Breastfeeding does not a mother make

It's taken me several months to get the courage to share my feelings on this. This is an emotionally charged topic, and of course, when your own feelings are involved, it's even more difficult! 

I was lucky in that I was able to breastfeed my child; he latched easily and was a good eater...initially.

At about 4.5 months, he was just starving. I was feeding 1-1.5 hours, and honestly I was exhausted. He needed more calories than I could provide. For whatever reason, pumping wasn't working well at all..it was as if my body knew that it wasn't a baby...none of the tricks worked to cause my milk to flow unless the baby was with me. I wasn't getting breaks and he was not getting enough. Period.

I made a personal decision to start adding some solids and supplementing with goat milk formula...and it was a really conflicting decision. I felt like I wasn't providing enough...and I could hear the guidelines "exclusive breastfeeding until 6 months" in my head.

I felt pretty bad until I realized that my baby was thriving!

He started sleeping for longer stretches during the night. He was much happier throughout the day. He actually reached for the bottle and was excited for foods! And even more, he preferred the formula over the breastmilk. I truthfully don't think he felt full and so breastfeeding became more of a comfort around bedtime where he sort of stopped needing to breastfeed around 7 months, his choice. He just started refusing the breast and it happened naturally.

So, why I am I telling you all of this?

Should vs Need

We have become so obsessed with "should" that we are missing the necessary.

It was necessary for me to feed my child more. He's robust! My 'little' man fits in 12 month clothing and is over 22 lbs. He was growing so fast. He already has 6 teeth!

Where is normal?

He doesn't fit the normal criteria, but then neither do I.

A mother is a person whom:
  1. Pays attention the needs of her child and responds to them
  2. Feeds them
  3. Clothes them
  4. Provides a safe environment for sleeping and playing
  5. Allows the child to explore the world and provides reassurance on their return
  6. Loves them!
If the needs of the child involve breastfeeding because it is both possible and the best choice for mother and babe, then great. But if breastfeeding is not possible or exhausting or not even enough calorically for the babe, we must applaud and support the mother for doing the next best thing for her baby - which may involve formula or food or both. Or all three!

Mothers know best

Their intuition is key.

Caregivers, give yourselves permission to know your child. To do your very best, but honestly, listen to what is right for you and for them. That is mothering.

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