Thursday, September 1, 2011

The "Guilty Mom Syndrome"

I get it. Moms feed formula to babies for thousands of reasons. I have my own. We are constantly feeling the need to defend that decision. This is not the spirit of this blog or post. My hope is that we can move past the guilty feelings (that do not make us better mothers), clear our minds, and think critically. The goal being to fully understand how this decision is more important than planning a registry around hooter hiders or bottles - you can use both by the way=). This decision has serious health implications for both Mom and baby. Any health care provider who does not inform their patients of this is doing an injustice in my opinion.
After weaning my first baby at 6 months she had formula for the rest of that year. I had my own reasons - working all night, horribly painful feeds for first 10 weeks, several cases of mastitis, dwindling milk supply, overwhelmed with being needed so much, wanting others to help more, living at my Mom's for a brief time, etc...When I had my second daughter I had to decide whether to resume BF or pick up where I left off with formula. For some reason I decided to research and explore the topic more. The more I read and learned the more I felt super sure about the benefits that breast milk provides. I wanted to give that to my baby but was then forced to face the fact that my first did not get all of those benefits.
The guilt invaded and hormones drove me to ask ridiculous questions like "do I love one more than the other? what if one gets a disease the other doesn't - is that my fault? am I just better off doing the same with all of them because that's fair?" In the end and after months of struggling through some ugly thinking I decided to leave my past choice behind, love my babies the best I could in the present, and follow what was newly revealed to me regarding BF. With that in mind I nursed my second for 13 months and enjoyed every minute of it. I realized also the importance of nutrition and lifestyle choices that I had with my now toddler and became excited about teaching her to eat healthy.
Now I am nursing my 3rd and last baby - thanks to a tubal=). He is a new challenge and formula feeding would be easier in ways but I would feel guilty. Even thoughI know all of the benefits the painful feeds that I cannot fix, even after a frenulectomy, make this experience very hard. As a lactation consultant I do actually feel I don't have a decision here. If I can't BF well who can, right? So, after tackling the "guilty Mom syndrome" once it now creeps back in. I will persevere and maybe it is because of guilt but I believe it will be a blessing in the end. Thoughts?