“You know you can always give formula. You don’t have to breastfeed. If I had a dollar for every time someone told me that in the past two and a half years of breastfeeding two children…
They’re not wrong – I could just give a formula. But what I really want is someone to listen to me while I cry and tell me how difficult from a moment that I have during my nursing years. What I need is someone to normalize talking about the difficulty of breastfeeding and not just what it is, what the benefits are, how it’s the best choice for me and my baby or how I could just give it to them formula milk.
Related: Breastfeeding Isn’t Easy For All Moms
And even when all is well, it’s still hard and demanding.
I need someone to listen to me when I tell them how hard it is to be up every two hours and respond with, “That looks hard and you’re doing a great job.” need someone to reassure me that it’s not because it’s difficult that I’m doing it wrong. I need someone to reassure me that it’s normal for my baby to suckle in clusters and that doesn’t mean I’m not producing enough milk.
I need someone to ask me “What are your breastfeeding goals?” when I’m having a tough day instead of saying, “Just give them formula.” I need someone to normalize by talking about the difficulty of breastfeeding instead of making me feel like I’m Choose do things the hard way.
I took the lessons. I read books. And even when all is well, it’s still hard and demanding. Whether you are a stay at home mom, a working mom or somewhere in between. We live in a culture far removed from that of our earliest ancestors; we move fast, we are always expected to be active and productive, and rest is for the lazy. There is no time for slip-ups and there are endless roles to play and shoes to fill. However, the foundation of the breastfeeding relationship is fostered by connection, patience, trial and error, self-education, slowness and stillness.
Giving a formula is not wrong. But that’s not always the right answer when someone is having trouble breastfeeding. Let’s normalize talking about the difficulty of breastfeeding.
Related: Breastfeeding support needed for AAP recommendations
Let’s normalize asking a mother what her goals are and doing what we can to support her goals.
Let’s stop calling formula-feeding moms lazy or assuming they haven’t tried hard enough.
Let’s stop calling breastfeeding moms martyrs.
Informed and supported choice is best, and the mother should be supported in every way.