I received this message a couple of months ago:
The trend seems to be, and this is not limited to just my circle of friends, but pumping and giving breastmilk in a bottle. Simply because its faster or they're having trouble latching their babies. This tears me up inside, even though they are still getting the best nutrition!
I'm not sure if you've experienced this in your community, but I want to help them without overstepping my boundaries. Any tips on how to help encourage true nursing? I've suggested books and lactation consultants, but I don't seem to be getting through.
Some of this depends on where you live. When I lived in New Mexico, I never saw women pumping and giving their babies bottles of breastmilk, but in North Texas, I see it all the time. From talking to women scattered around the country, it depends on where you are. My good friend, Sarah Clark over at Mama Birth, says that she almost never sees a woman feeding her baby a bottle. The stigma is reversed. But she's in Northern California.
Before you get upset, understand that I am always happy when a baby is getting breastmilk instead of formula. It is well documented and understand that breastmilk is superior and made for baby. It is a healthy choice.
When I had my first baby in 1996, I was still working outside the home, so I bought an expensive pump. We loaded the freezer up and I experienced this weird guilt that I wasn't using the milk, but it kept accumulating. Weird, I know. (I found myself working when he was sleeping, and eventually he quit taking the bottle.) I remember going to church with a bottle of breastmilk once - thinking it would be easier - but it was so stressful!
Women make this choice for a variety of reasons, I suppose. I just wanted to put it out there why I believe the act of breastfeeding is about so much more than nutrition.
*Let's face it. Life is busy. I think it would be irresistible to just let the baby hold his/her own bottle. Breastfeeding "forced" me to sit down and hold my baby.
*Feeling milk let down and my baby relax as milk flowed into his/her mouth was priceless. I had a magic superpower!
*The hormones released when breastfeeding made me a calmer mom. My baby molded to my body when he/she nursed. Even if I was anxious to keep moving on with my list for the day, by the time I was finished nursing (and/or baby fell asleep), that list didn't seem nearly as important! There's nothing like holding a sleeping baby who just feel asleep nursing.
*We can't ignore the convenience factor - always with you at the perfect temperature.
If you are one of these women that pump and give your baby a bottle, you are missing out on a truly unique and special life experience. I'm sad that some women feel such a stigma attached to breastfeeding that they feel compelled to haul around bottles and take all that time to pump.
I wanted to share a couple of professional pictures I had taken in 2006, back before it became popular to take professional breastfeeding pictures. In fact, the photographer thought I was crazy for wanting to do so!