Now before we get into the meat of this post, let me say that the content is no where near as controversial as the title. But when I thought about writing this post, that title just popped into my head, and I couldn’t kick it.
Ever since I can remember, I knew that when the day came for me to have my own children I would choose NOT to breastfeed. I can’t really pinpoint what led me to make this decision. There was no pivotal moment when I said, “THIS is the reason”. I just knew. I can’t tell you if it’s because my mother didn’t breastfeed (unless you count the 8-day stint with my brother), or if maybe somewhere in my subconscious I was holding on to a memory I wasn’t even aware of, but deep down in my heart of hearts, I knew that this was the decision that was best for me.
And then I became pregnant. It was one of the most common questions I received. Actually, it was less of a question, and more of an assumption. “You’re planning on breastfeeding, right?” No, I wasn’t. And then when I explained that it was just not for me, I received puzzled looks at best. At worst, people would tell me that I was doing a disservice to my unborn child by not even trying. As if I didn’t have enough thoughts swirling around in my head, wondering if I was going to be a good enough mother to our little boy/girl. (We didn’t find out the gender.) All I needed was (sometimes) complete strangers making me question even more if I was being a bad mom for choosing not to breastfeed our little one.
So I started to weigh my options. Should I at least give it a try? Maybe I would pump? Was I absolutely sure that this wasn’t the right choice for me? Now, for those of you that know me in real life, you know that I’m a fairly decisive person. And to everyone on the outside, I was steadfast in my opinions. But I couldn’t stop these thoughts from swirling around in my head.
I wasn’t choosing not to breastfeed because I didn’t want to be “chained to my baby,” as I have heard other women say. I wasn’t going back into the workforce. (I quit my job when we moved out of the region when I was 5 months pregnant.) I wasn’t choosing not to breastfeed so that my husband would get up in the middle of the night instead of me. It had nothing to do with convenience. Actually, two and a half months into it, I’m almost exclusively the one feeding her since it’s just the three of us at home every day (me, my little girl and my little puppy). Even when my husband is home, I’m doing the night-time feedings. My logic is, even though I’m working from home, I have the privilege of flexible hours and the ability to nap while she’s napping. My husband needs a good night’s sleep so that he can go out into the world and provide for his girls. (Yes, I work, but he’s the main breadwinner. We wouldn’t survive without his income.)
Now, I’m the kind of girl who HAS to read a book from cover to cover. That means that I couldn’t skip over the breastfeeding sections even if I wanted to. And who knew? Maybe when I held my little girl in my arms for the first time, that’s all I would need to change my mind. (Turns out that even she couldn’t change my mind.) I knew all the benefits of a mother’s breast milk and what it could do for my baby. I knew that it provided antibodies that no formula in the world could replicate. I heard it all. From the women in the doctor’s waiting room who offered me phone numbers for lactation consultants, to the “non-biased” nurse invited to our birthing class who would not stop talking about the benefits of breast milk.
And then the day came. Our little girl was born. Thank God for my midwife. We had spoken about it while my labour was progressing, and she knew that I didn’t want to be pressured to breastfeed once Avital was born. She protected me and my wishes when that time came. But, unfortunately for me, Israelis are very big advocates for breastfeeding. They’ll talk your ear off until they’re blue in the face, trying to make you feel guilty for depriving your baby of the best thing in the world.
The nurse who brought Avital to me for the first time when I was recovering offered to help me latch her the first time. And when I proceeded to tell her “thanks, but no thanks,” she tried to pressure me into at least pumping some colostrum for her. Like, after 24 hours of labour and 4 hours of pushing, this lady was the last thing I wanted at six-thirty in the morning. I became so overwhelmed and so uncomfortable, that my husband had to sternly ask her to leave. And then I asked for the pills that would prevent my milk from coming in. And boy, oh boy, did the nurses push that off. I should have received them at nine o’clock, when the doctor did his rounds and wrote a prescription that morning. But no. The nurses waited until six o’clock in the evening when I had asked for them four or five times and they could see that I was not giving in.
I strongly believe in a mother’s intuition. I believe that every mother knows what’s right for her and her child. I can (almost) always tell what Avital needs when she’s being fussy or when she starts crying. And I know that I made the right decision for us. I still can’t tell you what it is, or why it is, all I can tell you is that it’s my mother’s intuition. And that’s a good enough answer for me.
If you’re a mommy, I’d love to know why you chose to breast-feed or formula-feed, or both.
Until next time…