What If You Just Don’t Want to Breastfeed?
So, tonight I had what one could call a bit of a hormonal pregnant-woman breakdown.
It was smack dab in the middle of trying to eat my green beans (fresh from the garden and delicious) and spear a piece of chicken when suddenly, I felt like I just couldn't take it anymore.
I looked over at the mess that awaited me in the kitchen, all three children needing baths and bedtime, the three loads of laundry I had left to do, the articles that needed writing, and I simply couldn't believe that in less than 24 hours, I would be adding a newborn to the mix.
Yes, you read that right.
At 8:00 tomorrow morning, I am set to be induced. And while I'm anxious about so many things (my first induction, the pain, the aftermath, arranging childcare, being alone when my husband goes back to work), I have to admit, I am particularly dreading breastfeeding, as awful as that may sound.
Just coming off of National Breastfeeding Week, as always, breast vs. formula is a hot topic. And as a mother who has exclusively breastfed all three of my children, and as a nurse who worked several years in labor and delivery, I am 100% a breastfeeding advocate and well aware of the benefits.
I would never judge another mother who chose formula, and I devour formula-feeding articles faster than I can change diapers in a day, but the main “excuse” for using formula always seem to center around mothers who were unable to breastfeed—some physical challenge or a lack of milk production, for example.
But it's not often you come across an article about a mother who chose to formula feed simply because she didn't want to breastfeed.
Which leads me to wonder. Is that reason enough? Would I be “mom enough” if I simply didn't want to breastfeed this time around? If I couldn't fathom how I would fit it in among caring for four children and working from home and doing a million school runs a day?
Would my desire to avoid mastitis and give my body a break after seven consecutive years of pregnancy and nursing be too selfish?
Is formula ever really OK when a mom is physically able to breastfeed, knowing all I know about the superior benefits about breastfeeding?
I can't say that I fully know the answer to that question for me—I will always struggle with wanting to do what I think is best for my children and what I am physically, emotionally, and mentally able to give them as a mother, probably throughout my life. I believe that's called parenting.
But what I do know is that the question of breastfeeding simply isn't black and white. Sure, in a perfect world, every mother who is physically capable of doing so would breastfeed, and it would be no problem. But in the real world, with work obstacles, relationship struggles, childcare issues, support and resources lacking, there is no such thing as perfect parenting. And in the long term, breastfeeding obviously isn't the only thing that matters.
So, tomorrow, as I set to embark on another journey of parenting my fourth child, all I can say is this:
I don't have all the answers for what I will do to parent this baby tomorrow, the next week, or even in the month after that.
All I can do is take it day by day and try to make the best decisions—
For both of us.
Did you bottle-feed because you wanted to? (No judgement, please!)