Breastfeeding is a hot topic ever since the World Health Organization recommended that all babies be breastfed exclusively for at least six months. But like all pregnancy and parenting decisions, deciding whether or not to breastfeed is a very personal choice.
Breastfeeding is what women’s breasts are designed to do. They’re full of lobes, lobules, and ducts that produce milk and carry it to the nipple. And no matter what your breast size, almost all women have the same amount of these milk-producing components.
Therefore, breast size difference is created by the amount of fat in your breasts—it has nothing to do with your ability to feed your baby.
Today’s new mothers often have to choose between earning a buck or being with baby; between being a sex symbol or being a nursing mother; between fitting into their family’s or culture’s expectations or choosing to not follow them.
These big questions can cause stress, undermine successful breastfeeding, or make women feel they are wrong, bad, limited, or even excluded.
Is it any wonder that many women question whether breastfeeding is right for them?
The debate around nursing/breastfeeding is both emotional and scientific.
- If I breastfeed, does that make me a good mother?
- If I don’t nurse my baby, am I a bad or selfish mother?
- How will I know if my baby gets enough milk?
- What if my breasts are too small?
- My partner does/doesn’t like breastfeeding — should I choose because of that?
- Am I bad if I want to nurse my baby and that excludes my partner?
- Is making money more important than breastfeeding my baby?
- What if I don’t like breastfeeding?
- What if I start then change to formula — am I a failure? Will it hurt my baby?
- If my family/religion/culture says I should (or should not) breastfeed, can I go against that if I want or need to?
- Is breast milk better than formula?
- Is formula safe?
- Will my baby get diseases or have problems if I use formula?
- Will my baby be less intelligent if I don’t breastfeed?
- What happens to my baby if I can’t breastfeed, even if I want to?
- Will I get breast cancer if I don’t breastfeed?
- What if I only breastfeed my baby for a short time?
- Will my pregnancy weight never go away if I don’t breastfeed?
- Will my baby be behind the norm in development if I use formula?
- Can I use both formula and breast milk to feed my baby?
Every one of these questions is valid.
Women get messages on both sides of the argument, from many different sources:
- healthcare providers
And many of these sources conflict with others.
Ultimately, only you as the mother supplying the breasts can decide what’s right for you. Many women have decided before giving birth whether or not they’re going to breastfeed. Some decide even before they are pregnant.
HERE ARE QUESTIONS TO HELP YOU DECIDE:
- When I see a woman breastfeeding, what do I feel?
- Will I be able to stay at home with my baby?
- Do I have to return to work in 10 or 12 weeks (or even sooner)?
- If I breastfeed and have to return to work, how do I feel about pumping milk throughout the day?
- Is it possible for me to pump at my job?
- What about nursing until I go back to work, then switch to formula?
- Do I want to combine breastfeeding and formula feeding?
- How do I feel about my breasts being touched by someone else, even a little baby? (For women who have been abused, the touching and sensations of breastfeeding may trigger that sense of abuse)
- Can my partner and I design a way to equally share parenting and baby care if I choose to breastfeed?
- Who will support me if I choose not to breastfeed?
- Who will support me if I choose to breastfeed when others think I shouldn’t?
- I’ve had breast augmentation/reduction — can I still breastfeed?
- If I start breastfeeding and don’t like it, can I stop?
- If I start formula feeding and want to breastfeed, can I start?
In the US as of 2011, 79% of women began breastfeeding and 49% were still breastfeeding 6 months later. Some women choose breastfeeding, some don’t. Every woman has the right to decide for herself.
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Published: January 25, 2017 | By SP Turgon, Certified Labor Doula | Reviewed by: The Best Ever Baby Expert Team | Last reviewed: January, 2017