That's right, I said it. Breastmilk isn't always best.
I always considered myself to have a very healthy attitude about breastfeeding. I set a goal for myself to do it for a year, but was willing to occasionally supplement with formula. And when women tell me they want to breastfeed, I try to offer practical tips, including telling them not to stress if it doesn't work out.
But recently, I've realized that my attitude about breastfeeding is far from healthy.
Ways you know you have an unhealthy breastmilk obsession:
--You have passed up a chance to do something actually enjoyable in order to pump
--Your baby is 6+ months and you are still pumping
--...even though it means you leave work later and see your baby less
--Your freezer contains more milk than food
--You have fed your baby breastmilk that might have been going stale instead of fresh formula
--You make breastmilk bottles with less milk than you think your baby will drink so none of it will get "wasted"
--You feel sad/angry when the baby doesn't drink all the milk in a bottle because it is "wasted"
--You have given up sleep to pump
--You have given up sleep to keep your baby from getting a single bottle of formula
--You think formula smells bad
--When your baby does get formula, you feel guilty
--Even though you pretend not to, you secretly judge other women who don't breastfeed for at least a full year
Is this healthy? Is it necessarily in my baby's best interests? I'd say it's often very clearly against my baby's interests, actually.
The way I finally realized this might be a problem was that recently I had an issue with my pump equipment. I found some old crud on the... yellow thing the milk filters through (OK, I don't know what any of the equipment is called). I washed it daily but apparently didn't completely dismantle it properly. I worried that all the milk I had pumped was tainted. Two months worth, about 300 ounces. And I started to panic.
I started to plan: No more skipping pumping sessions. Maybe start pumping again on weekends. Somehow I had to replenish all that lost milk.
That's when I realized that I was being completely ridiculous. My baby is almost a year old and the winter is over... so what if she got a couple of months of formula? Would that really be so harmful? Would it be harmful AT ALL? In fact, might it even be better to give fresh pumped milk and formula, rather than all frozen milk?
(By the way, the above is a great reason never to use donated breast milk that isn't well screened.)
Anyway, I emailed my pediatrician's office and they said I didn't have to throw out all that milk. But part of me still thinks I should, just to cut the chains (and be safe). I haven't decided yet, but I've decided I'll be okay with it either way.