*Originally published April 9, 2022
I remember when I was pregnant with my son, Ryan.
A friend of mine was pregnant with her daughter at the same time.
We had had a discussion on whether or not we were breastfeeding and why.
My friend clearly did her research and insisted that she would be breastfeeding.
I, on the other hand, did no research at all and just, intuitively, made up my mind that I was not breastfeeding.
Do you want to know why?
Because I did not like the idea of a baby sucking on my breast.
It just seemed “gross” to me.
Looking Back Now…
As I look back now, I am ashamed of my feelings then.
I did not even bother to think – for even a minute – about how breastfeeding would benefit my child!
I was only thinking about how it would affect me.
Now, before I go any further, some mothers cannot nurse or do not want to for other reasons.
And that is perfectly fine.
I do not want to shame any other mother out there, if she happened to have had the same feelings about breastfeeding, as I just shared.
But, for me, I am embarrassed with myself for this way of thinking because I have always been one to research further before making a decision on something.
And, when it came down to my very first decision for my child, I did not even bother to Google it!
I just made a decision based off of (what I believed for myself) were very childish feelings and went with that.
A very long story short, I ended up breastfeeding Ryan, after a while.
My First Breastfeeding Experience
He started off on formula for some time, and then, we finally made a connection and I decided to try breastfeeding.
The moment that he latched on; I knew that I wanted to do nothing else!
I felt that I wanted to give him the very best that I could give him (still, without research).
I knew, in my soul, that nursing him was what he needed.
Ryan is 4 now and I still breastfeed him.
Yes, I do!
Twice a day.
Morning and Night.
Some people are really turned off when I tell them that, but I do not care.
I know that I am still continuing to give him the best that I can and I will keep doing it for as long as I feel it is a benefit to him and for as long as he would like to.
Now that I have rattled on about my experience, let me shed a little more light on things with the hopes that it will help you to make the best decision for yourself and your baby!
No matter what feeding option you choose!
1. Breastfeeding is a Mutual Relationship.
Let’s take a look at what breastfeeding is and is not.
Breastfeeding is not a mother demanding that her child feed from her.
It is not just a child demanding to eat from a mother who is too exhausted to give anymore.
It is not some doctor telling you that you need to stop breastfeeding simply because she thinks whole milk is more beneficial.
(By the way, it is not, and research will tell you that! I’ve had my share of crappy doctors, by the way.)
It is not a partner making you feel guilty for giving your child more attention than him/her.
Lastly, it is not friends and family judging you for how long or how much you nurse your child.
It is, simply, a relationship between you and your child.
No one else.
The Decision is Between You and Your Baby
You and your child make the decision together on breastfeeding for how much and for how long and where and how.
If you are too tired during the time that your child wants to nurse, then you can offer pumped milk or formula for that time period instead.
If you and your child are more comfortable sitting in the rocking chair in the living room versus the nursery to breastfeed, then that is a mutual agreement and you two should do just that.
Say your child likes to nurse the left side in the morning and the right side in the afternoon and you are comfortable with that, then that is how it should be done.
Breastfeeding is so much more than just the childish thoughts that I had.
It is a special bond.
A special moment.
A way to make an important connection between you and your child.
No Matter What, You Are a Good Mother!
Are you a crappy mother for not breastfeeding and deciding to go the formula route?
Some women would love to breastfeed, but simply cannot because of health reasons or because they do not produce milk.
That is okay.
Other moms do not want to have anything to do with breastfeeding.
That is okay, too.
You can still create a special bond with your child by using formula instead.
It’s All About the Bond!
The experience is not the food, per se.
It is the cuddling.
The looking into each other’s eyes while your baby feels comforted in your arms.
It is that quiet time.
That moment when all other priorities are set aside and it is just you and your baby, alone, together.
It is those moments when you look at that beautiful, little face and that tiny, button nose and realize that nothing else matters in this world!
That is what breastfeeding or formula feeding truly is about.
2. Breastfeeding is Powerful!
The highlight for breastfeeding is the priceless nourishment that your child can receive from you.
Breastmilk contains a plethora of vitamins, minerals, nutrients and antibodies that support your child’s growth and immune system.
It also helps to prevent disease and illness and is linked to a decreased risk of some of the most common childhood conditions, such as allergies, obesity and diabetes.
You can read more about some of the benefits of breastfeeding here.
Let me share with you how powerful I feel as a breastfeeding mother:
My Superhero Feeling!
Every time I look at my daughter, Belle, I feel amazed!
Unlike with Ryan, I started nursing Belle from the very moment she was placed into my arms.
I only ever breastfed her.
And, watching her grow without taking in anything other than my breastmilk, made me feel a sincere sense of empowerment and accomplishment.
I knew that her sole nourishment was coming just from me!
She was growing and getting bigger simply because of the milk that was coming from my breasts.
I did not even want to start her on solid foods when it was time to because I wanted to continue to be the only one to give her everything that she needed to grow!
It was such an amazing feeling!
But, once she reached that 6-month mark, I knew that I needed to get out of my own way again and start moving her along so that she could eat regular foods like her big brother.
Even though she is eating solid foods now, I continue to nurse her in between and on demand.
I know that she is still receiving so many benefits from my milk, in addition to the nutrients that she is receiving from regular foods now.
Supporting the Immune System
My main goal is to support her immune system for as long as possible, especially since we are in the midst of a pandemic, and since I have made the choice to hold off on vaccinating my children until they are a little bit older.
This piece of information is not something that I share with anyone lightly, since everyone is so on edge about vaccines and “anti-vaxxers.”
Let me just share, right now, that I am not an “anti-vaxxer.”
Just because I make a choice to wait to vaccinate does not mean that I am against all vaccines.
Vaccines can be beneficial and prevent serious illness.
I just do not believe in flooding a child with a plethora of vaccines while their little body is going through some of the most critical stages of development.
(I will share more about my thoughts on this some other time)
The takeaway here, though, is that if you are choosing to not vaccinate or to simply wait a while to vaccinate or to space out the vaccines further than the recommended schedule, your breastmilk will be a powerful tool, in the meantime, in order to help strengthen your child’s immune system.
Breastmilk does not prevent illness in the way that vaccines do.
It is important to note that.
But, it can give your child the extra support that he or she may need.
Just in case.
3. Breastfeeding is YOUR choice!
To breastfeed or not to breastfeed?
That is a question that only you can answer.
There is so much push to breastfeed today.
When I was a baby, my mother said that there was more of a push to formula feed.
My mother told me that her in-laws gave her such a hard time because she had made the choice to breastfeed.
They felt that I should have been formula fed because that was the “in” thing to do at that time.
Straight to the Point
Making a choice to breastfeed is not about an “in” thing to do or not to do.
It is simply a natural choice that you have the natural opportunity to make for yourself and your baby.
Even your partner doesn’t have a say!
(Well, just if you want him/her to!)
You are the one who has the milk to provide to your child.
You are the one who will be doing all of the work to breastfeed your baby.
And you are the one who makes that call.
No one else.
Do not let anyone tell you what to do!
Do not let people tell you not to do it and do not let people push you to do it.
It is your choice!
Just recently, I visited my primary care doctor.
She told me that I needed to stop breastfeeding my children because they were no longer getting any benefit from me doing so and that they would benefit more from drinking whole milk.
I was appalled that she knew so little about breastfeeding and she was a doctor!!!
I called my lactation consultant right away and she reassured me that there was, indeed, great benefit to still nursing my babies and sent me some information to send to my doctor in order to better educate her.
Just because someone (like this doctor) tells you to stop breastfeeding, does not mean that you should!
Again, your choice.
No one else.
Not even some dumb, uneducated doctor!
(Can you tell I am still a little miffed about that?)
4. No Sugarcoating Here!
I am not going to lie.
Sometimes, breastfeeding is hard.
You can end up with sore nipples, especially if baby is nursing quite a bit because he or she is going through a growth spurt.
You can experience hormonal changes based on how much or how little your baby is feeding.
Maybe, you might even feel extra tired because it is taking a lot out of you.
Nursing Takes More
Nursing a baby means needing to make certain that you take in extra calories.
Taking care of yourself may be a little more challenging because you need to make certain that you are eating enough for both you and baby.
Remembering to continue to take your prenatal vitamins while breastfeeding so that you do not lose nutrients, yourself, can be a chore.
The longer you breastfeed, the less supportive others seem to be, so dealing with other people’s opinions can be frustrating.
All of this can grow to be quite exhausting after a while.
Of course, who ever said that doing the right thing wasn’t hard?
I truly believe that, despite the hardships of breastfeeding, there is an ultimate beauty to it!
The beauty of a mother giving her child the very best that she can give.
If you make this choice to breastfeed and you experience this for yourself, I believe that you will understand.
Whether or not you choose to breastfeed…
You are beautiful!
Trust the choices that you make for you and your baby!
Breastfeeding is tough and the support to do so may be limited.
However, the gifts that you give to your child in this sense is incredible!
Formula fed or breastfed – the bond that you create with that amazing, little one…
That’s what really matters!
Feeding, of any sort, is the perfect time to build that relationship.
Looking into each other’s eyes.
Feeling that precious being so close to you…
Soak it up!
Soak it in!
Know that you are setting your child up for connections in life that he or she will be successful with.
And know that it all starts with you!
Mama Morgan is a single parent by day and a writer by night! She is raising two, young children with special needs during a global pandemic. She aims to give other parents confidence, hope, and a practical, down-to-earth reading adventure through her own experiences. While Morgan is heavily focused on caring for her little ones, she is also dedicated to helping others and making the world a better place. Mama’s Grilled Cheese is just her delicacy!