I want to start this off by saying (not just because I fully believe this, but because I want to protect myself from flying objects, fruit and rocks): Breastfeeding is BEST. There’s no mistaking or arguing the matter. The facts prove it. I don’t need to attach several different links that support this theory. If you want to provide the best nutrients for your baby, you breastfeed, plain and simple. I will never disagree this fact.
Now, since I am 33 weeks pregnant, I’ve been reading a lot of pregnancy related magazines. And, I found this statistic located on the bottom page of one of my favorites:
“$13 BILLION: Additional health care costs because U.S. moms don’t breastfeed as recommended”
I won’t say which magazine this was in, because in case one of the 3 of you who read my blog happens to know someone who knows someone who works for this magazine, I certainly don’t want to get into trouble for citing anything or calling a statistic out. But I have to tell you, reading this made my blood boil.
As you can guess from what I just said, no, I did not breastfeed my 5 year old son, Ben. There are personal reasons that surround that, and from day one, Ben was bottle fed with formula. Did I feel guilty about it? Yes. I wanted to do the “right thing” by him and his health and his well-being. Ben went on to become a very healthy child, given the circumstances. He went on to get maybe 1-2 colds a year, never had an ear infection in his entire life (knock on wood) and is very bright. So of course, I question what this statistic means. Anytime Ben was sick, and I brought him to the doctor, not once was I asked, “Ma’am, did you breastfeed your son?” Has anyone else been asked that question?
I can tell you that I have friends who breastfed exclusively, and have children who have asthma, allergies, and were sick more often than my son. I also have friends who formula fed exclusively, and their children also suffer from the same plight. So, based on this situation, I have always chalked up genetics to how a child may be growing up. If you and your significant have allergies, asthma, etc. than your child may also wind up with that. Breastfeeding has been shown to reduce these ailments, but it doesn’t seem to be a 100% security blanket against it. Does that mean you shouldn’t breastfeed? Of course not. It just further confuses me in regards to this statistic.
And infuriates me. I have other friends who tried desperately to breastfeed, one in particular comes to mind (she’s one of my blog readers). A good friend of mine had twins who were born 10 weeks early. Her babies were unable to feed in the beginning, and so she pumped every 3 hours, trying to get as much nourishing breast milk for her babies as she could, but eventually, her body was unable to make enough milk, and due to the babies’ size, they had to be put on special formula to help them gain weight. I knew someone else who produced tons of milk, but the milk had little nourishment in it. Her baby was still failing to thrive. I am sure there are countless other stories.
The bottom line is, we all have moments where we feel less than stellar as parents. And we feel judged at times. It can be breastfeeding, or whether you work or stay home with your child, what sort of food you feed your child, how you parent or raise your child. Some days it feels as though you try so hard to do your best, and then you read something like this, and it makes you question whether you’ve done the right thing or not by your child. That will be something each person will have to decide on their own. It feels as though throwing statistics around like this goads you into breast feeding, versus allowing you to make your own decisions based on the fact that it’s the best option, and from what I’ve heard, a fantastic bonding experience. Why can’t we let that be the merits that guide someone to choose breast feeding?
As for me, I do plan to breastfeed my baby in the making. I have a very supportive husband who will back me all the way, but if for some reason I am unable to, I am going to cut myself some slack! Being a parent is hard enough!