Breastfeeding Bullies

Is the choice to breastfeed or not a moral issue?  In America, hardly ever.

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  • corita

    Woohoo! Get those page views up!!

    (Is there a way I can say this and have it come across the way I mean it: teasing, and supportive, not snarky??)

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  • Sarah Cox

    Simcha, I couldn’t get my comment to submit on the Catholic Register page, not sure why…anyway thought I’d just put it here.

    So…I haven’t read everything everyone else has written yet but I have been thinking about this post a lot and started to write a response lots of times and then been interrupted, so, the kids are in be, here goes…

    1.

    Like Simcha, I spend a third of my day (and half my night) breastfeeding, my fat, happy baby! But that wasn’t always the case for me.

    My Mum is a die-hard breastfeeding advocate/midwife and my mother-in-law breastfeed 7 children, including a downs baby and was head of le leche league…So before my first baby was born I could have had a bumper sticker saying breast is best, but then…

    I couldn’t feed my baby, and I, like other women, agonised over giving him a bottle, partly because of social pressure, but I think at a deeper level there was something else that made the decision so difficult.

    What is that? That heartbreak, is it to do with grace building on nature? Why did it hurt so much? (I even went to confession about it…luckily I had a priest who set me straight!) That grief was very real for me and I have often pondered it.

    (my story is in this book: Women of Hope: http://www.connorcourt.com/catalog1/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=100) (Am I allowed to put that in there?!)

    2.

    I have a close friend who had breast cancer at a young age and has had a double mastectomy, she partially breastfed her 2nd baby with one breast – what a hero! And I know, she wants to screech at anyone who gives her funny looks/snide comments when she is bottlefeeding. She has 3 lovely, healthy little boys, and is now clear of cancer, Praise the Lord!

    3.

    Lactavists!

    (Can’t take credit for that…another of my friends came up with that term after a visit from a Lactation Consultant/Zealot, but I giggled about it for quite some time).

  • Martha

    Thanks, Simcha. Not being able to breastfeed is such a heartache. I finally got it to half work w/ #7, but even so I have to supplement, as my breastfed baby looked more like the skinny baby on the pic until I gave her a bottle to boot. Ugh. And yes, that baby died b/c of sexism and the culture. So sad. :,(

    CONGRATS on the new baby! May she enjoy her clothes-basket bed on the floor… I’m sure you’ve found somesuch suitable cozy place! ;D

  • Jennifer B

    Simcha wrote: “I am thoroughly convinced that breastfeeding is physically healthier for babies and mothers alike, and that the little ones are drinking in more than nutrition when they spend hours and hours folded in their mothers’ arms, fading in and out of sleep as they are fed.”

    It’s time to separate breastfeeding and nurturing. My tribe is fully bonded to me, young adults strong in their faith, and all this without a milk duct available to them. Folded in my arms, in their father’s arms, and loved and parented every day of their lives. I love your writing, Simcha. I just want to make sure that all mother’s know that love is the most important food that children receive from us.

  • mandamum

    I’m sorry Simcha, but you are wrong:

    http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/113/5/e435.abstract

    This study from 2003 says, “Assuming causality, however, promoting breastfeeding has the potential to save or delay ~720 postneonatal deaths in the United States each year.” So it turns out lack of breastfeeding isn’t only deadly in the 3rd world.

    To put this in context, according to NHSTA as laid out on mostgladly.typepad.com, “NHTSA data show that in the five-year period 1998-2002, 1996 children under age 4 died in US car crashes, or approximately 399/year. Of those, 766 (or ~153 per year) were unrestrained.”

    To save 153 children, we find it good to promote car seats (and even to suggest that those who might restrain their children and don’t aren’t doing a good thing), but to save 720 children a year in the US, we can’t suggest that *those who can* should breastfeed? And perhaps try to set up a system whereby those who can’t breastfeed can still give their children as many of the benefits as possible?

    I agree–no one needs to bully. But breastfeeding or not can still be a life and death decision even in the developed world.

  • http://worksofanselm.blogspot.com Naomi A.

    This was a really encouraging article, thank you so much for posting it.

    To the commenter above: unfortunately, all of the studies we see done on the harmful effects of formula are extremely post hoc, and don’t take into consideration other factors in the lives of the typical bottle fed baby in America. It may not be PC to say, but the fact is the majority of women in our country who bottle feed are women from lower income neighborhoods who are not married and very likely weren’t meaning to get pregnant. I don’t believe that a child is worth less if he wasn’t planned, but a woman in that situation is much less likely to care for her child properly if she didn’t even want the child in the first place. These types of women often bottle feed because they want to be able to leave their child with grandma so they can go out unhindered, and WIC gives them hundreds of dollars of formula every month for free. Of course, a mother who puts her own desires before the care of her child is going to likely neglect her children in other ways as well: this type of mother is also not very likely to pay attention to whether her child is getting a well-rounded diet or is being cared for properly when sick. I say this having grown up in these neighborhoods, and seeing it time and time again.

    If you look at what these studies have actually observed (not what they have poorly inferred from what they’ve observed), you’ll see that formula has not been shown to cause death or even increased likelihood of sickness anymore than dirty hair has been shown to increases those things. They are both often the result of lazy parenting, which is the true culprit for the poor health of kids.

    A woman who is genuinely unable to nurse already often feels severe regret and crippling depression. Why rub salt on the wounds of those women by trying to convince the world that formula – which they have no choice but to give their children – is poisonous, simply because women who bottle feed out of laziness aren’t responding to a less-extreme argument?

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