Mom VS Mom: the Great Food Debate

I’m a breastfeeding mom; I love nursing. It’s a great bonding time for mommy and baby. Baby’s breath and poop actually smell good. And of course there are health benefits! Call me lazy, but honestly, more than anything, I love the convenience it affords.

That is, if you are able to get past the common misconception that breastfeeding is “natural” and should come easy to you and baby. And past the sore nipples. And the latching issues. And wondering if baby is getting enough. Especially when baby is so soothed he/she keeps falling asleep at the breast. Just getting past the general questioning of your technique that happens those first few weeks should be a celebrated event.

Maybe convenience is not quite the right word.

With my first, I only made it four months before throwing in the towel and switching exclusively to formula – even with an extremely abundant milk supply. You see, she was born a little early, with jaundice. Everyone was so concerned about getting her the fluids she needed, which would help fix the problem. Unfortunately, that caused more problems – because even though the nurses marveled at how much I could pump the first day, they still supplemented with formula. So when she had trouble latching by herself, they offered all this extraneous equipment to help the process along. This was a big mistake, but I didn’t know that at the time. It was my first baby; I had no idea what I was doing! I just thought, “Wow, how cool that they have all these ways to help!” The only thing it helped, though, was ensuring that A was never comfortable nursing naturally from me; I was always augmenting with some other device.

Thankfully it was easier with my other two kids – though not completely free from challenges. But more and more I’m hearing stories of moms who, even after experimenting with diet, supplements, and pumping schedules, are unable to provide enough milk to breastfeed exclusively.

A friend shared this post on her page, urging the ‘mothers who failed’ not to base their self-worth as a mom on the fact that they used formula. She writes,

We momma’s should not be defined by how we feed our children. It is wrong and mean and terrible that these days, our worth as mommas is found in FOOD. (We women have enough problems with that topic already.)

This debate does not end when our children grow past the age of reliance on breast milk or formula. It reminds me of a another article that criticizes our society for placing so many pressures on us regarding the quality and quantity of food we eat – so much so that our food choices become an idol. My mom raised us to understand eating healthily as always having balance. As you may have read, I’m eating more fruits and vegetables – and I feel GREAT! So I know the benefits of eating right and have experienced them first hand. Similarly I know the benefits of breastfeeding. But this day and age, the stakes have been raised. It’s become such a disputed point that breastfeeding moms judge formula-feeding moms – and organic mommies judge non-organic mommies… or preservative-free judge preservative inclusive, gluten-free judge gluten-inclusive, no food dyes judge food dye givers; insert special diet here and there will always be two stances at war with each other. As I’m learning more and more through the Honest Momseries, we each do what we believe is best for our families, with the information we search out, after painstakingly weighing all the options and whatever limitations we have.

So, fellow moms: instead of automatically jumping to criticism of another’s food choices, can I make a proposal? That we gently and impartially ask a mom who’s made different choices from us WHY they’ve made those choices. (If you’re the one being asked, don’t jump immediately to being offended.) And in learning what motives led to that decision, we can observe our children more meticulously. And if our child displays those same symptoms or behaviors, we can reevaluate the choices WE make.

Let’s be the kind of moms that seek to understand one another, believe the best in one other, and encourage one another, instead of being so quick to judge.

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. – Matthew 7:1-2

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves… – Philippians 2:3

Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! …encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. – 2 Corinthians 13:11

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