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NOTE before posting � this thread has the potential to become quite contentious. Personal attacks toward other posters will not be tolerated and as moderator I reserve the right to remove remarks that do not contribute to the spirit of the discussion. Please engage in a civil and exploratory tone.

Please refer to my article, Are Breastfeeders "Better" Mothers, for a starting point or framework for discussion.

Are Breastfeeders "Better" Mothers?

-----------------------------------------------

To start us off, here are some initial thoughts�

No, of course I don't believe that breastfeeding makes one, in and of itself, a better mother � I doubt many breastfeeding mothers would claim this. In as much as being a "good" mother or "better" than another mother, is meaningful at all � that certainly would not hinge on a single choice or outcome. I will say however, that breastfeeding has made *me* a better mother than I otherwise would have been. Breastfeeding for me was a sort of gateway to a whole world of parenting choices and life choices that were absolutely right for me and my family. My difficulties with breastfeeding and overcoming them gave me a sense of commitment, confidence and bonding with my child that would have formed so differently without it that I am incredibly grateful.

I think when women become breastfeeding advocates, it is not out of any sense of malevolence towards bottle feeding, but simply because we want to bring the same sort of joy to other mothers and babies. I know that I have personally helped women to breastfeed who would not have persisted without my support � and they are grateful. If being there for someone can bring that to them, then I am going to keep offering and making myself available whenever I can.

I'm also going to go out on a limb here and say that feeling guilty about not breastfeeding or regretful about being unable to make breastfeeding work are feelings that need to be owned. If you know that not breastfeeding was the right choice for you and your family, own that. If you wish things had gone differently, understand that you did the best you could and own that as well. The advocacy efforts surrounding breastfeeding are not meant to offend � they are meant to educate and support. No one can make you feel guilty about something that you know is right. If you feel ambivalent or sad about your decision, and breastfeeding advocacy sparks those feelings, I'm truly sorry about that, but am simply not willing to reduce my efforts to help women and babies when I can. I'm not presuming to speak for all of those who support breastfeeding, but I do suspect I speak for many.

Last edited by BreastfeedingEditorNicki; 03/14/08 02:06 AM.

Nicki Heskin, Breastfeeding and Early Childhood Editor
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I loved breastfeeding. But it made no difference to the kind of mother i was. I think, personally, it helped me connect and bond. and it is a beautiful memory to have. My last son was a struggle, because of where i was.

I cannot breast feed now, if I had more babies because I have had surgery. frown That does make me nervous and worry about how I would bond. But that is only me personally.

Last edited by Eng Culture Nicola Jane; 03/14/08 08:50 AM.

Nicola Jane Soen

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I prefer breastfeeding. It's easier to carry around than bottle & formula and it's FREE! LOL

I breastfed my two girls and would be willing to do it again. I am contemplating more children once I get married. However, I now take some prescription meds that I cannot take when I'm pregnant or nursing. Depending on how my health is after the pregnancy, I may end up bottle feeding.

One good thing about bottle feeding is my husband will be able to do that and have some bonding time with the baby and I can get out by myself everyone in a while without feeling like I have baby attached to me at all times. I will dread weaning the baby off bottles though. smile

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I found breast feeding one of the most rewarding experiences of my life and I'm very glad I persevered with my first child. My doctor, parents, in-laws were all against me. That was back in the 1970's and my doctor, who was an excellent doctor BTW, was very old school and didn't see the need. But at least he was willing to let me do my thing so long as the baby was gaining weight. Which, of course, she was.

The thing with breast feeding for me was that I was doing it. Once you become pregnant your body pretty much takes over and grows the child, but with breast feeding you see your child thriving and know that no one else could do that except you.

I would never say that it made me a better mother, though. Feeding a baby the best way you can is only a part of being a mother. If that means you research the most nutritious formula for your baby, so be it. The only part of bottle feeding that does anger me is when I see parents propping a bottle for a baby instead of holding it and feeding it themselves. That amounts to child abuse to me.

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Hi Niki,
I tried your article link, but it didn't come through.

My mother breastfed my two youngest brothers in the late '60's and early '70's when it was very unpopular. She truly found her bliss despite the controversy. Having said that, she wasn't an all around world-class mom. Breastfeeding is no guarentee that you will be a better mom than you were before, nor than you may have been if you hadn't.

When I had my son, I also tried it. I have to say that I did not connect with it the way my mom did. Since we are in an open forum here, I will venture to say that any one who has breast fed knows that it can be a somewhat "sensual" experience. Some women actually achieve orgasms during breast feeding. The breast and especially the nipple after all are not only milk producers, they are also erogenous zones. I just couldn't dig that, though it made me rather sad to realize it. As a result of my discomfort, I was rarely able to let down and became severely engorged. My now ex-husband would not allow me to get a breast pump so that I could at least get to feed my son breast milk with a bottle.

Well, my son is now 21 and we have a great relationship. I am a great mom, despite the soy formula he ended up growing up on. So, the moral of the story is, everyone is different and every situation is different. Would I have been a "better" mom if I had been able to breastfeed? I have to say no. In the long run I don't believe it matters one way or the other, though as an aside breast milk is probably in many ways a lot healthier than formula.

Loving your child for the individual that they are, honoring thier dignity as a human being, allowing them to make mistakes, be there for them when they miss the mark and celebrate lessons learned with them, to my definition makes the best kind of mom.

Shay

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BTW - the link is working fine now! smile

I tried to breastfeed all 3 of my children. I was able to for about 6 months with my first, then my milk just wouldn't produce much for some reason (and I had pretty much my entire family against me and trying to sabotage me which didn't help). So I finally had to switch over to formula.

My daughter (2nd child) I was able to nurse a full year, and it was wonderful. I felt so close to her (and got all sorts of lovely comments from my family - but I was older, more experienced, and had a tougher skin).

My last child was born about a month preemie, and had to be kept in the NICU - and the hospital very much encouraged pumping of breastmilk, and then nursing once he was strong enough. But I went 2 full days without seeing him to begin with, and had full-fledged PPD set in, so it was very hard getting my milk to start. It finally did and I tried to nurse as best I could, but my health problems were severe after his birth. My "pre-eclampsia" did not go away with birth (which happens occasionally I found out), and my kidneys started shutting down. I was on several medications - and these made him sick as well.

Add in a screaming case of thrush (his mouth and my breasts) and we finally had to switch over to formula.

I felt horrible. I felt guilty and like a bad mother that cousln't take care of my baby. But once I got through those feelings, and started on treatment for the depression; I realized that my baby was wonderful!

He was actually the easiest-going baby I had. When I had ben nursing him, because if the meds - he had horrible colic and was unhappy and uncomfortable. But when we switched, this baby hardly ever fussed - and he stayed that way - he's still my happiest kid (he's 5 now).

So I really loved the nursing, and I missed like crazy that I couldn't do it with my last (and we knew he would be our last - can't have any more). But it was much better to have a snuggly happy baby on formula than a colicky, fussy one on breastmilk. And I just found different excuses to cuddle with him as much as I did my daughter whom I nursed, and my first (who I was just scared to put down, LOL!)


Michelle Taylor
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