When I was pregnant, I read several books just about breastfeeding. They all differed, but they all said breastfeeding was a beautiful bonding experience between mother and child and necessary for “secure” bonding and attachment. And for some women, this is true. However, for many women, this is not the case. I think more women than you would guess do not bond more with their child due to breastfeeding, and it actually might hinder their bond, but women are scared to say this. What kind of a mother doesn’t enjoy breastfeeding? What kind of a mother isn’t bonded by that skin-to-skin contact that everyone raves about?
I’m that kind of mother.
I actually bonded more with Mae once I stopped breastfeeding her. I could relax. When she rejected the bottle, it wasn’t personal. She became more of a shared responsibility between my husband and me, which helped us all bond.
I also was able to get some more sleep, which helped me be a happier, more connected mother during her waking hours. I didn’t dread the days so much because I was a little more rested. I was also able to pick up on her cues and keep her happier due to this rest.
When I feed Mae her bottle, she rubs my face and arms. We are very physically connected through bottle-feeding. When I play with her, I kiss her cheeks and belly. I can’t stop eating those cheeks! 😉 I read her books. I hold her when she cries. I take her for walks. We bond in so many ways, and those ways continue to change, and we continue to bond.
Breastfeeding for me was traumatic. I’m still not over it. I don’t know if I’ll ever want to try it again. When I was finally able to relinquish trying to feed Mae at the breast, everything became easier and happier. I truly believe that if Mae didn’t take the bottle, I would have ended up in the hospital. That’s how stressful it was for me.
So breastfeeding is great bonding experience for SOME mothers and babies. But it doesn’t make a stronger bond by itself, and it isn’t for everybody.