This morning, I read this post by my friend Esperanza, and I’ve been thinking about it all day. Go read it. You’ll be glad you did. And I in no way have anything earthshattering or original to add to any conversation regarding infant feeding, but here are my thoughts anyway, should you choose to continue reading this post.
Frankly, I’m SO OVER the breast vs. bottle part of the mommy wars. And really, I’m lucky. I’ve never had any negative feedback about how I feed or fed my babies: breast, bottle, and tube (and I’m still doing all 3!). This probably has some to do with the area of the country I live in, but more to do with the people by which I surround myself and associate with. By far, the person who pressured me to breastfeed the most (or really, at all) was myself.
I agree with Esperanza in that women who are successful at breastfeeding do so in part because they are privileged in ways that they may or may not be conscious of. Able-bodiness is one of these privileges. Grayson was physically unable to breastfeed; therefore, we didn’t. (If your baby is able to breastfeed, or really, eat by mouth at all, you are blessed). I don’t respond well to the breast pump, and would never have been able to produce enough for his needs. With Charlotte, I exclusively breastfed her until she was 4 months old, but again my physical limitations forced us to supplement. I simply was not making enough milk for her.
Charlotte has had formula for 9 months. A LOT of formula. She loves it (and yes, I realize I’m supposed to be transitioning her to milk…transitions take me awhile). She’s also had breast milk for 13 months. In a perfect world, sure, I wouldn’t have spent approximately $1 million dollars (may be a slight exaggeration) on formula and 1 million hours washing bottles, but my life is far from perfect. If you compare breast milk with formula simply as substances, of course breast milk is a superior food. But the fact is there are so many other factors that go into infant feeding than simply the substance the infant is ingesting.
I am very aware that still breastfeeding my 13 month old is a gift and a privilege. I’m privileged that she is still interested in it, that it’s a tool I can use for comfort (huge bonus lately during toddler tantrums!), and that I’m able to still provide her with the health benefits of breast milk. I’m privileged to be home with her- the privilege of time is a huge factor that I don’t take for granted. I’m privileged that my husband is and always has been supportive of both bottle and breastfeeding. And it’s a gift that Charlotte healthy and she’s thriving.
It’s been awhile since I’ve written about breastfeeding- my first experience was so traumatic, but that was a lifetime ago. The wounds have healed, and we’ve all moved on. So when I see debates still raging from both sides, I just shake my head and roll my eyes. Feed your babies however works best for you, and move on. And don’t make others feel bad about their choices if they happen to be different from yours.
Another privilege I have: SPELL CHECK. In writing this post, I realize I have NO IDEA how to spell Privilege. I want it to have a “d” before the “e”. Embarrassing.
And one last privilege: living in close proximity to Chick-Fil-A and their cookies. Charlotte agrees with me (I think CFA cookies rank up there with breast milk in the “best” category).