Feeding your baby: only you know what way is best for you.
We all hear it all the time, everywhere we look...'Breast is best!' While this may be true in the scientific sense, it's not always the best option for many. And that's okay!
There are a million different reasons why people choose to feed with their bodies. The tap is readily available for baby at all times, with no bottle prep and no time spent mixing formula just right, at the right temperature, and there's no figuring out a proper amount to feed baby. But it really goes a lot further than that, doesn't it?
Society has a way to make it seem like breastfeeding is a natural process (innately, our bodies know to produce milk and feed with our body), but it is also a learning process, for both the person feeding with their body and the baby. Babies have to learn how to use their mouths to get the milk from our bodies, and our bodies have to learn how our baby wants to get that milk out. Yes, sucking is a natural skill that we are born with, but we don't know the anatomy of the person feeding us, so we have to learn to use our mouth on THAT body, and that takes time.
There can be oral restrictions in the mouth that can complicate the process and take time to work through, sometimes, requiring surgical procedures with skilled professionals and oral exercises afterwards. Many times, these procedures help correct the oral ties right away, and sometimes they don't, requiring multiple procedures to be done in order to get there.
There can be issues with the body, such as flat or inverted nipples. Some times, sexual trauma makes it difficult to have a baby touching our bodies or exposing our bodies in front of people to nurse them can be difficult. Other times, people have sensory aversions and the process of nursing or pumping causes extreme depression or anxiety, making it extremely difficult to nurse from their bodies. Maybe there's past nursing trauma that affects how one proceeds with feeding their subsequent babies thereafter. And sometimes, people simply don't want to feed with their bodies.
There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to feeding your baby. And rather than focusing on the way in which we feed our babies being the 'best' way, what we, as a society, SHOULD be focusing on instead, is SUPPORTING how people want to feed their babies. Support is best.
You have options! You can exclusively breastfeed or exclusively pump milk and feed it with a bottle, or you can do a little of both. If your breast/chest has variations of normal, there are tools, such as Supplemental Nursing Systems, that can assist you in feeding your baby while you work through those variations. Maybe you can't mentally commit to the idea of feeding your baby with your body, and you just want to bottle feed, that's okay, too! Some people, who specifically want human milk for their baby, buy it from milk banks or they get donated milk for their babies. While others choose to strictly formula feed. Again, there's no wrong answer, as the goal is to make sure you feel supported in whatever method you choose to feed your baby.
If you are planning to feed your baby with your body, I HIGHLY suggest taking a body feeding class so that you can learn HOW your body works, and the many different ways there are to nurse with it. While it isn't mandatory and won't make or break your journey, I find that those who prepare BEFORE their baby gets here, have much more successful outcomes with nursing as compared to those who go into it blindly and 'work out the kinks' once baby gets here. (we provide resources to GREAT body-feeding classes held both locally and virtually to all of our birth clients)
Just know, however you feed your baby is okay, as long as you feel supported in that journey. There are no right or wrong ways to feed a baby, but NOT having support can really make or break the mental journey that comes along with feeding a human. Find yourself a great feeding expert (we offer in-person and virtual feeding support!), support from family and friends, and you will gain confidence in your abilities to keep your tiny human alive, one day at a time. You've got this!