/> a mother's heart » Blog Archive » dividing mothers…again

Recently, someone on a parenting discussion board posted a link to an article about motherhood and breastfeeding. Ordinarily, this would not be news. But the point of the article seemed to be to try to divide mothers and set them against each other, yet again. So the rest of this post will make sense, I’ll post the link here. So go read it now and then come back.

Okay, now you’re back. My first response to this article was quite sarcastic–something along the lines of “I can hardly wait for the bashing of mothers to begin….NOT!” I was challenged by the original poster about my views on mothering and breastfeeding, and I wanted to state my views here as well. After all, it is *my* blog, right? 😉

Let me start off by saying that I do believe breastmilk is the best of all possible foods for babies, and I do believe it is optimum for mother and child to start their lives together this way. But let’s face it, optimum isn’t always plausible. And I don’t believe that because a mother may make the best possible decision for her family and her health (and it may not include breastfeeding) that she should be scorned, ridiculed, or made to feel guilty or inferior for that decision. I’ll also remind readers that I’m coming all this and all topics from a Christian worldview, and that the list on which this topic was broached is also a Christian forum. That said, here’s my take on it.

Yes, breastfeeding is optimum. But so is a sinless existence in the Garden of Eden. *That* was shot to you-know-where with Adam & Eve’s sin and only through the *grace* of God we are able to achieve that optimum level of living on the other side of this earthly life through Jesus’ sacrifice. So talk of ‘optimum’ and ‘best’ pales when we consider what God’s optimum and best was for us and how we don’t have it. ‘Optimum’ in my world would be a sin-free and perfect existence, not just mothers breastfeeding for at least 6 months.

While God did indeed design women to breastfeed, there are some women who will never lactate even once–be it because of surgery to treat breast cancer, the fact that they’ve never given birth, or that they became a mother through some other means (adoption jumps to mind). Does this make their motherhood less than optimum? I would say no.

Our job as parents is to raise healthy children who (in the Christian worldview) learn to love God and live their lives for Him. Breastfeeding is not required for that. And to those who choose to condemn others who cannot maintain a milk supply or who are unable to breastfeed or who simply are not comfortable with that function of their bodies (this usually centers around some type of previous sexual abuse; I had a friend like this) and choose to feed with formula, I assert that they are GOOD mothers who are making the BEST choice they can for their families at that intersection of time and circumstances. Babies are *hungry* and they need *food*. Does it *really matter* what food they are fed, as long as it is nourishing their tiny bodies and they are growing?

I went through a situation when our son was newly weaned (after 6.5 mos of age) with a friend who just had her 4th child. She struggled with nursing–mostly because her body overproduced hormones related to letdown and milk production and when she nursed, she literally felt as if the world was coming to an end. She was also exceedingly tired and trying to care for the rest of her family and feeling as though she just couldn’t do it all at the same time. She called me in tears one afternoon, wanting to talk about nursing. She was hormonal and struggling with condemnation, but she honestly felt as though she couldn’t nurse her infant even one more time. My heart broke for her and as we talked, I assured her that her baby would be fine via formula and she *wasn’t* a bad mom. We conversed about what parents did before the days of formula–the answers were wet nurses (if they were wealthy) or they used cow’s or goat’s milk. And infant mortality rates showed the poor options they had and the poor nutrition and medicine available to them.

Instead of condemning those who choose to feed their babies with formula, I *praise God for formula*–because it means that God has allowed our scientific knowledge to increase to a point where we can mimic breastmilk and feed our babies a healthy substitute that allows them to grow and not risk their lives.

For those reasons, I believe *grace* is required here–grace for those who choose differently than we do. That, and a *gratitude* for the understanding we now have how to make nutritious substitutes for what is considered the gold-standard of infant-feeding. I truly resent the opportunity that others with agendas take to politicize something as netural as how a baby is fed and tries to divide mothers and pit them against each other once again. The conception and birth of a child is a wonderful thing and should be celebrated. There shouldn’t be anything that condemns a new mother who is trying to do the best she can for her baby and her health, and that includes someone else’s political agenda..

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  • RiAnnon

    I agree that breast is best. I think that mother’s should breastfeed and they *should* have the support means in place in this country that encourage that. However, in many places that is not the case. In many places, people know so little about breastfeeding and ways to help the nursing mother work through problems and issues is not there….so the answer always turns to the bottle. I do not necessarily think the bottle is “wrong”, just not best for baby. I agree that the formula of today is much better than the milk used of the past. I still think there are planty of problems with it and it will never be comparable to breast milk. Unfortunately, the mid-nineteen hundreds rbought about a change from breastfeeding to bottles being the norm. Before that people did bottle feed out of necessity once in a while, but the norm was breastfeeding. Many cultures around the world are changing that. In Australia, there are warnings on formula, it is not sold in the average grocery store and you can only get it with a prescription when it is absolutely medically necessary. I think this is a good thing. I don’t think that women who really are forced to use it should feel ashamed though.
    Also, I would just like to say, that even in adoption, you CAN breastfeed. Not everyone can, but many people can.
    God bless to all mothers, whether breast or bottle feeding. You are all doing an amazingly blessed job :-)