The Family Project: Breastfeeding
Q. I recently had my first baby, a daughter, and I tried breast feed her, but I didn’t like it at all. I was not comfortable, and my baby fussed. I am much more relaxed with bottle-feeding, but I am getting a lot of pressure from my friends and family members. They say I am not doing what is best for my baby. Some of the women in my mothers’ group have made comments to me, as well. Now I don’t even want to socialize. I feel like I must be a bad mother. Please let me know if I am wrong for not breastfeeding.
While the panelists acknowledged that breastfeeding is recommended because it provides antibodies from the mother that would help the baby’s immune system, they also noted that if the mother is uncomfortable breastfeeding, that is going to translate to the baby being uncomfortable.
“If the mother is uncomfortable, she shouldn’t do it,” panelist Pam Wallace said, adding her support for the mother not bowing down to external pressures to make her do something she is not comfortable doing.
“The fact that the mother is acknowledging her discomfort and recognizes she needs to seek alternate ways to care for her child is tremendous in and by itself,” said panelist Mike Daniels.
“She is not the first person to experience discomfort breastfeeding, and she won’t be the last. The reason ‘why’ is secondary,” Daniels continued. “The important thing is that she is taking care of the baby.”
Panelist Erin Stalsitz said she was concerned about the mothers’ group. “If this is an actual support group for new moms, they should not be making critical comments like that.”
Stalsitz suggested that the mother find another group that is more supportive. “The mother needs to be comfortable with her decision. She needs to understand that this is her right.”
Daniels added that the mother needs to recognized that she is not a bad mom. “If she still feels that she is, she has two things to explore. One she can control and one she can’t. What she can control is how she reacts to the comments of others. If she focuses on what they say, she has no control.”
Daniels said the most important point is: Would the mother be comfortable going back to her mothers’ group to stand up for herself?
“I would ask her: What would be her goal? If the goal is to change the group’s mind, then she shouldn’t do it because she won’t change their minds. If the goal is to be assertive, stand up for herself and make a valid point to them, then that is a legitimate thing to do.”
Panelist Wanda Mercado-Arroyo noted that new mothers might do better and be more willing to try breastfeeding if they had more information about the benefits to their babies. She suggested getting in touch with La Leche League of Eastern Pennsylvania, which includes parents who are experienced and accredited in breastfeeding.
“They recognize that breastfeeding is not easy, and they can provide help and support. They also are willing to discuss alternatives, such as breast pumps,” Mercado-Arroyo said.
The La Lech website is: lllofeasternpa.org.
Another source of information on breastfeeding is:
This week’s team of parenting experts are: Pam Wallace, Program Coordinator, Project Child, a program of Valley Youth House; Erin Stalsitz, casework supervisor, Lehigh County Children and Youth; Mike Daniels, LCSW, Psychotherapist, CTS, and Wanda Mercado-Arroyo, educator and former school administrator.
Have a question? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. The Family Project is a collaboration of the Lehigh Valley Press Focus section and Valley Youth House’s Project Child.