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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.

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155 comments so far | Post a comment now
Charles J Gervasi November 30, 2009, 6:13 PM

The breastfeeding dogma is ridiculous IMHO. It’s like a debate about the merits of choosing to live more than 100 meters from a main road to reduce exposure to pollution. It probably helps, but it’s crazy to obsess over.

It’s good to try to do little things for our health, but it makes no sense to fixate on what particular health-related topic. The whole purpose of our health is to enjoy life. Fixating on breastfeeding is fine for people who enjoy contemplating it or who work in that field, but it’s a waste for people who aren’t into it to wring their hands over whether there might be some weak causal correlations between methods of feeding a baby and outcomes that mostly have nothing to do with nutrition.

purpleuprple February 7, 2010, 10:04 AM

look, I support your right to do whatever the heck you want with your own personal body. Personal choices and good public health policy are not the same thing. It is best for pretty much everyone that they breastfeed their kid as long as possible, even if it’s just for the first three days while the uterus is healing. This is just like it’s best for everyone to take folic acid before they get pregnant. That doesn’t mean I’m going to send the folic acid police to your house to force-feed it to you. A general consensus that something’s good health practice does not make for a legal fiat.

“I chose not to take prenatal vitamins because I don’t like swallowing pills” would probably bring on a similar response, come to think of it.

C February 7, 2010, 2:34 PM

Lets all be ignorant and selfish. That seams to be the key to eternal happiness.

J Haffner April 15, 2010, 2:33 PM

Ok. So, I am currently pregnant and still in the decision making progress and NONE of you are really helping with that. I agree that is it a personal choice, but I also agree that in the beginning it is healthier for the baby to get the best resources they need. I definitely don’t think that kids behave depending on how they are fed and bonding with your child is done through love and care, not specifically your breast. I was adopted so breastfeeding was not an option for me and my adopting mother was and is the closest person in my life. There are pros and cons to each and I don’t think that anyone should be judged on their decision to breastfeed or not. I will not regret the decision I make.

Rachel April 27, 2010, 11:47 AM

I was not breastfed and I just graduated with my doctrine. So the whole myth about not being smart as breastfed kids is in fact a lie.

wotev May 7, 2010, 9:04 AM

sexual objects, huh? wonder why they produce milk.

S August 6, 2010, 12:05 PM

Thank you for your honesty!! Since when has it become appropriate for other people (complete strangers, no less) to assert their opinions on whether a woman should or should not nurse her baby? Its no ones business to judge. And, the pressure out there to breastfeed is ridiculous and out of control. Bottle feeding doesn’t equate poison feeding, as some ignorantly believe. Formula is a great altnerative—and is improving in quality and nutrition every day! My 2 were formula babies and extremely bright and healthy toddlers now. I’m sick of this debate, moms, so seriously, its time to move on with this already!

RBizzie September 25, 2010, 5:06 AM

I say good job to the author of this article and I have no love for the people who are calling her selfish. I am sure that every decision you made for your child is/was the healthiest? Be honest now is it? DO you let your child watch TV? Do you let your child attend public school, what about playing sports. What about vaccinations? Do you give them only organic/whole food? Lets face it there will always be a study to prove or disprove one thing or the other. DO what YOU think is best and live with the outcome good or bad. Personally I have never met a healthy baby that turned into Quasimoto because they were not breast fed. Cut each other some slack isn’t motherhood hard enough without being judged and critized by those who should have a little more understanding? You know, other mothers.

Kate September 27, 2010, 9:07 AM

Rachel- I think you mean d-o-c-t-o-r-a-t-e. I find it a bit hard to believe that you actually earned this degree without ever having learned how to spell it. Apologies if you are talking about something else entirely.

Now… thank you so much to the author of this article and to momlogic for posting it. I am pregnant with my first and I, too, adamantly refuse to breastfeed. I have done the research and have read more rhetoric than I care to remember; my conclusion remains the same: I’m not doing it. I may be pregnant, but I am not an incubator. I may have an infant, but I am not a cow. Those of you who choose to breastfeed can do so. Just leave me and my formula-fed child out of the debate, okay?

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CC October 29, 2010, 6:05 PM

I challenge any of the rabid pro-bfdrs to point out the bfed children in any group, or the bfed adults, for that matter. There are so many healthy, happy people in the world who were not bfed, children and adults; to become vicious and cruel to other women in defense of something that ultimately matters so little to a person’s wellbeing is ugly, woman-hating behavior. It puts far more negativity and hurt out into the world than choosing not to bfeed ever could. Heaven help her if she also chooses not to recycle. (And I did bfeed my children, and would do it again, but I’m absolutely against this sort of hateful backlash behavior. Shame on all of you.)

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Alicia December 10, 2010, 4:19 AM

What amuses me is that the people arguing in this thread that breastmilk makes babies more intelligent are the ones making all the spelling and grammatical mistakes.

Alicia December 10, 2010, 4:32 AM

I would also like to add that I was not breastfed, but could read by the age of three. I was also just invited to enrol for a restricted entry honours programme at my university, due to my high marks. So clearly, the argument for improving intelligence is nonexistent.

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