The debate over breastfeeding vs formula has been really heating up over the past several years. I would like to see is more discussion that breastfeeding is a lifestyle choice that must fit the dynamics of the family. I could not do this without the support of my husband, or if I had the work schedule that I did in the US or Montreal.
Our lifestyle allows me to breastfeed without any stress. I work at home with my husband and can adapt my schedule to my daughter’s needs. I enjoy this time I spend with her and it is relaxing for me. We travel frequently so it is more convenient for us than to worry about bottles and formula. When she is hungry, we go to the nearest rest stop, park the car and set her in my lap. It could not be any easier. Not to forget that I also hate doing dishes, so worrying about sterilizing bottles makes my head spin.
For us, is is not only about it being the healthiest choice (even though that was an important consideration). It is also cost effective, allows us to travel easier and is more convenient for me. I also eat very healthy, so I know she will be getting all the nutrients she needs.
Many mothers do not want to breastfeed or are unable to do it. What’s wrong with that? Even though there are health advantages of breastfeeding for the baby and mother, formula fed children still develop into healthy, normal children. Generations of children were nourished by formula and I bet you could not tell in a crowd whose mother fed them breast milk. Those who do not breastfeed are sometimes considered selfish. Well, I am breastfeeding for selfish reasons… whoops.
I do not think that woman should be pushed into it. If their lifestyle does not support breastfeeding, then stressing out over it is not healthy. I hear about women pumping all night long to have enough for the next day when she is at work. Is not it better that she spends the little time she has with her child instead? Of course, if she believes that spending this time is better for her family then that is wonderful. The point is, she should not be pushed into it by guilt.
In the USA and Montreal, I used to work incredibly long hours – even would spill into the weekends. I would spend at least 9 hours at work with a 45-minute commute in each direction. I could not imagine coming home from a long day at work and then having a date with my breast pump instead of holding my daughter in my arms. If I was still in that situation, she would probably receive formula during the day and then I would breastfeed at night. If breastfeeding at night did not work out, then we would have to do formula.
Doing the best thing for your family may mean doing something different than other mothers do for their families. Breastfeeding is only healthier when you have a lifestyle that supports it. If you are unable or do not want to have this lifestyle, then there is nothing wrong with formula. So why are women feeling guilty or defensive about it? Society is shoving the scientific health benefits down our throats and not mentioning that stressing over it could counter some of the health benefits. Mothers who are stressed can fall into depression more easily, as well as see their own health decline.
In the USA, there is more pressure about breastfeeding than in France. Here, women are not expected to breastfeed after 3 months. Formula is not looked at in a negative light. The older generation may judge women a little harshly if they are breastfeeding after 6 months. My child’s last kiné (physical therapist) was obviously against it when I told her I planned on breastfeeding until Juliana is 1 to 1.5 years old (food during the day, breast milk at night). I really did not appreciate being judged for something I know is best for my family. I think our generation of mothers in France are more open minded to breastfeeding for longer durations, but it is still not considered the usual.
I am tired of reading the “us” vs “them” in the forums, or even as responses to articles about nourishing babies. Making these choices for our children and families is difficult and everyone should have the same amount of respect and understanding. If the child is healthy and developing normally, praise the mother for doing such a great job. It should not matter if she used breast milk or formula.