Breastfeeding is beautiful, breastmilk is elixir for babies, breast is the best.
Don’t we mothers get to hear this all the time since we become pregnant?
But no-one actually talks about breastfeeding being difficult, painful, and even traumatizing for some of us. While most mothers are able to breastfeed their babies, mostly with a little assistance, the fact is that 2% of all mothers can’t produce enough milk, regardless of their physical or emotional condition. Imagine the emotional pain a mother undergoes when everyone is screaming ‘breastfeed your baby’ and no matter how hard she tries, she is just not able to lactate.
And then we demean, judge and label a woman who is bottle-feeding her child.
In this article, we talk about these 2% of moms who couldn’t breastfeed their babies even if they wanted to. And the ones who chose not to breastfeed for whatever reasons of their own.
Breast is certainly best, but not at the cost of a mother’s emotional and mental well-being.
Most of us are convinced that we will be able to breastfeed, and when for some reason we aren’t able to, what we have is a fussy baby, who is unhappy, and an exhausted mother who is feeding every hour in the hopes of increasing the supply or getting the hang of breastfeeding.
A mother may not be able to produce milk if she is suffering from postpartum depression, has been exhausted, is anxious or is having a medical problem.
A medical problem, a traumatising delivery, birthing complications, lack of knowledge and support on latching a baby are just some other reasons a mother may choose bottle for her hungry baby.
At other times, mothers are scared or repulsive to the idea of breastfeeding. Sometimes, improper guidance and advice weighs so much on a mother that she chooses to pick a bottle instead of battling endless nights cursing herself.
But do we ever consider these possibilities. No, we only choose to shame, judge and shun the mother who chose to enjoy the convenience of bottle feeding.
And then, there is a sea of advices – eat garlic, don’t eat citrus, pump every hour, and what not, As if the mother does not have her hands full already. Adding to the pressure is the market of gadgets and the successful stories linked to them. Another week of exhaustion, crying and tears.
Is the idea of bottle feeding such bad that a mother be made to feel guilty all her life? No. True, breastmilk contains antibodies and nutrition and many minerals and vitamins and is ideal for babies – but is ideal always possible? Ask yourself – have you always held ideals above the realm of possibilities?
If you chose the bottle, that is okay. Really, that is alright. Choosing a bottle over breast is perfectly alright if you wish it so. You are not starving the baby, you are doing everything in your capacity to make him healthy and thrive well. That’s because you are the mother. And you NEED to know and ACCEPT that you are right.
And then comes the emotional bomb – breastfeeding is the way to feel connected with your baby. If you are not breastfeeding, you are missing the connection. It is about the touch, the spiritual, soulful connection.
But breastfeeding is not the only way to feel close to your baby. It is not the only way to hold your baby close to your heart. It is not the only way to find relief in holding your baby in your arms, knowing that she is safe.
There are other ways to do that. What is important is you love your baby unconditionally, no matter what. You can maintain eye contact with your baby when bottle feeding her, or hold her in breastfeeding position to feel her close. Motherhood is not breastmilk dependent, motherhood is more, much more than the mere ability to breastfeed a child.
Don’t beat yourself up if Nature isn’t working for you. Not being able to breastfeed when you have wanted to do the same all the time could come as a shocker, but it is not about you being a failure. And in no case, should you blame yourself.
Do give yourself some time to feel sad, but eventually, accept and move on without feeling dissatisfied and kicking yourself to have tried another day, another time.
Whether its by choice, or by neccisity that you chose to feed your baby formula milk, be aware that you are giving your child the best you can. Commercially sold baby formulas are nutritious and even contain some critical minerals and vitamins. If your baby is growing well, is healthy, then you dear Mama, need not hold any regrets.
You Mama, are doing the best for your baby.