Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Guilt for Moms

As if we dont have enough... Warning a rambling rant follows.

NYTimes article details the federal government's role in promoting nursing, stating essentially that formula feeding is akin to smoking in pregnancy. New moms, pregnant moms and most other moms are a pretty vulnerable bunch. I hope this is not news to everyone. Lots of moms (and I dont mean to exclude dads but I dont know as much about their feelings) suffer from questions about inadequacy and fear the consequences of her decisions on baby.

I compare the atmosphere surrounding childbirth and raising children to middle school (or law school as the two are remarkably similar). Middle school is where hormones & peers are horrible, leaving the person feeling terribly uncomfortable at best or possibly downright depressed. Motherhood can be horrible hormones and possibly horrible peers or family members. The conflicting messages, the crying, the lack of sleep combined with baby blues and/or depression, it really is a wonder how mothers make it through.

SO what is a mom to do? The physical agony of nursing is so dramatic initially and nothing can prepare you for it (the books do not accurately describe the pain, in fact generally the books say "if you are nursing correctly, there should be no pain" thereby adding to the mom's feelings of inadequacy since she is clearly not doing something right). BUT the baby is crying so much, so all you think is 'he must be hungry' so all he does is eat and eat, exacerbating the pain. Then you take your newborn (read 8 pound baby) to the doctor who with a wild look in her eye says 'he is not gaining enough weight, here is some formula you really need to start supplementing'.

I took a Bradley class, I know how the formula companies are trying to take over the world and marginalize women's role in feeding their babies. Every ounce of my being react 'no way'. Then I heard the sweet sound of silence as he was finally satiated. What is really dangerous to newborns? Struggling, overtired mommies who cannot possibly live up to the expectations society has placed on them unfairly.

I am a lawyer so I always have lots of advice, but my favorite bit of wisdom is not to listen to it. Every child is different, I was listening to two mommies this morning discuss food allergies of a six and four month old babies who have never had formula- um, I am not sure that is supposed to happen according to the nursing police (of course blame the mother who will drink milk and eat soy protein for making her child get a food allergy).

SO who the heck knows the answer? PARENTS through a fair game called trial and error. Please dont let me screw up too often.

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