I’m sorry, I truly am.
Maybe your milk never came in, or maybe you didn’t have enough support, education, or encouragement. Maybe you just needed help, and there was no one there to help you. Whatever the reason, I am so sorry. I wish I could have been there for you. I wish I could have helped you when you needed it, or held your hand and let you cry on my shoulder when you finally decided that you couldn’t do it anymore. I can’t imagine the grief you must have felt, and the guilt that still haunts you.
With this week being World Breastfeeding Week, I know that many of you have seen posts and articles about it in your newsfeed, and maybe they hurt you. Maybe it stings when you see “Breast is Best”, or a mother and advocate, like myself, sharing education, and even selfies of themselves nursing their kiddos. I am sorry, so sorry this still hurts you.
Maybe another mother has told you that you are a loser for having not breastfed. Maybe she has told you all of the reasons why formula is so wrong. Maybe she has spoken to you condescendingly about all of the benefits of breastfeeding, and how she can’t believe you still chose formula anyways. I am sorry, so sorry for this insensitivity. It is truly shameful.
But, I need you to know something …
I need you to know that when I share this information, when I write articles about it and share current research or tips; it’s not to shame you. In fact, I think of you every time I share this stuff. I think of your struggle, and it is my hope that I can reach even just one person who is still in the struggle. Who is still trying to make it on their breastfeeding journey, and needed to read some encouragement. Or who was suffering through something that could be treated, and they didn’t know it. I am also trying to reach the moms-to-be, the ones who are still deciding and aren’t educated about it yet.
You see, the reasons behind all of this hoopla has nothing to do with shaming mothers who couldn’t do it, or decided not to. It has everything to do with education. Over the last century, with the advent of formula, so much education was lost. Much of it had been passed from mother to mother, sister to sister, generation to generation. The popularity of formula in the first half of the 20th century changed all of that, and the breastfeeding community has been trying to recover ever since.
With the help of science, major governing bodies, and a sort of grass roots effort, breastfeeding is finally making a comeback to the modern world, but a lot of work still needs to be done, especially in the West. Many hospitals send you home with a formula goodie bag, or the companies themselves send you samples in the mail once you are registered at a major retailer. There are commercials, advertisements, and the like all over the media for formula companies.
No one bats an eye at this, and no one certainly complains about it. Yet, there is little information given to new mothers at hospitals about breastfeeding, maybe a handful of nurses might be trained as Lactation Consultants or Specialists, and they are stretched too thin themselves. Your pediatrician most certainly does not know nearly enough about Lactation, unless they have sought additional certification outside of their medical degree.
There are little to no commercials on breastfeeding, unless they are government sponsored, and there isn’t a whole lot of breastfeeding education in our public school system either. There is no money to be made in breastfeeding education. This is why World Breastfeeding Week exists, this is why I share information and write posts about breastfeeding. None of it is intended to hurt you or spite you, it’s to help the current and next generation of mothers. It’s about awareness.
If you formula feed, I do not judge you. I don’t know your struggle, I don’t know your reasons, but I do know you believe you are giving your child the best life you can— just as I believe I am giving mine.
Next time you see a post about breastfeeding, I hope it doesn’t hurt you. I hope instead you will see it as what I have just told you.
It is about so much more than you or me.