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Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Bad Breastfeeding

When I had my first son I was convinced that it would be super easy to breastfeed. I mean my mom breastfed all of her kids (4 of us) until the age of 2! How hard could it be? Babies are born to be breastfed right??

Well, yes....but it was not that easy. The thing was that I was so over confident that no one realized that I was doing it wrong. My latch was terrible and my son was losing weight, fussy and not thriving. My whole mothering concept was wrapped up in being able to nourish this baby from my breast. If I couldn't do it, then I was not a "real" mom.

I had to supplement for a while and donor milk was so under ground that I had no choice but to formula feed while I pumped day and night and took the maximum dosage of motilium just to get a supply back...and I did. When Keenan was 7 months we were able to do away with formula. He was on solids and my milk made up the rest. I was ecstatic...

BUT. I can see how damaging all that was to my self esteem...all the over obsessing and weighing and crying and thinking I was damaging my son...I went to a couple LLL meetings when I was in the midst of it all and found very supportive help. More help than that of the breastfeeding clinic who told me that I was causing brain damage by refusing to supplement.
I over heard many people talk disparagingly about other women in the LLL, saying that they were militant etc. etc. and my experience was not that way at all.

Fast forward to now. Having now breastfed 3 children, 2 to 2 years old, and the last one going strong at 10 months I bristle at the way that nursing moms talk about formula feeding moms. Online chat rooms, forums, facebook pages, blogs and twitter.

Calling them uneducated, or ignorant, or selfish for "choosing" formula over the better, more superior choice. Laughing and saying, "my breastmilk has no bugs in it!" after a woman found little bugs in her powdered formula. This lactivism that seems to be out of control in the social media world. It doesn't really stop there. Someone will step up and say, "hey, some of this is a little insulting" and then an onslaught of comments ranging from the woman's education to the way she is raising her own child come into question. The woman herself becomes a punching bag for those demonizing formula.

Don't get me wrong, I think breastfeeding is best, but I also think that there are other ways to get your message across than flaming mothers who use formula. Comments saying that because donated milk is readily available that other women can't use any excuse not to use breastmilk.....not taking into account that some women just don't want to use other women's milk. It's not helping. Demonizing Dr.Mercola for creating a more organic, natural's not helping.

I support breastfeeding moms. I have been to rallies, nurse in's and organized breastfeeding challenges. I nurse in public. I nurse toddlers in public. I smile and thank other women for nursing in public when I see them.

But I also do not walk up to a woman in the mall and tell her that her infant formula is going to cause all these issues with her baby in regards to health, that she is selfish, that she is a bad mom, that she made a horrible, disgusting, choice that her baby never going to forgive her...that isnt okay in real life. Why is that okay on Facebook?

Maybe I do get touchy because breastfeeding wasn't easy for me and that I felt guilty and sick every time I made up a 4 oz bottle of formula. I felt like a failure. I felt like I shouldn't have become a mother. The LAST thing I would have needed would be for some self righteous mom to tell me that I was damaging him. I *knew* that breast is best. But what choice did I really have? We only do as best as we can with the information given to us at the time.

I wish that lactivists would STOP flaming the moms and put your money where your mouth is. Do the research and find a formula company that you can't stand ethically (there are a lot) and boycott them. Write to them. Boycott companies that they support and visa versa. Money; (or lack there of) talks.


Anonymous said...

well said! I find it fascinating what some people will write on a blog or facebook, but would never in their right mind say to someone's face. Every mother and child is different, and who's to say what works for one is best for everyone? Thanks for posting such thought-inspiring blogposts :)

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