OK, that’s totally not true. I don’t hate breastfeeding. But “I’m Apathetic About Breastfeeding” just doesn’t pack the same punch.
According to the Fearless Formula Feeder, August 1-7 is World Breastfeeding Week. I’ve been writing a breastfeeding-themed post in my head for months, and decided this was the time to actually type it out.
When I think about the mechanics of breastfeeding – that a baby is sucking on its mother’s breast and milk is coming out – it kind of grosses me out. I realize this is my, for lack of a better word, problem. So what do I do? I just don’t think about it. For example, when my friend Shaina breastfeeds her daughter, I don’t think of the mechanics. I just think, “Oh, Shaina’s feeding Theron.” (Well, at this point in our relationship, I’m really thinking, “If Shaina’s feeding Theron, where did Cassie go?” because Cassie probably stole Theron’s binky or sippy. )
I am not a big fan of breastfeeding propaganda. I’m not a big fan of any propaganda, really. I try to avoid Nestle products because of their lies about formula in African nations as well as their policies about water rights. The whole “breast is best” thing, though… that really irks me. Sometimes, breast is not best. Sometimes, breast is not possible. That’s why I love that Fearless Formula Feeder exists. The stories from real women everywhere show that sometimes, breastfeeding propaganda hurts mothers and babies. When moms try to breastfeed to the exclusion of all else, because, come hell or high water, they will have that bond with their babies, are they really forming a loving bond? No. Every woman who shares her experience on FFF explains that “aha!” moment when they realize that breastfeeding doesn’t equal bonding, and formula feeding doesn’t mean your child will never bond with you.
Now, I have nothing against breastfeeding. I think women should breastfeed if they want to, and no, I don’t think they should have to “cover up” in most circumstances. But I don’t think that breastfeeding should be this paragon of motherhood that it’s often made out to be. Mothers who choose formula shouldn’t be made out to be “less than” or “other,” and they often are.
I also think that breastfeeding or formula feeding should be a choice. No one should be forced to do one or the other. I have seen so many people – usually breastfeeding moms – who say that formula should only be available with a prescription. I can’t even go there, there are so many problems with that statement.
Oh, and can I just weigh in for a moment on the quote, “I make milk. What’s your super power?” A super power is something that most people can’t do. It’s extraordinary. All female mammals (and some males) can lactate. That’s not a super power. It’s actually the opposite – it’s expected behavior. I don’t see a reason to be proud of breastfeeding. I don’t see a reason to be proud of formula feeding. Either way, the baby gets fed. We should be proud that we remembered to feed our babies? Because that’s setting the bar pretty low, even for today’s over-rewarded children.
I am neither for nor against breastfeeding. I am for all of the mommy wars about breast vs. bottle to go away. Or, as the new parenting advice making its way through my Facebook friends states, CTFD: Calm the F*ck Down.
I leave you now with a story. I was in Santa Rosa, CA. Santa Rosa is a very “crunchy” place to live. However, it’s not too crunchy to have a McDonald’s. So, when we were early to go to the Winter Faire at my friend’s Waldorf school, we stopped for some seriously unhealthy food. I had to change Cassie’s diaper. She wasn’t yet two months old. An older (50’s-ish) woman was using the restroom, and, while washing her hands, made small talk with me. Then she asked, “Are you formula feeding?”
I tensed, wondering if I should outright fight with the woman or just go with the easy, “Yes. She’s adopted.”
I just said, “Yes.”
She smiled and said, “Good for you!”
I don’t think formula feeding or breastfeeding deserves a “good for you.” I think being a mom who responds to her baby’s needs and still finds time to shower and put on pants deserves a “good for you.”
I just don’t get the whole mommy wars thing. Why can’t we all just get along?