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The B Word

By March 13, 2018 , , , , ,

I’m going to talk about the B word today: breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding is a very sensitive topic of discussion these days. Now that I've been through it with both my boys, I can say that I've seen both sides of the coin: exclusive breastfeeding vs bottle and formula feeding. I’m going to say that there is no right or wrong to either approach. Okay, now that I’ve sufficiently hedged and appeased both sides of a very polarizing topic, let me explain. Here’s my story and why I believe what I do...

My circumstances were very different between the first and second child. With my older one, I did exclusive breastfeeding for one year. Having taken a break from work, it was an incredibly easy and natural thing to do. Oh, and the convenience of it! I never had to deal with any accouterments related to bottle feeding (ie, breastpump, bottle cleaning equipment, etc). The whole experience was special for me and I was thankful for it.

With my younger one who is now almost 9 months, it has proven to be a totally different scenario. He had a more voracious appetite from the very beginning. I also had to return to work earlier when he was 4 months of age. It was the perfect storm – challenging work circumstances, formula feeds to keep up with my absence and with this boy’s growing appetite, and pumping which gradually replaced natural feeds with the baby. I developed a love-hate relationship with my breastpump in the workplace. This “frenemy” of mine accompanied me on every business travel and found me using it in all kinds of inconvenient places just so that I could maintain my milk supply and provide this so-called “liquid gold” to my baby. From airplane toilets, conference rooms, store changing rooms to public restrooms, no place was out of bounds (Fellow moms who’ve done this, I know your agony!). Despite my best attempts, my supply dipped and it was a downward spiral. I couldn’t help but feel disappointed and also resentful towards my circumstances at work that led to this. The naturalist mama in me wants to continue giving breastmilk to Arjun as long as I can (and I'm still valiantly continuing for now) but the practical mama says I have to do what makes sense for both the baby and me.

Too often healthcare providers, society, and fellow mothers are placing unnecessary pressure on other women to breastfeed, come what may. Heck, we even impose this pressure on ourselves. I’ve seen fellow moms utterly racked with guilt when they have to give up breastfeeding or are unable to provide breastmilk for their baby for reasons beyond their control.

Having experienced the challenges and benefits of the different ways to feed, I know now more than ever before that you should never judge another mother on how she chooses to feed her child. We know that breast milk is the most natural way to go. And, in an ideal world, which mother wouldn't want what's best for her child? But the lesson I’ve learned from my different milkfeeding journeys is that we don't know the circumstances, whether it be biological, physical, or emotional, that lead a mother to the choices she makes.

To the mothers out there who are able to nurse – I’m with you, it’s awesome and special and feels great! But to those who are giving formula and bottle feeds to the baby? It’s totally okay. Really. You will not bond any less with your baby. And your baby will not love you any less. As I always believe, a fed baby is a happy baby. It doesn’t matter which B you used – breast or bottle.

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  1. U r my hero. Thanks for this post and thnks for always reminding me that a fed baby is a happy baby. I hope Ishanvi grows up to be a beautiful and inspirational woman like u. ☺
    www.sosaree. in


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