Beyond reading What to Expect When You’re Expecting, I hadn’t done too much research into labor, delivery, or parenting. When I was reading about getting pregnant, I learned that too much information could cause more anxiety than provide reassurance – like when I read that what I ate three years ago could already have harmful effects on my hadn’t-been-conceived child. With this pregnancy, I’ve used a “take it as it comes” approach, which has generally worked out well. As the third trimester came, though, I figured I should have some knowledge of what was to come after Roo arrives, so I signed up for a few classes offered by the hospital.
The first one we attended was for breastfeeding. It’s something I would definitely like to do, for all the miraculous reasons covered in the class: bonding, health benefits, weight loss, etc. Breast milk provides the best nutritional beginning for babies, and on the plus side, it’s cheaper and arguably more convenient. However, I don’t want to strictly feed from the breast. I’d like to be able to pump and incorporate other people into the bonding experience, as well as give myself a leave of absence once in a while without fretting over whether Roo will have access to my boob on time.
Therefore, I was excited that the brochure for the class promised pumping and storage techniques. Instead, I got a three-hour lecture on how “breast is best,” and if I do decide to pump, I have to be comfortable with that decision and understand that I’ll most likely produce less milk. Less than 10 minutes were spent discussing different pump options and how long it’s safe to store and use breast milk. A part of me left feeling empowered, since the mothers were repeatedly told that we have all we need for our babies to flourish, but the other part felt a bit discouraged and shamed about my intentions to pump.
It reminded me of all the pressure and guilt put on women who choose not to breastfeed or those who try and don’t succeed. Getting your child to successfully latch isn’t as easy as it sounds, and it’s not for everybody. Even though I’m fortunate enough to work from home, it doesn’t mean I want to feel like a barista on-demand (not to mention the sole barista working 24/7!). Why can’t women support new moms regardless of how they choose to feed their child?
Taking the class reminded me, once again, how lucky I am to have Arthur as my partner. He knew more than I did and was a sponge for everything he didn’t know. Breastfeeding will put a lot of responsibility on me, but I know Arthur will pick up the slack everywhere else. I took Roo’s more-active-than-usual nudges during the class as an indicator that he’s on board too. I don’t think either of my boys will love me any less for providing breast milk via breast and bottle, so naysayers can suck it.