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Breastfeeding Is Not for Me

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Christina Montoya Fiedler: Nine months ago, I gave birth to my beautiful son, Joseph. Long before I knew I was pregnant, I was sure of one thing: that I would not be breastfeeding.

woman feeding baby with bottle

Now, before you read farther into this article, here are a few things you should know. I am not going to cite any studies or doctors regarding the pros and cons of breastfeeding, because I believe that to breastfeed (or in my case, not to breastfeed) is a personal choice that rests more heavily on emotion than scientific fact.

Some might even call me militant about my lack of desire to breastfeed. Here are my reasons right up front: First, I am not all that comfortable with my body, especially not comfortable enough to whip out my boob in public to feed my child. Secondly, I have always been a very squeamish person. The thought of lactating for many months, post-baby, is in no way appealing to me -- I am a person who nearly faints at the sight of blood, and just recently was able to watch a Baby Story on TLC without losing it -- yes, even after I experienced labor firsthand.

Lastly, I have always seen my breasts as sexual objects, and I did not want to start thinking of them for any other function but that -- no matter how "motherly" or "womanly" the task might have been.

My mother and grandmother did not breastfeed. My husband's mother and grandmother did not. Some might say I come from a long line of non-breastfeeders. But, look at me. I turned out OK. So did my husband. We are both healthy, functioning members of society and I have high hopes for my son. He's healthy as can be, and in fact, he's healthier than a lot of my friends' children who are breastfed.

There is incredible pressure on new moms to breastfeed. Just last week, momlogic reported on a woman who committed suicide over the sheer guilt of not being able to breastfeed her child. Yes, she was also diagnosed with postpartum depression, but the fact remains that her inability to breastfeed was what put her over the edge. It's almost like breastfeeding has become a measure that other women judge each other against.

During my prenatal visits, nurses all but shoved the idea down my throat, and shot me disapproving looks -- assuming that I had not done my homework on the subject and did not understand the benefits. I did. I just knew it wasn't for me. At times it was like I was a medical oddity. "Come see the woman who refuses to breastfeed her baby!" Or at least, that's how my pregnant hormones made me feel. My Lamaze teacher corrected me each time I said "bottle" with the word "breast" over and over again, and in front of the other mothers. They were one step short of giving me a scarlet "B" for bottle-feeder to wear for the duration of the class.

Surprisingly, the only person who was supportive in my plight was my doctor. I remember her words clearly like a beacon of light. She said, "If you're not comfortable, no one will be comfortable. What's best for you is best for your baby." Relief at last.

Many of my friends said that I would miss out on the special bond that breastfed babies have with their mothers, and I can tell you that Joseph and I are as close, if not closer, than any mother and child can be. Feeding time has always been our private hour where we can connect and reflect on our love. Just because his food is coming from a bottle, instead of the breast, doesn't mean that he is getting any less affection from my end. I was and am always sure to hold him tight and caress his little body so he knows he is loved unconditionally.

I'm a firm believer that breastfeeding should not define you as a mother. If your child is happy and healthy, and your home is standing, all is well. To each her own.

next: A Wearable Towel?!
155 comments so far | Post a comment now
pauline May 26, 2009, 1:50 PM

carcinogins in baby formula and then say “you go girl” to her non breast feeding campaign!

Sara May 26, 2009, 2:03 PM

THANK YOU! There is so much preassure out there to breastfeed and it is NOT for everyone, for many different possible reasons. So many people treat women who don’t breastfeed as less of a mother and they are so unbelievably wrong. Thank you for putting yourself out there in this article. There are so many women who feel just like you do who are too afraid to admit it because of all the “better than everyone” moms like the ones who have already come on here bashing mom’s who don’t breastfeed.

Jeff A. May 26, 2009, 2:04 PM

Way to insult these mother’s children’s intelligence. That’s a real ‘smart’ thing to do. I’ll put your kid up against mine and see who wins the battle of smartness. (I’m such a guy). As a dad, and my wife choosing not to breastfeed, I felt a special connection and responsibility in my duties of bottle cleaning, formula making, and feeding time. I know that I have a special bond with my son. And he’s SO smrt.

Reetbeat May 26, 2009, 2:29 PM

As a La Leche League leader and a mom who has bfed three children, I am torn by your essay. I agree that on the surface it seems right that women should have a choice in the matter, however I feel that breastfeeding is every baby’s birthright. Parenting at its most basic level is utter and complete sacrifice to your child. Many modern parents attempt to resist this by trying to continue on as they did pre-baby, but that sacrifice has an important function which is to protect the child. Attachment parenting, an example of this sacrifice, is in effect a method of protection for the baby. There are many ways around your squeamishness. You could strictly pump and bottle feed, which would eliminate nursing in public (which many nursing moms choose not to do anyway), and once breastfeeding you would see that it is nature’s way to have us see our bodies differently for a time. All things are temporary in parenting.
I think there are plenty of examples in our society where we go against nature and get ourselves into trouble. By relying on formula you are entrusting the nutrition of your baby solely on a company and it’s workers, not to mention it’s ignoring all the astounding research on the benefits of breastfeeding both to mother and baby, many of which last a lifetime.
Yes, it’s a choice, but like abortion, it has it’s repercussions.
And I suggest, at the very least, a new mother try breastfeeding for several weeks (8 weeks ideally) before deciding it’s not for her. Many moms tell me, “I didn’t think I’d like it, but it’s the most awesome thing I’ve ever done.”

Going on 3 May 26, 2009, 2:37 PM

Nursing my two children was very selfless…I was bound to them daily. It was not easy with my first and there was a learning period… but finally I got it and wasn’t a problem with my second. Nursing took very much out of me and I wished men could do it… but then realized it takes a great deal of patience and self sacrifice. I can understand that my breasts are no longer pillars of desire, but hey, they won’t be when I’m 60 so what does it matter? Nursing is not for everyone and I applaud those who can. As for those who make the choice not to, it speaks of character. That’s all.

Anonymous May 26, 2009, 2:37 PM


kris May 26, 2009, 2:44 PM

This subject wouldn’t be such a hot button topic if people would respect the decision of others. What I see here as a whole is an inablity of others to respect the decision someone makes in regards to THEIR child. I find it funny that someone would call a parent selfish but, also insult someone’s child simply because this individual made a decision regarding THEIR child that is different from your point of view. What gives you or anyone for that matter the right to judge someone so harshly for making a PERSONAL decision different from yours. There is and always has been a tactful way to disagree with somenone yet very few breastfeeding advocates utilize this method. Its your either for it or against it and heaven help you if your against breastfeeding YOUR child. If all breastfeeding advocates would get off your soap boxes and tactfully approach individuals respectfully I guarentee you won’t get such militant answers and, people will really listen to your intelligent speech advocating breastfeeding not, the shove it in your face approach taken by so many breastfeeding advocates. I have seen very few breastfeeding advocate not come off as combative, militant, judgemental, and just down right nasty at time when discussing this with other individuals. Remember the manners your mother and gtrandmother taught you ladies hmmm. And that as individuals you are intitled to make your own decision. Without having to worry about others insulting you and making you feel less than what you are because of that decision.

RachelAZ May 26, 2009, 2:58 PM

The peer pressure on this issue is ridiculous. No baby ever died SIMPLY because he/she was formula fed. Do what’s best for you and it will be best for your baby. I was made to feel inadequate because I didn’t make enough milk for my son. I made it to 6 months breastfeeding & supplementing and then decided to give it up and it’s the BEST decision I ever made. A happy mom makes a happy family! And I’m not sure I’ll even attempt to breastfeed any other kids I may have so those active pro-breastfeeders can shove it! Just because it’s good for them does not mean it’s good for me and I would never try to force them to formula feed!! Great article, very empowering, thank you!

NELL May 26, 2009, 3:05 PM

Everytime I turn on the news, I see an example of a woman killing or abusing her child. We all pray that the child can find a loving home if alive and peace ever after if deceased. Why then, do we put mothers who choose not to breastfeed on the same playing field? They may not be giving their child “the best”, but can ANY of you mothers honestly say you have ALWAYS given your child the best. If you have, just keep on living. Let me know after you have sacrificed all of your mocha lattes, all of your expensive Valentine dinners, and EVERY single pedicure(no, no, sacrifice those pennies) so that your child can graduate with a degree from Harvard, live in the Hamptons, and have round the clock nannys…wait…that is the best isn’t it? No? It’s not? Well, I guess a lot of people have got it wrong then.

My point is, YOUR definition of best, and someone else’s definition of best for their child can be different. If this lady feels that it is best that she doesn’t breastfeed her baby, then leave her alone! She never gave her reason why it bothers her and she thinks its it makes her squeamish. Perhaps this was instilled in her brain by her parents. Maybe she was abused on her breasts. Who knows what is in her mind. But I tell you this, I would much rather hear about her CHOOSING to not breastfeed her child than to CHOOSE to jump out of the window, strangle her child and throw it out the window, or duct tape her childs mouth with a heart shaped sticker and double bag it. There is a such thing called “bottle feeding with love”.

Cranna May 26, 2009, 3:16 PM

You know what’s weird? Its always the breastfeeders shoving breastfeeding down other people’s throats. Bottlefeeders don’t follow suit. That smacks of insecurity. For the record, I did both, and each has its pros and cons, though I will say that my breastfed child actually got more infections, and is not as bonded with her father as the child that was bottlefed (since he could do that). And Susie g, do you have a medical degree? Cause I’ll listen to my doctor’s advice, thanks.

Gwen May 26, 2009, 6:12 PM

It’s just interesting that we’ve gotten to a point in our evolution as humans that women “choose” to breastfeed or not. As humans, we aren’t designed to have that “choice.”

And it’s so very strange we think we have a “choice” in breastfeeding and will substitute powdered cow’w milk (from a mixture of cows on a random lot probably living among thousands of other cows in the midwest) and artificial, human-manufactured vitamins/minerals.

Yes, being a mother is demanding, and it often means you are the only one who can soothe your baby, breastfeeding or not.

It’s a fallacy of modern life to think that we should have a “break” from our infant children, as our babies don’t get a memo that they are born into a “modern” society where it’s not necessary for moms to feed their baby’s human milk or be nearby for those fleeting months of infanthood.

Aaron May 26, 2009, 7:31 PM

Well I’m a guy so what do I know but it seems like breastfeeding should be the choice of the mother. All who disagree with this woman should get over it, everything will be ok. With that said study after study have shown that breastfeeding provides numerous health benefits, yes non-breast fed babies turn out just fine most of the time but you can’t deny the benefits of breastfeeding.

Jenean May 26, 2009, 7:45 PM

I totally support your decision! I’ve had four kids. I tried to breast feed with the first two, but because I could never do it right and it was extremely painful I never last longer than two months. My last two children were not breastfed at all and I was totally fine with that.

One thing I learned about having children is that “Mother knows best” the majority of the time and every single situation and experience varies from one to another. No pregnancy is the same. No delivery is the same. No breastfeeding experience is the same. And it certainly is the end of your child’s happy childhood should you decide not to breastfeed. You go, mom!!

Rachel M. May 26, 2009, 7:51 PM

This whole article is tough. I breastfed, I think if you can you should, but…… I find it hard to team up with other breastfeeding moms. The extremes these moms will go to to drive their points home is hard for me to read. Comparing not breastfeeding to abortion? Whoa.

Do I agree with your choice of not breastfeeding? No. Does it affect my life one way or another? No. Go live your life & I’ll live mine.

Heather May 26, 2009, 7:53 PM

I breastfed and I will tell you it did have its challenges as well as rewards. I think I would have breastfed longer if I was able to pump milk but that was challenging and I eventually gave my son formula when out and about (not comfortable with just whipping out the boob like others are). This worked for me and my son is smart & healthy. Breastfeeding is a personal decision. I am glad to read your honest reasonings for it and respect that. I have talked to many moms that give the reasoning “oh my doctor told me not to” instead of just being honest. I can respect and understand honesty.

debi edmiston May 26, 2009, 7:55 PM

I breastfed all three of my children and I will admit that as I had each child, I did’t do it as long as I had when I did it with my first one!! Debi

toni May 26, 2009, 8:01 PM

what a sad and pointless article. when you said no scientific fact, you really meant it. yes breastfeeding is a matter of choice, but this article goes beyond the right to choose. breast is best and that is a fact, as moms we should not try and justify are decisions with lies! that is why your article can not contain any studies, because then you would not be able to say “and in fact, he’s healthier than a lot of my friends’ children who are breastfed.” maybe you have one friend that breastfed and your baby happens to catch fewer colds, but that is not a fact and not the case for most bf babies.

FDT May 26, 2009, 8:31 PM

I can say without any remorse that I am NOT the kind of mom that felt or feels strong overwhelming feelings of motherliness, but I did enjoy breastfeeding. Not at first, and not all the time; but, after some time and lots of effort, I was glad to do it. I will agree that it’s not for everyone. But, the way I saw it and still see it, it’s what your body does – how nature intended; it was worth a shot. And, believe me, I wanted to give up the first week! But, my husband really encouraged me, and my mom (who was feverish when I was born, and couldn’t breastfeed) supported my efforts. Three weeks into it, I became a pro, and we were able to introduce the bottle without any confusion. My husband continued to work full-time after our daughter was born, and I stayed home for 8 months. All that time (except for a couple of bottle-feedings a day; one in the late morning, and one in the evening) plus two months after I went back to work, I breastfed or pumped. It was part of the mommy job. And, just like any job, I did my research to improve my performance. I drank lots of water; I napped as needed; my husband and I talked it out when after spending lots of time holding and nursing the baby, I had my fill of someone in my personal space; and, when I was physically uncomfortable, I followed suggestions to alleviate my discomfort. Did I mention yet that I lost an easy 17 lbs.? And, we didn’t have to pay for formula for nine months, not too mention how difficult that stuff is to mix in the middle of the night, or to lug a cooler around when you go out! If it’s not for your family, then it’s not. But, give it a try – a REAL try, or at least give your utmost support to someone who does.

Bex May 26, 2009, 10:08 PM

Some of the best advice anyone ever gave me was that it doesn’t matter how you feed your baby as long as you feed your baby.

I choose to breastfeed and I’m mostly not sorry about it. I love that I have done it for 9 months now. I love that I have been able to do it. I hate that my husband can’t get our baby to go to sleep because she requires mom milk to do it. For the most part, I’m not sorry that I chose to breastfeed. My husband has been able to bond in other ways with our baby because we make sure to have plenty of dad and baby time and activities just for them.

I think as long as you love your child, don’t hurt them, and take care of them the best way you know how, then who cares how you feed them. I don’t think bottle fed babies are any less loved or cared for than breast fed babies!

Sarah B May 27, 2009, 1:30 AM

Reetbeat, please do not bring attachment parenting or abortion into this.

#1 - you mentioned your ties to LLL, so of course this article is not for you

#2 - 3/3 of my healthcare providers REJECT attachment parenting (Prenatal doctor, my daughters pediatrician, and my family doctor)

#3 - abortion and bottle-feeding are NOT in the same category!

Breastfeeding Moms, jump off your high horses and calm the **BEEP** down!! It isn’t your baby, so why do you even care? If you are such a supporter of breastfeeding, then YOU do it for YOUR children!!! Why tell the rest of the mom’s out there that they MUST breastfed!

When you go to the park, can you tell which kids were breastfed and which were not? When you are in the doctors office, can you tell which children were or were not breastfed? When you are in a board meeting, can you tell which adults were breastfed? NO NO NO!!!

To say that only those children who have been breastfed have attachment to their mothers, learn to be independent, and are more intelligent is simply delusional! Attachments are formed when love is shared, independence is formed when respect and freedom is given, and intelligence forms when children are shown what to do, they are nurtured and have guidance. Breast has nothing to do with that.

Breast may be best for immunity to many things, but LOVE is what is REALLY best for babies! If a mother hates breastfeeding, and resents doing it, do you not think the baby can feel this?

Ladies, let’s all grow up and let parents do what they feel is right for THEIR children! Worry about your OWN children!

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