Breastfeeding the Law?

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This weekend I was reading an old article from last fall about Gisele Bundchen and her opinions on breastfeeding. It really got me thinking because it made me feel some feelings I didn’t really expect to feel. Back in August 2010, after Gisele Bundchen made comments about how breastfeeding should be an international law. She said there should be a worldwide law that mothers breastfeed for at least 6 months. She made comments about giving chemical food to babies when they are so little.

Now, before the birth of W and my subsequent experience, I would have applauded her. I stillnlike that she is a public figure out there standing proud when it comes to breastfeeding. But reading her comments also frustrated me a little because her remarks make it sound like she believes that anyone who doesn’t breastfeed is doing something that is not as good for their child. Now, there’s a good chance she doesn’t think that, but based on the quotes in the article, that is how she has been portrayed.

I am definitely a proponent of breastfeeding and would love to have had a wonderful breastfeeding experience. I’m not going to let the challenges with W put me off from trying again with my next child. But one thing that I know is not true is this: I am not any less of a parent because my son is now formula fed. Even if I had to give him 100% formula from the beginning, it would not have made me any less of a parent.

Saying things like there should be a law that requires women to breastfeed would mean that I would have been in trouble with the law for one of two reasons.

  1. I would be in trouble for not having breastfed for 6 months OR
  2. I would be in trouble because I never made enough milk to fully feed W and he would have been malnourished.

So, either way I would have been in trouble. Guess it would have really sucked to be me if there was such a law! Considering the fact that I wanted my son to have the nutrition he needed to grow and develop and I couldn’t provide it myself, I went with the “chemical” food. I did everything I could to minimize the amount of formula he received by pumping for as long as I could and supplementing with breast milk that was given to me. But in the end, the boy had to eat and formula is not the evil that some want new mothers to believe. It has taken me a long time to find peace with having to use formula, but now i am able to acknowledge that we are blessed to have modern baby formulas to provide nutrition for those who need it.

In fact, not all mothers even have the option to breastfeed! I have a friend who is not able to breastfeed due to some medications she needs to take for her own health. Should she be in trouble with the law? I don’t think so!

Formula is not the enemy.

I want to say it again, I support breastfeeding. I will try it all again if we are blessed with more children. But before I had W and went through my experience, I sounded like Gisele Bundchen sometimes with all my talk about how I was going to exclusively breastfeed and how great it was going to be. Now I think I’ve developed a bit more empathy through my experience as a new mother. I now understand that everything about raising a child is about figuring out what works and doing the best for your child. Baby has to eat! That’s the bottom line!

This is just another way motherhood has changed me for the better. While I’m still a huge supporter of breastfeeding, I am also a much better support and shoulder to lean on for my friends who have struggled with breastfeeding. Overall, I think I’m more understanding of how everyone’s situation is unique. I believe that as long as our babies are getting fed and taken care of, we’re doing all right!

If you’d like to read the entire article, I recommend it! I would also love to hear your thoughts on Gisele Bundchen’s comments!