"I would much prefer that the breastmilk campaign be less militant. I think it's a reaction to how puritanical our society is. I agree that it should be seen as normal, and that includes bfing in public. That being said, the radically pro bf'ers should back off when it comes to formula feeding. It's not best, but it works fine in some situations, and we all make choices. (Or the choices get made for us whether we want them or not)."
This comment by Geochick on my post Breast is Best got me thinking. And then I ran into this article.
(Go on, check it out, I'll wait. Although I did post it on my FB page, so you may have read it then.) There was also this comment in the article that spoke to me.
"Why is it that when we want to impart accurate information about childhood nutrition, such as eat more fruits/veggies, less processed food, healthier snacks, no refined flours/sugars, less fast food, etc., we do not hold back for fear of sending a “guilt message” to some working mom in the audience who relies on frozen/canned veggies,prepackaged snacks, fast food, and never quite got her toddler to love whole whole wheat bread…we seem to have no problem sending THAT message, and we certainly don’t follow this up with “but, you know, if you are really busy, white bread, canned veggies,fast food, and processed snacks are fine”. Even though it is now well known that these eating habits lead to childhood obesity and a host of other illnesses."
Here's the thing. It's not that breastfeeding is best. It's that breastfeeding is normal. And formula has risks. It seems as though because we're so afraid to make someone else feel guilty, we've softened it. But that softening has led to a de-normalization of breastfeeding. And that's in no one's best interest.
But, here is the real issue I'm addressing today. I am responsible for my own feelings. If I feel guilty about something, that is MY reaction, which I need to own. I am responsible for whether or not I feel guilty about a choice I have made. It is not the person who said something else that truly MADE me feel guilty. *I* am responsible for my own feelings and reactions. No one has the power to MAKE me feel anything.
I understand that many people are turned off by those who they consider "breastfeeding Nazis". I get that. Honestly, as a mom who felt she had no other choice than to feed my 1st child formula, I so relate to hating the self-righteousness of some people who do believe that absolutely everyone (EVERYONE!!!) can produce for her infant enough breastmilk for 6-12 months, or more.
Sometimes people make really judgemental statements and toss out words that certainly can be hurtful. However, it is my own doubts about the choices I have made that led to me feeling guilty, not the words of others. It's my own doubting that maybe I didn't do everything I could have to produce enough milk to feed the boys that leaves me feeling guilty. What if I had just pumped at night before they were born? What if I had taken more herbs? What if I had pumped more/after they nursed? What if...what if...what if...and DAMN IT infertility for messing this up too!!!!
*I* am responsible for my own guilt. No one else. We all make choices. Some of them are good decisions, based on thorough and accurate information. Some are simply the best we could do at that particular time. It's all those "coulda, shoulda, woulda's" that we say to ourselves that leaves us feeling guilty. Self-doubt is the culprit. Not other people.
Now, the question or whether or not that guilt is warranted, is a whole different issue (and only one each individual can answer for herself). Also, the issue of using donor milk, which has largely assuaged much of my own guilt, is a separate issue. One, I believe, would likely help the guilty feelings others experience, if only they could become comfortable with feeding their children "some other woman's milk". Again, an issue for another day.
Today's lesson: We are often far too eager to blame things on others. If what I want is my children to take responsibility for their own feelings and behaviors, then what I have to do as their mother is show them how to do it.