The StrongMoms® Empowerment pledge is something that I think every mother needs to hear.
“Moms face tremendous pressure to make the “perfect” parenting decisions, only to be judged or criticized by other moms. From going back to work and feeding your baby to education, discipline and bed times, everyone has an opinion.
I pledge to create a more supportive and less judgmental environment by empowering moms to feel good about the decisions they make for their children and their families.”
I’ve been a vocal supporter of breastfeeding for all of my children. Five home births and four exclusively breastfed babies. And then what happened? A year ago this month – When Vivian was 3 months old, I got sick with what I thought was the worst stomach bug of my life.
I finally went to a clinic for nausea and severe pain 3 days later (yes, I AM that stubborn), and the doctor immediately sent me to the ER. “I can’t say what’s wrong with you, but I can tell – it’s not good.”
And that was an understatement. By the time I was checked into the ER, I was turning jaundiced. My pancreas and liver were shutting down because of what turned out to be gallstones. I called my sister and told her to go get some formula for Vivian – this wasn’t going to be a short visit to the doctor. When you have a 3 month old baby, and the doctor says, “You are too sick to even withstand a surgery, but hopefully you will recover enough after a couple days to be able to tolerate the surgery,” you need to do something right?
So what does this story have to do with the StrongMoms® pledge? In the midst of all this a friend of mine, a fellow lactavist, accused me of “selling out.” It was SO hurtful! At a time when I was already struggling with so many things.
Of course I was, and still am, adamant about breastfeeding being the best option for your child. I found donor breastmilk from two amazing and giving friends before I had even checked out of the hospital and used it each day to supplement the formula Vivian was receiving. For the next two months, I tried relactating and boosting my milk supply and was able to supplement about 2-5 ounces per day from my own milk as well until she hit another growth spurt and we had to wean, (triggering some postpartum depression in me). But she NEEDED more than I was able to give her, and I’m grateful that we had access to healthy formula options for her when I truly needed it.
The judgement from someone I had considered a friendly acquaintance was so hurtful. Why do we do that to each other? If anyone could understand how HARD it is to be a mother, wouldn’t it be another mother? If someone knows all the facts and options and makes a choice that is different than the one you make, that doesn’t make them automatically bad, wrong, or “a sell out.”
Will you also take the StrongMoms® Empowerment pledge with me? Promise to empower and encourage other women? That, after all, is exactly what Untrained Housewife is about.
I am participating in a blog campaign with One2One Network. I have not received any payment. This story and opinions are all my own.
Love this and totally agree. With my first two children, I was advised by my midwife to not nurse them because I had Lyme disease, and it had been known to be transmitted through breast milk. She said I was the only person she had ever said that to. By the time I had my third, I was able to nurse since at that point science showed that it actually built an immunity to Lyme when children were exposed through breast milk (or so my doctors told me).
While I was thrilled to nurse my third, I was amazed at the insensitivity of the pro-nursing community. I was really given an attitude because I hadn’t nursed the other two. I had trouble getting my son to latch and asked a nurse for help, and she responded, “That’s something you should have learned by now.” Then she walked out of the room without offering any assistance.
Your call for non judgement is so right on. As moms, we all know the choices aren’t always simple, but we all try our best. I’m sorry your friend treated you like that and am glad that you did what was necessary for her to thrive. I’m also glad you focused on healing so you could get strong and be a better mom for her in the long run instead of wearing yourself down unnecessarily.
Yep. I know I am passionate about helping mothers who want to learn to breastfeed because of the experiences you described – it’s treated by many in our culture as “meh” or “do people still do that” or “a hassle” instead of as the best option and something we should HELP women do. HOWEVER – there are definitely times it isn’t the right option. It was always the best choice for Vivian, and I kept giving her *some* breastmilk thanks to the donor milk I got, each day because of the amazing benefits, but she got the majority of her calories from formula because that is what we had access to. And THANK GOD I lived in a country where high quality formula was readily available!
Lynette Young says
Sadly there are intolerant people on *every* side. I nursed my first child to 3.5 years and my second to 2 years and got flack for ‘quitting’. REALLY? At that point I was losing milk quickly and honestly in the very beginnings of menopause for Heaven’s sake! When it comes right down to it I feel women judge other women for things they themselves feel inadequate about. Raise your kids right by you and your family and stay a fierce mamma!
hehehehe all of mine started walking and weaned themselves soon after – usually between 15-18 months. They didn’t want to sit still long enough to nurse after that! (Active little monkeys…) When the two of you are both ready, you’re both ready.
Bethany V. says
I’m sorry you had that reaction. I moved heaven and earth to try and avoid giving formula to my son and I got a lot of comments like “What’s the big deal, it’s just formula?” The point was, it was important to me. Fortunately I had some supportive friends that donated milk so that my son was drinking mostly donated milk until my own supply was restarted. Eventually I did have to give him some formula during a week long nursing strike several months later, and in the end he weaned quickly at 12 months. It wasn’t what I would have planned, but it worked and he is finally happy and healthy. Every mom has to do what they can and what they feel is best. I do believe that breast milk is best, when possible, but I’m also grateful that we live in a century where formula is available as an alternative.
Crystal. V. says
I think people too often forget that the choices that are right/best for one mother and child are not automatically what is right/best for another mother and child – even within the same family. Rather than criticizing others for their differing choices, what is RIGHT is to continue to offer support, encouragement and love to those of us struggling to learn to wear the Mom-hat. Nothing is more lastingly hurtful than a well-intentioned judgement from someone you love, trust and respect. I applaud you all for your commitment to provide support regardless of what side of the breast feeding-formula fence someone may choose, and happily join in! Moms must make the hard choice for themselves what is best for them and their child, and I am committed to encouraging my new mom friends and family to make the right choice for them, free of pressure and judgement.
And I, like you, am thrilled, Angela, that you had friends who were able to supply you with all you needed through such a difficult time in your life, and that Vivian is a thriving, amazingly perfect addition to your fantastic family!
Darla Sue Dollman says
When my children were born (30 years ago) our pediatrician (who was also my ex-husband’s pediatrician) told me my breast milk was insufficient because my children were so small. I was smaller than my children when I was a baby. My family has tiny babies! I mentioned this to my former mother-in-law who told me she gave birth to my children’s father during a flu epidemic. She was the only mother on the floor at that time who wasn’t sick. They isolated her to keep her from getting sick and she donated as much breast milk as she could to help the other young mothers. She recommended that I change pediatricians. “His thinking is a bit old,” she said. Do not listen to people who criticize your parenting. Only you know what is best for you and your children, and your wisdom is evident in the smiling faces of every one of those cuties.