Friday, August 5, 2016

Breast is Best...Until It Isn't

In case you haven't heard, it's World Breastfeeding Week (August 1-7), a time to raise awareness and increase education for breastfeeding.

It's a good thing, it really is.  But I've met more than one breastfeeding supporter who took the Breast is Best slogan just a little too far.  Breast is only best if it's working for both mom and baby. 

Let me fill you in on my history with breastfeeding so you'll see what I mean.

I breastfed Katie for a year.  It was an incredibly rough start, and we both cried a lot in the beginning.  I had to supplement with formula because no matter what I did, I just didn't have enough milk for her, but at least we made it to a year.

Katie and her cousin when they were around 6 months old

I breastfed Nano for 3 months.  It was a horrible experience.  He hated breastfeeding with a passion, and he screamed every time I tried to feed him.  When he was 3 months old, I got mastitis and he flat out refused to even try to nurse.  I switched him to formula and within a month, he went from a screaming, scrawny baby to a chubby, happier baby.  It was definitely the right choice for him and for me.

Newborn Nano

I put a lot of thought into how I would feed Anna before she was born, but the very thought of breastfeeding made me sick to my stomach, and I just couldn't bring myself to go through another experience like the one with Nano again.  When Anna was born, she was very tongue tied and probably wouldn't have been able to nurse well anyway.  I formula fed her from the beginning and never regretted it.

Anna feeding herself her bottle filled with *gasp* formula!

When I was pregnant with Davy, I decided early on to bottle feed again.  I felt like Anna was the first baby I had where I was able to actually enjoy the newborn stage since I wasn't fighting to get her to eat, and so I wanted to repeat that experience.  Little did I know that Davy would have serious issues with eating, along with an array of health problems.

Every time I tried to feed him, it was like I was torturing him.  I felt like a complete failure as a mother as I first watched him starve and then signed the papers for a surgeon to place a G Tube in his precious little tummy.  But the important thing was that he was finally growing and thriving.  I was able to come to accept the button in his tummy and even love it because without it, Davy might not be here today and certainly wouldn't be doing as well as he is.

Davy had an NG tube for a few days before his G Tube surgery

Thankfully, Davy finally started eating on his own around a year old with no residual oral aversion from his rough start, and we were able to remove his G Tube when he was 18 months old.

So, back to breastfeeding...

I support breastfeeding.  I think everyone should at least give it a try before deciding it's not for them.  But I also think that sometimes, it's best for baby and mom to formula feed, and we need to stop judging other moms on how they choose to feed their baby.

I've heard way too many moms stating that the BEST thing anyone can do for their baby is to breastfeed them or bragging about how healthy and smart their kids will be because they "loved their children enough to breastfeed."  For moms like me who are unable to breastfeed their babies or choose not to for various reasons, statements like that are a kick in the gut.

I love my children just as much as other moms love their kiddos, but the best thing I could do for my babies was to feed them, no matter how that was accomplished.  Formula feeding, breastfeeding, tube feeding...not one of these methods of feeding a baby makes that baby any more or less loved or makes the mom any more or less of a mom.   

Breast, bottle, or tube...FED is best!! #specialneeds #tubefeeding #breastfeeding #momsunited @sunshineNspoons

So here's the deal: we all need to agree that the most important thing is not how or what we feed our babies, it's that they're fed and they're loved.