Wednesday, August 1, 2012

World Breastfeeding Week

Today marks the first day of World Breastfeeding Week. To celebrate, I will be posting every day this week!

To start off, I am actually going to copy and paste something I wrote 2 years ago during WBW. I promise the rest of my posts will be new, but I really think this one sums up what I want to say on the topic.

I want to start by saying I am not a "breastfeeding elitist". I do not judge those who formula feed (as long as they gave breastfeeding a shot) and, in fact, I think it is extremely important to recognize all those mamas who tried but were not able to breastfeed.

Formula is not the devil. In fact, it is a very, very close second to breastmilk. It is called "formula" because it is made from an exact scientific formula that is aimed to mimic breastmilk as closely as possible. So many mamas put their hearts and souls into trying to breastfeed and, in some cases, are so preoccupied with the pressure to nurse that they miss out on some of the joy during those wonderful first days of parenthood.

The main goals of breastfeeding week are to recognize mothers around the world who breastfeed their children, to ensure their rights (such as breastfeeding in public and pumping at work) and to promote breastfeeding awareness. These are awesome goals and I am so happy that this week exists. However, I would like to add a goal to the list, a very important one: supporting mamas who tried to breastfeed but could not.

I think mothers who try but are not able to breastfeed, or who have to give it up sooner than they would like to, need to be recognized and supported too. I came really close to having to give up on breastfeeding, and when Jackson sucked down a bottle of Similac in the hospital my heart literally broke. That is wrong, and something needs to be done about the stigma associated with formula. While I appreciate all of the support I got from the nurses, doctors and lactation consultants, I should not have felt like a failure when I fed my hungry son. I was so fortunate to be able to get my supply back up and Jax has not had any formula since he was one week old but not all mamas are as fortunate as I am. Its not that they didn't try as hard, their bodies or circumstances just did not allow them to breastfeed. 

I wholeheartedly believe that all mothers need to try to breastfeed. Science has shown that it is best for both the baby and the mother. BUT, I want to emphasize how important it is to not put down or shame those who don't breastfeed. You can't expect a full explanation as to why someone is buying formula, or fixing a bottle for their child and there's a good chance they did in fact try to breastfeed and could not do it, so DON'T judge them.
Please use this week to give some mad credit to all mothers. Those who are breastfeeding their little ones, those who have breastfed in the past AND those who tried their hardest to breastfeed. All of these moms deserve equal recognition. I can tell you from experience, breastfeeding is HARD WORK and anyone who even attempts to do it deserves to be recognized this week.

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