Choice

I am out of the breastfeeding loop. It’s been roughly 11 years since I breastfed my daughter and 10 years since I attended a birth and cared for a new mom and baby. Distance from a particular time of life affords perspective. Thank goodness.

During some vulnerable new-mom moment long, long ago, a lactation specialist said to me, “Breastfeeding is a relationship. It involves two people – the baby AND the mom.” Eureka. This woman, perhaps unbeknownst to her, gave me permission. She gave me permission to consider myself. She reminded me breastfeeding is a choice. That breastfeeding is a choice certainly countered the majority of messages I received either in midwifery school, from my peers, or in the books I read. It’s a complex, personal decision.

Hanna Rosin sheds an honest light on the topic in “The Case Against Breast Feeding,” her 2009 article that appeared in The Atlantic. It’s a long article, but honest and funny and well worth the read. Rosin wades through breastfeeding research and popular literature and comes to the conclusion I come to so often with my clients: The right answer is the answer that is right for you.

It may in fact be that ‘breast is best’ – but only by a little bit.   Both the economic and social cost of breastfeeding may outweigh the benefits for a particular woman. One of the most commonly cited ‘reasons to breastfeed’ is that breastfeeding is free. Rosin points out that it’s only free if you consider women’s time worthless. IMAGINE my income if I got paid for the many hours I sat in the rocker and nursed!

Plenty of bottle-fed infants grow up to be healthy, happy, well adjusted contributors to society. And those bottle-feeding mothers love their children just as much as moms who breastfeed. At what point will we respect each other, unconditionally, for the parenting choices we make?

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