One would think that feeding a baby shouldn't be that difficult right? We however live in a society with strong opinions and judgement about how babies should be fed, which can make feeding a baby stressful.
Breastfeeding moms often feel judged for not breastfeeding long enough, or breastfeeding for too long. They feel judged for not covering up in public, or for covering up in public, or just feeding their baby in public in general. Sometimes they feel pressured to supplement with formula if their baby isn't gaining weight they way that their healthcare provider feels is best, and at the same time they may also feel pressured to exclusively feed their baby breastmilk by other moms, friends and family members.
Bottle feeding moms often feel judged for not breastfeeding long enough, not "trying" hard enough, or choosing not to/being unable to breastfeed at all. They feel judged for using formula, or certain brands of formula, or choosing to use donor breastmilk. If breast-feeding didn't work out for them or they ultimately chose not to continue breast-feeding, they may feel as they they failed themselves or their baby.
We forget or maybe choose to disregard the fact that sometimes feeding a baby is just plain hard. For those that choose to breastfeed, sometimes breastfeeding can go well and seemingly easily, but for others it can be difficult, even very difficult at times. They may need to see an IBCLC or International Board Certified Lactation Consult for assistance. They may need help with positioning their baby at the breast or with baby's latch, or their baby may have architectural issues such as a tongue tie or lip tie that needs to be diagnosed, which is outside of a doula's scope of practice. While breast-feeding that is going well can help reduce stress, breast-feeding that is proving to be more challenging can actually create more stress during an already stressful time.
For those that bottle feed, the choices of bottles and formula can feel overwhelming. The cost of formula and bottle feeding can be shocking. They may choose to use donor milk, but they may not feel supported in that by their friends, family, or healthcare providers, or they may have trouble finding donor milk in their area.
On top of strong opinions and judgement on how/what we feed babies, and the other factors listed above that can complicate feeding, sometimes babies have digestive sensitivities or reflux that can make them uncomfortable and at times inconsolable which only adds to the stress of parenting and feeding.
A postpartum doula should be one person in your life without an opinion or judgement on how/what you should feed your baby. As your doula I won't pressure you to feed your baby one way or the other. If you are breastfeeding I can help you troubleshoot basic issues and make referrals when appropriate. If you are bottle feeding I can help you navigate the extensive world of bottles to find one that you like and teach you about paced bottle feeding. If you are doing both, I will support you in that. If you are looking for donor milk I can direct you to milk sharing organizations. I can help with supplemental nursing systems if that is the method by which you will be feeding your baby. If your baby is tube fed, I can also support you in that. I won't bring judgment for choosing the method that is best for your family and your baby.