Thursday, 1 November 2012

The Biggest Breastfeeding Challenge

Before you read this post, I would like to emphasize upfront that I don't have anything against formula-feeding. I think, there is no need for judgmental attitudes either way.  I support both breast and bottle feeders and I am not going to judge you. In fact, I was a formula fed baby and I still think my mom had done a great job raising me. I am 100% a pro-breast-feeder. I am still breastfeeding my 5 months baby and praying that I have the guts to continue breastfeeding her until she turns 2. 

Okay, lets get to the real point. Breastfeeding is not easy or possible for everyone. It does take some work,practice and patience to get both you and your baby used to each other. Based on my 5 months experience of being a mother, the hardest thing about motherhood so far is breastfeeding. The most common breastfeeding problems are low milk supply, cracked nipples, clogged/plugged ducts, engorgement/high milk supply, painful/overactive let down, nipple confuse and yada yada yada. However, I don't think that these problems can stop me from breastfeeding my baby. I think the most challenging thing about breastfeeding is the society's knowledge of breastfeeding. I continue to be amazed at the lack of knowledge that many women (especially muslim women in Malaysia) have regarding breastfeeding. As a breastfeeding mother, I have heard numerous questions and comments implying that breastfeeding needs to be supplemented with formula, that it is painful and that the sooner you can be done with it the better. I believe this lack of knowledge is a result of cultural trends for formula feeding in the 70′s, 80's and early 90's.

Admittedly, most of the people I know discourage me from breastfeeding. I get comments like "Breastfeeding mothers usually have saggy boobs, Your EBM is disgusting, You are giving a hard time to your mom (my mom takcs care of my baby during the day) for relying on your EBM, your baby cannot sleep during the day because she is not getting enough baby is gassy because of your milk, stop breastfeeding your baby and start giving her formula.. yada yada yada." I am pretty sure that you have stumbled upon these kind of situations too right? To all expectant mothers out there, whenever you feel discouraged, just remember that our human race previously depend entirely on breastfeeding milk. There wasn't a bottle back then. Of course then people say “It’s her CHOICE to formula-feed – leave her alone!” But I don’t believe that most women are making this “choice.” The CDC shows that 3/4 of women are initiating breastfeeding in the hospital, but only 13.6% of women are still exclusively breastfeeding at 6 months.  What this tells me is that somewhere along the way, they gave up on themselves, and the reason I hear most often is, “But, I tried! I just couldn’t make any milk!” Here is the cold hard truth ladies:  You have been lied to. If only 13.6% of us could make enough milk, the human race would never have survived.  And it’s not your fault. It’s the fault of this system that completely fails mothers and babies, and sabotages a mother’s good intentions.  Somewhere along the line, some one told you that you couldn’t make milk, and you believed them because we’ve all grown up in a culture that tells women their bodies aren’t good enough for much of anything except being toys for men.  Is it easy to make this milk?  No, not always – but neither was bringing that baby into the world and your body did a fine job of that.  Think about that.  Think hard. Your body created an entire human being inside from nothing more than the joining of two single cells.  Your body is a miracle worker. So what leads you to believe that, after creating a whole person with organs and tissue and a beating heart, that your body would call it quits when it came time for feeding this thing?  The major problem here is that someone in your life probably put their own ignorance ahead of the short and long term health of you and your baby, and you believed them because women are used to feeling shamed.

But then again, not everybody can breastfeed their babies until they turn 2 especially for working moms. Even I can't guarantee this. Whatever it is, formula-feeding-moms wouldn't make you a lesser mother than the breastfeeding moms. I just thought that the society should not discourage breastfeeding. Thats it.


Sabrina Jali said...

Alhamdulillah. over here in Brunei, breastfeeding is recommended. My husband brings my 'Aisyah every recess for BF since she doesnt like the bottle and prefers to be DF :) and my boss supports us BF moms :) anyway kan itu hadiah for us mothers to be closer to our babies. keep up the good work BF mommies!

xx Sabrina Jali

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