As of right now, I have breastfed for a total of three years and nine months between my three children.
Most would assume I am pro-breastfeeding. But I’m not.
I’m pro-feeding. I’m pro-doing what works for you. I’m pro-nourished by whatever means necessary.
I’ve learned the hard way that doing what works for you is not what works for everyone else.
When my oldest was six months old, I was desperate to keep nursing despite the fact that she wasn’t eating much or gaining enough. Finally, my doctor told me I needed to get over my “goals” in favour of feeding my child. We switched to formula and she gained a few pounds in one month. My doctor had tears in her eyes at our next visit when she saw that our daughter had transformed from a sickly baby to a round and energized child that was much happier.
With my middle daughter Georgia, I nursed her just weeks shy of her third birthday. It was what she wanted, and our breastfeeding relationship was something very unique; an experience we shared together.
With my youngest, we had a really rough start to breastfeeding. She didn’t gain well and there was a lot of stress in our home in those early weeks. I remember my midwife telling me that I may need to take a drug to increase my supply. The drug could worsen depression and cause issues with my heart. I politely replied that this was not an option for me. If we could not get Eloise to gain, I would simply give her formula.
Right now things are going well in our home. Eloise is breastfeeding well and gaining weight. I have more than enough milk.
But I know that is not the case for everyone. My friend and fellow writer, Esther Vandersluis, has become an advocate for feeding our babies by whatever means possible.
One of her recent essays has impacted the hearts of many. In it she writes:
I feed my baby from a tube with a syringe. Sometimes.
And sometimes I feed her from a bottle.
I used to feed her straight from the breast.
I’ve used breast milk straight from the boob. I’ve used breast milk pumped. I’ve used regular formula from the grocery shelf. I’ve used elemental formula. I now use organic, goats milk formula.
All forms of feeding.
All kinds of milk.
I’ve learned one thing from it all and it all amounts to the same: Baby needs to be fed.
We get so wrapped up in methods and rules and ideas and points of view — even in the simplest act of feeding a baby. We might think we know it all. We might think we have all the right ideas and all the right ways. My ways are best. My ways matter most. I am right. Pride. Pride. Pride.
All forms of feeding — I needed them all for my baby to thrive. Not one way was right, not one way was the answer to all.
Fed is Best.
Love is Best.
It’s friends like Esther that often bring us back to reality. They show us that there isn’t one way to do this. Their stories humble us and encourage us to challenge our old ways of thinking.
When I first became a mother, I wanted to breastfeed my child at all costs. Today I see the error of my ways, and I agree with Esther. Fed is best.