The only thing worse than my Catholic guilt? My mother's guilt.
And I've had my fair share of it this week. I took my newborn, Henry, for his one-month checkup, and he'd only gained 3 ounces in two weeks. Newborns are supposed to gain an average of 4 to 8 ounces a week until they're 6 months old. Apparently, my breast milk wasn't doing the job.
And if it wasn't bad enough that I was inadvertently near-starving my child, I read almost immediately after about Gisele Bündchen wanting to make it a government mandate that mothers have to breast-feed
That's exactly what I needed this week! A supermodel, who's married to Tom Brady, who allegedly didn't experience any pain during childbirth
, to make me feel even worse about the fact that I now have to feed my son formula. Not everyone has it so easy, Miss Victoria's Secret.
In all fairness, I think Gisele's intentions were good. She didn't really mean it should be a law; she was simply exaggerating to make the point that breast-feeding is so much healthier for babies, and she wished more people were aware of its benefits and did it. Which, in turn, caused The Bump
to question why so many women stick with bottle-feeding.
What they found, among other reasons, is that there's still a puritanical view of breast-feeding in America -- with 1 in 4 women having an issue with moms who breast-feed in public (although 100 percent of men agreed they wish Gisele would breast-feed in public). Seriously? I've never exactly been shy, but I didn't think twice about whipping my boob out at my pediatrician's office on Monday and letting Henry suck away.
But even for women who are a little more modest than I am, what's the big deal? When you have a child, your breast immediately stops being a sexual body part, and becomes a meal vessel. It's the equivalent of a cow's udder -- wouldn't exactly turn heads in a strip club, would it?
The survey went on to acknowledge that many women feel pressured to stop breast-feeding before they're ready. I certainly experienced this. When Henry didn't gain the requisite amount of weight, my doctor immediately advised I supplement with a bottle of formula after each feeding. He didn't try to troubleshoot why breast-feeding wasn't going so well for me, or how we could make it better. With the hassle of making up a bottle and giving it to Henry after 45 minutes of breast-feeding, I knew I'd have an exclusively formula-fed baby in a matter of days. Who wants to go to all that trouble?
Before I start to sound all judge-y about moms who choose to bottle-feed, let me say that I believe it's a personal choice. Breast-feeding is something that I strongly want to do for my son, not only for the health benefits, but because it's cheaper. (I'm nothing if not a spendthrift.) But I think whatever you choose, you should be supported in your decision, not derided for it -- and certainly not pushed in a direction that you don't wish to go.
Fortunately for me, I found a breast-feeding center in town and had a 90-minute appointment with a lactation consultant. Apparently, I wasn't feeding Henry often enough to trigger my breasts to make more milk. (It's kind of a supply and demand thing.) I have a new breast-feeding plan and will continue to supplement with formula until my milk (hopefully) comes in enough to once again put some meat on Henry's bones -- and ditch the formula for good.
Which means one day soon, my breasts could be on display at a public space near you. Unless "you" are Gisele. The last thing I need is to be in the same room with a supermodel.
Colleen Oakley is a new mom who never thought she'd be using her breasts for anything more than to get free drinks in a bar.