I have an awesome extended family and although I live far away from them across the world, we keep in touch and always try to see each other when I travel back home. My cousin Amy and I have been great friends and LOVE to make fun of each other’s parenting styles. As Amy describes, we are COMPLETE opposites when it comes to parenting so we have heaps of fun pointing out our differences. You see, we completely refuse to buy into this, “mommy wars” which the media loves to go on about. Almost weekly I see some sort of blog post, news story or media campaign that is dedicated to this idea that all of us are judgmental, disgusted and shocked at how the “others” parent. Amy and I are both loving mothers who would do anything for our kids, we just make completely different decisions when it comes to how we raise our kids, one of these differences is how we chose to feed our babies and toddlers. Amy breastfed for a short time and then switched to formula, while I have breastfed my children for a long time and have not used formula.
I asked Amy if she would write up a little story about her breastfeeding experiences. How she did not want to breastfeed at all and had no plans on doing it, and why she ended up changing her mind. She breastfed for six months with her first and five months with her second before switching them both to formula. Do I judge her for this? Not for one second! I think it’s so awesome that her journey took her from not wanting to breastfeed at all to breastfeeding for six months! Twice! She also continued to breastfeed and pump after she returned to work. Here is her story… (My thoughts are in grey…you didn’t think I’d let her have the whole post to herself did you?!)
So Megan is my first cousin, I am ten years older than her. Our father’s are brother’s and we all have A LOT of laughs when we get together!!! I absolutely adore her, and her family. I got to spend time with them this summer and it was WONDERFUL because I have not seen them in so long. (Amy and her family live in the USA and I’m all the way in Australia 😥 )
Now I am VERY different than Megan…. I was looking forward to taking drugs during child birth (the horror! hehe), I circumcised my boys, they slept in cribs, I had (and still do) a very set schedule, I bathe them every day (then and now), and (I am afraid to admit it after reading the blog post the other day) I let them cry it out!!! AND I work full time. SOOOOO you can see the differences!!!!
SO when I had my first child I was set to bottle feed all the way. I had NO encouragement from my mother…and quite frankly all my friends had been bottle fed as babies, no one I knew was really hell bent on breast feeding. IN FACT my mom told me it was SELFISH to breast feed, because then she could not share in the experience of feeding the baby! I knew I had to go back to work and I wanted to drink my beloved wine again! When I think back, I was the one being SELFISH! (You just knew what you wanted! We all have our own personal needs. Wine and food happen to be on many of our minds whether you breastfeed or not. 😆 ) Truthfully I didn’t like the restrictions of pregnancy and was not into having them continue after the baby was born. I really had NO idea on how it all worked and was honestly…afraid!!!
However, my husband was the bug in my ear. He has ulcerated colitis and really wanted me to breast feed. He was like we need to do this for the baby, it will be best on his insides…I want to give him the best….on and on and on….SO I said…I will give it a try….(Partner support and encouragement is so important!)
Now, to say there was NO one supporting me is not totally true. My mom has a sister 14 years her junior, so we are only 7 years apart. AND my Aunt Kelly breast fed 2 of her 3 babies!!! SHE unfortunately listened to the advice of her big sister (my mom), which is why she didn’t breast feed the first. SHE LOVES BREASTFEEDING. She has been known to say that she wishes she could do it for a living. She was also encouraging me…NOT cramming it down my throat, but none the less in my ear about it. Saying “Just try it”…She would say even if it doesn’t work out, whatever your baby can get even if it’s just for a few days…Whatever you can do is good for them. (Yes!)
So baby Jack is born….nurse tells me what to do…and presto perfect latch right from minutes after birth…all is PERFECT!!! The lactation consultant came in the next day to talk to me about different techniques and answer any questions I might have. I asked her can I have a glass of wine??? She was like YES!!!!! I almost kissed the lady!!!
Anyway my breastfeeding went so smoothly. I barely even ever had a sore nipple. When I went to the first doctor’s appointment and he gained a pound, I swelled with pride for both of us!!! I breastfed my first for just shy of 6 months and my second one just shy of 5 months (maybe that is why he doesn’t do as well on his spelling tests). (haha, very funny Amy! If only it were that black and white!!!) I also pumped milk and put it in bottles (AHHHH!!!) I know….taboo!!! But it worked for me and baby got what it needed. (Pumping is HARD work! You did great!)
Either way I was so glad that I did it. And I think EVERYONE should do what my Aunt suggested to me: Just try!!! Whatever you can!!!! I was turned from thinking that breastfeeders are hippies to a believer!!! (Admit it Amy, you totally still think I’m a hippy!) I even used to smell my son’s breath because I loved the sweet smell of booby milk! All us moms do the best we can!!! Sprinkle it with love (and maybe a couple of drops of wine?) and a little luck, and hope for the best!!! BUT all in all I agree ladies….. KEEP ON BOOBIN’.
-Amy (Meg’s cousin)
It is so incredibly important to continue sharing evidence based information about breastmilk and formula. Amy and her husband would never have been able to make an informed decision on how to best go about feeding their babies if they did not have the research and information to look at about the importance of avoiding formula if possible. She went from not wanting to breastfeed at all to breastfeeding for six months! This is why sharing this information is so important. Not to “bash” formula feeding mums or encourage mums to feel bad about their decisions. Women simply cannot make these decisions without all of the information.
Ignore those who say that breastfeeding and formula feeding mums are at war. We decide if we are at war or not. My cousin sat in many public settings while bottle feeding her babies and some women might have thought twice and judged her for this. Yet they would not have know the journey she had been on and what she went through to get to that point. We are all on our own parenting journeys and we have a choice to be united or be at war. Which will you choose? I choose compassion and support, no matter where we are at in our journeys or where it might take us.
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