As a breastfeeding mom, I am an avid supporter of breastfeeding. I have breastfed all 5 of my children, and I’m now nursing my 21 month old daughter. For me and my family, breastfeeding was the natural way to feed my infants. For my first child (I was an 18-year-old teen mom), it seemed like it was the easiest, fastest, cheapest, and most convenient way to feed my baby. Shortly after establishing a breastfeeding relationship with my first-born, I quickly learned the benefits went far beyond those items mentioned. Breast feeding forced me to stop everything I was doing, and spend 10 to 15 min every couple of hours, making a connection with my son. During that time I was able to relax, and spend some time getting to know him. I still remember the roundness of his cheeks as he nursed, his big brown eyes staring up at me with not a care in the world. I remember those moments when I would look down at him, and as if on que he would give me a big “boobie” grin! I remember how calm, and relaxed I felt during those moments. Breastfeeding, I soon found out, was not only good for him, but great for mommy too!
In addition, breastfeeding provided my children with so many health benefits. There were less issues with gas, they rarely spit up, and they had the immune system of “Super Man”! I remember so many conversations with friend’s, who would complain about having to miss work, or cancel appointments, because their kids were sick. Amazingly, my babies were hardly sick! As an example, my 21 month old daughter, has had a total of 2 fevers her entire life. She’s been on antibiotics, only once. She’s never had a stomach virus, and no illness that ever lasted longer than 2 or 3 days. Other than the one time that she needed antibiotics for a sinus infection (her first illness – she was 9 months old), she’s never had to go to the pediatrician for a sick visit. Ironically, in the 21 months since she has been born, I think I have been sick more than she has. The benefit that breastfeeding has on a baby’s immune system, is enough to convince me that breast is best.
I am a huge advocate of breastfeeding, and often provide encouragement and advice to friends and family who are on the fence. Breastfeeding has been such a positive experience for both me and my children, and I love to share our story. However, I am also extremely understanding of women who choose to formula feed. I understand the issues and why for some mom’s, breast is not necessarily best. I respect those mom’s and their decisions, after all, who am I to tell them what is best for them and their babies? This is a decision that is so personal, and one that can only be made by a mom and her partner. So why is it that the mayor and state representatives of New York city, feel like it is okay for them to interfere with such a personal decision?
Don’t get me wrong, as a breastfeeding mom I am all for hospitals supporting breastfeeding, by not distributing promotional formula to mothers who are nursing. I am all for having the hospital and it’s staff, be educated and supportive of mom’s who want to exclusively breastfeed. What I don’t agree with, is forcibly pushing new mom’s into doing something they do not want to do. I am against hospitals, at the direction of government officials, forcing mother’s to sit through what may sound more like a lecture about the benefits of breastfeeding, making new mom’s feel as though they are being judged, or being pressured into doing something that may ultimately, not be right for them and their families. It should be a mother’s choice to decide how she wants to feed her child, without being made to feel that their choice to feed infant formula is somehow bad for their baby. Last I checked, the FDA has approved baby formula, as a safe and effective substitute for breast milk. As a woman, I resent the fact that government officials feel that they have the right to interfere with the decisions that a mother makes for herself and her family.