We hear all the time about the positives to breastfeeding. All the reasons why it is good for us and good for baby. All the good can sometimes be overwhelming. Especially when a mom is in the throes of a nursing struggle or when mom just can’t breastfeed. All the hype surrounding breastfeeding can just make these moms feel terrible.
What about the mom who isn’t loving nursing but is pushing through for all the benefits? What about those rough days? What about the great times? What about those who wonder if their nursing relationship is normal?
Some of the misconceptions of breastfeeding actually are booby traps that can harm or end nursing relationships.
Here are five things that breastfeeding ISN’T:
- A private moment. Sure, there are sweet connections between mom and baby, but it isn’t a private and intimate event. By calling it a private moment of bonding, the belief that moms should not nurse in public is reinforced. Breastfeeding is not a sexual act. With your partner, you do share sweet moments in public – a grasp of the hand, a wink, a kiss. Those are tender moments but not moments banished from the public eye. Although there are sweet moments, breastfeeding does not need to remain private.
- A call to martyrdom. If you listen to popular media (parenting books, websites, friends, and even some doctors), you will hear a long list of don’ts. In reality, the list isn’t all that long. You can have an alcoholic drink on occasion. You can take most medicines. You can eat what you want. You can pump so you can go out without baby. You can diet and exercise (though some moderation is needed – at least until your supply is well regulated).
- The end of fashion. There is no need to stick to nursing fashion (is that an oxymoron?). While a nursing bra can be helpful, there are ways to fenangle a regular bra for breastfeeding. You can wear regular clothes but choose ones that are easier to nurse in such as v-neck or button down tops.
- A one-size-fits-all affair. It is easy to feel like there is one set way to breastfeed. A list of rules to follow. A set of approved nursing positions. This is just not the case. If the milk is flowing and baby is gaining weight and mama isn’t in pain, then that works! Sure, there are things on the “lists” that can be very helpful, but we don’t need to follow all the rules and try to get it “right.” If it works, keep it up!
- A requirement to be a good mom. With Buggy, I both breastfed and formula fed him. I got nasty and judgmental looks no matter how I fed him. The biggest requirement of being a good mom – to love and care for baby. To feed him. To comfort him. If you are unable or choose not to breastfeed for whatever reason, you should not be made to feel like less of a mom. Now, giving bottles of Pepsi rather than breastmilk or formula would probably hint at a mom who needs a little guidance (yes, I have seen THAT done!).
And a bonus one:
- A guarantee of good health and weight loss. You probably hear stories all the time how breastfeeding will ensure that your little one will maintain good health. Yes, breastmilk does offer great immune system benefits. However, it does not guarantee that baby will never get sick. You also probably hear that breastfeeding will ensure speedy weight loss. For most moms, this is the case. Personally, I lost weight quickly but retained the final 5 – 10 pounds until I weaned (and by that point I was pregnant again!). Every mom’s body works differently!
What would you add to this list?