Infertility Blogger
Lee Trask is an advocate for women dealing with issues of infertility and miscarriage. Having struggled through more than six years of infertility, three miscarriages, and high-risk pregnancy, she is now happy raising her two…
The Psychology of Not Breastfeeding Your Baby
Posted in Breastfeeding by Lee Trask on Jan 05, 2012
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.

- Lee

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Too many people have, as you said, no limits on questions they ask a pregnant woman, or one who has an infant. Better to ask "why would you ask such a personal question?" than to give an answer.
By ThePepperMan  Jan 08, 2012
Yeah, I just don't understand why one of the first questions people ask (even people that don't really know you) is if you're nursing. And I was surprised when my doctor asked at my 6-week follow up when she said "Why not?" when I told her I wasn't. Why is what my baby eats of anyone else's concern if they're not her doctor or parent? Geez. My daughter is 4 months old and I'm still pumping but she only gets about one bottle of breastmilk every week. I do want to give it to her and my other children. Hopefully I will nurse longer with my next child but I'm glad that not exclusively nursing with my first has been a fine experience so I won't be all bummed out and afraid if I have to feed my future children a formula early on too.
By bjejvj  Jan 07, 2012
I should add that I did this for 10 months. That was enough!
By arebella  Jan 06, 2012
I wish I would have just formula fed my daughter and not listened to all the people who kept telling me breast is best!!

She was very tiny when she was born and was full term. She was also c-section so of course I wasn't ready to breastfeed. She couldn't nurse, I had problems, the lactation consultants told us we had to use a "finger feeder" so she would still eat but think she was being breastfed, but "don't give up!" We did that for two weeks.

I pumped, my husband fed our daughter.

I gave up on breastfeeding and went to a bottle, but my husband insisted on keeping up with giving her breastmilk for "brain development." I could barely keep up. I don't think I had enough to keep her satisfied!

She lay there while I sat, frantically pumping while she ate so I could have a bottle ready because in a couple of hours she was going to be hungry again.

She didn't bond with me. I didn't bond with her. She's 4 now. I'm in therapy. I'm still scarred.
By arebella  Jan 06, 2012
Hi, I sure wish I could have read an article like this when I was having babies. My sons are 16 and 24 and I did not breast feed either of them. The advice givers were every where! Strangers, friends and relatives who knew what you should do. I remember when we decided to name our 2nd son Trey. My parents hated the name and told me so!!!!! I did not have the innate wanting to breastfeed. I actually literally could not imagine myself doing it. I don't know what one would call it, those natural feelings we are supposed to have were just not there. I couldn't imagine my husband not helping with feedings, pumping or having my kids begging for the boob. I had a friend on the other hand who had 4 children, breastfed them all till at least 1 year and loved every single minute of it. To each their own.
By Springsun  Jan 06, 2012
P.S. My husband also loved feeding and bonding with him and I preferred it for all the reasons you stated.
By conan42  Jan 05, 2012
As a 21 year old mother I breastfed my daughter. But she slept 12-14 hours one night at 6 weeks and both my mother and m-i-l scared me into thinking I was starving her. I sent my husband straight to the store for formula and never breastfed again. The doctor told me on my next visit that I must have excellent creamy milk to keep her satisfied that long. She was growing and content and he said she would def cry if hungry - where my moms said she was too weak to cry. A year later I had my son and was so scared I did not breastfeed him at all. Now that they are 20 and 19 I can tell you that there has been no difference at all in health. Neither of them ever got sick either. But I wish I would have told both of my interfering mother's to back off.
By conan42  Jan 05, 2012
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