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Breastfeeding Peer Pressure

Updated on November 5, 2011

Wake up and smell the breast milk!

Several sensitive topics like illegal immigration, religion, politics are openly discussed and it seems BREASTFEEDING is as well. I'm totally serious.Breastfeeding is the topic du jour. A very private matter that everyone has an opinion about.

As with many sensitive topics, it comes with opposing sides and severe judgement. If you breastfeed you have nipples of gold. Mother of the year awards are reserved for breastfeeders. If you tell someone you don't breastfeed they look at you like you killed the family dog with your bare hands. Wake up people!!! I'm not here to discuss the negatives of breastfeeding, just the truth.

"Breastfeeding is best"- when have you not heard or seen this plastered everywhere. But nobody warns a new mother breastfeeding can be more difficult than childbirth. First comes engorgement if you're lucky to produce enough milk. Then you have to wait for it to be released, which is a magical wait-and-see-how-much-pain-you-can-tolerate process while just one of your boobs becomes the size of your pregnant belly at 7 months- not a pretty sight.

Stress can keep the BF process from going smoothly and who's not stressed during the first few weeks of motherhood? Engorgement is painful, but that's the least of a breastfeeding mom's worries. How about mastitis, low milk supply, baby with colic/milk sensitivity, plugged milk ducts, sore nipples, public privacy, weaning, biting, chafing, candida, and sagging breast tissue and I don't know any women who lost weight because of breastfeeding. The joys are endless.

Those that promote breastfeeding can't possibly promote happy motherhood synonymously. They represent a breastfeeding cult (only half joking). Here's where the endless promotion comes from: Doctor, nurses, family, midwives, the old lady across the street, lactation specialists (the hospital sent one in to bug me every 2 hours after I had my baby), media, and more media. Maybe even your spouse bugs you as if he wears the boobs in the family.

Luckily I had an open mind going into breastfeeding and wasn't completely stunned it turned out to be such a nightmare. We always hear about breastfeeding successes- the warm fuzzies, and not much about the failures and risks. Those that fail, keep their mouths shut and heads hung low. I would like to be their voice right now. They're usually no match for the eager breasfeeding bottomfeeders that promote their superior choice- they're relentless.

Why I don't fall for BF promotion: the most important thing is a baby's health and bf's (breastfeeders) will have you think that breastfeeding is the single best thing a mother can do for her baby healthwise and where a relationship/connection is concerned. Wrong!

Health: Breastfeeding doesn't always give adequate nutrition to baby. For example, I've witnessed may mothers refuse to supplement with formula when their baby is losing weight fast and becoming malnurished due to mother's low milk supply or lack of nutrients. Extra vitamins are usually needed to supplement breast milk too.

In my case, my baby was milk sensitive and when I discussed her symptoms with my doctor or anyone, they all vehemently said to continue breasteeding. I followed my intuition and stopped immediately. I gave her hypoallergenic formula and she was 100% better overnight.

Many lactation specialists will insist you make enough milk for the baby. In their calculation/formulation, they consider baby's weight and ounces you supply by a mechanical pump. What they don't consider is you may have a baby that is growing at a faster rate than the average 7 pound baby. My lactation nurse insisted I had plenty of milk for my 7lb baby, but I knew my daughter was still hungry. She was simply growing at a faster rate and is now a head taller than peers her age who were born at 7lbs. too. So you're telling me my daughter, growing at that rate, needed the same amount of milk as the other kids?

Mother- baby connection: For many mother's breastfeeding takes up an infinite amount of time and even stress to learn to do. It can overtake your thoughts. It takes 8 weeks for BF to become natural, not comfortable or problem-free though.

I was so concentrated on BF that I didn't realize what the hell I was breastfeeding- my baby!!! The connection was betwen her mouth and my nipple, not between her and I bonding as mother and daughter. As soon as I stopped breastfeeding, my connection with my baby was so much better. I could relax and enjoy her and not be constantly thinking of how to get the hang of BF. I could get some sleep while my husband fed her a bottle too.

Prenatal breastfeeding awareness: The entire prenatal process is devoted to having the baby and labor- least of your worries soon-to-be mothers. Mothers that want to breastfeed assume they will be breastfeeding and it's as simple as that. The nightmare I experienced is not that uncommon, but all I heard about brestfeeding pre-baby was the old repeated mantra "breastfeeding is best and natural". Then they lay it on you, after you have the baby, about how many problems can occur with breastfeeding. You've spent 9 months picturing yourself happily connectiing and breastfeeding and when it doesn't turn out that way, because nobody gives you an alternate reality, you can be very disappointed.

Research: ALL research states "breastfeeding MAY be good for your baby's health". I've done my fair share of research, research reading and reviewing to get a good idea of how to determine validity. I wish so many people were not fooled by the word "may". This means there is a 50/50 chance it has any acutal and notable benefits. You may step outside your house and get hit by a bus. There's always a chance but it doesn't usually happen and that's exactly what the word "may" means in studies. Nobody knows and nobody can prove it. "It boosts immunity"- if that is true tell me why I was breastfed for 2 years and now have an immunity illness (Rheumatoid Arthritis). You can't sell me on any statements on health and breastfeeding.

Formula: Since when does our culture shy away from man-made forumlas of any kind? Why are so many people on prescription drugs? You here all the negatives about formula because it's not natural, yet if we get cancer the majority of us will choose a man-made formula/drug and treatment as opposed to anything natural. When it matters most, majority people depend on something scientifically formulated.

Breastfeeding and weight loss myth: Another incorrect formula! Breastfeeding burns an extra 600 calories a day, however you must have calorie deficit to promote weight loss. If you go into a period of caloric deficit while breastfeeding then you do not produce enough milk for the baby. Aha! Catch 22! So, yes you get to enjoy 600 extra calories a day, but no it will not cause actual weight loss.

Studies measure a bf woman versus a non bf woman and there is sometimes more weight loss in the breastfeeders, but they don't take into account that overall, bf moms are more likely to be concerned about their health, watch what they eat, and are eating more nutritiously for baby's sake. That would explain the weight loss myth. Personally I didn't lose weight until I stopped breastfeeding. Breastfeeding took up so much of my time that I wasn't able to prepare healthy foods for myself.


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    • izettl profile image

      Lizett 5 years ago from The Great Northwest

      Lemonb~ so glad you have done what's right for your baby. Seriously! I was in baby grou pafter I had my daughter and there was a husband who came in concerned because his baby had health issues from losing too much weight because mom wasn't producing enough milk but was determined not to use formula. I was ill at hearing this- mothers need to do whats best for baby and baby needs to be fed regardless of what "mom wants".

      There is ridiculous pressure. Years daughter is 4 and glued to my hip. such a mommy's girl we have a great bond and so the argument for bonding with breastfeeding is not true. I just had my son and I couldn't believe I started feeling that pressure again about breastfeeding. but I couldn't anyway because of medication I had to be on for my arthritis but the guilt and pressure is so ingrained into us from society and the media.

      My mom breastfed me until I was two but I was always sick as a child and as an adult I have an autoimmune disease (rheumatoid arthritis) so i don't believe it helps with immune systems either.

      THank you for your support.

    • profile image

      Lemonb 5 years ago

      Thank you for this. I had a terrible birth which may have been the reason that I couldn't produce enough for my little girl. Going back in to hospital to hear things like 'kidney damage' 'brain swell' among others due to her drastic weight loss (the midwife called her enacted) was one of the lowest points in my life. Since I have moved on to the bottle, she has become a thriving, health girl. Yet, because of the media and everything you have mentioned above I am still beating myself up. We need more people speaking up to support the many, many women who can't breastfeed. Thank you.

    • izettl profile image

      Lizett 6 years ago from The Great Northwest

      I hope I've encouraged women who can't breastfeed to not feel bad about themselves. I'm not sold on the breast cancer thing- the medical community puts a lot of stats out that are skewed. Breastfeeding has no relation to how smart a child will be or decrease in their illnesses. Some women can't breast feed because of certain medications they have to take, etc. Thank you for your comment and I am glad it all worked out for you.

    • RitaDoulaRN profile image

      Rita 6 years ago from North Long Beach, California

      I'm sorry you felt such negative pressure. My son was 9 #7, born with blisters on his wrists from strong sucking before his birth. I persevered, and breastfed for 18 months.He bit me exactly twice and learned biting means loss of food, and he stopped. At 23 he is 4.0 in college. I know with my family history of breast cancer, I needed 12 months to drop by risk factor from the average 38% of non-breastfeeding women. I hope you have not discouraged others from trying.

    • boyjyoti profile image

      boyjyoti 7 years ago

      This issue as I come across is more for men than women. This is the first time I am reading about these problems. Moreover this is the first hand account from someone who felt the problem. This is a must read for future fathers (how much far the future ,may be) like myself. I will take RSS feed. All I knew about it was that though this is very useful (I was fed for one and a half years and I am one of those fittest), some mothers do not feed only because of figure and 'sagging' problem.

      Does it really pain? Very strange. Please don't mind me saying it, but what about when same action is performed by men while 'enjoying'? Some are very nasty at that. If it pains so much, I promise never to do it to anyone! Or maybe soft pressure is okay but as the child does not understand, he may put enormous. Yes after the child's teeth come out, then there is always a risk of a bite and I shiver to even imagine how much pain it could cause to this most delicate part of body.

    • izettl profile image

      Lizett 7 years ago from The Great Northwest

      it's not breastfeeding I have a problem with necessarily, i's the stigma you speak of Chaotic Chica. The stigma of the bottle somehow makes a woman feel inadequate if she doesn't breastfeed. It's liek saying breastfeeding is best (and superior) and all else are not as good. What really irks me is somehow this has become everybody's business and so freely discussed. I think it's great women can talk openly about breastfeeding but so often it turns into a bragging competition. Iknow women who have neglected to return to baby group because all that is discussed is breastfeeding. I have to say that all the issues I heard constantly from women about breastfeeding I wonder how natural it is.

    • Chaotic Chica profile image

      Chaotic Chica 7 years ago

      I appreciate your position. I do believe that breastfeeding is the best for your baby-when it is pheasible. Not everyone can breastfeed, not everyone produces enough, not everyone will have the ideal circumstances. Breastmilk is what our bodies produce for the sole purpose of nourishing our child. Sometimes it is not enough. While I support breastfeeding with all my heart and it bothered me that I was unable to produce enough for my children, in the end, what mattered was that my children were healthy. That should be all that matters to anyone. It is such a shame that there is a negative stigma attached to using the bottle.

    • jite profile image

      jite 7 years ago from delhi

      Nice Informative hub,Thanks