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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
Mel May 27, 2009, 1:33 AM

Cranna - Some people know way more about breastfeeding than doctors. Doctors don’t get much training in breastfeeding at all, yet everyone thinkgs they know everything. So not true when it comes to brastfeeding. Lactation consultants and La Leche League leaders know more than them by far. Do you know that nurses, at least in Canada, are required to go to LLL meetings during their practicums to learn about breatsfeeding there? USA Rn’s get even less training than that! And we wonder why women aren’t properly supported to breastfeed!

from Israel May 27, 2009, 8:41 AM

Leave all health issue on the side for a moment. It is all about a feeling. Feelings are personal. One might feel cold when others are complaining on the heat.
I felt I have to breastfeed. It was a significant part of becoming a mother. I enjoyed seeing my baby (nearly 15 years old) growing from nothing but me, for 4 months. I kept on breastfeeding until she was 7 months and was then pressured to stop it by intolerant environment.
Unfortunately I couldn’t breastfeed my second baby, he was a preemie.
I always joke around how I made my third baby only so I can breastfeed. He never knew what a bottle was. I breastfed him until I was ill with Angina when he was 2 years old and I didn’t want him to catch it.
I have fantastic relationship with all of them. They are all healthy. And I would sum the experience like a very positive, pleasant feeling. Very motherly. Very much an answer to the thoughts, feelings and ideas I had from before I became a mother. But these were my personal ideas and feelings. Not everyone must have the same feelings. I do think doing what makes you comfortable and relaxed with your baby is a lot more important then impressing anyone with the act of breastfeeding.

anon May 27, 2009, 9:09 AM

1. Author will not find any articles currently that advocates bottle over the breast. Period!

2. yes, breastfeed or not is a choice. this is my 2nd child and strictly breastfeeding. First I did for 5months, 2nd is 1 month now and don’t think I will be able to do it quite as long for various reasons. forget a whole year! Sometimes I get ‘bottle envy” thinking it would be so much easier and I would be able to eat and drink whatever I wanted. On the other hand we don’t have to spend time washing bottles and waiting to warm formula etc. But it is my choice to cont to breastfeed b/c I feel it is best for my baby. Whatever your choice, we should not judge each other. The author’s tone could have been a little nicer but at the same time, breastfeeding mommies need to lay off the bottle mommies. For eg saying your child will be smarter just b/c of breastfeeding is ridiculous; yes it has been cited in some studies but take everything with a grain of salt.

Queen Bee May 27, 2009, 9:12 AM

I always scratch my head at the breastfeeding vs bottlefeeding argument. What ever happened to “my body, my choice”? Most of the women on here would shout that from the roof tops if we were talking about abortion. I would assume aborting a baby would be a hell of alot more “selfish” than not feeding a baby breastmilk. But go ahead and berate the bottlefeeders for their choice, obviously the “my body, my choice” motto doesn’t apply to them. Again, I can think of another (and WORSE) “selfish” act out there than bottlefeeding………….

Allison May 27, 2009, 9:13 AM

This comment:
“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.”

sickens me. I feel bad for you and for your poor child, who you are giving CORN SYRUP to… have you ever read the ingredients in the chemicals you are feeding your baby? Poor child.

Shonta` May 27, 2009, 9:30 AM

THANK YOU FOR WRITING THIS, AND THANKS TO MOMLOGIC FOR FEATURING IT. I FEEL EXACTLY THE SAME WAY. I COMPLETELY AGREE WITH YOU. I am currently pregnant with twins, and this is my first pregnancy. I get the same looks and reactions from everyone whenever I tell them that I’ve decided not to breastfeed. I also get it shoved down my throat from all angles concerning the fact that “it’s better for the babies”. Well, I am a VERY picky eater, and I am certain that formula would be more beneficial to ensure they get all the nutrients they need, rather than risking they won’t if I breastfeed. This is aside from the fact that I am in no way comfortable with “whipping my boob out in public” for not one, but two babies to feed. It is such a relief to finally talk to someone who I can relate to. I have friends that bottle fed their babies only after not being successfuly with the breast for whatever reasons. They still have the mindset though that I should at least try it for the bond - yada yada yada. It’s nice to finally hear of someone like myself that had no desire what-so-ever to even attempt it. It’s like you mentioned that your doctor said, “If you’re not comfortable, no one will be comfortable …”. I truly believe that, and I am not comfortable. Thanks again for writing this.

Shonta May 27, 2009, 9:48 AM

I just want to adress one other thing before my previous comment begins to get attacked by others.

When I say that I am a VERY picky eater. I am just that. I know that some would argue with the fact that I am pregnant right now, and that my twins are growing as they should and seem healthy so they should be ok if I breastfed. I disagree. It worries me all the time that I am not being able to give them all they need now. I’m trying my hardest with a prenatal vitamin, DHA supplement, and healthy nutrient packed drink mixes (all approved). I know you same people would say, “Why not just start eating more things?” I assure you all that I am trying new things all the time, but that doesn’t mean that I will take to them. For the person that said if a mother does not breastfeed it “careless and abandoning your child” (children in my case) - I say that it is careless for me to just hope that I would be able give them all the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients they need when it is guaranteed they will get everything with a formula. I don’t understand why all these people are attacking Mrs. Fielder for speaking up about a very important issue. Why not just accept that this was her decision, and that breastfeeding was yours. She is helping alot of us mothers or mothers-to-be in feeling a little bit more at ease with ourselves for “being different”.

Jen May 27, 2009, 10:55 AM

Not breastfeeding does not make me a selfish person. It makes me the type of person who realized what worked best for my family and took action. I think that it is selfish to hog your child for the first could of years and not let fathers experience the joys of feeding. My daughter has an amazing relationship with her daddy because he got to bond with her the same as I did he didn’t just get her when she needed to be changed. My daughter is no different the any other baby who was breastfed and I dare someone to try and find faults in her because of the way she was fed. My baby is happy, healthy, and right on schedule as far as her developement. I like how some of the moms who breastfed their children said that they would get mad if they were pushed into bottle feeding. Well how about the moms that get pushed into breastfeeding? Don’t we have the right to get mad that people make us feel like we are bad moms because we don’t breastfeed? It matters how you raise your kid not what type of milk they get.

jersey May 27, 2009, 11:04 AM

The FIRST GREAT ARTICLE on here!! I feel exactly the same way as the author.

I find it interesting how insecure the breast feeding mothers are on here to the point they try to tear down bottle feeders. If you truly believe in yourself and what you are doing with your children you don’t need us to validate your position. Breast feed if you want - no one is stopping you. But stop criticizing those who chose not to - it does not affect your life in any way.

As a former daycare provider and nursery school teacher I can safely assure all mothers that in a room full of infants you can absolutely not tell who is on breast milk and who is on formula. Some of the sickest babies I’ve dealt with were strictly on breast milk and some of the healthiest were formula fed. As for development, breast milk babies developed no faster than formula fed - if anything the formula fed tended to be better sleepers and gained weight quicker, so go figure.

Jen May 27, 2009, 11:11 AM

I didn’t breastfeed either one of my boys. From the time I found out I was pregnant the first time I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of it. I bottle fed both my boys and they are strong healthy smart boys!! I really think it’s an individual choice and that no woman should be shunned for making the right choice for her and her baby!!

Amy May 27, 2009, 11:28 AM

Medical reasons are one thing but why would you let personal insecureites get in the way of what is healthiest for your baby. I have issues with useing the telephone but I still manage to pick it up everyday and deal with it. You should try to overcome personal insecureties. Did you know that there are over 200 parts in breastmilk that science cannot even replicate not to metion that breastmilk can be used for a mild antibiotic to aleviates pink eye and skin iritations and many other things. You owe it to your baby to at least give it a try and over come your own personal insecureties.

Michelle May 27, 2009, 11:49 AM

Thank you! I had a hard time trying to breastfeed my daughter and gave up when she was 4 months old. My life revolved around pumping, breastfeeding and pumping some more and I even got a prescription and tried herbal stuff to increase my milk production all to no avail. I was so incredibly depressed when I felt like I had failed because I was unable to feed my child. I made the switch to bottle feeding and over time made peace with myself over my inability to breastfeed. We are planning a second child and I might try to breastfeed in the beginning but will switch to formula when I return to work if not earlier and I will not blame myself again for not breastfeeding. I refuse to once again feel badly about giving my child formula.

Anonymous May 27, 2009, 12:14 PM

Breastfeeding may not be best for every mother, but it’s best for every baby. As with other parts of motherhood, it’s not all about how WE feel or what we think would be most convenient when it comes to the best thing for our children.

Tiffany May 27, 2009, 12:47 PM

I’m sure there’s some interesting comments here but I haven’t read them. This issue gets so heated! I just wanted to chime in with a THANK YOU. I was sooo set on BF’ing my son. Then my milk never came in. After working with three lactation consultants, two OBs, and countless midwives and nurses…trying every herb and concoction and supplemental feeding device out there…I had to stop. I cried for weeks, and felt like such a failure.

Now, I’m five days postpartum with my third. No sign of milk anywhere. I told everyone during this pregnancy that I’d see what happens. I have two children who were formula fed, and they’ve never had health issues. Both are very intelligent, and highly bonded to mama. I was formula fed…my mom was formula fed. We’re all healthy and intelligent. So I know formula isn’t evil. But darn it if other moms don’t make it out to be.

We each do what we feel is best for our kids. And bottom line?. Some women CAN’T BF, no matter how bad they want to. But even if it’s not a medical reason, if mama doesn’t WANT to BF then she shouldn’t be made to feel like a bad mom for that. Happy baby and mama are more important than which nipple the baby is fed from.

MacKenzie May 27, 2009, 1:55 PM

I am sorry- I cannot agree. In fact I would argue the comment about “as long as your child is healthy” because if you REALLY look into formula you will find that it really is not a “healthy” substance, and the WHO lists it as the 4th choice for feeding a baby- not the second. I am very sad to read this article.

Jeanne May 27, 2009, 2:06 PM

I felt pressure to breastfeed my first child and was unsuccessful. We took my son to emergency when he was 1 week old and found out he had lost 2 lbs. That’s a lot for an 8 lb 12 ounce baby!! The dr. made me feel like it was all my fault, even though my body would not produce enough milk. I tried again with my 2nd knowing I had to supplement, but after 1 month I gave up. With my 3rd I didn’t even try. Breastfeeding is not for everyone and we should support whatever choice a woman wants to make!

NELL May 27, 2009, 4:17 PM


You have thoroughly confused me. Formula is the 4th choice? Okay, so breastfeeding is #1, but what is choice number 2 and 3? I would also like to know where you are getting your information.

Wow! I am really shocked at some of the responses. You guys are putting way more emphasis on breastfeeding. The way you put it, I guess Casey Anthony might have a chance of beating these murder charges if she tells the jury that she breast fed Caylee before she killed her.

Crystal Zook May 27, 2009, 6:33 PM

Choice #1-Milk Directly From Mother Breast
Choice #2-Milk Pumped from Mother fed from a Bottle
Choice #3-Milk From Another Mother fed to Child (Yes, they’d rather have a strangers milk-like from a milk bank-than formula)
Choice #4-Artifical Baby Milk

And yes RACHELAZ, children HAVE died JUST FROM DRINKING FORMULA, most recently in September of 2008 was a LARGE scandal in China where the people that let it happen were put to death. It happens all over the world from parents feeding the wrong type of formula and the kid being allergic, not having clean water-but the “nice medical people” handed out this and said it was better then my milk but now they want me to pay for it and I can’t so I will just dilute it… to contamination.

Only 5% of women are physiologically unable to breastfeed. For others it is just really difficult(a lot of that is the baby’s fault-my second sucked his tongue and it hurt like a mother-I could have just said “I can’t” but he was my second, I knew better).

But like someone else said, my mom only breastfed me for a few months and I am really smart, skipped a grade, etc.

I also didn’t use a car seat, slept on the back window on long trips, they didn’t worry about peanut (or any) allergies, and I mostly wandered the neighborhood unfettered, etc. and I am fine….Not that I would let my kids do that :)

Seriously? May 27, 2009, 6:43 PM

This is a perfect example of how most people will treat a formula feeder. The responses here speak for themselves, one response here even calls the mother selfish…unbelievable! God forbid you should formula feed in this day and age, I say, for all the breastfeeding moms that want respect when breastfeeding out in public or just in general, how about extending that respect back to us? Or maybe we should just learn to keep our feelings and thoughts to ourselves and when asked what feeding method we have chosen respond with a “that’s my business” to avoid being burned at the stake.

Beth May 27, 2009, 9:45 PM

I’ve written a post about this on my blog. I am really disheartened to see, yet again, the numerous attacks on the intelligence and future of children who are formula fed.

It is possible to be an advocate for something without attacking others. And for those of you citing the “milk bank” statement from WHO … how many of you are willing to volunteer breast milk to your local hospitals?

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