In Defense of Formula.

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by Stefanie Wilder-Taylor

 

I have to touch on a political hot button for a few minutes. And it has nothing to do with the Middle East but everything to do with mammary glands. I'm just sick of the culture of breastfeed or die out there right now. A woman named Hanna Rosin wrote an article for The Atlantic which stated that breastfeeding may not be everything it’s been extolled for. She received vicious backlash from other women! And she even breastfed!

 

Why do so many women have so much animosity toward other women based on the way they feed their children? In my first book, Sippy Cups, I wrote a chapter about my bad experience with attempting to breast feed. For me personally, it was a terrible trauma that entailed malfunctioning milk ducts, nonstop crying on my end and the baby's, a fenugreek addiction, not to mentioned how much it exacerbated my postpartum depression. In the end, wasn't even worth the three weeks I endured it. Yet, many many readers attacked me for daring to state my own experience. If you don't believe me, check my Amazon reviews.

 

The reason I'm still fired up over this is because I am still approached women at various functions (okay, fine, the few - very few- book signings I've had) who tell me how relieved they were to read my first book and find out they weren't alone about breastfeeding becoming a huge ordeal for them. Quite a few of these women told me they quit breastfeeding but were afraid to tell their friends because they've been openly judged. You (and by you, I mean everyone out there) have no idea how many women among you don't breastfeed but will lie to your face and tell you that they do! Why is that? I'll tell you why - the anti-breastfeeding of the 50's and 60's has experienced a backlash so huge it's gone completely the other way. I know that there are moms out there who still feel they are stigmatized by breastfeeding. I hear you, believe you and feel for you - sure, someone was booted from a plane for exposing a nip and Starbucks booted a breastfeeder from the premises. That’s wrong, But I don't feel it nearly competes with what is going on in the opposite direction. Women, are proud of openly judging other moms who don't breastfeed and will tell women straight out with passion usually reserved for religious zealots that they are lesser for their choice (or non-choice for many many women).

 

I know of a million breastfeeding fanatics yet I don't know one person who is vehemently opposed to people breastfeeding. I read a blog awhile back where the author said she was at a park and saw a woman bottle feeding her baby. She said that she pitied that woman and her baby because the woman wasn't breastfeeding. I was so angry I wanted to punch my very expensive computer screen, but, many readers commented that they related to her feelings! First of all, how did she know the bottle feeder wasn't feeding breast milk but secondly, how is it anyone's business?

 

nodaycare
05.18.09

Good stuff! I can't wait to check out your books. I'm an avid breastfeeder, too, and have been way blessed that it's been easy for us...but I also recognize that 1. it's not that easy for everyone, 2. there's no guarantee it will go this way for our next child, 3. it's a CHOICE each mommy, daddy, & baby must make for their own family...and 4. I wish I'd read this before I had to pump like a madwoman in order to go to the ER due to the stomach flu! I was scared out of my MIND (by the breastfeeding community) to give her formula to the point that I didn't even take the Rx they gave me until I was SURE (and the infection had worsened)it was safe for her.

ginnylou
05.18.09

As a healthcare provider, I understand that it's important to promote the best health practices that we can...HOWEVER...I'm so over the breastfeeding debate!! No matter what anyone tells you, it's NOT effortless and "convenient" and it DOESN'T come naturally to everyone. It's often a very painful (physically and mentally) process at the most vulnerable time in a woman's life. Let's be nice to each other and maybe just a little supportive! Thanks, Stephanie, for a great post!

Kimarie
05.17.09

I totally agree (even though I am still breast feeding my 20 month old daughter. Believe me, I'm getting crap about that too). Motherhood is hard enough without other people adding their two cents about what we should or should not be doing. I swear, it's really not that hard to take a minute and put yourself in another persons footsteps before judging them. Thank you, Stephanie for making me smile even when we are making different choices!