When I think of women and our relationship with each other it seems to be love/hate. In our competitive society it seems that woman longs for that friendship and understanding that only another woman can offer. Yet we give in to judgment of that same kin. This kind of relationship spreads beyond being a woman and translates into all female roles, including and especially motherhood. It seems that truly excepting another woman’s choices, though not in agreement with your own, and without judgment, is something beyond our grasp. Parental decisions seem able to awaken a vicious side in our maternal world that is unfair and anti-woman is essence. One such feud that I have been guilty of falling in to is the great breastfeeding debate.
Being a Breastfeeding advocate I have found myself uttering words of slander against my fellow Mothers. I thought that the majority of woman who chose formula, save a few with medical obstacles to blame, were simply selfish or lacked confidence or the maternal instinct to stick to it. This criticism extended past the mothers who just wouldn’t give it a chance and targeted mothers who didn't succeed (long term) as well. Even as I type these words I am ashamed at my own unkindness and lack of acceptance.
It was my goal myself to breast feed my daughter for a least a year or up to two years of age, unless she self-weaned. Getting pregnant while she was fifteen months (Piper, being still very much attached to nursing), I decided that I would tandem nurse my toddler and infant. Three months into the pregnancy I had a huge change of heart. Whether due to hormonal fluctuations or a shift in maternal instincts for my unborn baby’s health, I developed a toxic relationship with breastfeeding. I wanted, mentally and a little emotionally, to keep the relationship that was so loved by my toddler, but every nursing session made me physically revolted. It felt unnatural and I didn’t want her touching me. It hurt me so much to have these feelings towards my child, and with something I felt so good about before. I decided that if I wanted to save the relationship with my daughter and spare her the resentment I felt during nursing than I had to wean.
It was a heartbreaking two weeks for both of us as I thrust her into a world of independence from my familiar bosom. As I thought about how strong and unexpected the toxic reaction had imposed itself on us, I had a revelation. In my arrogant mind frame I had wrongly judged so many women for not choosing breastfeeding over formula, but what would I have done if these feeling were present at an earlier age? What if I felt this way at 9 months or 6, or from the start?
I realized that there are many reasons within the mother’s mind and body that could cause an unhealthy nursing relationship. Maybe the mother has had a history of abuse, or the constant needs are causing resentment in an overwhelmed mother, Perhaps even the busy lifestyle of a mom who has to work would be too stressful if adding pumping to the equation. There are endless situations that could cause a woman to be unhappy, overwhelmed or otherwise resentful towards this maternal task. Who am I for judging which scenarios are “valid” or not!?
So kudos to the women who are able to move beyond the social stigma and do what she knows is best for her and her child, despite what the world may say. Because when we get down to it breast is biologically best, but our relationship is priority.