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Don't Tell Me How to Feed My Baby

Breastfeeding shame can start earlier than you think.

Don't Tell Me How to Feed My Baby

I didn’t want to breastfeed.

That doesn’t make me a horrible mother; it just makes me honest. Saying that openly isn’t necessarily easy—particularly in a culture where it’s become almost commonplace to shame women who choose not to breastfeed.

It wasn’t that I didn’t want to do what was best for my child, but breastfeeding is serious business. Mostly, it was my own fear that was driving this hesitation: fear I wouldn’t be able to produce for her, fear that I wouldn’t be able to get her to latch properly, fear that it would forever ruin my boobs (yes, that’s completely vain…but it’s also the truth. This is a safe space, right?).

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When I mentioned during my pregnancy that breastfeeding may not be for me, I could tell it bothered my husband . He didn’t say anything at first; treading lightly, as most expectant fathers tend to do, and chose his moment carefully. He told me that breastfeeding was really, really important to him; that while he would never pressure me toward any decision when it came to my body, he really wanted me to reconsider it…

Shit, I thought. It was my marital obligation to consider his request…his only request. I told him if he felt that strongly about it, then I would absolutely try. Perhaps this was what I needed to hear to force myself to face these overwhelming fears.

Because of all of my breastfeeding-related anxieties, I decided to take a class at what is considered to be the premiere breastfeeding seminar in Los Angeles. I piled into a plastic folding chair along with 20 other expectant women, glossy white folder in hand promising to be my breastfeeding bible. And that is where the shaming began. A polished, dare I say smug, woman took her place in front of us. Sitting on a stool, peering down at us like a breastfeeding Gandalf, she spent more than two hours offering us a crash course in the best breastfeeding practices: preparing, gear, positions, problem solving tactics, etc. She also preached to this group of hormonal, impressionable women, who came to her seeking advice and counsel, that if you do not to breastfeed, you are threatening your child’s emotional, mental, and physical health. Any ailment your baby could possibly befall would somehow be a result of your decision not to breastfeed. I’m not exaggerating; she was charged, aggressive and seemingly intent on scaring the hell out of us.

What does that sort of dangerous rhetoric do to a woman who wants so desperately to breastfeed, but for whatever reason her body can’t produce enough milk? Or a woman whose child struggled to latch or reacted poorly? How about the mother who simply chose not to breastfeed; who was capable of breastfeeding, but decided it wasn’t right for her child, her family and her body. How does that rhetoric make her feel?

Me? I breastfed for 10 weeks. When I suffered my second round of mastitis, my husband handed me the antibiotics that had already once halved my supply. As I considered ingesting this drug that I knew I needed to take but also knew could damage my milk supply, I cried. I thought about risking my own health, as I shivered and convulsed in my bed because of the infection, with It’s a Wonderful Life running in the background like a goddamn joke. I sobbed as I tried to feed my hungry, tiny baby. I knew I needed to take the medication, but she was so pure and so small, how could I possible fill her body with formula? I wasn’t ready to stop; it hadn’t been on my terms. I kept hearing the vicious echo of that woman, and all the horrible things that could happen to my daughter because of what I considered to be my incompetence.

The first time she drank formula, I had to leave the house. I couldn’t be the one to give it her. She was taking in this foreign substance into her perfect little body, and I was now convinced it could somehow poison her. And I wondered about the discussions we are all having about breastfeeding during pregnancy, and if they are really benefiting us...or damaging us?

The women who sat in that Hollywood backroom breastfeeding class came desperate to do everything they could to ensure a successful breastfeeding experience. They wanted so much to make sure they could breastfeed, something that women have been doing since the beginning of time, because they KNEW how important it is...even before the instructor began her lecture.

And at some point after their babies came, when many of those women most likely hit their breastfeeding brick walls and were forced to make a difficult decision, it was probably those judgmental, terrifying words about formula feeding that rang through their ears, like they did for me.

To the instructor who is spouting this knowledge -- at this class and others -- we’ve come to a point of diminishing returns. You’re no longer doing any good for the newborn children of America; you’re just being an asshole to the women who came to you looking for guidance and support.

To the many women—not all, not even most, but many—who hear these charged words and blanket judgments, and then feel inclined to regurgitate them on playgrounds, in coffee shops, and at mommy-and-me classes, it’s simply not OK.

At the end of the day, we all want to be the best mothers we can be…I believe that…because here you are, reading a blog post on motherhood and breastfeeding… But only YOU know what will make you the best mom you can be. Not me. And certainly not some woman in a parking lot in Hollywood.

And guess what? After my baby began formula, she slept, she giggled, and WE ALL WERE HAPPY AND HEALTHY…

Look, I’m not an idiot. I understand the unparalleled benefits of breastfeeding…but my question has always been, at what cost? Who is to say what is right for another family? Are you in that home? Because I’m not in yours, so I will not tell you how to handle your family business.

What I do know, without any uncertainty, is that in a new family, one of the most important things is a healthy, happy baby...and mama. By whatever means necessary.

14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

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