are on medication or moms who just don’t produce any milk? Breastfeeding is very complex, and does not come naturally to everyone. It may even be challenging for moms who have already done it and were great at it, like my mom.
When my mom came to see her doctor in full depression because she could no longer breastfeed, he smiled at her and said “just because you can’t breastfeed, doesn’t mean your baby will starve ”. The fact that we live in a society where we have other resources to turn to, to feed our babies, is incredible. Therefore, even if breastfeeding may not work out, does not mean that a woman cannot feed her baby and be an amazing mom. And although breastfeeding does bond a mom to her baby, there are many other ways to bond besides breastfeeding that can be just as special. Just look at how babies bond to their siblings, fathers, grandparents, all people who will never breastfeed the baby, but will find special ways to connect with them.
The fact that my mother managed to breastfeed for three months is amazing. She did all she could, and I am so proud of her, but I am just as much proud of her for choosing to stop when she had to, and turn to formula feeding, because in the end that was a right choice to make, and she shouldn’t feel guilty about it. Breastfeeding is really an incredible experience and I do feel that I am very lucky to be able to breastfeed. I don’t take it for granted that I can, but I know that one day soon I will have to stop too, for no one breastfeeds forever. The main thing to take away is, just because breastfeeding ends or doesn’t happen, doesn’t mean mothering should. In the end, being a great mom and raising a wonderful person is what really matters, regardless if the baby is breastfed, formula fed, or both. Hurray to all the fabulous moms who do their best to give the best to their babies!