In this fast paced world that we live in, one choice a mother can make has known benefits for her and her child…the choice to breastfeed. The list of the benefits of breastfeeding is long and includes a healthier immune system for the baby and a lowered risk of breast cancer for the mother. Although the science around the motherly art of breastfeeding reports many benefits for mother and baby, the decision to breastfeed is not always clear cut. Sometimes, the best decision for a mother and baby is not to breastfeed. Due to private and very personal issues, some mothers have great difficulty breastfeeding, and the stress of doing so can create a negative atmosphere for both her, her baby, and the whole family.
It can be hard to understand how a decision not to breastfeed could be the best when faced with all the positive data about breast feeding, but the old adage not to judge until you have walked a mile in someone else’s shoes applies here. Some examples of issues that could play a part in not breastfeeding are: women who have suffered sexual abuse that leaves them paralyzed and unable to relax, women who have extreme pain and breast infections that cause them to be unable to continue, or other mothers taking lifesaving medications that would be harmful to their baby if ingested through their breast milk. Even though breast milk is best for the baby, there are many understandable factors of why a mother would choose not to breastfeed.
To nurse or to bottle feed is a personal decision based on personal, private factors. Each woman must weigh all of the options, and decided what is best for her baby, herself, and her whole family. We, as a compassionate community, must support our new mothers in whatever decision they choose knowing that we are not aware of all of the circumstances and information that play a part in this important decision.
Did you receive support from your community when you made the choice to breastfeed or not?