When becoming a mother, there is so much pressure from everyone to ‘do it right’. Everywhere you look there are people telling you it’s best to do this and that’s the way I did it. So when it comes to deciding whether to breastfeed or bottle-feed, it’s unsurprisingly the same. Like everything else, there are pro’s and con’s to both sides (illustrated below) but it is the mother’s decision that matters and what is best for both mother and baby.
Recently I have become interested in Attachment Parenting, as my sister decided to choose this parenting style with her second daughter (now 14 months). I read up about the breastfeeding side of things and found it very interesting. The attachment ‘way’ of parenting says ‘breast is best’ and that it helps build a flow of communication with your baby. The mother learns to read baby’s cues, even before the crying starts, and becomes intuitively responsive.
Another positive to breastfeeding, which I didn’t know about, is the chemistry. The hormonal balance in a baby and its mother changes whether bottle-feeding or breastfeeding. The baby has a regulated amount of cortisol, reducing stress; and the mother has increased prolactin and oxytocin, allowing her to make more milk and become relaxed.
If and when I have children, I will be caught between two worlds. Being in a lesbian relationship, will breastfeeding mean that one of us a ‘better’ bond with the baby? The other option would be to bottle-feed, but this in itself have a lot of stigma and negative portrayals.
Another issue about breastfeeding is how long to do it for? Historically, babies and children were breastfed until at least 2 or 3 years, but nowadays it seems to be limited for convenience. As a practitioner who works in the baby room, I do find it a bit ‘weird’ that those older children could still be being breast-fed. I’m sure there is a ‘happy medium’ where the child is breast-fed and then weaned appropriately.
Whatever the decision you make about your child, every decision is right and should be respected.