What is it about breasts that make them so fascinating to other people? It doesn't matter if someone views them sexually or watches them feed another human being, either. For reasons unknown, it's always this "big deal" and, as mothers, we're constantly pressured to make the "right choice." From breastfeeding in the first place to feeding in public to nursing for the "right" amount of time, it feels as though we just can't win. Well, I'm here to say that I won’t apologize for quitting breastfeeding early, whatever the hell "early" even means. In the end, as the person with lactating breasts, I'm the one who calls the nursing shots.
I was under the impression my boobs would magically fill up with a ton of milk as soon as my son was born. I fantasized about that first feed going beautifully and effortlessly. Instead, my milk came in while I was in a hotel room near my son’s hospital, two days after I’d given birth. I still hadn’t even had a chance to hold him yet, because he’d been rushed to a far off NICU the moment he came into the world. It didn't take me long to realize that what I envisioned my nursing experience to be was, well, never going to happen.
So, it's safe to say that my struggle to breastfeed was a long one. I worked with several lactation consultants, took as many galactogogues as I could, pumped round the clock, and got damn near nothing in return. In fact, it was less than an ounce. Eventually, I gave it up. In the end, breastfeeding wasn’t right for me, it wasn’t right for my family, and I have no intention or desire to apologize for it.
"My body, my choice" isn’t a saying that only pertains to abortion. It has to do with bodily autonomy. As women, we shouldn’t have to apologizing for using our bodies as we see fit.
Not that it’s anyone’s business, but I tried my damnedest to breastfeed my son. But between his NICU stay and my likelihood of having insufficient glandular tissue, it just wasn’t working out. Geez, I thought our generation was supposed to get participation trophies for everything. Guess we’ve all been misinformed...
... (or maybe millennials don't get participation trophies for everything, people).
While I was in the depths of trying really, really hard to breastfeed, I wore myself ragged. I was already exhausted, but I literally never slept more than three hours at a time, no matter what. Either a pump or a small human was attached to me at all hours of the day and night, and when they weren't I was cleaning the pump parts, spending time with my son while he was awake, and passing out again. After a few months of this unforgiving schedule, I’d had enough.
I had a high-risk pregnancy with my son, which was tiring and terrifying all at once. I lost my first child, so I was already a big ball of nerves, and I had to have an emergency cerclage to make sure he also didn’t come early. Isn’t it enough I did everything I could to have a healthy baby? I also have to apologize for my breast’s shortcomings? Yeah, no thank you.
Sorry, but I have heard way too many horror stories about moms who wound up accidentally starving their babies because they didn't want to use bottles or formula. Maybe some people are able to finally boost their supply enough to feed their child, my baby was in the hospital for months already. There was no way I was going to gamble with his health.
There’s absolutely no reason to shame moms who use formula. Some use it as a supplement, and that supplement can actually aid moms in reaching their nursing goals. But even if a mom makes the switch and uses 100 percent formula, and even if a mom never tried to breastfeed, it doesn't matter. Fed is best, and moms are capable of making their own decisions for their babies, their bodies, and their families. I stand with all the other bottle-feeding mamas in not apologizing for our choice.
Some people want to portray bottle-feeding moms as hates who look down at breastfeeding moms. But I, personally, have nothing but love and respect for moms who breastfeed, especially when they do it for long periods of time. I wanted to be that extended breastfeeding mama, too. It didn’t happen for me, and it’s not a bad thing that I quit “early.” I can still appreciate the act of nursing, even if I don’t participate myself.
At the end of the day, we all need to support one another’s choices in regards to parenting. Whether they’re fed by breast or formula, all babies have a shot at a healthy life so long as they’re fed. There’s no special number of days, weeks, months, or years that a mom has to feed her child one way or the other.
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