Not Everyone Can Breastfeed
These days it's pretty much social media suicide if you say anything bad about breastfeeding. Why? Cos breastfeeding is awesome - it has heaps of benefits for families and babies. You're on a blog about motherhood, therefore, you know it all - the pro-breastfeeding stuff is inescapable on the internet. So, what happens, then, if uh, breastfeeding doesn't work out for you?
Despite what everyone says, you don't always get to choose whether or not you can breastfeed your baby. Welcome to motherhood, where your best intentions rarely reflect reality. Enter depression, mum-guilt, stress and doubt. Maybe your inner voice is telling you one of these lies:
"You're a terrible mother."
"Everyone is judging you."
"What were you thinking? You can't do this parenting thing."
"Etc etc, just go hide in a cupboard somewhere and come back out when your kid is 18, he'll be better off that way."
I'm making light of it because no matter what choices you make as a parent, you'll probably be telling yourself some of these at some point. Even when you're breastfeeding (in public? Omg! With a nipple shield - omg! Covering it up? Omg! When your baby's that age - omg! Using expressed milk in a bottle - what the - omg. At night, still? OMG.) You can't escape the judgement or the inner voice that is constantly making you question yourself.
Look, the fact is, not everyone can breastfeed. And that is ok. Everyone needs to know this, including people who strongly support breastfeeding and those who don't care. There are some reasons people actually can't do it. They have no milk, or it dries up early, or their baby has latching problems. The pain is unbearable. They are taking medication which affects their milk. They have to be away from their baby for work or other reasons. They adopted. They have health reasons. Sometimes you can make situations work, but sometimes, despite everything you try, it just doesn't happen. And you know what? That is ok. Because the alternative is still awesome and full of benefits.
Feeding your baby formula is still good for your baby. It's a great alternative. The fact is, if you love your baby and provide for his or her nutritional needs, then you are a damn good mother. Not everyone can claim this much, so be proud.
And just between you and me, when all the kids are lined up for their first day of school, I bet not one of those judgemental parents can tell which kid was breastfed or formula fed. In the end, when you consider the long term, it's not as big a deal as everyone makes it out to be. Whatever your situation is, if you're doing the best you can, then be proud of your choices. We may as well enjoy this time in our lives instead of struggling with depression over the fact we can't breastfeed. What a ridiculous amount of pressure to put on new mums. If your baby is healthy, growing, and loved, you are doing a great job. You just have to believe it.