Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Formula Feeding as a 'Choice'

I would like to share with you, a rant I found on Mumsnet today. It was titled, "Women are Stupid":

"Elsewhere, there is a complaint about being unsupported when breastfeeding. This is a feminist issue - and the fault lies fairly and squarely at the feet of women. 
I am astounded that after the battles fought in the seventies and eighties, women have allowed such regression. 
Look how stupid women are today. They have their bodies surgically adapted to men's fantasies - breasts enlarged, labia trimmed - they bleach their hair, tattoo their eyeliner and lipstick and have themselves spray-painted. They remove their pubic hair so they look like children for their (multiple) partners. If you read about it in a book on social anthropology you'd be horrified at the 'oppression' of women. But women think they are choosing this! 
Then they say 'oh, its not fair, no-one supports me when i'm breastfeeding'. Too damn right they don't. Because you and your compatriots have allowed everyone to see you as barbie dolls to use and abuse. They don't want to see you being women, being grown up, feeding your babies, that spoils the fantasy. You created this; live with it.

When you've finished screaming at me about your 'rights' to have your mons pubis decorated with fake jewels and to have your isabella piercing, organise yourselves.

Wash your faces, let the fake tan fade, cut off your dyed hair and let it grow back naturally, so your babies can recognise the human being their genetic memory was expecting to find here. Stay free from chemicals that mask your natural odours, so your babies can recognise you by smell. If people are pressurising you to 'go back to work' say, 'certainly. When this baby chooses to stop breastfeeding'. That gives you four to five years at home, maybe longer, when you are doing something no-one else can - being your babies' mothers."

It may be abrupt and 'out there' but it got me thinking about how infant feeding is a feminist issue, and in particular, it got me thinking about the issue of 'choice'.

I believe a significant part of Patriarchal culture is the brainwashing of women into believing they are making 'free choice'. However in reality, all these supposedly free choices are merely parroted human responses to decades of social conditioning. Take applying makeup for example. The common mantra is that women apply makeup for themselves, yet 90 per cent of British women won't leave the house without applying it (Michaels 2012). What does 'doing it for ourselves' actually mean? One Mumsnetter put it wisely when she suggested, "to me it means we have so inculcated the norms of the male fantasy society that we no longer have our own notion of a desirable self."

Could the same theory be applied to 'choosing' formula? Common reasons women give for rejecting breastfeeding include:

  • they don't want their breasts to sag.
  • they see breasts as exclusively sexual.
  • their husband is uncomfortable with breastfeeding.
  • they are uncomfortable with breastfeeding.
  • they don't want to breastfeed in public.
  • they want to 'get their body back'.

Much of this discomfort springs from the fact that breasts, and in particular breastfeeding, disrupt the border between motherhood and sexuality. Many women cannot cope with the dual-functionality of their breasts. When a woman is desperate to "get her body back," to return to "sexy," to "be her husband’s again" she is consciously or subconsciously trying to appease the notion that her breasts are the property of the male gaze and have to be "good enough" for men again. She is buying into the idea that one cannot be maternal (madonna) and sexual (whore) at the same time.

Nurtured Child alluded to this in her blog when she wrote that, "In trying to conform and be accepted into a patriarchal society, women have learned to ignore their instincts for mothering.  Those who are still able to hear their instincts are not supported in trying to follow them.  Why are we as women so desperate to ignore our own biology in order to fit into an outdated model of what society should be?"

A choice laced with fear

She has a good point. The choice to formula feed is made in a climate in which women harbour mistrust, disdain, and even fear of their bodies. Like those who dare not leave the house without camouflaging their faces with makeup, when feeding their babies many women believe nature needs a constant helping hand. As women we seldom have confidence in our bare naked selves. Our natural state is to be is feared, seen as faulty and insufficient.

On the topic of rejecting nature, someone called 'Sam' left a fascinating comment on one of my previous articles (here). Her comment is worth reproducing in its entirety:

"Breastfeeding is not a "choice". You can "choose" NOT to breastfeed, but breastfeeding is just the normal thing to do next, once the baby is born. It's like saying you "choose" to placenta-feed. Nope, while the baby is in utero your body just gets on with it and the baby is nourished. There is no "decision" involved. Then the baby comes out and breastfeeding is a continuation of that. You can "choose" to disrupt that continuum. That is your right. Let's just be honest about it and call it what it is."

Her placenta analogy highlights the undeniable fact that birth and breastfeeding are designed to exist on a continuum, and the body of the mother during pregnancy and breastfeeding is the natural 'habitat' of the baby. No amount of technology will improve on this biologically determined pattern. If we see formula feeding for what it really is - a deviation from the norm, rather than a 'choice' - then we can bust the myth that formula feeding is somehow feminist; that brandishing a bottle is liberating.

Rights Vs Choices

In reality, breastfeeding is a maternal and child health imperative and reproductive right. However, rather than being respected as a right, our culture frames breastfeeding as a consumerist and lifestyle choice. The Feminist Breeder has rightly noted that:

"When a biological function is viewed as a 'choice' being made by an individual, society easily decides that it has no vested interest in supporting that 'choice.' If society has no vested interest in supporting that choice, then it’s no wonder a Judge recently ruled that employers can fire breastfeeding mothers. The judge thinks it was the mother's “choice” and the company was not obligated to support it." 

Framing breastfeeding as a 'choice' weakens legal protection for breastfeeding families. A lot of women are economically forced into employment in order to feed their families yet are legitimately denied pumping breaks. In this set-up, breastfeeding becomes no more than a privilege disguised as a choice.

How informed is your 'choice'?

One of the most prolific and powerful architects of the pervasive shift from 'right' to 'choice' is - you guessed it - the formula industry. Formula companies use emotional rhetoric to focus on mothers' feelings and intuition rather than knowledge in making decisions. In their marketing propaganda, formula companies cloak and draw attention away from what is actually important in infant feeding. For example, in some of their articulations, love is more significant than breast milk or formula. Their argument is that it is love that counts in infant feeding and care, not what goes into the baby. We see how ludicrous this displacement strategy is when we consider how we would we feel if the tobacco industry used the same argument: "It doesn't matter if you smoke in front of your baby, as long as you love them".

Another, perhaps even more insidious, formula company strategy is to provide 'information' about breast and bottle feeding under the premise of 'helping' mothers to make an informed choice. This 'service' comes in the form of pamphlets, websites, advertorials in magazines, new baby packs, telephone carelines and even assimilated via the bating of health professionals. However when we examine more closely the content of this 'information' we notice how the material is tailored to exploit mothers' fears regarding their breast milk supply, or concerns regarding their partners' ability to bond with their baby (for examples, see my article, "15 Tricks of Formula Companies").

What about Feminism?

Formula companies even leach off feminist notions of liberty, appropriating the discourse of personal choice and female empowerment. A noteworthy example is Elisabeth Badinter who wrote a provocative book called 'The Conflict'. In her bookBadinter argued that if women were to stop breastfeeding and give their babies formula, their economic and social status would rise. However unbeknown to her readers, Badinter holds a controlling stake in and is the board chair of the p.r. and ad agency Publicis, which represents formula makers Nestle, Similac and Enfamil. 

The reality is that breastfeeding mothers are less dependant on medical professionals and commercial products, which refutes Badinter's assumption that formula is 'liberation in a can'. Her equation of formula with women's commercial freedom is a grossly false quasi-feminist gesture. It panders to a Patriarchal economic set up in which mothering is devalued and male ways of living are seen as the norm, femaleness as a deviation; A culture where bread-winning is revered, child-rearing belittled, where the functioning of women's bodies is shameful, where pills are dished out to dry up the milk supply of new mothers and where men are more than happy to hand out formula whilst simultaneously lining their pockets. This doesn't sound very feminist to me.

In fact, history has shown us that when women give up breastfeeding, this does not lead to an increase in their employment. In the 1950s, when mothers were encouraged by formula companies and pediatricians to bottle-feed their babies, there was no huge influx of female employees flooding the workforce. Even in contemporary times, "choice" in infant feeding has not created equality in the workplace nor has it liberated women from the burdens of maternity. As I said in a previous article (here), even in contemporary society, it is still mothers who have to take time off from employment to care for their sick formula-fed child.

Despite being fundamentally flawed in these ways, the dialogue of empowerment has been transmitted, like a virus, from formula company to formula feeder. Mothers who chose not to breastfeed assimilated this brand of "choice feminism", soaking it up like a sponge. The rhetoric of 'choice' enables these mothers to rest more easily with their guilt by hiding behind a cloak of 'liberation'. It enables them to argue that even anti-feminist behaviours such as formula feeding are feminist because "feminism is about choice." This approach has slowly caused the phrase "It’s my choice" to become synonymous with "It’s a feminist thing to do" - or, perhaps more precisely, "It is anti-feminist to criticize my decision."

Yes, feminism is about choice but one needs to be honest about the fact that feminism, and indeed parenting, is also about making certain types of choices, whether or not we like to admit it. Individual freedom is to be encouraged - but with one very important caveat - so long as it does not bring harm to others. This is reflected in law. We have the right to free speech, but not hate speech. We have the right to smoke, but not to force others to smoke passively. However during infancy the issue is less defined; a woman’s rights become tied to that of her child. The dialogue of "choice" fails to take in to account those who actually have the most at stake: the child, who may feel the effect of the mother's decision for the rest of their lives.

Feminism is not about reassuring individual women that they haven’t chosen badly. If you choose to hand over your control to medical professionals, to line the pockets of men, to surrender your baby's health to the will of corporations who have no vested interest in your baby's well-being, to contribute to the restriction of women's breasts to the sexual domain, to increase your own, and your baby's risk of cancer and obesity - according to your logic that means that the formula companies, the poorly informed health professionals and the sabotaging family members aren't misogynistic, because anything you as a woman choose to do is feminist. In fact, apparently the real misogynist is the feminist who’s trying to tell you that formula feeding isn't optimum.

A further irony is that, rather than being empowering and 'feminist', the discourse of "choice" operates to stratify mothers into categories of good and bad choosers (i.e. good and bad mothers). The pressures felt by defensive formula feeders – who feel that others look at them as if they have made a "bad choice" – are a legacy of the way choice rhetorically operates in relation to motherhood, functioning to distinguish mothers who choose well from those who do not. I talk about this issue in depth in the 'Contempt' chapter of my book 'Breast Intentions'; Suffice to say, formula company marketing material responds to this perceived stigma by suggesting that women choose well when they use their emotions. All choices, when made from the "heart," are good choices, especially when women make choices perceived to be detrimental from a medical point of view.

Making the Personal Political

Those who champion 'choice' in infant feeding (the "It's my choice and no one's business" brigade) are often motivated by a fear of politics. They hold a worldview that does not challenge the status quo. Instead, any and all choices women make are seen as equally valid, cherished, and beyond judgement. This rhetoric of 'choice' in infant feeding is troublingly tied to and reflective of trends toward hyper-individualism and hyper-consumerism (unsurprising considering its appeal in American and British society); the choice rhetoric tends to neglect the *contexts* (political, institutional, economical) of actual choices; it relieves women of the responsibility of considering the broader implications of their choices (by pretending that individual choices have no social consequences). It’s about making every woman feel good about whatever she does, and treating women like delicate wallflowers who can’t be criticized. In short, the 'choice' rhetoric enables mothers to sidestep the difficulties of making the personal political: i.e. making judgements and demanding change of health professionals, formula corporations, the media, employers, friends and family. Yet, as I explained in my article, "Why the Way You Feed Your Baby is MY Business", infant feeding is inevitably, inherently and unavoidably political.

Politics takes courage - courage to be unpopular, to say what one thinks, to be criticized. We should encourage judgements about the value of different choices, encourage being publicly accountable for our choices, and encourage discussion about which choices should be valued and which are illusions. 'Choice' is an important part of having sovereignty over ones own body and ones parenting, however it is only a part of it and can be completely irrelevant if the context in which choices are being made is not also assessed. Our 'choices' do not happen in a vacuum.

Whatever aspects of being a formula feeder work for you, enjoy them. But don’t fool yourself that you’re doing so of your own unconstrained free will. Your choices are being made in the context of a bottle-feeding culture. You may be doing what you love, but you’re also doing what you’re told. Lactivists who want to fight for your ability to reject patriarchal standards of what is 'decent' breast exposure or who want to ban the ability of formula companies to corrupt health professionals - are trying to give you more genuine, valid, supported options.

Next time you find yourself muttering the hyper-clich├ęd words, "I support a woman's choice to feed her baby however she likes", stop and think:


Buffymom9 said...

The article just expanded my logic...

alichaptx said...

I love you. Please kidnap those ladies over at Jezebel and school them in real feminism.

FrizzyLogic said...

'Individual freedom is to be encouraged - but with one very important caveat - so long as it does not bring harm to others. This is reflected in law. We have the right to free speech, but not hate speech. We have the right to smoke, but not to force others to smoke passively. However during infancy the issue is less defined; a woman’s rights become tied to that of her child. The dialogue of "choice" fails to take in to account those who actually have the most at stake: the child, who may feel the effect of the mother's decision for the rest of their lives.' This reads like the rhetoric of anti-choice (abortion lobby). Good for you that you are able to breast feed without difficulty. Good for you for supporting mothers who want to and for trying to change the culture. But shame on you for trying to GUILT women into it. A woman who bottle feeds her baby is not destroying his/her future. Which is what you appear to imply here. You need to get some perspective in your life. If I ever had a child I would certainly give breastfeeding a go - but if it doesn't suit me - if I find it painful or I think my child is not getting sufficient nutrition or - GOD FORBID - I find the havoc it is wreaking on MY body (note MY - even as a mother I am still an individual with a right to determination over my own body)- I will use formula without hesitation. You make my hackles rise, lady.

Alpha Parent said...

There are some parallels between the pro-life argument and the pro-breastfeeding argument, however there is one major (and vital) distinction: in the latter scenario the woman has already decided to be a parent, and with parenthood comes responsibility and altered priorities.

Christal said...

I absolutely enjoyed this article. I chose not to breastfeed. I admit that and I do not feel guilty. Our country does need a major paradigm shift that brings us back to the natural way of feeding our children. I wholeheartedly agree with your sentiment about this being a feminist issue. I think what makes it so hard for people to frame it the way you did in the article is guilt. I intially did not feel any guilt when I first made the choice not to breastfeed. It wasn't until I felt shamed for that choice I began to feel guilt. After years of thinking about it, I realized I made a decision and there's nothing I could do about it four years after giving birth. I finally let my guilt go. I am absolutely a champion for breastfeeding. Unfortunately, it will only be successful if we completely change the way we view women and families as a whole.

ohmama said...

I love your blog. Love love love. It is all such wonderful common sense. Thank you for highlighting the undeniable significance of all things breastfeeding. I read your blog posts and scream 'YES'.

Unknown said...

I agree with 'ohmama' above. You write all the things I wish I could articulate when I'm debating this issue with someone. I'm still nursing my almost 3 year old and a woman doing the same thing made national news with the Time Magazine cover with people saying things like she's abusing her child! But God forbid someone makes a bottle feeder feel guilty.

scientician said...

As someone with genuine low supply (check out insufficient glandular tissue on the old googles) I get a bit upset with stuff like this.
I fed my daughter formula and breastmilk (as much as I could make, 120ml/24 hours with herbs, drugs and lots of pumping) because without the formula she would have died.
I ended up with PND as a result of my struggles to breastfeed and I can honestly say now that if anyone wants to go straight to formula feeding, for whatever reason, I choose not to judge. I haven't lived their life, I haven't lived their struggles. It's not my place.
I believe that the vast majority of parents do the best they can with the circumstances they find themselves in. It's none of my business if someone formula feeds. Yeah, it's not as good as breastmilk, but I believe a happy healthy mother is more important than any amount of breastmilk.

AmandaRuth said...

You are friggin awesome - can I tell you how much I love your blog?!

Every paragragh I start I say to myself, "Yes!".

Asphyxia said...

My thoughts exactly. I said it so many times that the choice is an illusion, and illusion created by misogynistic society for women! First we treat ourselves like objects and then we complain that we are treated like ones! All the choices are pre-made by our societies consciousness, not ours.

Erin said...

I too saw the pro-life parallels (but I don't think that's a bad thing as the above commenter seems to) and see how similar these two "choices" are that are in actuality non-choices. I wrote a longer response than this yesterday and don't see it, computer must've eaten it or something... bummer, I am too tired to attempt to reproduce it now.

Munchkin mama said...

I love your blog. You are always spot on. I find breastfeeding my little boy empowering and liberating. My body is capable of growing and nourishing a child I want to celebrate that.

Melissa Ryan said...

I love this post! I actually linked it on mine since it caused me to think so much about your points. I just couldn't ever word it so well.

Living with MSPI said...

WOW, you do realize this is a parenting blog right? Ok that said being a mom is painful at times, pregnancy can be painful, birth is surely painful and there's lots of mental pain. No sleep, self doubt, but it's all worth it. It's painful deal with it. Breastfeeding is painful at times, I come from the old style of thinking, just because it's painful doesn't mean it's not worth doing, it's the exact opposite actually! Yes you still get to be an individual, but when you become a mom, you are just that someone's MOM! A newborn baby depends on you for everything just as they did when they were in utero. And it is your job to put there needs above yours 95% of the time. I understand "you are an individual" and "it's your body" but do know there is NO PLACE for selfishness in motherhood! no place at all. If you work full time your first job is still mom, that job will always come before any other job you may have. I think you won't fully understand this until you have a life that depends soley on you.

Living with MSPI said...

This article got me thinking about self worth in women, here's my thoughts: I think it is hard for women to know our worth. it's like our worth is always based on the outside world, or that's how society says we should be. You are pretty only if a guy/society thinks you are and so on.... I think we need to get back to our roots here and know that God ( if you so believe) or nature ( if that's what you would like to call it) created women to nuture, created women to mother, and mother beyond giving birth. The actual fact that we can create a child & give birth should do lots for our self worth but it seems as though we let it cause more issues. We are raising the next generation. THE absolute most important job in the world is that of parent and therefore we should have more self worth than we have room for!

Chelsea Bossory said...

You did amazing to fight that hard to breastfeed! But do you see the difference between you and the majority that this author s talking about? You CHOSE to breastfeed. It sounds like you were one of the estimated 2% of women whose bodies cannot make enough milk. In my experience as a lactation counselor, I would say that about 75% of mother-baby dyads could have a successful breastfeeding relationship. That said, it is NOBODY'S place to judge another parent for their choice to breastfeed or not. It would be really wonderful if women who chose to formula feed from the beginning would recognize exactly why they are choosing to do so, which are the exact reasons listed above. Women tell me all the time that they "tried" to bf and "couldn't". You know what that means? That probably about 8/10 of those women could have, if we as mothers would stand together and demand better lactation support in hospitals, more education for doctors and nurses about the effects of medication during labor and c-section on breastfeeding so they can be better prepared to support those women; if we demanded better treatment and support by employers and longer paid leave from our government...and if we demanded that US formula companies actually adhere to the WHO codes of conduct for formula advertisement that they agreed to honor. Because you know what? If everyone should be supported in their "choice" of baby feeding, then women who want to breastfeed are really getting screwed.

backtobasicsmom said...

I notice The 'Fearless' Formula Feeder is nowhere to be found on this post... She clearly has no adequate counter-argument!

ashley said...

There are parents who nurse their babies yet don't interact with them or stimulate their development. There are parents who formula feed, but love on and nurture their child's development. Which is best to you? Its an easy choice to me.

Stefanie said...

What would you do if you were in a time where formula didn't exist? Your reasonings are extremely selfish!!! It's not about you!!! As parents, you should strive to give your children the best. But for some they only feel that about monetary items. They do quickly give formula for their own selfish excuses. Your baby deserves you to suck it up and do what's best for them in all situations in life regardless of your wants and desires. Most parents say they would die for their children. I think breastfeeding is the least you can do.

ashley said...

What often looks selfish to others doesn't feel like selfishness to the mother. If anything, "giving up" on breastfeeding is extremely hard. It makes us feel like failures. It's not like we are thinking, "oh well! thank goodness THAT is over!" You have no idea what goes on in the depths of a mother's heart, and no idea why she chooses the things she does. I decided that breastfeeding wasn't for me after having an extremely hard time with two of my children. Not only was it excruciatingly painful, but I was depressed, anxious, and stressed out - constantly. I didn't want to be around my baby. When I knew it was getting close to their next feeding I would feel nauseous. I was so depressed I couldn't eat.
Needless to say, our pediatrician (who was also a lactation consultant) advised that I stop breastfeeding immediately. She told me that it was NOT, I repeat, NOT worth it if I wasn't healthy and able to care for and nurture my baby. Can you honestly sit here and tell me that I should have continued to breastfeed?

Dreamer04t said...

I chose not to breastfeed my children for the simple fact that I didn't want to. I shouldn't have to "come up with a reason" or argument why I couldn't or didn't. It wasn't because I couldn't breastfeed, I wanted my "body" back, I wanted to get back to work, or because I didn't feel comfortable. I just didn't want to do it. My mother didn't breastfeed my sisters or me, and I think we all turned out just fine. My older sister has her BA in political science and is now the proud mother of a wonderful and intelligent six year old. I am currently working on my MA in psychology, I have two beautiful children, and a career. I chose not to do it and while I am an advocate for the choice to choose between, I wish people would stop judging the mothers who make the same choice I did. I am glad that there are many women out there who love to breastfeed and think it was the greatest thing for them and their kids. But don't judge someone because you chose differently. I just wished people would stop pushing the breastfed argument like breast milk is the only viable option for feeding your children. There are other forms of food, be happy I actually chose to feed my children and keep them instead of aborting them or killing them.

Steph said...

Well, as long as you didn't want to, who cares about what's best for your children, right? Parenthood is all about YOU!
Ridiculously selfish.

Blue said...

Well wow, I can't believe there are still people who don't understand what feminism means. If you want to put on make up, you do, that doesn't mean you are giving in to mens desires. I walk around without my legs unshaved sometimes, and when I do shave them it's because I want to and it makes them feel smooth -again this is only for myself- I put on make up when I want to, and it's for *myself* no one else. As for nursing, I tried to nurse but as one of the posters said, it was not worth it because it was affecting my health. I do realize that you can't be selfish when it comes to motherhood, but my child was also suffering from my body not even producing enough (I'm not even going to go into detail over all the things that happened because it doesn't really matter) I switched to formula and we are happier as a whole, if I had another child I would try as hard as I did with my current child. There is enough guilt in a mothers heart for not giving the best to her child, why do you increase the burden by saying some of these things? It's been almost two years since I stopped nursing, and I still feel a pang of hurt when I think about it, but not because you or other parents write posts about how selfish or lazy we are, or other things people like to imply. I feel hurt because I couldn't do something extremely important for my child.

I do realize parents choose not to nurse, or make 'selfish' choices as you and other commenters like to put it, that doesn't mean you can open your mouths and say all these things to spread more hatred among women. You talk about feminism, everyone talks about being a feminist, but when it really comes down to it, theres very VERY few people who are true feminists, who are women and step up to defend other women. Do you think it makes you a feminist or better by criticizing other women? It doesn't. You judge others by the choices they've had to make, but you will never know the options they had to choose from. Think about that before you call someone 'selfish'.

elizabby said...

Wow, interesting thoughts in this post! Can't believe I missed it the first time around and have only just read it.

However, it has some really tough stuff in it. If the rhetoric of "choice" has its problems, even more so the perception of *taking away* women's choices! Being "anti-choice" is not a good place to be - hence some of the comments above. There have been similar reactions when women's choices have been taken away in some countries by requiring formula to be on prescription only (I'd be interested to read what you have to say about that, by the way).

I think the final problem is that if anyone is perceived as *not* supporting a woman's choice - that means standing in judgement over her. Unfortunately in such a hot topic area there is no middle ground. So rather than stand in judgement, I'm afraid I'm going to have to continue the language of "choice" - unless you can come up with a better term that sits between "choice" and "judgement"? I live in hope!

BluScorpAmber said...

Breastfeeding IS the only viable option for feeding children. You chose to go against nature and give your children something infinitely inferior. How do you think that will make them feel when they grow up and aren't as healthy as their breastfed peers? How do you think they would feel reading this comment posted by you, knowing that you chose not to do what is natural, what they have a nature-given RIGHT to, when you easily could have? People like you a ridiculously selfish. You are the exact type of person that I don't want in this world because I want my children to live in a world of good people who, when they consciously procreate, do what is NATURAL, NORMAL, and inherently BEST for their children, above all else. THAT IS WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A PARENT! Were we another species you would be the young female who gives birth to her offspring where they are easily found by predators, and then leaves them, wandering off to live your life as your own, as though you never had any offspring. The kind that deserve to be picked up by animal control and spayed.

Kristin said...

I too have insufficient glandular tissue and I find it very difficult to read these kinds of articles and not become very upset. I fought for 6 weeks pumping every 2 hours and taking every herbal and prescription drug that was available to me to only be able to produce about 7 ounces in 24 hours. I understand that the people she is talking about here are the ones that chose first to formula feed but to say that every time she hears that someone "tried and couldn't" is lazy is very hurtful to those of us who really did do all that we could. I am still going to try every time I have a baby but if it goes the same way it did for my first, I will be formula feeding because I truly do not have any other options.

Sarah said...

Chelsea and Kristine, I too understand your pain. My body simply couldn't do what it was designed to do. It didn't help that my daughter was born 7 weeks early and initially I was not allowed to put her to breast while in the NICU because it caused too much stimulation. I pumped around the clock for months and I was fortunate enough to get a whole 2oz TOTAL out of each breast, but I kept trying.

I often feel like a failure as a result. I had no control over the fact that my milk just never came in. I was a huge struggle for me and it took my husband telling me I needed to stop before I was able to. It was such a stressful time for me, but I was determined to do whatever I could to ensure that my baby was still at least receiving some breastmilk. Heaven forbid I'd accidentally knock over my bottle of EBM and lose an entire's day work - I'd become hysterical. I was glad that my pro-breastfeeding husband told me it was okay to stop that it wasn't worth the stress it was causing. It helped me realize I wasn't a failure and I shouldn't feel so bad and be that hard on myself.

To every situation there will always be an exception and people like us fall into when it comes to stuff like this. I am always initially upset and then I just need to remind myself of my experience and know that when people write/support stuff like this they aren't talking about us.

A Davidson said...

I foundthis article extremely offensive. My reason for not breastfeeding? I went through a miserable abusive relationship and spent years being objectified, grabbed, forced to feel like crap about myself. I have extreme ptsd and dysphoria and have trouble taking my clothes off for a bath. So thank you for reducing a difficult decision to something shallow. This isn't feminism, this is disgusting judgement. Many women cannot breastfeed because of health reasons, or because their milk didnt come in. How dare you.

Anonymous in Texas said...

Here is my story: I was unable to breastfeed both of my beautiful baby girls due to flat/inverted nipples, even trying with lactation consultants, shells, and pumping, none of which drew out enough milk. My girls are now 20 months and 7 months old, and to this day, I still struggle with opinions and assumptions from other people on why I am not breastfeeding, and articles like this do nothing to help. I am a mother who just wants to feed her babies and love them and watch them grow. Why must articles like this be so incredibly divisive and superior? It is incredibly painful when educated mothers like myself (and we are many) were unable to breastfeed, and in addition, must experience the derision of other mothers, who know nothing of their story.

The Cookiegal said...

I breastfed my first son for 8 months untile he got cancer. He died 13 months later.
I CHOOSE not to BF my second child because, well,it is non of your business. She has had one ear infection, and a couple of colds 2.5 years later. My friend has a digger who is 6 months older and WAS BF. She has had multiple ear infections and spent a few nights in the hospital (and she does not go to day care).
People need to stop judging those that CHOOSE not to BF

Kat said...

"Were we another species you would be the young female who gives birth to her offspring where they are easily found by predators, and then leaves them, wandering off to live your life as your own, as though you never had any offspring. The kind that deserve to be picked up by animal control and spayed."

What a completely heartless, ignorant comment.

"I want my children to live in a world of good people..."

Me, too. Man, I hope they don't run into you.

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