Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Breast is Best

There. I said it. I wanted to clear the air, quite frankly. I do believe breastmilk is best - as do many, many experts so I can't even claim the statement is profound. Honestly, I don't think that statement is even up for debate - breastmilk IS better than formula. However, I do get rankled at the insinuation that formula isn't good enough. If that were true, I wouldn't even be here, as I was formula fed myself. So, while breastmilk IS best, formula is certainly not the equivalent of poisoning your child. I firmly believe the judgments surrounding the use of formula is just another weapon in the arsenal used against other mothers in the Mommy Wars.

My son has never had a drop of formula. I don't say that as a matter of pride, but rather with an immense sense of amazement and fascination. Not only did my body grow him for 40 weeks in utero, it continued to be his sole source of nourishment for the next 6 months until he started solid foods. Wow. That still amazes me. In the beginning of my new life as a mother, I was pretty wrapped up in the fervor of it all and was fairly radical about breastfeeding. I didn't understand how a mother could not want to breastfeed! Read that sentence again - I didn't UNDERSTAND it. To be fair, I also don't fully understand the Theory of Relativity, so my lack of comprehension isn't really saying much, eh?

Since I joined the ranks of mommybloggers, I have read post after post of mothers who either chose not to breastfeed at all, gave up breastfeeding, physically could not breastfeed, or needed to supplement with formula. Nearly all those posts were rife with guilt, apology, and extensive explanation. Probably with good reason, because there are people who are quick to criticize and question a mother's true motives when the mother says that "she couldn't and/or wouldn't breastfeed".

Okay, okay - if we lived in a 3rd world country with an unsafe water supply, I'd totally be beating the Anti-Formula Drum. And I do know personally of a case in India where the infant most likely died as a result of formula. However, this post is most certainly directed towards a Western audience - we have the privilege of a safe water supply. We can afford to focus on other things. And yes - there are FAR more important things going on in the world than for us to sit and wonder why someone doesn't breastfeed. I'd like to see less explanation and more simple statements to the effect of "breastfeeding simply didn't work for us". Then, we can move on to other topics. Besides, I don't know a single mother in my own life who doesn't truly love her child, so to indicate that a mother has failed because she feeds her child formula is simply not fair. No matter what the circumstance - whether she chooses not to breastfeed or is not physically able to - saying a mother loves her child less because she feed her child formula is just wrong.

Sidenote: Over at Ask Moxie, they are discussing breast pumps. Ask Moxie has an excellent core group of commenters, so if you are in the market for a pump, this is a post to watch. Since I stay home full-time, I actually have very little experience with pumps. I had an Evenflo Comfort Select that was AWFUL (and probably didn't help my engorgement problem!). Eventually, I gave up and bought a Medela Hand Pump that I SWEAR by. It's so compact, easy and convenient that I've been able to nurse AND pump at the same time with it.