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?
I'm afraid that it's exactly this attitude which has become so prevalent that makes perfectly wonderful moms hide their fears and insecurities and challenges from others. And all of this hiding leads to depression, isolation and an all around bad experience with new motherhood. And it doesn't need to be this way!
It would be so nice if we could maybe feel good about our own choices and let others feel good about theirs. I know "breast is best" but guess what; we all fucking get that at this point. Some of us can't or choose not to do it, even knowing that it may be best. As you know I have a child who spent a lot of time being nutritionally deprived. I would have sold my husband to give her my breast milk and I did my best to pump while they were in the hospital but I couldn’t make enough for them to thrive on.
Here is my unpopular opinion: If you want to breastfeed but are finding it difficult yet you really want to try - by all means, do it! There are lactation consultants, breastfeeding support groups and many other breastfeeding mothers who will be there to support you. But, if breastfeeding doesn't work for you, and you are dying for a voice to tell you that you are still a great mom and are making the best choice for you and your baby - I'm here! Please do not feel guilty; formula has come an awful long way and is the next best thing. Being more confident the second time around. I proudly fed formula to my twins and I'd even been known to mix it with tap water once or twice in a pinch! My four and a half year old, Elby, has only had one ear infection, is a good eater, rarely has more than the common cold and is as smart as the day is long! I don't know if it's just good genes or if there's some smart juice added to that Good Starts powder. So, if you see a mother out there with formula and you have something to say – keep it to yourself. A woman’s decision should be between her and her boobs - only.
read Jennifer Sey's response,"Cut Down to Size"