Guilt....a good thing?

Mommy guilt. It's a common phrase heard all the world over. For no matter who you are or where you live, along with the title "Mama" comes a familiar feeling: guilt. It all starts with the need to make a decision about something.

Epidural or medication-free.

Breast or bottle.

To circumcise or leave intact.

Vaccinate or not.

Make your own baby food or buy pre-made.

Cloth or disposable.

Homeschool, private school or public school.

Work at home, outside the home, or stay at home.

The list is never-ending. And as you're bound to discover, everyone has an opinion. And most are passionate about it. While it makes for good debate on the playground or message board, let's face it: when you get home and are alone, we all tend to question our decisions. Are they the right ones for us? For our family?

And as most of us have found out, guilt comes into play at some point.  Not to say sometimes we don't have a choice. I was fortunate to stay home for 7 years while my kids were very small. Now I'm back to work full time.  Do I need to be home? Absolutely. Do I have to work? Absolutely. Do I feel guilty enjoying my job? You bet. Do I feel guilty not even being a room mom? Yes indeed.

See? There is no easy answer for some questions.

But some decisions? The data is there.  How we rationalize interpret it is up to us. Recently I got into a conversation with someone who was afraid that moms might feel guilty when I suggest they should breastfeed instead of formula feed. My response is simple: do we patronize the moms that choose to smoke? How about the ones that choose not to put their infant in a car seat properly? How about the ones that leave their little one strapped in said car seat in the middle of the summer and run an errand?

I have looked a mom in the eye and told her that if she formula feeds, her child will have a *100% increased risk of ear infections, 178% higher risk of diarrheal disease, 257% higher risk of hospitalization for respiratory infections, 64% higher risk of diabetes,  and a 56% higher risk of SIDS.....and I've had that mother look straight at me and say she chooses to not breastfeed.

To which I reply, "You go, girl. I'll see you and that precious bundle of yours at 3 a.m. in the ER." "Please consider the facts, and call me if you have any questions or change your mind."

Guilt is a motivating factor for many. Many moms have heard my plea and agree to breastfeed. Many of them go on to breastfeed for a year or more. Some breastfeed while they are in the hospital and then quit the moment they hit the door. They tell me in follow up calls that their milk dried up or they weren't making enough or the pediatrician told them they had to wean. And you know what? I praise those moms for giving their baby those few days of colostrum. I tell them that the colostrum still sealed their babies intestines and their precious ones got antibodies and all sorts of good things that can never be taken away.

According to the journal Pediatrics:
“If 90% of US families could comply with medical recommendations to breastfeed exclusively for 6 months, the United States would save $13 billion per year and prevent an excess 911 deaths, nearly all of which would be in infants ($10.5 billion and 741 deaths at 80% compliance).” 
I hate guilt. But it does serve a purpose. It keeps me from eating another brownie. It gets me to quit playing Words with Friends and go take a bike ride with my kids.

And it just may persuade one more mom to breastfeed.

*statistics from The Surgeon General's Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding

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