It’s World Breastfeeding Week! A week of celebrating breastfeeding. Public “Latch On” events (where nursing moms meet to latch their babies at the same time), “brelfies” (breastfeeding selfies), and social media hype abound! In the midst of the celebration, I confess I’m a bit of a party pooper. I’m a breastfeeding mom, but I’m not celebrating World Breastfeeding Week.
I breastfed all three of my children and think it’s a wonderful way to feed a baby. But to this mom, it feels increasingly important to recognize that breastfeeding is only one of two equally amazing feeding methods. It’s time to celebrate all moms nourishing their babies, however they do it.
“Bressure” (aka Pressure to Breastfeed)
World Breastfeeding Week seems like another way to push the “breast is best” agenda and pressure moms. As expectant and new moms, we so often hear about the benefits of breastfeeding. Yet, for healthy babies born at term, formula is an equally good feeding choice. Breastfeeding may work better for some families. Formula may work better for others. Guilt that you aren’t doing your best is something that shouldn’t enter into the decision.
The pressure to breastfeed in 2018 is huge. More and more hospitals around the country are promoting breastfeeding as the only good choice. Healthcare professionals, the media, even family and friends often push the idea that choosing formula is second rate at best, and bad parenting at worst. Moms are under enourmous pressure to feed their babies a certain way.
Breast milk is good, but formula is good too. If a woman can’t breastfeed, or simply doesn’t want to breastfeed that is ok! The last thing a mom should feel is guilt or worry that baby isn’t getting the best. Fed is best, however mom chooses.
No Big Deal
World Breastfeeding Week highlights something that shouldn’t be a big deal. . . feeding your baby. Babies are unable to feed themselves, so feeding them is just part of life as a parent. Where the food comes from truly doesn’t matter. What matters is that the feeding method is healthy and safe for baby, and works well for mom.
In the grand scheme of parenting, infant feeding is a short phase. Doing a task a certain way doesn’t merit a pat on the back. Feeding babies well is what all good parents do. Fed is always best.
Let’s Support Each Other
All moms need support because nurturing a baby is hard work. In a developed country like the U.S., the World Breastfeeding Week mania feeds into the “mommy wars” that tear communities apart. The celebrations exclude amazing moms who can’t breastfeed: foster and adoptive moms, moms with medical conditions, and moms simply choosing what is best for their families. A breastfeeding mom is no more special than a formula feeding mom.
Fellow moms, it’s time to support all safe feeding options and the mothers behind them. This breastfeeding mom won’t celebrate World Breastfeeding Week. . . . Instead I want to celebrate and encourage every mom working hard to make sure her baby is nourished, healthy, and happy.