Mamas we need to talk. Let me start with saying I am very supportive of breastfeeding. There are many articles regarding the emotional and physical benefits to mom and baby. This post is not about which is better “breast” or “formula”. Instead this post is about mamas being supportive of each other when it comes to feeding our babies.
I cannot tell you how many mamas come into my office in tears because they struggle to nurse their babies. There are many reasons why they may struggle. We need to remember that we do not know everyone’s story. Most of the moms I see are working with lactation specialist. They have tried every remedy available. They have changed their diet. Their whole day has been dedicated to nursing and pumping… causing them to be isolated at home.
I love that we are seeing more support for nursing moms and I hope that continues. At the same time I hope we are not passing judgment on moms who are unable to nurse or chooses not to for any given reason. Moms who formula feed feel left out and isolated. There are no support groups for them. Many formula feeding moms do not feel welcomed in lactation support groups; some moms formula feed and nurse but are truly scared to say they use formula.
I know moms who choose nursing and they are met with unwanted “suggestions” and “advice”. They feel isolated, and at times feel a lack of support. Moms who work and pump feel they are a burden to their employer “I try to pump as fast as I can and only on my breaks” this means this mom gets no breaks.
I think sometimes we “under” share about the difficulties of nursing. We worry that moms won’t try nursing if they knew the difficulties that could arise. Moms need to know that nursing can be painful at first, uncomfortable, unenjoyable, sensitive, can be a trigger, and that nursing may not look like you expected. We need to tell moms these things and believe they will choose what is right for them. For centuries moms have chosen “hard” knowing it was the right choice for them and their baby. Moms need to know this, so when things do get “hard” or their experience does not meet their “expectations” they are not shocked and make statements such us “why didn’t anyone tell me?”
All moms deserve to feel supported. Here are a couple of tips that will create more mindfulness:
1. Before giving advice ask if they are open to receiving advice. Before sharing your tips make sure she wants to hear your tips.
2. When you see a mom formula feeding or breastfeeding train your brain and heart to assume the best of her. That mom has a precious story that you do not know about. Get to know her.
3. Support her in ways that SHE finds to be supportive.
4. Create a space that is welcoming to all feeding methods.
5. Use language that is inclusive to all feeding methods.
6. Be slow to speak … be an active listener
Mamas let us support one another. Our villages need to be full of other mamas who’s stories and journeys do not look like ours. We can learn and grow through differences. Let us be welcoming and accepting.