I’m pregnant and I already know I don’t plan to breastfeed

I’m pregnant and I already know I don’t plan to breastfeed

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Throughout my pregnancy, people have asked if I plan to breastfeed. "I'm not sure yet," I typically answer. The truth is, I already know the answer is no.

When I was pregnant for the first time, I had a feeling breastfeeding wouldn't be for me. Still, I tried to breastfeed my baby. And oh God, it was awful, to the point that I would honestly say breastfeeding is harder than childbirth. Formula feeding turned out to be my jam, and with this being my fifth pregnancy, I'm thinking why change what has worked well for my family in the past? Plus, having a plan for how I will handle the early days and weeks of my baby's life feels both calming and empowering.

Except, guilt. Everywhere I turn, from friends, family members, online, in mom's groups, in the news, EVERYWHERE, I hear how important it is to breastfeed. Which I am NOT disputing. Not even a little bit. What I am here to argue is that breastfeeding isn't for everyone. If it leads to deep feelings of inadequacy, discomfort, pain, fear, and even postpartum depression, it's not healthy for mom or baby. I mean, how can an infant with a mom who is severely struggling thrive like an infant with a mom who is thriving?

It's with this understanding of how I have reacted to breastfeeding with my older children that I can declare while still pregnant that I do not plan to breastfeed. I know this, even when people ask me how I will feed my soon-to-be born baby.

I tell them, "I don't know," because I don't have the heart to tell them. To disappoint them. And I don’t have an interest in being lectured, which has happened countless, endless, so, so MANY times during my mothering journey. As if I am uneducated about the benefits of breastfeeding. I am not. I am just also educated about how me and breastfeeding mix.

To the ardent pro-breastfeeders who have confronted me about my choice, I haven't had the courage to say: I believe all moms aim to give their babies the best possible start in life. There needs to be a broader definition of what that means, as it's not an identical formula (pardon the pun) for each of us.

For some moms, breastfeeding on demand, co-sleeping, and babywearing give them the confidence they are being the best parent they can be. For other moms, bottle-feeding, sleep training, and focusing on self-care infuses a sense of peace and order to the chaos a newborn brings. Some moms can't wait to go back to work after birth. Some can't imagine ever leaving their babies with someone else. We don't all do it the same.

In the end, whatever gives you the strength to do this whole pregnancy and parenting thing, I say, "Do it!" Do you. I'm going to do me, which means I am going to love my baby so so much it will be ridiculous. And he's going to feel that love. And I'm going to formula feed him. And introduce sleep training early on. I'm going to practice babywearing. I'm going to read to him from day one. My husband and kids are going to help with his feedings. It's going to be so wonderful and we truly can’t wait.

When did you know you wanted to breastfeed, or didn't?

Opinions expressed by parent contributors are their own.

Watch the video: Breastfeeding information from a Lactaction Specialist (February 2023).

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