New Moms

Breastfeeding is Not a Necessity for New Moms

| by Suzanne Venker

If there's one thing that's added to the enormous pressures mothers face today, it's breastfeeding. The prevailing wisdom is that breastfeeding is the be all, end all. What I really love are the mothers who have no qualms about returning to work and placing their children in substitute care -- but, Gosh darn it, they're gonna breastfeed!

Of course breastfeeding is ideal. Of course the milk is there for a reason. And for some women it's the most natural thing in the world. (Most of my friends breastfed.) But to place such an inordinate amount of value on it strikes me as rather odd. Why do consider abortion and day care a woman's right, while breastfeeding is the bona fide responsibility of any good mother? Seems to me our priorites are a bit out of whack.

If Mom wants to breastfeed, great. It's better for the baby, no question. But no baby is harmed by formula. We all grew up on formula, and we all survived. What I object to is not the emphasis on breastfeeding; it's the suggestion that mothers should have no choice in the matter. Few women today are comfortable telling nurses they don't want to breastfeed; you might as well say you'd like to kill your child. This is insane. When I think about the agony I went through in breastfeeding, the crying, the guilt -- and the ENORMOUS pleasure and relief my baby and I both felt the moment I used a bottle -- I could kick myself.

Don't do it to yourself, please. I don't care what those experts say, if you hate it, don't sweat it. Bonding can absolutely occur with a bottle. The first months at home are hell for so many reasons anyway; why make it worse with this pressure? Going through pregnancy, giving birth, and staying home is PLENTY of sacrifice in and of itself.

Breastfeeding is not the be all, end all. If you don't like it, grab that bottle and get on with life.
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