This is such a controversial, mud-flinging, fire-breathing, lash-out-irrationally topic.
Don’t scream at me yet, ok? Hear me out.
I feel the scorching gaze of some of you already, but I’m gonna keep going. 😉
So, first off, I totally understand that some mamas can’t breastfeed. Some moms are moms of the heart, adopting their sweet little ones into their loving arms. Some moms have had c-sections and find it very difficult to get started, and often soon after have issues with thrush due to antibiotics given during the birth. Some moms didn’t have a strong support system who could encourage and help her through the complicated process. Other moms didn’t understand the vast differences between breast milk and formula, and felt it easier and less-invasive to go that route. Still other moms tried and, after many tears and much heartache, gave up because it was too difficult, painful and unsuccessful.
I totally understand that for a lot of moms breastfeeding is NOT easy. I shared some of my breastfeeding story recently, and had I not had a midwife and doula who constantly encouraged me to keep going, education about the importance of breast milk, and personal experience researching the toxic ingredients in formula, I probably wouldn’t have made it past day two. I had a very emotional, traumatic start to nursing and for the longest time really didn’t know how I would make it to the next feeding, let alone to at least a year. If you’re past this stage, and your babies didn’t get breast milk, I want you to know you should NOT be feeling guilt right now. The past is past, no one is going to change anything from then. Now is what you have to work with, and I totally believe there is nothing real food and real medicine (real food supplements, essential oils, homeopathy, a lifestyle avoiding toxic chemicals, GMOs, fragrances, pesticides, etc) can’t fix, including, but totally not limited to, a childhood of sub-par nutrition. (I am living proof!)
The American Academy of Pediatrics states that breastfeeding is not a lifestyle choice, but a basic health issue. It states the benefits include, but are not limited to, increased brain and immune system development and function in the baby, and reduced maternal diseases including diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, breast, uterine and ovarian cancer. It provides baby with the perfect blend of vitamins, minerals, protein and fat that is easily digested. Breastfed babies have less incidence of ear infections, allergies and asthma, and breast milk has been found to have antibodies that build baby’s immune system, and not only that but are customized to what baby needs at the time! Breastfeeding at birth has many benefits to both mom and baby, with baby getting the super-food colostrum and mama – lighter post-partum bleeding and help returning the uterus to normal size. Studies also show Moms who breastfeed have an easier time with postpartum anxiety and depression, an easier return to pre-pregnancy weight, and of course the financial savings ($1,700+ a year). The La Leche League has an excellent article here that goes more in depth regarding physiological, psychological and long term benefits to Mama.
You don’t even have to think much about it to realize just how amazingly awesome God made our bodies. Just as women! We GREW a human within us, we carried and provided for it’s every need for 9+ months. He gave us incredible strength to then birth that little person into the world, and bond in a way only mamas can. Even the feel of our skin and body temperature can regulate and normalize that sweet baby’s whole system. Then He made our bodies fully capable of healing, while feeding and sustaining that growing little human exclusively for up to a whole year. After all that amazingness, how can we discount our ability in this area?
Again, if you didn’t breastfeed your babies, for whatever reason, there is no guilt allowed. You can’t do anything about that now, and your sweet ones need you in the present to make sure they get as much from their food, environment and health care as possible. You were chosen especially to be your children’s mama, and God doesn’t make mistakes. 😉 We need to keep learning and growing and researching to make sure our decisions are the absolute best for the future of our babies, who just happen to be the future.
If you are pregnant and considering your options, or perhaps breastfeeding now, but struggling, I urge you to research the unequivocal benefits of breastfeeding. Once you do that, it will give you new perspective on what your body can do and why it’s important your baby gets those benefits. Plus I know that you are so strong because personally after suffering for 9.5 months every single feeding day and night, I know that a mama will go through anything for her child. HOWEVER, if you’re having pain, latch or supply issues, don’t just keep suffering thru it. There are reasons that, once addressed, can make nursing as comfortable and enjoyable for you as it is for baby. Please don’t give up. You’re AMAZING! 🙂
And lastly, if you’re a mama with a baby on formula, don’t freak out! God can provide in absolutely every situation, and now is when you can decide to take a different route if you (and Hubby) feel it’s important to. There ARE other options. You could look for the best soy-free organic brand (though not the best option, and probably a more expensive one). The doctor I worked for is raising his grandson (Mama was in a bad accident) and he did very well on organic raw cow’s milk. Weston A. Price has a homemade formula that is a bit complicated, but includes a lot of similar nutrients and fats found in breast milk. And then there are always milk donors. Personally, if we had issues I would feel best about that. If you can’t do any of the above and baby is past 6 months, I would recommend getting them off formula as quickly as possible. Whole, organic foods (veggies and fruits, coconut oil, real butter) and grass-fed meats are world’s better than the corn syrup, soy, pasteurized milk products and artificial, lab-made vitamins in formula. For baby’s future health and to either clear up or avoid food allergies, asthma, yeast issues, skin breakouts, a weak immune system, etc., I encourage seeing a functional medicine doctor, NRT practitioner or clinical nutritionist (who uses muscle testing) who could get baby’s gut healing and back in balance.
I hope that these ideas are helpful to some Mama out there. Nothing about parenthood is easy, but it is one of the very best things that could ever happen to you. I know, because it happened to me. 😉 His energy, totally contagious ‘cheese’ smile, baby giggles about how he himself says “dada”… I’ll tell you what, I’ve never come across a situation that’s made me much happier. I’ve had so many, “Oh, my heart” moments, sometimes I’m surprised it’s still beating. 🙂
I’d love to hear your stories and thoughts on early mama-hood! Please note, however, nasty comments will not be approved. This is a safe place where Mamas (and Dadas alike!) can come for encouragement and support. 🙂