I tend to tread lightly on controversial conversations but this time I feel compelled to add my own thoughts. The experts have shared theirs and I haven’t heard one of them speak from experience. I do not have a PhD, I am not a medical care provider, but what I am is a Mother who recovered from postpartum depression, a supporter of birthing families and a supporter of fed babies. Families need to feed their babies, whatever that looks like for their individual family. Period.
The discussions are great for bringing awareness to the subjects of both breastfeeding and postpartum depression. But what it boils down to, in my mind, is that a conversation between experts doesn’t solve anything. Action, taken by individuals who care deeply for new families, individuals who are able to put their own agendas and ideas aside and listen, really listen, to what the families needs are is what is being called for here. We need to quit making assumptions and take a moment to stop and listen.
The idea that all Leaders and birth workers are staunch breastfeeding advocates is simply not true. I have never liked the term “lactovist”. We support families, yes, but not at the expense of mental health. I am especially aware of this, having been there, tasting failure on every breath, looking at my newborn daughter and feeling so sorry for her that I was so shitty at being her Mom. Feeding babies is not as simple as choosing breast or bottle, especially without support and or knowing if it’s even a choice. My own breastfeeding journey was not without challenges, we learned a lot in that first year. I never expected that the connection with my daughter would feel the strongest when I held her to my breast and fed her. Breastfeeding was a huge part of my recovery, but that’s just me, and I am grateful for it. Your journey will be different, and I am hopeful that you will find your way. And if you get lost, know that we are here to guide you, to lift you up, to celebrate your successes and validate you where you’re at in this moment.
I’ve said this many times before, we are not meant to do this alone. We are not meant to somehow know how to feed our babies when we’re not surrounded by it. If we saw it every day then maybe, but unless you work in the birth world, you probably aren’t exposed to what it’s really like in the first two weeks after giving birth. The experience of parenthood is 24/7. Even with around the clock training, starting a new job on the spot and being expected to flourish, is an unrealistic expectation. Trying to make the right decisions in early parenting while dealing with sleep deprivation and the pressure to do it “right” can make every little thing in life seem quite daunting. I strongly encourage you to reach out and ask for help, and accept it once it arrives.
The amount of shame in early parenting saddens me. It doesn’t have to be this way. There are so many of us out here who want to help you but we won’t know until you ask. It gets better, it really does. Keep reaching out.