Is Choosing Not to Breastfeed Selfish? The Subjectivity of Breastfeeding

When it comes to the decision of whether or not to breastfeed, the term “selfish” often comes into play. But how do we define selfishness? Does it make someone a bad person if they are selfish in a particular aspect of their life?

Breastfeeding or not is a subjective matter of choice

Breastfeeding is undoubtedly influenced by a mother’s personal growth and experiences. Everyone’s journey is different, and we cannot fully understand what a mother has been through or what factors have influenced her decision. We do not have the right to demand that every mother breastfeeds, just as we cannot demand that everyone gets married and has children.

Some mothers may choose not to breastfeed due to concerns about their own physical condition, fear of gaining weight from consuming certain foods, worries about body shape changes, or even fear of being bitten by their child. These are all important personal reasons, and it is perfectly normal for a mother to take care of her own body.

In my opinion, it is not selfish to face difficulties, put in effort, and make the best choice within one’s capabilities, even if it doesn’t meet the desired outcome or if circumstances require a change. However, making a choice solely based on personal benefit without making any effort can be seen as selfish. Nevertheless, as long as you are willing to accept the risks associated with your decision, there is nothing inherently wrong with being selfish. You are accountable for your choices. Mothers who do not breastfeed are not in the wrong, as long as they carefully weigh the pros and cons and make the most suitable choice for themselves and their child.

We do not need to be perfect mothers

Renowned child psychologist Winnicott once said in “The Child and the Mother”:
If a woman was already prepared to breastfeed her child and did so naturally, and then an authority figure, such as a doctor or nurse, came along and said, “You must breastfeed your baby,” I would consider it a complete insult. If I were a woman, it would make me feel disgusted, and I would say, “Very well, but I won’t do it.”

Breastfeeding is a natural feeding method, but when breastfeeding is not an option, it is essential for the mother to provide other forms of physical closeness with her baby. Breastfeeding is a process where a mother willingly lends her breasts to her child. If a mother is not ready or in a poor physical or mental state, breastfeeding may not be the best choice. Breastfeeding is also a way for the baby and mother to communicate, but there are alternative methods for bonding, even if both the baby and mother may miss out on certain aspects. After all, is anything truly perfect in this world?

We often fear negative judgment from others, but if we go against our own instincts, both we and our children may feel uncomfortable.

No mother is perfect, and we do not need to strive for perfection.

We should aim to be good enough mothers, creating a nurturing environment for our children, providing them with physical and psychological protection and security.

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