My recent post on breastfeeding prompted a few readers to ask why I don't actively promote breastfeeding. They urged me to further the cause because mommies don't breastfeed enough. One pointed out how Daphne Osena Paez is a UN Ambassador for promoting breastfeeding and that I should follow suit.
Well, Daphne and I had a little chat about that. I laud her efforts truly but I confessed to her that while I am super pro-breastfeeding, I don't want to be seen as super gung-ho about it that I offend mommies who fed/feed their kids formula. Daphne says there's a word for that: lactivist. Well there. I don't want to be a lactivist.
To be honest, I was ambivalent to this whole breastfeeding business. You see, I wasn't breastfed. Neither was Vince. We turned out more than all right! I know some people who were breastfed and, well, they aren't so cool. Oops, I'm joking. Sorta.
Then when I was preggy, I started reading all the literature about how breast milk is best for baby. And I decided, "Okay, I'll give it a try. But the minute I feel it's such a hassle, I'm giving up." Well, it was a huge pain, I tell ya, but I didn't give up, which surprised me.
First, I had no milk. At all. It didn't help that Ate Marita told me, "Maliit kasi dede mo kaya wala kang gatas." ("You have small breasts that's why you have no milk.") Great, that made me feel oh so much better. To her credit, Ate M, who is a manghihilot, massaged my back and made me cauldron upon cauldron of malunggay soup. I was leaking milk in no time!
Second, breastfeeding hurt at the start. It was so painful, I saw stars every time he latched. I thought more than a few times that I'd rather give birth again than breastfeed.
Third, and for me this was the worst, breastfeeding suffocated me. There were days I felt like screaming because Vito had to feed every 2 hours. And in the first three months, the bottle is discouraged so there won't be nipple confusion. So even if I had a Medela pump, I couldn't go anywhere anyway because I was tethered to the baby by his need for my milk.
But I soldiered on because, as they say, breast milk is best for baby. I also liked the closeness I felt whenever we cuddled and he suckled and I felt my milk nourishing him.
Then I found this list: Advantages of Breastfeeding. It totally blew my mind away! I was so excited, I exclaimed to Vince: "Imagine that! If every mommy breastfed her baby, we'd have people who are stronger, faster, smarter, healthier. Breastfeeding mommies would be instrumental in creating a super race of humans! Breastfeeding should be mandatory!"
And Vince snapped, "You sound like a Nazi."
And that, my friends, is why I haven't been promoting breastfeeding. I had become a lactivist.
I certainly do not want to think I am superior or my child is better. But without realizing it, I had become someone that I didn't want to be. I was horrified at myself. I'm sure you know women out there who put down formula, tut-tut at formula-fed babies, and sneer at formula-feeding moms. I didn't reach that point, thank goodness (actually, it's thank Vince!). But until I was sure that I won't be judgmental, I just didn't want to talk about breastfeeding.
Now... I think I'm ready. I still believe breastfeeding is a wonderful thing. It's super healthy for both mother and child. It's amazing to see how our bodies can be our child's source of nourishment. And it saves us money and time.
But I also know that each of us have different situations that prevent us from breastfeeding--some women have health or physical conditions that prevent successful breastfeeding, some women have to work full time.
I also know that we mommies do have one thing in common: We love our kids. So we will do our very best to nourish them--whether it's breastfeeding or infant formula. And love is something I can totally understand and respect.
I want to encourage mommies to breastfeed and now I think I can do it with love and grace. I really don't want to come across as some Mrs. Know-It-All because, really, I don't know it all. But I can share what I do know about breastfeeding and I hope to be able to help those mommies who feel discouraged about breastfeeding. So there! Wish me luck!