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Breastfeeding is a topic that can be a source of contention among many parents, particularly when it comes to deciding whether or not to breastfeed. While the general narrative is “fed is best,” there are often big judgments that often come with deciding not to breastfeed.
The benefits of breastfeeding for infants are well-documented, but not all mothers can or choose to breastfeed. It is essential to recognize that formula-fed babies can thrive and be healthy.
However, in one mom’s case, the decision to bottle-feed or breastfeed is not the issue. Instead, it is a matter of personal boundaries and trauma.
The Mom’s History of Trauma
The original poster (OP) on Reddit, a pregnant woman, shared her story of how her husband and mother-in-law (MIL) were pressuring her to allow her MIL to “prep her” for breastfeeding her unborn child.
The OP’s history of trauma made it difficult for her to have anyone touch her breasts (including herself). She had been to therapy and concluded that not letting anyone touch her breasts was the best solution for her mental and emotional well-being.
The OP reports her husband became obsessed with the importance of breastfeeding and was desperate to have her try “exercises” to try and get used to more touch.
To Breastfeed or Not? It’s Not a Simple Answer
From the OP’s story, it’s clear that she’d feel more comfortable bottle-feeding. It would likely help her bond much better with her baby than feeling anxious about her trauma.
The author’s trauma aside, it is vital to note that it is never appropriate for someone to force or pressure another person into doing something that makes them uncomfortable or that violates their personal boundaries. The author’s husband and mother-in-law disregarded her feelings and pushed their own agenda, which most readers agreed was unacceptable.
The author’s decision not to breastfeed is entirely valid, and no one should make her feel guilty or ashamed for it. Breastfeeding is a personal choice, and it is essential to respect a mother’s decision, whether she chooses to breastfeed or not. The most important thing is that the baby is fed and healthy and the mother is happy and comfortable with her decision.
In addition to her trauma, the author mentioned that her pregnancy was unplanned, which can also be a source of stress and anxiety for expectant mothers. Pregnancy can be an emotionally and physically challenging time for women, and it is crucial for partners, family members, and friends to offer support and understanding.
The Verdict: The OP Should Set Her Boundaries and Stick to Them
The overwhelming support that the OP received in the comments section of her post is heartening. The vast majority of respondents recognized that fed is best and that a mother’s decision not to breastfeed should be respected.
Many shared their stories of breastfeeding struggles or choosing to bottle-feed and emphasized that the most important thing is that the baby is well-fed and loved. In fact, some women reported that their relationship with their babies vastly improved after switching to bottle feeding- removing a lot of anxiety from their days together.
But She Shouldn’t Forget…
While the community agreed that it was up to the OP to decide what was right for her. It was noted that the author will still need to take care of her breasts, regardless of whether she chooses to breastfeed or not.
Firstly, she’ll have to work with her healthcare provider to manage the milk that does come in when her baby is born. Plus, medical exams, such as mammograms or breast cancer screenings, will still be necessary, and proper breast care is essential for maintaining overall breast health. The author should consult with her healthcare provider about the best ways to care for her breasts and manage any trauma-related concerns.
One champion Redditor gave the OP a ton of great action steps to follow leading up to the birth of her baby; the comment said, “A lot of standard care involves mom’s breast area, so you’ll need to be prepared for what they’ll suggest and be very explicit about declining it.” Her suggestions included the following:
- Provide a letter to the medical team and family that says the OP is 100% bottle feeding. That way, the hospital will be ready with the formula and provide the appropriate support.
- Make bottle feeding clear in the birth plan. Also, mention that no one will touch the OP’s breasts, including the baby. Discuss alternatives for holding the baby with the medical team.
- Work with a trauma-based therapist to help her tolerate medical care as needed.
- Problem-solve ways to hold and carry the baby with a therapist, the husband, etc. Plus, try different baby carriers that are comfortable for the OP.
- Find a family therapist to help the baby understand the mom’s trauma as they get older.
Support the Mom’s Choice
In conclusion, it is crucial to recognize that each mother’s decision on how to feed her child should be respected and supported. Breastfeeding is not the only option; bottle feeding can be a perfectly healthy and viable choice.
The author’s trauma and personal boundaries must also be taken into account and respected, and no one should pressure or force her into doing something that makes her uncomfortable. As the overwhelming support in the comments section demonstrated, the most important thing is that the baby is fed and loved, and the mother is supported and happy with her decision.