When my baby was just a newborn, I struggled with breastfeeding. For days, I was always crying from frustration of my baby being hungry despite latching for hours.
On Facebook, I saw a friend who had a newborn as well and he always had a humorous anecdote about the baby screaming and their lack of sleep.
His anecdotes were so similar to my experience but I couldn’t find it in myself to laugh about what I was going through myself. I wondered if they were also struggling with breastfeeding so I dropped him a private message and asked.
Turns out, I was right and his wife was also breastfeeding. She was more into it than I was as I have given in and began supplementing with donated breastmilk to ease my baby’s hunger and to give me a little breathing space.
He connected me to his wife and we started an online friendship. She helped me a lot. Knowing that I wasn’t alone in my struggle helped me get through the day. She helped me get through the next screaming session as I was furiously chatting with her with one hand and holding my inconsolable baby in the other while holding back tears.
As luck would have it, I was able to get tangible help from breastfeeding advocates here in Cebu and because of them, my breastfeeding journey took a turn for the better.
She wasn’t able to get the help I had so her journey, despite all her best effort, ground to a halt.
We still keep in touch every once in a while, not as often as before but I feel a connection with her as she was there at my worst moments.
It pains me that until now, she still feels a lot of completely undeserved guilt for not breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding happens to be the best meal for babies. However, we live in a world where, luckily, it isn’t the only option.
In this day and age, where women are expected to work, take care of the home, be pretty and sexy for their husbands and be practically perfect, a lot of women simply cannot breastfeed.
It’s not because they didn’t try, it’s because the world has forgotten how to after a generation (our mother’s generation, actually) that shunned breastfeeding.
It’s because too much is expected of women and sometimes, it just isn’t possible in the midst of all the other responsibilities women are expected to take on right after giving birth.
It’s because most women have jobs and some working environments are not supportive, or simply not suitable for, breastfeeding or pumping on the job.
It’s because most doctors, after years of being used to cherubic formula-fed babies, advise mothers to supplement with formula right away because babies with mothers attempting to breastfeed are skinny by comparison.
It’s because some mothers sink into a depression from having a child that’s always wailing at her breast that they start resenting their babies, so it’s actually healthier for them both to stop, whether it’s for a little while or permanently.
The fact is, whether a mom breastfeeds or not, doesn’t encompass how she is as a mother. It barely scratches the surface of what mothering is about.
Some people are able to breastfeed, some people aren’t able to succeed… that doesn’t make one mother better than the other.
Mothers who succeed in breastfeeding can go ahead and revel in their success at overcoming all the breastfeeding hurdles without sneering at mothers who aren’t breastfeeding.
Mothers who don’t succeed in or choose not to breastfeed can celebrate their peers’ personal joy without feeling guilty or defensive.
Motherhood is hard enough without judgment or the feeling of being judged.
I know this is going to irritate the heck out of my friends who are die-hard breastfeeding advocates but it must be said… nothing good can come out of making a mother feel bad about herself.
We can be supportive and cheer on mothers who are trying to breastfeed without acting like Nazis.
There are enough problems in the world without creating more.
Why don’t we all just take deep breath, relax and support each other.
Let’s all just spread a little love to all mothers in the world… no matter how they feed.