a better formula for discussion
Thought we were going to put breastfeeding to rest for a while but this article caught our attention, and well, we just can't.
From our POV, the Nurse-In was NOT about reiterating the superiority of breast milk. It was about raising awareness so people won’t feel so uncomfortable when moms breastfeed in public.
We've said this before, and we'll say it again: Yes, "breast is best" from a biological perspective. But though lactation may be a beeline to our mammalian roots, we are cultural animals. We work, we have lives, we have relationships and "issues". Most moms have work environments that don’t cater to the pumping necessary to manage a full breastfeeding load. Breastfeeding is often hijacked by lousy hospital policy (too many bottles, or even just one at the beginning). Lactation consultants are not covered by insurance, so many moms are unable to afford the support they'd need to get their problems sorted out in the early days. In fact, the only support most women encounter for breastfeeding is from people they describe as "fanatics"...we've certainly heard women complain of being harrassed for bottle-feeding in public. And we're all for paternal involvement, but we don't think a bottle is the only way to make it happen. Feeding formula is not a bad thing. We agree with the writer of the L.A. Times piece that sometimes it's just too hard to breastfeed. But we don't think the solution is to just accept the crappy status quo and shrug it off as no big deal. Clearly breastfeeding is a big deal or it wouldn't be inspiring such hardcore passion from both sides. Activism (with or without an L preceding it) exists to effect social change. We're calling for more support for breastfeeding mothers, not less support for bottle-feeding ones. It's not mutually exclusive.
I'm glad you guys brought this up. I am a breast-feeding mother and I love it, but, as the saying goes: "some of my best friends are bottle-feeders!" I think it's too bad that we are pitted against each other so often.
comment by elina at June 10, 2005 12:21 PM
I wish I had more time to write about this. WIth a rate of exclusive breastfeeding at about 14% in the United States for 6 month old babies, it is a big deal.
I feel bad for all fo the moms with "guilt" every time this subject comes up - I frequent another mom's blog. However, if we are talking about nutrition, and I gave my son Frosted Flakes this morning, I don't respond with some of the lash back I see from these formula feeding moms.
I think most breastfeeding supporters are not rude fanatics that attack moms with bottles ont he streets. Yet, we are always apologizing to these women that are CLEARLY IN THE MAJORITY. Why are they so sensitive if most of society gives up, just like them? They are not an ABUSED MINORITY> CAn't the women who stick it out be a little proud?
I know everyone has an excuse why she "couldn't" breastfeed. But, for every mom who tried really hard to exclusively breastfeed and couldn't, there are 10 who gave up for other reasons. One major one is A LACK OF PUBLIC SUPPORT.
And, back to all of the people, educated and ridiculous, who still make excuses for why women who breastffed should apparently be confined to their houses.
Many things make me uncomfortable in public. WOmen with thongs yanked up out of their jeans. People who yell and swear at their kids. They have a much less important cause than breastfeeding.
I live in MIami, people. I see women's boobs ALL THE TIME and few of them are breastfeeding. ANd many other parts of women's bodies, even on women who starve themselves until their bones stick out. I find that DISGUSTING...but, I don't tell these people to stay at home.
Wake up and smell the 21st century
comment by Hilary at June 10, 2005 2:32 PM
Great article on breastfeeding #'s in the US. It shows that most women don't breastfeed becuase - you guessed it! - negative attitudes. Either percieved on behlaf of the dad, the fact they didn't know enough people who did, and didn't see it on TV or in society.
91% of moms who chose to bottle feed said more positive images in the media, in magazines and on TV, would have made a difference to them.
That is more important than someone feeling a little ooky, right?
comment by Anonymous at June 10, 2005 3:21 PM
again, a question to the original poster, thenewmoms:
where did you get the quote (referenced to Ceridwen's mom) "...CAUTION! This Animal Suckles Its Young!". I would like to give her credit (do you have a name I can attribute this quote to)?"
Thank you all so much for the lively discussion. I am a breastfeeding mama of one four month old, and deeply inspired by this current debate.
comment by Sara at June 11, 2005 7:26 PM
i misposted my email address in the previous post...
comment by Sara at June 11, 2005 7:28 PM
Sara... So glad you're enjoying this discussion. So am I!
As for the quote. It's from my mother's mother, Sheila MacInnes. She was a smart Australian woman with an extremely quick wit. My grandmother put the sign up when my mom breastfed and the head nurse objected: "The woman's rationale was that there were adolescent boys in the ward for whom this would be inappropriate!" Use this quote in good health! It is the best kind of "old wives tale."
comment by Ceridwen Morris at June 11, 2005 9:26 PM
What is the point of this site and your book? Are you going to say anything interesting about being a mother? Because so far, you haven't. There's enough junky advice written for new moms without your cliched views.
comment by Anonymous at June 15, 2005 2:30 PM
I think you've crystalized it right there, when you say you are calling for more support for breast feeders, not less support for bottle feeders.
The LA Times writer misses the obvious, which is that nursing in public is exactly what allows women to get out of that house and not be isolated during baby-rearing. And as we all agree, breast feeding can be hard, it makes sense to make at least one aspect of it, going out with baby, that much easier.
Glad you revisited the topic to address that article, it was worth it.
comment by Kristi Vega at June 16, 2005 4:34 PM