I'm almost finished with the book Breastfeeding Made Simple: Seven Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers, which I ordered after listening to the horror stories of others and fearfully realizing my complete cluelessness on the subject. I have always intended to breastfeed, because I feel it is ultimately better for my baby. At the same time, I completely understand why some women choose not to (or are physically unable to) and can even relate to their feelings. Honestly, the whole concept of breastfeeding does feel awkward to me and the idea of becoming a milk machine for the next several months is intimidating. However, I feel like I can put these qualms aside for the health of my child.
However instead of helping me feel reassured, this book has mostly resulted in feelings of guilt about breastfeeding...AND I DON'T EVEN HAVE A BABY TO BREASTFEED YET! I feel as if I don't fit into their idealized concept of what a breastfeeding mom should be, then I am simply a bad parent who has failed to prioritize properly. Here are some examples of the passive aggressive approach the author has taken on some key issues...
1. Breastfeeding after returning to work: They state that while it can be difficult it is entirely feasible. However right after stating that, they suggest alternatives to working/pumping including rethinking how important it really is for you to return to work and downplay pumping as the choice of last resort. So I come away from all of this feeling as if I'm just being selfish for not wanting to give up 50% of our income, lose earning power, and maintain some semblance of a life outside my home where I interact with adults. And here I was thinking I was in such a good situation work-wise since my employer maintains several mothers rooms equipped with high quality breast pumps and a complete willingness to allow time for pumping breaks.
2. Nighttime feedings: They really pushed co-sleeping. For me this would be difficult as we sleep on a waterbed (how 80's of us, I know) and it is already seriously crowded since the dog routinely joins us. I would rather have Jillian get used to sleeping in the crib from the beginning, and as she'll just be across the hall I have little fear about this. But this book made it sound like I'm going to be incredibly sleep deprived and an awful mother who denies her child's innate need to be close to me at all times.
3. How long to breastfeed: My initial goal would be to breastfeed for a year, but I'm very flexible with that since I honestly have no idea what to expect. I highly doubt that I will breastfeed beyond a year. The authors made me feel like this was an adequate goal, but spent the weaning chapter pointing out how societal expectations needlessly force mothers to stop breastfeeding early when they could do it for two or three years. While I have to hand it to mothers who can breastfeed for that long, I just don't think I have it in me, yet the message I get is that I'm just caving to society's pressure.
I'm not writing any of this to question people's decisions on this matter. I think that whether you decide to breastfeed and how you go about it is entirely a personal decision and there is no one-size fits all approach to this. But I just hated how this book's authors came across as breastfeeding nazi's who initially claim that even some breast milk is better than none, but constantly retreat from that statement by pushing their idealized concept of a breastfeeding mother. I did learn some useful information that should help me get started with breastfeeding. I just wish that it wasn't overshadowed by the guilt of falling short of their ideal in so many ways.