In my last post I gave you some information that will hopefully make you more physically comfortable if you are unable to breast feed. However, there is a psychological element that you may need to be prepared for as well.
I found that people had very little boundaries when it came to giving unsolicited advice regarding my babies. Nothing was off limits. For instance, people would ask what names we’d chosen, and then would proceed tell us horrible stories about kids they knew with a name we were considering, or they would tell us about an uncle with that name, who was an arsonist; just weird, inappropriate ways of letting you know they didn’t approve of your name choice.
Well, that inappropriate boundary jumping didn’t seem to stop at my boobs and whether or not I intended to use them to feed my baby.
One of the things I found most offensive was the comment that I wouldn’t be able to “bond” with my baby the way a mother would who breast-fed would. I think that is a terrible thing to say to a mother. I invite anyone to come spend time with my sons and me, and tell me that we would be better “bonded” if I had breastfed. I don’t believe that our “bond” has anything to do with how I fed them, but everything to do with how I treat and love them. So, if you are unable to breast feed, don’t worry that your baby won’t love you as much: breast-feeding isn’t a pre-requisite for love.
Here are a few things you can do that help create a closeness with your baby:
- Respond quickly to your baby’s needs
- Maintain eye contact with your baby while feeding
- Skin to skin contact helps with bonding, and can be done at bath time, nap time, etc.
And to make you feel even better, here is a list of some of the wonderful things that happen when someone else can lend a hand with feedings:
- My husband took the middle of the night feedings. He has amazing memories of being up at night, alone with each of his boys, feeding them, and then falling asleep with them in his arms, every night. My husband “bonded” with our boys in a way I think a lot of dads miss because they aren’t a part of the feeding process.
- I got a lot more sleep at night, which made me less of a zombie during the day, and I was able to focus on my baby without the fog of sleep deprivation.
- I was not the sole source of warm, snuggly feedings. It was not all on ME. I had friends who said they couldn’t go anywhere with out the baby, or be away for longer than a few hours. I had a freedom they did not have, and they began to tire of that constraint.
- My husband and I could go out to dinner and a movie, and I didn’t have to pump, or rush home. We kept a sense of “coupleness” that many new parents have to let go of for a months on end, because mom is literally and physically tied to a feeding schedule.
- Weaning was a lot easier. When it came time to get rid of the bottles, they just disappeared from the kitchen. Not so easy with the boob; I remember seeing my friends literally pry their crying children off of their chests, and I did not envy them at that moment.
Now, would I say that formula feeding is better? Not from a medical standpoint, no. There are many benefits to both mother and child.
However, if you are unable to breast-feed, you are not a bad mother, (as many would try to convince you.)
You and your baby are going to bond perfectly well, over many, many hours spent together: it’s not about your boob. And there are other things that come of the ability to let someone else help, in a way that they cannot if you are breastfeeding. So don’t beat your self up, and especially, don’t let anyone else make you feel like less of a mom.