Breastfeeding is a Personal Choice

As a mother who has nursed three babies and edits an attachment parenting site, I am a big supporter of breastfeeding. But one thing I’ve noticed is that some people are crazy about it. There are a lot of breastfeeding moms and supporters out there that get kind of nasty to moms that don’t breastfeed.

My personal experience was when my oldest quit nursing at seven months old. She just quit. No notice, no warning. Just one day she woke up and wanted nothing to do with my breast. Come to find out I was pregnant, but she didn’t care, she was done nursing. With my second, I went back to college when she was three months old. I was taking 21 credit hours a semester, working on campus about 10 hours a week, and commuting about 75 miles one way (only traveling back and forth a few days a week). My girls and I were staying at a variety of family members’ houses, so, needless to say, the whole experience was rather stressful. That along with the fact that I was uncomfortable pumping on campus, I quit nursing right after school started.

I was dumbfounded at the pushback I got from people. My pediatrician, and the nurses at the office, basically scolded me like I was a small child. They reiterated, over and over again, the importance of breastfeeding and the benefits to the baby. And the WIC office. You would have thought I was continually bringing in a bruised child the way they treated me. They made me feel as though I was an inadequate mom because I hadn’t breastfeed for a year. They didn’t care that Lia had quit on her own, or that I was in school. There were no excuses for not breastfeeding!

When I mentioned this to my friend, mother of two, who didn’t breastfeed at all, she understood where I was coming from and said she had experienced it as well, but at a more extreme level. Since she hadn’t decided to breastfeed, she felt that people looked down on her all the time. At the hospital. At the pediatrician’s office. At WIC. By other breastfeeding moms.

People, this is ridiculous! Nursing a child is a personal choice. Deciding not to is not child abuse. It doesn’t mean that you’re a bad mom. And it doesn’t mean that you deserve ridicule from others. And I’m saying this as a breastfeeding mom! Nursing isn’t for everyone. For those of us who breastfeed, and especially those that do it long term (with my baby, now four months old, I plan on nursing for at least a year), it’s hard work. You’ve got leaking, thrush, blisters, biting. It takes dedication, commitment, and time. Heck, I spend at least an hour a day at work staring at a blank wall in a dirty little bathroom, pumping, trying to keep my milk supply up.

I think we would all agree that it’s hard being a mom. There are times when we are overwhelmed, when we are stressed, when we don’t know what to do, or how to handle life. Let’s stick together, be there to support one another. Let’s not be rude and snide because someone chooses not to breastfeed. That’s their personal choice, not yours. My Nana always said that mothers shouldn’t throw stones. As a mother, do you really want someone looking over your shoulder, judging what you do and how you handle your children? I know I don’t. And I’m not going to judge you for how you decide to feed your kids, please don’t judge me.