Do what you've gotta do...

>> Monday, September 15, 2008

It happened yet again, a mother being judged and made to feel as if she were doing something wrong while feeding her child.

This mom was upset by her treatment and her commenters (including myself) were
moved to action on her behalf. Hopefully the airline hears the message and responds appropriately. Please lend your support if you’re inclined.

What strikes me most about this is that it was another woman who harassed this mom. (and yes, it WAS harassment) Why must we always be so quick to judge and condemn one another? Why is this topic so heated on both sides? This particular conversation has remained mostly civil, and HBM has been quick to defend any woman’s choice in feeding her child. But I’ve seen these conversations devolve into mudslinging contests that boggle the mind, with one side accusing nursing mothers of needing to flaunt their breasts and expecting special treatment, and Pro-Breastfeeding mothers mentioning their disgust at seeing anyone bottlefeed their child. Why? Why can’t we just support each other in whatever it takes to keep our children fed and healthy? Seriously, I don’t have any answers here but would love some opinions.

To share my experience – I have four children, one of who was breastfed. Jonathan was born 16 years ago. I had been bottlefed, I had never seen or been exposed to (pun intended) anyone who breastfed. My child’s pediatrician, who was MY pediatrician growing up, assumed that I would bottle feed and “prescribed” my son’s formula. I simply never thought to question his assumption. Matt was born 18 month’s later and through Mommy’s groups etc I had learned a little about breastfeeding and asked our pediatrician – I was assured that there was no need to do “that” and that formula was healthier (OK – pick your jaws up off the floor!)

There was a five year span before Christopher and in that time I learned a LOT and became much more confident about being a mother. The pediatrician had been replaced, mostly because we both had a difficult time letting go of our previous relationship with him as the authority figure and couldn’t make the transition to me as a parent. Our new ped was very pro-breastfeeding and without judging my previous choices educated me as to why she felt breastfeeding was a better choice. After a rough start, we got our act together and enjoyed a wonderful nursing experience.

Cassie…well, she was a whole different experience. I was so looking forward to our nursing relationship. After she was born, I got used to the fact that my “relationship” was going to be with a pump, and boy did I try. This was the only parenting I could really take part in…this was the only way that I felt I could be her mother. Unfortunately my body was NOT clued into our new status as breastfeeding mom and after struggling to produce precious drops at a time for weeks; my body finally quit producing at all.

I never really had anyone question my choice with the first two. With Christopher I was treated to quite a few snide comments. The comments hurt and made me question myself. With Cassie, more than once I’ve received that “disgusted” look while feeding her with a bottle in public, with one woman actually confronting me and bringing me to task for being lazy and choosing the bottle. I didn’t feel the need to educate her with my struggle and disappointment, but went home and cried.

So what I’d like to say is that I support you no matter what your choice is…Do what you’ve gotta do…


Half-Baked September 15, 2008 at 11:47 AM  

reposting comment for Mama

Wouldn't it be great if everyone could just be considered a good mom for simply feeding and nurturing her baby regardless of the source? I have done both bottle and breast, it never really mattered which, I've always felt like someone was judging me.

People should find other things to worry about, really.

Sorry about that - I was being anal and editing while you were commenting! Karen

Crazed Mom September 15, 2008 at 5:53 PM  

Here, here. It's like working mom and sahms. Hey folks, it's all good. I choose to stay home for 20 years. Worked for me. If you work, good for you.


Tara September 16, 2008 at 12:35 AM  

I have 3 children. I bottle fed my first two and am breastfeeding my third. I TRIED to breastfeed my first two. My milk just didn't come in with my first. At all. Nada. Zip. Zilch. I WEPT over my inability to nurse. I felt like a complete failure. Others made me feel that way too. When I had my second son I began breastfeeding... but had to take a series of intense thyroid test that required me to quit when he was only a couple weeks old. Again I felt like a complete loser and others confirmed that feeling. I truly believe this contributed to my severe post partum depression.

And then my daughter came along. And she nursed... perfectly... easily... with NO help from me. She was a natural at it (so to speak). And suddenly I was allowed into the "breast feeding moms" club... I was horrified at the way women talked to me about moms who were bottle feeding. I have repeated my story dozens of times in an effort to show other women that sometimes it just isn't a choice. And sometimes it is BUT THAT IS OK TOO!!! Why can't we just be nice to each other?

And yes, I LOVE breastfeeding my daughter. And I WISH I could have had the experience with my sons. But it didn't affect my relationship with them! In fact, I have seen strong benefits of BOTH methods.

And ironically, I was treated the EXACT same way on my recent plane trip. By the flight attendant AND my fellow passengers. I assumed it was because my daughter is over a year old and they thought she was too old to be nursing. Perhaps they just had a problem with nursing in public in general.

Hard to believe that is still an issue.

LazyCrazyMama September 16, 2008 at 1:34 PM  

Absolutely! It's a mother's choice and should be respected and she should not be judged harshly for her choice.

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