About Heather of Making It Work Mom :A full time working mom to three very busy children whom are navigating their way through the teen years, tweenhood, and grade school. If I didn’t laugh I would probably cry!
I breastfed my babies.
All three of them.
For the first fifteen months of their lives. Not a drop of formula passed their lips under my watch.
I am certain that means that I am a better mother to my 13, 11, and 7 year old and I am certain that it means they are better children.
I started nursing my oldest because I had read about the health benefits of nursing a newborn for the first few weeks of their life. So my goal was to nurse her the first few weeks of her life. Go big or go home. I didn’t know anyone else who breastfed. I just did what worked for me, and for my baby, and for my family. I literally took it one day at a time. My one day at a time turned into one week at a time which turned into one month at time.
Approximately 15 months later my first born weaned herself.
And I was happy and she was happy. It was all good.
Breastfeeding my babies, was for me, one of the best things about their babyhood.
I did not breast feed because I felt pressured by society or felt guilty if I didn’t.
I know. This is totally crazy and radical thinking.
My children are older now, 13, 11, and 7 and I can confidently say that not once in the past five years have I looked back and said “Thank God I breast fed my children that is why they are so (smart, healthy, beautiful, kind, thoughtful, athletic, insert any other adjective).”
Not even once have I thought that.
I know. It’s crazy.
Now when I look at my children and feel concern about a struggle they are having or nervous about a new development milestone they are reaching I feel guilt about so many other things. I feel guilty about being a full time working mom. I feel guilty about yelling too much. I feel guilty about helicopter parenting. I feel guilty about not helicoptering enough. I feel guilty about not giving them my full attention. I feel guilty about not giving them enough freedom. I think about a million and one things I do every day as a mother that shape the child they are now and the adults they will be in just a few short years and I feel guilty that I am not doing those things well enough.
I never think about whether my decision to bottle or breast feed them has made them a better/lesser person. I don’t think about it because it hasn’t. I think it is a non-issue beyond the first year of their life.
So take that. Take that all those people who make new mothers feel like this is a decision that will impact their new born baby’s life FOREVER.
It won’t. And it doesn’t.
When I am obsessing about parenting my newly minted teenager I think about those million and one other things that I do (or don’t do) every day that are shaping her behaviors and emotion well-being. I feel intense pressure to make the right parenting decisions.
I need a parenting a teenager support group. Can someone sign me up for that?
In fact the only time I think about breastfeeding my children when they were babies is when a new mom asks for advice. And then I can only speak about what worked for us which is in no way a guarantee of what will work for them. My advice is always the same, do what works for you and your baby. Do what feels right. Now what you think should feel “right”.
If I told my husband that there was a new movement out there riding the wave of social media called “I Support You” he would laugh, roll his eyes, and shake his head. If I told him that the purpose was to support women in making a feeding choice for their baby that works for them he would laugh even harder. I can hear him now “You need a support group for this?” Ummmm I guess so?
He would tell me it is silly.
And he would be right.
It’s silly that we criticize new moms for making a decision that works for their family.
It’s silly that we criticize new moms for making a decision that will have no impact on the life of their baby in five, ten, fifteen years. Yup I said it. No impact. Did you hear me new moms?
It’s silly that we need to create a movement to support moms in making a decision that is one only they can make.
I think the “I Support You” movement is nice. The intentions of the movements are good and well meaning. Do I think it is silly that we need a support group that advocates for adult women to feel comfortable in making a parenting decision between two choices that are both acceptable and smart alternatives for their babies?
Yes. A million times yes.
My advice for a new mom is to do what feels right and don’t worry too much about it because in ten years you will have much bigger parenting fish to fry.
Because in ten years the decision to breast feed or formula feed will seem irrelevant in the grand scheme of parenting a tween.
Because in ten years it really won’t matter.
It won’t matter.
And that is the truth.