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Breastfeeding IS for Me

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Yesterday, a blogger wrote "Breastfeeding Is Not for Me" on momlogic. Here is one mom's response.

Woman breastfeeding

Jennifer Ginsberg: When I found out I was pregnant with my son 5 years ago, I was certain of one thing: I would breastfeed. I am not going to bore you with pro-breastfeeding statistics or hit you over the head with "lactivist" propaganda. Because while my brain could not defend against the overwhelming evidence of the risks associated with formula feeding, my choice to exclusively breastfeed came from an intuitive and emotional place.

Some might even call me militant about my dedication to breastfeeding. After 24 hours of excruciating labor followed by an emergency C-section, the last thing I wanted to do was put my newborn son to my breast and try to feed him. When I was pregnant, I had a romanticized vision of me serenely holding my angelic baby as he peacefully nursed at my breast. The reality: I had a screaming, writhing, tiny red beast who was trying to bite my nipples off. When I left the hospital, my breasts were painfully engorged with milk and my nipples were raw. But I told myself there was no other option, and returned to a home free of formula and bottles.

Yes, there was a MAJOR learning curve. It took me many weeks and lactation consultants to help me fix my issues with over-supply, poor latch, and sore nipples. At one point, when my son was about 3 weeks old, I was once again struggling to get him latched onto my breast. He was screaming, and I was also almost in tears from frustration and exhaustion. "He looks so miserable," my husband said. "Maybe he just doesn't like to nurse."

I had every reason to quit. While my baby was getting enough milk, he seemed to hate nursing from my over-producing breasts. Nursing in public was a circus, as my breasts shot like a spout when my milk let down. While I am not particularly self-conscious about my body, I was not crazy about the idea of whipping out my boobs in public to feed my baby. But I refused to throw a blanket over my breastfeeding son because I did not want to reinforce the idea that nursing in public is an illicit act that needs to be hidden.

At about 4 months, the tide magically turned for us. I met an incredible lactation consultant who taught me how to handle my over-production and corrected his latch. I finally had that peaceful, nursing baby that I had dreamt about when I was pregnant. We went everywhere together. I nursed him in restaurants, at my synagogue, at parties, at the museum, on airplanes, and all over the United States and Australia. The bond that we developed during this time was incredible. I had to be so attuned to him and his cues, as I was the sole provider of his nourishment.

I didn't have to deal with sterilizing bottles and packing formula and all its associated gear with us wherever we went. I just grabbed my purse, a diaper, and some wipes and we were off. My breasts were always with us, and there was no waste, no worry about plastic chemicals, no depleting resources from our fragile environment.

When I had my baby daughter two and a half years later, our breastfeeding relationship was far smoother. Now that my children are weaned and I am done having babies, I am so grateful I had the opportunity to share this special, fleeting time with them. I am not going to deny that being on call 24/7 for them felt excruciatingly uncomfortable and inconvenient at times.

But if I was looking for comfort and convenience, I would have booked an all-inclusive trip to a resort in Mexico and not made the choice to have a child.

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30 comments so far | Post a comment now
Gina May 28, 2009, 11:00 AM

This author needs to get a life. I agree with Samantha - she should “get over herself”. Has momlogic become a soapbox crap like this?

Heather May 28, 2009, 11:42 AM

I love that you “refused to throw a blanket over [your] breastfeeding son because [you] did not want to reinforce the idea that nursing in public is an illicit act that needs to be hidden.” Amen, sistah!

Katharine May 28, 2009, 12:43 PM

I guess it’s not surprising that people are ultra-sensitive and defensive about this topic, but if you read the article objectively, the author is not trying to judge non-breastfeeders or convince anyone else to breastfeed. She is simply describing her own personal experience. It sounds like the people who say that they will no longer be reading this author are only interested in hearing opinions that agree with their own, and that is sad. We all need to listen to opinions that differ from our own and be willing to challenge ourselves with intelligent discussions. I am so tired of people who only want to hear their own opinions echoed back to them! Like Republicans who only listen to Rush Limbaugh and Fox News, or Democrats who only watch MSNBC, these people will remain forever small-minded and uneducated about opposing points of view. Why can’t we be grown-ups and have an intelligent, civil discussion, rather than saying, “I’m not reading your work because I don’t agree with it”?

Allen May 28, 2009, 12:48 PM

As a dad who’s very active in the raising of his children I’m an avid reader of momlogic. It’s always great to get a womens perspective to a variety of situations. Since I’ve been married twice, once to a women who formula fed and once (and still) to a women that has breastfed I was interested in reading this article (along w/ the other article recently published on momlogic about breastfeeding. I’ve been witness to both sides, and my humble opinion is that anyone who can breastfeed should. It almost all situations there is clear evidence that breastfeeding has many more advantages to a child than formula feeding. Not everyone can breastfeed for different reasons, and I’m not advocating that some women will find it difficult in the beginning. However, breastfeeding is commonplace in cultures all around the world and has been for thousands of years. In America, many women have become so self absorbed that they simply choose not to do what’s best for their children. Heck, if you can’t breastfeed you can’t and there’s nothing to feel bad or guilty about. But if you can, and you simply choose not to, you are being selfish and not doing what’s in the best interest of your child. It’s not about you - it’s about your child. If you’re not interested in doing what’s best for them now, what kind of parent will you really be? I’m not passing judgment, just expressing my opinion and concern for the young people who have to grow up w/ a mom who puts that child second. Heck, this is just one guys opinion. We’ll see how many anti-breastfeeding moms lambaste me for being a man and not knowing what it’s like to breastfeed…that’s okay. My reply - as a man I know what’s it’s like to be married (and have children) with women who both breastfeed and who don’t - and I would take the breastfeeding mom every day of the week!

Anonymous May 28, 2009, 1:01 PM

To Sarah B: “I am so sick of moms thinking they no what is best” - do you know the difference between no and know? I hope you’re not teaching your children how to spell!

LadyinRed May 28, 2009, 1:27 PM

I really love watching the fallout over breastfeeding essays. So much vitriol and anger, so much pride and insecurity is displayed by women on both sides. Yet I am certain that the passion aroused by this topic isn’t really about breast milk at all. Because breast milk vs formula really boils down to a butter vs margarine, white bread vs whole grain argument. When all is said and done, one is better for you but the difference that one choice makes overall is negligible at best. What really brings out the beast in women regarding this subject is the need to feel validated about being a mother. There are camps of women who feel that being a perfect mother means intense self sacrifice and self abasement. These women need other women to do the same so that they can feel that they are doing their jobs as mothers right. The see reflections of themselves in the choices those around them make, and it is far easier to judge others as being imperfect than it is for them to turn that judgment inwards.
Other women feel that motherhood is a series of choices, that no one can make the perfect choice every time so they make the best choices they can, maintaining a series of checks and balances overall.
Breastfeeding does not make you the perfect mother, it doesn’t even make you the best mother you can be. Formula feeding does not make you selfish or irresponsible. We are all of us human and we all have to do the best with what we have. It is indubitable that everyone here on MomLogic loves her children, and does the very best job that she can. I respect that whether or not a mother breastfeeds or bottle feeds.

Secret Mommy May 28, 2009, 1:33 PM

Allen, no criticisms here! Very well said. You’re a wonderful man, husband, father. (I think!) ;)

MessyMom May 30, 2009, 7:20 PM

seriously- i can’t deal with fundamental breast feeding moms. i’m afraid you won’t teach your kids tolerance!

MessyMom May 30, 2009, 7:21 PM

seriously- i can’t deal with fundamental breast feeding moms. i’m afraid you won’t teach your kids tolerance!

Kirsten August 25, 2009, 2:58 AM

So…formula feeding moms can share their experiences, but breastfeeding mothers can’t without being called self-righteous?
Double standard much?

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