Moms Who Choose Breastfeeding Are Thinking About Themselves

baby bottleWhat does the way you feed your baby say about what kind of mother you think you are? A whole lot. A new study shows that when first-time moms buy anything related to feeding their babies -- whether it's breast pumps or formula -- they're basing those decisions at least partly on their image of themselves as mothers. So for most moms, it's not just about feeding your baby the best food you can. It's also about feeding your baby in a way that shows what kind of mother you are (or want to be, anyway).

So women who buy nipple shields to help them breastfeed, even when it's excruciatingly difficult, do so partly because they see themselves as "natural" moms. Moms who formula feed may buy organic formula because that helps them see themselves as nutrition-minded, and compensates for not breastfeeding. It's not just about what moms think is the best for their babies.

In a way, I think we already know this. A lot of us, before our babies were even born, had a pretty clear idea of what kind of mom we wanted to be. We had an ideal in our minds, and that ideal came with a whole set of values and philosophies and choices.

More from The Stir: Breastfeeding Moms Could Need Formula More Than They Know

I think this is why it's especially painful when a mom who strongly identifies with attachment parenting has trouble breastfeeding. It's not just about wanting to nurse because you believe breast milk is best and that it enables bonding. It's also because that IS what attachment parents do. And if you can't breastfeed, you're going to struggle and feel defensive partly because you won't be seen as a real natural mama.

We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to conform to these ideals, I think. Obviously we want to get parenting right. And it's helpful and important to have an ideal image of motherhood in mind. But if we're a little more flexible with ourselves, we'll be a lot less stressed. And we may not end up buying things we don't need just out of social pressure.

Do you think much about what kind of mother you are, or are trying to be?


Image via nerissa's ring/Flickr

baby gear, breastfeeding, natural parenting


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Choco... Chocodoxies

I think there is a line between wanting to be SEEN as a good mother, and wanting to BE a good mother. Sure, lots of things are done for appearance. How many mother's still threaten a spanking or a time out, or raise their voice when trying to control an unruley child, but wouldn't do that in public? A lot, I am sure. That doesn't mean that they don't worry about actually BEING a good mother. 

Now, if you BF your baby, maybe that is so you can be seen as a good mother. But what about the mother's who won't BF in public? Are they wanting to be SEEN as a good mother? 

Me, I BF, and in public. I don't think I care what you think about my choice of food, but I do not want anyone thinking I am a bad mother either. Hell, in today's world people call CPS on you if you look at your child funny. Maybe mother's are just scared $hitless.

B1Bomber B1Bomber

I expect I'm a middle of the road mom. I both breast and formula feed. My son sleeps in his own crib at night, unless he wakes up to eat too early, then I bring him in my bed to nurse and snuggle and doze. My kids eat mostly homemade food, but we get fast food sometimes and I share frozen pizzas with my older son. I turned my older son's carseat around at 20 lbs and 12 months but will keep him in a booster as long as he fits. Usually I pick my boys up as soon as they cry, unless I am making dinner or I know they are just fussing and will sleep if I just leave them alone.

Always two sides to every story, that's me.

nonmember avatar FarmersWife

Moms are thinking of themselves, because they are striving to be an ideal parent to their child. Way to twist it to get hits. It doesn't matter WHY a child is breastfeed, it's best. It also doesn't matter what the feeding motive is as long as that child gets fed!!! Breast milk, formula, homemade formula. As long as the baby is fed.

Chris... Chrissy9479

yes, I was so thinking about myself when I decided to breastfeed (eye roll) Actually I really don't care what people think about how I raise my kid, I decided to breastfeed because i knew it was the best thing I could do for him (and in that same stance, for me, in the fact that it greatly reduces the chance of breast cancer, so if you want to call me selfish for that, then please do) 

mande... manderspanders

Yea, I'm thinking about myself by choosing to breastfeed my baby...  I don't give a flying monkey fuck about what anyone thinks about me as mother.  Breastfeeding offers health benefits to both me and my baby and necessarily SAVES OUR HOUSEHOLD MONEY.  So, I guess if that is being selfish, so be it. But it totally isn't an image thing.

Hyman Hyman

Blah blah blah. What an idiotic article. Seriously.

Lets stop judging moms and support each other.

I breastfeed because I want to and can ... End of story.

Tami Campbell

This is one of the stupidest articles I've ever read.

SaphireH SaphireH

nope i could care less what people think of me, my kids were breastfed, fed what ever they wanted to eat when they got old enough for table food, they stay up late and sleep in there is no set bed time or wake up times, they swear, they beat the daylights out of each other, there isnt much in the line of punishments unless what they did was out of line by my standards, and my only rules are hold my hand in public and crossing the street, no stealing and must always be buckled up in their carseats

Drago... Dragonfly573

This is the stupidest article I have ever read. For that matter, I believe it's probably the stupidest thing I've ever read in my entire life.

Heath... Heathp721

I can care less what anyone thinks unless it is a close family member giving solicited advice to help me with a parenting issue I'm having. I breast fed because it was the right thing to do for my childrens health. I do not judge people if they formula feed though bc it does not effect me in any way. I do what I believe is best for my children. I am the furthest from attachment parenting that you can get and yet I breastfed. I also had to take pumping breaks at work and if you think that earned me any type of "good mother" recognition in the male dominated profession of being a police officer you are sadly mistaken. I base my parenting choices on medical facts, professional opinions, trusted friends, and family... Never public opinion.

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