Thursday, 8 November 2012

The Laziness Conundrum

Defensive Formula Feeders (DFFs) often remark that they are seen as lazy because they chose to formula feed. One of the most common retorts to their laziness label is to argue the following:

“How can formula feeding be lazy? We have to wash and sterilise bottles, boil kettles, measure formula, carry it around, and so on; whilst all a breastfeeding mother has to do is lift her top”.

At first glance, this may seem like a worthwhile argument. After all - these things are true; formula feeding has a lot more ‘chores’ involved with it than nature’s way.

Nonetheless, I maintain that for most formula feeding mothers, laziness underlines their feeding ethos.

Here's the most common scenario:

Mother strugglers with breastfeeding, and thinks to herself, "this is too much effort, I'm switching to formula" (Grass is Greener mentality). Perhaps there is also a health professional on the scene pushing formula ‘top ups’, and formula advertising showing chubby, thriving babies.

So, rather than doing some research or seeking a second opinion (which requires effort) she switches to formula.

At first she feels liberated – she has ‘her body back’ and perhaps even a few more hours sleep as she gets someone else to exert the effort of night feeds. This help with feeding is irregular however, and within a few weeks she discovers, to her great disappointment, that formula feeding is more inconvenient that she had anticipated. Sadly by now her milk has dried up.

The sensible thing to do at this point would be to relactate, however this takes even more effort than her current situation, so she stays locked into formula feeding. Trapped in an endless cycle of washing and sterilising, feeling guilty, and defensively spouting her breastfeeding woes to whoever will listen.

What underlies the choices in this timeline of events? - laziness.

What about women who chose to formula feed from the start - they head straight to the daily sterilisation and kettle boiling rituals, so how can they be lazy for choosing the most inconvenient feeding method? A common reason you will hear from mothers who chose to formula feed from the get go (perhaps THE most common reason) is that they wanted their partner to be able to bond with the baby.

Mothers who say this don't actually believe it of course. It's a ploy to make them appear thoughtful and selfless. In reality, no sane person believes that holding a plastic teat in a baby's mouth is the only way to bond. Yet these mothers use the paternal bonding argument time and time again, as a 'get out of jail free' card. The actual motive of these mothers is that they want other people to feed their baby and they don't see why they should have to do it all themselves - laziness.

Until there is a dramatic cultural shift from prioritising parental convenient to prioritising infant need, laziness will continue to be the driving force behind most mothers’ feeding choices; and what’s more, formula companies will continue to capitalise from it.


myhappylittlefamily said...

I am a BF mom and this whole article sickens me! This is what is wrong right here. BF moms whine and complain about people not understanding why they bf for so long, yet they treat the rest of the world like crap. Bullying someone into BF is not the solution. Don't whine about people looking at you and judging you when you are doing the same thing

Bllaze x said...

Hhhmmm..... I agree that this may be the case for a lot, maybe even most DFFs, but certainly not all.

From my own experience it was purely a lack of knowledge, I didn't even know the risk to formula feeding, let alone anything about re-lactating! That coupled with terrible medical advice because I was ill after the birth and had to stay in hospital for week, advice such as "If you can't hold her, you can't breast feed" and VOILA! one FF mum, who didn't choose to out of laziness. (I am not defensive though, as I will not feel guilty for something that wasn't my fault)

Knowledge is power, and second time around I am still nursing my 25 month old :)

Mrs. W. said...

Why is it that in order to feel good about your choice to breast feed you must make others feel bad about their choice to formula feed? This post embodies everything that every mom should find offensive, regardless of feeding choice. I can't believe I just wasted my time on your blog... said...

I breastfed because I am lazy. Feeding my son through a special bottle was way harder work than breastfeeding when he did finally latch on. Why make such huge assumptions about people? How badly do you need the validation?

Dedicated2BF said...

Wow, this is terrible. How can we judge someone like this. I breastfeed my baby and when I was pregnant swore it would be until she got her first tooth. Well now I find myself wondering if I can ever see myself actually not breastfeeding and what if she does choose to wean herself. It really makes me sad. I have 2 other children, my first child was born 7 weeks early and I was only 18. No one even mentioned to me that I could pump my milk, I was very sick after he was born and not allowed to see him until he was 5 days old so I didn't have the chance to even try to breastfeed. My second son was perfectly healthy and I immediately said I wanted to breastfeed. Well he wasn't a good latch and about two weeks into it I was bleeding so badly that everytime he spit up there would be blood. I panicked and decided to switch to formula, I was still young and didn't do research and no one I knew had ever breastfed. With my little girl, I researched from day one. Learned that there was going to be pain, sometimes blood, etc and worked through it and I am determined to stick to it for as long as possible. I am completely for breastfeeding but do not shun mothers because they choose to FF, sometimes when all you have ever seen if FF there isn't enough information or knowledge given to you to know what to expect and it can be very scary. No one ever told me I would have contractions the first several days when I was attempting to BF my 2nd son and that scared the holy hell out of me. And everyone told me "if it hurts, your doing it wrong" Well I now know that is not true, there will be pain, there will be sore nipples, there will be a weird feeling everytime your LO starts to suckle that is called the "let down". As long as they are good parents and take care of their little babies I support them no matter what. I get it, I have been on both side. Don't be so cruel and quick to judge.

Karla Bergen said...

I'm not sure it's always totally about reluctance to put out the effort (what you call "laziness"). I think that for many women, the idea of breastfeeding just makes them very uncomfortable because of how our culture sexualizes breasts. I suspect that many women who say that they "want" to breastfeed because they know the scientific evidence says it is best, but in reality approach breastfeeding with revulsion (or mixed feelings at the least) and are happy to have an "out" when they "can't" breastfeed. Then they are relieved that they don't have to cope with the embarrassment of breastfeeding. Maybe I'm wrong, but I've sensed this in many women I know - they would probably never admit it.

comingalive said...

It is too easy and often pushed on tired new moms to just "give baby a bottle". Uninformed doctors, nurses, partners, friends and family push the issue on struggling moms. I don't think the blame is solely on the mom. (It amazes me how few people search out knowledge for any topic). The whole culture surrounding babies needs to change.

Sure the post is blunt and judgemental. Judgment and/or criticism isn't necessarily a bad thing. It's like watching a friend make a bad choice repeatedly and staying silent or worse, supporting her choice to ram her life into a brick wall. Maybe she needs some blunt truth.

Maybe we don't need to work so hard not to offend people. It is hard to take a hard stance.

Iris Jurčić said...

This article is personal opinion from completely narrowminded person who paints the world black and white and has such ego that is convinced that the rest of the world must have same opinion about it as her. However world os actually 1000 shades of grey, and still a place where everyone can decide for themselves what their opinion is. You could have made your opinion heard without completely insulting those that make different chiose than you.

Chris and Jennifer said...

Wow guys. You know, her blog is called "The Snobby Side of Parenting"... I don't know about you, but when I read that I pretty much assumed she was going to have some strong opinions. No need to demonize her. She's not exactly shoving it down our throats. I mean, we did have to come here and actually read this ourselves. Nobody forced us.

Caroline P said...

Bravo! It was so good reading your article. I've been breastfeeding for almost two years, and I'm darn proud of that fact. I have had so many comments made during the duration - from bouts of mastitis and my doctor telling me formula won't do much harm to my baby, and now the "are you going to breastfeed until he's driving?"-type comment. I know no one in my circle of friends/acquaintances who have breastfed for more than a month, and their babies are sick half the time, most are obese & they are also extremely picky eaters! Of course my comments will also offend people, but they shouldn't have come here in the first place if they were looking for support on formula feeding. Thanks again!

David Elias said...

How hard does a woman have to try breastfeeding before one can reasonably say it just won't work? My wife and I believed wholeheartedly in breastfeeding...and when she wasn't successful at creating a good latch with our daughter we sought the advice of 6 different experts/specialists over the course of a month. Then finally one of them said, "I've never seen anyone's nipples look that bloody and should stop."
But we still kept trying until we were emotionally exhausted (to say nothing of the pain and physical harm that my wife suffered - including mastitis).
When we finally switched to dawned on me: my wife was just lazy and didn't try hard enough.

Melissa said...

At the end of the day, a good mom is a mom who loves her baby and who does her best for her baby every day. This looks different for every single mom on the planet. I'm sure we could persuade more reluctant moms that breastfeeding is best if we came at it from a place of understanding and compassion rather than judgement.

Blueberry's Mommy said...

Oh my heaven's guys, Chris and Jennifer was correct. Look at the title of the blog. That tells you that this is going to be a very opinionated blog. That's how it works. If you don't like it, don't read it. It is very easy to pass by.

I, however, really enjoyed the post. Thank you, ma'am, for sharing your opinions. I can see and understand everything that you said. And, while I agree with some of the commenters that it isn't always complete laziness, but maybe more of a belief that our doctors aren't there to give us bad information and our faith in them that leads to a failure at breastfeeding. A sad tale and one that is all too common, unfortunately.

Kaliarii said...

I probably wouldn't have been so bothered by this post, had it not been for the hypocrisy of the subject. You want to judge me for formula feeding, without ever knowing my story? Your prerogative. But don't complain about being judged yourself; I think this world would be so much better if we just tried to have a little compassion for one another, and, rather than pointing fingers, simply attempted some understanding.

And by the way? I'll take a formula-feeding mom who clearly loves and cares for her kids to a strung-out junkie who insists on breast-feeding. Not saying anything against breast-feeders, I just work for a battered women's shelter, and can say I've seen mothers who fit those two categories. Is formula ideal? No. But is it the worst thing you can do to your kid? Absolutely not. Could we ease up a touch?

And for those who are directing readers away from this blog simply for disagreeing with the tone of an article? Isn't discourse and discussion the whole point of a blog? Because, really, unless she's just truly a nasty person, the abrasiveness strikes me as a great way to get people talking. It's working. So let's let her defend herself; she's big enough to write the post, she's probably more than capable of addressing those who don't see the world from her shoes.

reilly810 said...

What's with all the outrage? How exactly is this piece of writing inaccurate? The author is talking about DFF's-defensive formula feeders. A special group of formula feeders that are defensive for the very reasons outlined in this piece.
Of course breastfeeders do not know the exact circumstances behind why another mother gives formula to her baby, but you can bet your ass that there are plenty of them out there that do so for the very reasons stated here. And they are plenty defensive about it because they know that they made the wrong choice because they are L.A.Z.Y.
I have met all kinds of mothers along my own journey of motherhood, and have seen mothers do amazing things and have to make incredibly hard choices in very stressful circumstances. I wasn't there during the 3 am attempts at breastfeeding that failed, where tears flowed and anxiety mounted and formula was chosen. I don't pass judgment on the mother who formula fed her first child and then selflessly gave it a go with her second not letting her past experiences discourage her. I don't judge the mother who had breast surgery or has a true rare condition that prevents her from nursing. I have seen mother baby dyads that have been separated in the NICU, babies that are too weak to nurse, all kinds of stories, and these mothers pumped, nursed, used supplemental systems. When they were told they couldn't make it work they searched for more information.
There are mothers who can't be bothered to nurse. I don't care if they have "hang ups" about their breasts or they think it's gross. GROW UP. Your baby is conceived through and will be born out of your vagina (unless you have a section). It's inherently sexual. GET OVER IT. If you have issues, that's a shame, but your child did not ask to be born. You don't have the right to inflict your hang ups onto your child.
As for information, you need to LOOK. That same effort you put into what stroller to buy or what crib to get? Put that effort into finding out how to feed your baby and what's best for him or her. If you can spend time filling out a baby registry and picking out a crib sheet set, you can spend a day or two on exploring information on infant health and feeding. Don't say you didn't know. The DFF has made the choice to formula feed way before she gets to the hospital to give birth.

spooks81 said...

Hahahahahahs you are funny.

Sweetpea said...

What a load of judgemental bull. Making broad sweeping statements judging all formula feeding mothers as lazy is totally wrong. Some people just can't breast feed. I tried for ages, went to breast feeding counselling and midwife help, but my daughter was having none of it! I ended up expressing for 2 months but couldn't cope (you try pumping for 1 hour, feeding for half an hour, washing and sterilising the bottles and pump then getting half an hour or less sleep before having to do it all again, 24 hours a day!). Yes some people formula feed because they think its easier, but don't tar everyone with the same brush!!!

Brianna Blackburn said...

your reply just proved you thought FF was easier ! "I ended up expressing for 2 months but couldn't cope (you try pumping for 1 hour, feeding for half an hour, washing and sterilising the bottles and pump then getting half an hour or less sleep before having to do it all again, 24 hours a day!"

Jade Reynolds said...

I love this post! It's a hard pill to swallow but people need to hear the truth! Not putting your babies needs before your own is LAZY! People say breast feeders are judgemental, I've been breastfeeding for 11 months now and the amount of people who've tried to make me switch to formula or undermined my decision (saying he was too small then to fat???!) have made me the advocate I am today! I've done all the research and I can't see how anyone would choose formula knowing the risks unless it was out of sheer selfishness and laziness! Society and attitudes need to change and this kind of tough love is exactly what we need to boost the breastfeeding rates and give the next generation the best start possible!

Tara Durman said...

This article is exactly why the mommy wars continue.

Amber McCarter said...

Wow, this is an incredibly judgmental and misguided article. And that is coming from one who is quite an enthusiastic breastfeeder, if not full-blown lactivisit.

1) There ARE reasons breastfeeding doesn't work out for everyone, some of them downright heart breaking.
2) Most mothers that intended to breastfeed but couldn't are quite devastated about it, and you would pin these mothers with the label of "lazy" on top of that?
3) No matter how a mother chooses to care for her baby or why, ALL mothers deserve support - it's a tough job no matter how you go about it, and we all get enough crap without fellow mothers dishing it out as well.

This actually made me somewhat sick to my stomach...


Sakeeta Rosen said...

This article is dead on. Formula feeding mothers are just lazy, and they always try to use the excuse that they didnt have enough milk. Its extremely rare to not have enough milk, so already we know they are all lying.

All mothers do not deserve support, only mothers who are trying deserve support. And obviously any mother who turns to formula isn't trying.

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