Look, I’m going to tell you the truth here. Which also happens to be the only thing that matters. Only you can answer the questsions above. And, frankly, it’s no one else’s business how you choose to feed your child. The truth is that breastfeeding is hard. And it’s a very personal decision that no one else should make on your behalf.
Yes, there are benefits for both you and the baby if you breastfeed. Yes, you will be inundated with inforamtion on all of those benefits throughout your pregnancy. Yes, you will feel pressured to breastfeed your baby and you will be made to feel like you are failing if you don’t. But the fact is that as long is your baby is happy, healthy and well fed, it doesn’t matter how you are feeding them. They won’t remember if they were bottle fed or breastfed. They will only remember your love for them and that they had a full belly!
Going into my pregnancy I wasn’t sure if I was going to breastfeed. In fact, given my PCOS, I wasn’t sure that I would physically be able to breastfeed. I was seriously considering just starting with formula. After all, I was a formula fed baby and I was fine. But after talking to my mom about it and hearing her say that she wished she’d been able to breastfeed me, I decided that I’d give it a try. I knew it might be hard. I knew it might have challenges. But I did a lot of research going into it, and made sure to set myself up for success.
I took classes, read books, requested lactation consultants, meet with lactation consultants and refused to keep a single can of formula in the house. All those freebies that were sent in the mail were donated. I told myself that I wouldn’t be upset if it didn’t work out. That I had a lot of things working against me – my age, PCOS, a c-section. I reminded myself that it was my choice how to feed my baby. And if breastfeeding didn’t work out, it wasn’t a reflection of me as a mother.
As it turns out, I ended up be very passionate about breastfeeding Kerrigan. Yes, it was hard. Yes, I had some struggles (which I’ll discuss in another post). But it was important to me that I keep at it. I actually like breastfeeding. The closeness, the bond, the time it allows me with my baby. But it wasn’t “natrual” and it sure as hell wasn’t “easy” in those early days. In fact, at times it was exceptionally stressful and reduced me to tears.
I don’t regret toughing those early days out, and I don’t regret that I fought hard to continue to breastfeed. It ended up being something I eventually really enjoyed and am still enjoying. We are five months in and still going strong. And while I’m excited to get to start solids with Kerrigan in just a few weeks, I also recognize that she won’t breastfeed forever and that it’s important to enjoy this moment.
But I think I might have felt differently if I hadn’t come to the decision to breastfeed on my terms. So if I have just one piece of advice to offer when making the decision to breastfeed, it would be to make sure it’s your decision.