Sunday, November 4, 2007

Will that be bottle or breast (feeding)?

There’s a lot of news out, but not much that I think belongs in this blog. And, to tell you the truth, I’m a little tired of the studies about the same topics over and over again. But, today, I found this one: Uplifting news for nursing moms.

I am a definite proponent of breast feeding; however, I fully support the choice to not breast feed. I know that some women can’t do it, some women don’t want to do it, and some just don’t feel comfortable with the issue. But, I have to honestly say that I never imagined fear of sagging breasts would be one of the reasons why a woman wouldn’t nurse her child.

I think it does bother me when the decision is made without truly weighing the pros and cons. When my second child was a newborn, I spoke with an old friend who had had a child the same time. The subject of feeding came up and I asked if she was nursing. Her answer, “Oh Lord no. I’m not putting my boob into someone else’s mouth.” I’m not speechless often, but I was then. Ok. I think a “no, I’m not” would have sufficed. Another friend of mine was discouraged from breast feeding by her own mother. Her mother used to make mooing sounds whenever my friend would nurse her child. Alrighty then.

In all honesty, there are people like that in the breast feeding camp too. They think that all women should nurse and that there is no reason not to. In my opinion, that’s not right either.

When I first began my career as a nurse, I worked on obstetrics for a few months. Here was I, all of 20 years old, telling mothers how to care for their newborns. But even back then, I was very understanding of personal choice. If a mum said to e that she was bottle feeding, leaving no opening for discussion, I respected that decision and helped her with her baby. If a mum said that she was bottle feeding because she was nervous/not comfortable with breast feeding, leaving the door open a bit, I would gently encourage her to try. My feelings then, as they are now, were, one day of nursing is better than none. One week of nursing is better than a day. One month is better than a week, and so on.

My reasoning was that if the mum was willing to give it a try and then felt it didn’t work, at least the baby had the benefit of the time he or she was nursed. As well, as I would point out to the undecided mums, you can breast feed and change your mind to bottle feed, but you can’t do it the other way around.

I did meet some men who were very against their wife breast feeding. One woman told me that she had to stop nursing after a couple of months because her husband was actually jealous of the baby. I wasn’t speechless, but I dared not say anything to that one.

Whether a mother breast or bottle feeds is an intensely personal decision. I believe that mothers have enough issues on their plate that they don’t need society approving or disapproving of the way they feed their babies. Personally, I do wish more moms nursed, but I have to remind myself when I see an infant with a bottle; perhaps the baby was adopted, perhaps the mother tried to nurse, or – and just as validly – she just didn’t want to.

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