I thought I was the only one who felt that pressure. When I made the decision to exclusively breastfeed my kids, I found (strangely) that some people try to discourage it! At first I thought I was imagining it. With my first child I was young and naive and didn’t know what I was doing. But now, with my third child, it’s all looking a lot clearer.
But everyone knows breastfeeding is the best thing to do for your baby, you might be thinking.
But what I’ve come to notice is that although a lot of people know breastfeeding is great, a lot of them feel that formula milk is still necessary. I have seen that most prominently with the generation of our parents who had their own kids in the 60s and 70s (with the beginning of the formula milk hype). Some of them genuinely believe that breast milk is not enough, and they pass on that belief to their children.
Last month, I received a message from a friend who is trying to breastfeed her newborn baby. Her message brought tears to my eyes because it took me right back in time. I was in the exact same situation and I thought I was the only one.
So, now I’ve decided to post her message on my blog because there might be some mothers out there who are going through the same thing. Read Sharifa’s message below and my reply to it.
Here’s Sharifa’s message
“Hi Alia. Hope everything is fine with you…. My little boy is 10 weeks old and is exclusively breast fed. The problem is his weight is constantly on the lower end of the WHO average weight chart for his age. Everyone has been advising me to give him formula, saying that he must not be getting enough from me. I know I am making enough milk, as I express after feeding him and have stacked a good reserve in the freezer. Is there ANYTHING I could do to increase his weight??
I feed him every 2.5-3 hours during the day. And since three days ago he is happy to go 4-5 hours at night. He has plenty of wet diapers and good dirty diapers. He always goes at the same time everyday with his bowels. A very alert baby with a lot of gooing smiling and kicking. I am getting desperate though as I started hating taking him out or having people around, they always comment on how thin he is, and I feel like a failure as a mom for insisting to just breast feed.”
And here’s my reply to Sharifa
Hi Sharifa. My heart is with you. I totally sympathise because I used to get the same headache when I breastfeed (with all my 3 kids!). For some reason, in this part of the world, a healthy baby means a FAT baby.
I don’t have enough words to encourage you to keep on doing what you’re doing. Breastfed babies are never as big as formula-fed babies (nor should they be). People have wrongfully stuffed their kids with cow’s milk and solids at a very early age and now assume that every baby should be plump.
The signs you should watch out for are the ones that you already mentioned. So he’s fine. He does NOT need to gain weight. In fact, any extra unnecessary weight that he gains during the first year of life will increase his chances of obesity, heart problems, and much more. Breastfed babies are always lean and slender and that’s the way it should be. Please do not try to fatten him. Just take care of your own health so that you can continue to breastfeed him as long as possible.
One of my own relatives used to give me such a hard time every time she sees my baby. A small comment like ‘shouldn’t he be bigger by now?’ would make me toss and turn at night in doubt. I used to come home and cry because I was trying so hard and I felt it wasn’t good enough.
Take it from me, breastfed kids are the healthiest kids, by far. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. I even had days when I knew my milk supply was falling short and I just chugged along and it caught up eventually. So, even on low days, don’t give up. It’s the best gift you can give him. All mothers did it before formula milk was created, and kids then were much healthier than they are today.
I’ve been there and I know you’ll come out the other end with a super healthy baby! Good luck.
And here’s her reply back
“Oh Alia. You have no idea how your message encouraged me, I reread it about six times. Thank you.
It really helps to know someone else believes in breast feeding too, and yes it’s just this part of the world with an ignorant look at breastfeeding as primitive and not sustainable for a healthy baby. I cannot thank you enough, everytime I look at him now while he is feeding I am more confident and happy. Many regards my dear.”
Come on people!
Breast milk is the best gift you can give your baby. But it is very hard to breastfeed. It requires time, strength, patience, perseverance, and a lot of determination. So if you see any mother around you who chooses to breastfeed, please DON’T tell her about why you stopped breastfeeding or about all the reasons you think her baby may need a formula top-up. Just encourage her to keep going, because God knows she needs it!
I’ve written a few months ago about my own breastfeeding experience in a post that I called Uggghhh Breastfeeding. Have a look.
If you are a breastfeeding mother, stick to your decision cuz it’s a great one.
Would love to hear your opinion on the subject. Leave your comment below.
Thanks Sharifa for allowing me to publish this 🙂
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