This is the place for moms In The Making, who smile with the messes, embrace the unexpected, and know that every day is a blessing.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Why Do We Shun Nursing Failures?

Nursing is an incredible awesome gift that a mother and child can share. But why are there haters for those who cannot succeed?

I feel like there are three camps:

  • Nursing is the ONLY way.

  • Bottle are the ONLY way.

  • And then the mother’s who feel horribly guilty because they can’t nurse.

This week I’ve talked with a bunch of mom’s who gave their hearts trying to nurse. They did all the things you’re supposed to do. They even met with multiple lactation consultants, when they encountered problems.

Despite their best efforts, they weren’t able to nurse. It came to a breaking point. Emotionally they were defeated, physically they were suffering. Yet there was this odd paradox… finally in giving a bottle they received joy in taking care of their child, yet they felt judged and shunned for not doing what was “best” for their baby.

I could identify with the pain they experienced… I struggled immensely when I started nursing my son. He was losing weight and I felt like the ultimate failure, I couldn’t provide for my son! Meanwhile, my friend was bursting at the seams with milk… which always make you feel great!

People kept telling me to stick with! Things would improve, and some statistic about how most mothers quit nursing like 48 hours before things were about to get better.

It got the point I had to start supplementing with formula, because I couldn’t take it anymore. While seeing him happy and well fed I felt like a loser with every bottle he took. Then a babysitter wasted 2 oz of pumped milk!! I gave my life pumping that bottle!! I almost died (Ok not really, but it felt like I would)

I consider it a huge blessing that after a month of torture… (physically, emotionally etc.) I was able to just nurse full time! I was able to quit supplementing!! But not everyone is that lucky.

I truly appreciate the people who encouraged me to stick with nursing. I’m glad I did. Now nursing takes no effort at all. It is incredibly healthy for my son, way cheaper, and I can share that special time with him.

But what about my friends? They aren’t bad moms… Are there benefits they lost in not being able to nurse? Absolutely! But I don’t need to tell them that… they are already weeping for themselves.

The most difficult thing, they said, was the people who continued to talk “at” them about all the benefits of nursing and why they should be doing it. Or why they simply need to stick it out for longer.

Another difficulty is when people would oversimplify nursing… It is so easy, it’s natural, I don’t understand all the fuss. But it's not easy for everyone.

I want to encourage my friends to nurse! I want them to succeed! If they need encouragement in the storm before smooth sailing, I want to be there cheerleader!

However, I never want to the be one with judging eyes, who makes them feel small or worthless in their struggle. This is hard because an offhand comment about how all great mothers nurse, or that formula fed babies get sick more often… said between nursing moms in innocence, can crush the mom who is secretly struggling. (I know I've felt crush by these comments before).

How did you choose nursing or bottles? Did you ever feel guilty or judged about your choice?

1 comment:

  1. Ok, so I think all tha you are saying is absolutely true. Nursing is not simple at all. Just one thing though. I have heard every reason in the book as to why a mom couldn't nurse. It is very rare that a woman can't nurse physically. Emotionally, however, this is quite common. As you said about when you gave him milk, you "couldn't take it anymore". EXACTLY. It is different for everyone how far they are able to go before they just can't do it anymore. Some people think they can't nurse because they don't make enough, or the baby didn't want to. These can 90% of the time be remedied....but it takes A LOT of work. Depends how far you can stretch yourself. Some have told me, "well I had a C-section, therefore I couldn't nurse". Obviously not true. Having a C-section does not mean that one cannot nurse, but it COULD mean that that person couldn't nurse. They just "couldn't take it anymore". Or the baby who was in the NICU for whatever period of time. Some (the extreme cases, not the typical) absolutely make it almost (almost...not absolutely) impossible for the baby to ever far can you take yourself?
    Mentally, physically...nursing, when it doesn't come naturally and easily means that it will be a sacrificial and painful process. When it gets to the point where the mother becomes mentally unable to take it, it's time to stop. She will tell herself and everyone else about all the reasons she physically couldn't do it, but if we are not sugar coating things, honestly, it's because she couldn't take it anymore.
    People shun for the same reason people "shun" those who have various problems with chronic pain or other medical problems. Because we are all different and when someone had a C-section and a baby in the hospital and endured and breastfed and meets another person who said "I never could breastfeed because I had a C-section" their automatic response may be to roll their eyes because they know it is not impossible. The big BUT is that you are absolutely right. We should not judge. We do not know what turmoil this person has been through. What one person can endure another person may not be able to and that is just life. That other person went to their limits which might not be the same as your limits.
    We just have to understand this. Unfortunately muddled within all of this is the formula making industry, advertisements, and a culture that says breasts are for sexuality alone. I think many often mix up honest mothers who want the best for their babies with the confusion of our society. What's worse is that it really isn't that simple actually because it's very hard to ignore decades of a culture that said formula is better and breasts are sexual and pretend it has absolutely no influence on anyone. It does, subconsciously whether you want it to or not, we are all influenced.
    So we should just assume that these mom's are what they are: Mom's that love their babies and are doing the very best they can. Who cold as for anything more? Happy Mother's Day!


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