National Breastfeeding Awareness Month
Apparently August is National Breastfeeding Awareness Month. If you're pregnant or just had a baby you're probably a lot more aware of breastfeeding than you ever thought you'd be. I was, and I sure as hell don't need a damn month to remind me.
From what I can tell by googling "National Breastfeeding Awareness Month" this month is a reminder that hey! New moms! You better be feeding your baby breast milk because if you don't there's a whole slew of reasons that serve only to layer on more and more stress on an already stressful time in a woman's life.
No pressure, amirite?
I am here to reassure you that breast is not best for everybody and that is ok. Before you also get angry and think I'm against breastfeeding I want to make it clear that I am very FOR breastfeeding. I believe in the health benefits it supposedly has and I gave it my all when I had my baby. I am in no way discouraging anybody from giving it their all and what I am want to say is:
It's ok if you don't or can't breastfeed. Hear me out...
According to my doctor, the stress from breastfeeding is one of the top causes of postpartum depression and I can vouch for that. I was fortunate enough to be able to produce some milk for Theo (after working with lactation consultants and eating cookies and consuming all these herbal things) but I wasn't able to produce much so we supplemented with formula because he wasn't gaining enough weight at first and I remember crying and thinking, more than once, "WTF is wrong with me? This is supposed to be something my body is supposed to do and I can't even do that well?! How am I going to be a good mother?!"
I would see posts online from other moms, pictures of overflowing bottles of pumped milk or them happily feeding their babies who were rosy cheeked and clearly well-fed. It was agonizing and it ate at me and I felt inadequate, like I was doing something criminal for feeding him formula too but how could I not? My baby was hungry, my body wasn't able to fill him up so we had to do the next best thing. Hindsight is 20/20, and looking back I wish I spent more time enjoying the newborn phase and less time judging myself because you know what? He's happy, healthy, really smart and developing the way he's supposed to be.
So, moms, whatever your decision, whether you want to breastfeed or not, whether you tried and weren't able to, or if you're in the same boat I was, I support you and I am here for you. I'm confident I speak for a lot of moms out there too when I say that. And, if your maternity bra cups runneth over and you are breastfeeding like there's no tomorrow? That is amazing and awesome and I envy you.
We're all aware of how "great" breast milk is because it's beaten into us the moment we're pregnant. The pressure is real and it comes from all directions and it has to stop and be flipped into a message of support and empathy.
So I propose that for National Breastfeeding Awareness Month let's take a quick moment to acknowledge that yes, breastfeeding is good for the baby, but at the end of the day a fed baby and a less stressed mom is BETTER and I say we commemorate this month (and every month) by respecting and supporting the breastfeeding choices other moms make no matter how different they might be from ours, and not push our own insecurities or agendas on them. EVER.