After breastfeeding 3 kids, I no longer believe breast is always best. Over the last 17 years, I have successfully breastfed 3 kids. While I feel grateful that I both had the opportunity to share this with my children, it does not put me in the “breast is best” camp.
In fact, what it has taught me is that bonding with your children in a way that is special and deeply connecting is what is best. Oh yea, and kids eating is best. However that happens.
There is no doubt in my mind that nursing my girls created a terrific, loving bond with my children while they were babies that carried me through the early part of their childhoods. But to say that can only happen by breastfeeding seems so small. I would never deny the nutritional value of nursing but have come to my own conclusion that the sum of our parenting is worth more than its individual parts.
My husband, to relieve me of the all nighters during the earliest months of new motherhood, would hold our babies on his chest while he played our little portable keyboard. My husband is neither a master pianist or a vocalist, he knows just enough about playing the piano and carrying a tune to sing to our babies and soothe them.
It was such a loving act – and something unique and deeply connecting that he shared with them. It was a series of small moments that made both me and our babies fall in love with him over and over again. And it fed the loving, deep, unbreakable connection between him and his daughters.
While I nursed our children and it created a deep bond for me, my husband sang and played the piano. Both acts of bonding were a gift to us as parents. Neither was an act of bonding more valuable than the other. After watching my girls thrive in the care of their father, I assure you that they needed both bonds, no matter how they came to be.
So now that my years of motherhood have passed beyond breastfeeding, when I see shades of shame in women who chose to nourish their babies in a way different than the path I chose, I want to tell them it is okay. When I see outright shaming between mothers, it makes me sad. I think if we could give each other a moment to look inside each other’s hearts, we would see the commitment we all have for our children and it would be okay.
Because the perfect moments of parenting babies pass for all of us – then we realize together that babies become toddlers who have their own opinions about life. (My breastfed babies all went through a phase where they refused to eat healthy food and wanted only crackers and pasta!) Soon enough we all realize that perfection is not the goal, raising children with character is the goal.