What If I Don’t Choose to Breastfeed?

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We are rounding the last lap of the National Month celebrating Breastfeeding.  We have shared stories and been inspired by women all month in our twitter parties and FB chats on their experiences nursing.  We have supported a day of public nursing in in LA County, #Boobolution.  And we have provided vital information and linked our viewers to expert advice and resources.  But what if, let’s just say, what if you or I don’t choose to breastfeed? 

I  have worked with many amazing women during the almost 8 years of this business that Anna and I created called Pregnancy Awareness Month.  And 2 of them stand out as being fab moms, that share their journeys parenting and encouraging the realness of mommyness in vital ways.  They have worked with me for the past 2 years on our annual Signature LA Event.  And this past May we were together in the wings of the main stage while the expert pediatrician panel was going on, and the topic of the moment on panel was breastfeeding.  Jill said to me, “if I tell you that I didn’t breastfeed, will you kick me off PAM?”  OF COURSE NOT! was my immediate response to her.  Kristin looked at me and she initiated a group hug as she exclaimed, “Good cuz I didn’t too!”  In that instant I knew that I wanted to share this, and be a part of encouraging moms to be clear, understand your choices, make your decision, and feel supported by the community of moms out there.

I asked Kristin Cruz (check out her live podcast on mondays) to share what it felt like to her to not breastfeed:

I was made to feel like less of a mother because I didn’t breast feed. There was a lot of judgement on me. What people didn’t know was that there was a serious medical reason why I couldn’t. I suffered from an infection called C Dif Colitis, which I was given Flagyl for. I was also given a prescription for my postpartum depression. With all of this, I couldn’t breast feed. I couldn’t even hold my daughter for some time for fear of infecting her with a fatal bacteria. That physical and emotional pain was hard enough to deal with, silently, while feeling guilty that I couldn’t breast feed. According to the internet and disapproving moms, we were doomed! But I’m proof that it will be alright. There is time to bond, with extra effort and energy. Even when sleep deprived I found it because it was the most important thing. There are many options for a mother who cannot breast feed. And as proof, my daughter is now a genius who never gets sick. Okay okay. But she is a healthy smart kid and we are extremely close. Other upsides: I was on the air 6 weeks later (Kristin co-hosted a radio show in LA) and didn’t have to pump. We traveled with bottles and formula (through international customs is fun) and we learned a lot about nutrition. Daddy did many late night feedings which allowed him quiet bonding time. Everyone has a different path with their own obstacles. I feel like I wouldn’t have had my experience with baby any other way. It is our family history and I’m proud of how well we all did together. My daughter didn’t suck it, but people who judge, totally can.”

OK, so Kristin’s story reminds us in a poignant way that you have NO IDEA why people are making the choices that they do.  And it really isn’t anyone’s business anyway.  To look at someone, a fellow mom, and judge her based on if she gives her baby a bottle is totally unfair.  Everyone has a story, and it is theirs to share or not.  So don’t judge, you most likely don’t know enough about that family and their lives, and even if you do – it’s not your decision.

Now, what if, one of your besties just doesn’t want to breastfeed?  What if she doesn’t have any medical condition that impacts her ability to nurse?  She just knows in her being that it is not what she wants to do?  Can you embrace her decision, support her, and not judge her?

My friend Jill Simonian of TheFabMom shared this:

Nursing is a choice. If nursing is something you truly and authentically really want to do (some women do), and it’s something that comes undeniably easy for you (as it does to many), then by all means: DO IT. But, know that you do NOT have to breastfeed your baby to be a good mother. Mustering the confidence to go against the grain and unapologetically opt out of breastfeeding put me in a most peaceful, capable, thriving and happy place as a new mother.”

Alisa Donner, Kristin Cruz, & Jill Simonian in the wings of PAM - LA 2014

Alisa Donner, Kristin Cruz, & Jill Simonian in the wings of PAM – LA 2014

I am proud that I was a nursing mother.  I am also proud of my two friends that agreed to share their stories in this post, during this month of the sacred boob.  Kristin and Jill are amazing moms, period.  They are in their roles with both feet and have publicly been and continue to be inspirations to women nationwide.  I’m proud of them for sharing this here.  I’m proud to have them as friends and as colleagues in this mommy business.  Ladies you inspire me!  Being a mom requires courage, creativity, tenacity, and flexibility.  I applaud all moms out there in this big world for getting up and doing what you do, each day!

Alisa B. Donner, MSW, LCSW, Co-Founder of Pregnancy Awareness Month, and mom to an amazing wonder.

**REMINDER – Pregnancy Awareness Month’s blog post is for moms and expectant parents by moms (and of course some experts sprinkled in – and some mom’s are licensed board certified experts!).  HOWEVER, we are not giving blanket ADVICE on what you should be doing, eating, how you should be exercising, parenting, etc.  These are opinions, food for thought….think about it all, talk with your mate, and when it comes to diet, exercise, and health questions, ALWAYS discuss and seek advice from your medical health provider.

 

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