Leora H. was feeling a little shy in her baby prep class. The time had come for the moms-to-be to go around the room to discuss their personal agenda for life postpartum and their plans for feeding. Like clockwork, each pregnant woman discussed their plans to breastfeed, most of them exclusively. Then it came her turn.
“I didn’t really know what to say,” says Leora, a stay-at-home based in Brooklyn, NY. “I had this fear of getting canceled if I just came out and said that I didn’t want to nurse. But the truth is, I’ve just never had the desire. It’s as simple as that.”
Eventually, Leora did fess up to her formula fed plans, but her hesitation summons to mind an age old debates in the pregnancy and postpartum communities – the desire to nurse or not.
From the first moment after conception, we’re told that exclusive breast-feeding is correlated with lower rates of ear infections, respiratory illnesses and SIDS according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, which recommends that babies be breast-fed for their first six months of life.
“There are certainly acknowledged benefits, there’s no question about it,” Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, a clinical professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at Yale School of Medicine told The New York Times. “The problem is that breast-feeding is not an easy thing to do,” she said. “It’s extremely time-consuming and even if you work in the most hospitable environment for allowing breast-feeding, it’s hard to do when you’re back at work.”
Then of course are the issues that come with breastfeeding, like poor latching, inverted or flat nipples, mastitis or clogged ducts, and just the general stress of being the sole provider of nourishment for an infant for the foreseeable future. That’s a lot of time, stress and physical endurance for a new mother, especially one who’s back-to-work clock is ticking or has a very needy toddler tugging her leg constantly.
“In the end, I had my baby and maintained my choices around breastfeeding, and I’m really happy I did,” says Leora. “I think had I succumbed to the pressure to breastfeed just because other moms do it, that would be so inauthentic to my experience.”
At Babe, we are all about you choosing your own adventure in this baby-raising game. There is no right or wrong answer to how you choose to feed or do pretty much anything else. So the next time, you’re gathered around a coffee clutch full of pregnant ladies detailing their exclusive breastfeeding plans, simply offer to bow out of the conversation by stating your plans and that you’re not currently accepting advice at that time.
Also, we recommend that you discuss your preferences with your medical providers so they know your plans up front. You’d be surprised by how many pediatricians might try to talk you into nursing, in which case, you’re likely in the wrong office for you and your family. And lastly, just own your sh*t. You and only you know what’s best for your crew. Just remember, fed is best – any which way you do it.