I don’t mean all breastfeeding moms, but I DO mean the breastfeeding nazi moms I’ve been encountering lately.
As a pregnant woman who wants nothing but the best for her child, like practically every mom I’ve ever met as person and as a teacher, I’ve been looking into all the different options I have.
Crib vs Co-sleeping
Disposable vs Cloth Diapers
Vaccinations and their schedule
and the big one…Breast vs Formula feeding
Without a personalized baby care and feeding guide (seriously…how much would I KILL for one of those…something to unlock all the workings of my baby and explain her to me…I’d take it now or in the hospital..I just want one) I can only guess what will work for us, based on knowing myself for almost 30 years and the husband for 3.5. I know how we function as a couple and as I want to continue to do so, I have to take that into account.
I’m a geek…so I’ve researched each issue, trying to understand where both sides are coming from. Some decisions were simple, like picking disposable diapers over cloth. Yes, I’m increasing my carbon footprint, and yes I know cloth is better for the environment…but you know what? It’s gross, and I’m lazy. And while the cloth diaper route is cheaper if you wash them at home, it’s not cheaper when you factor in the service that I am spoiled enough to require. Other decisions were harder, like the decision to breastfeed.
I’ve never had any romantic views on breastfeeding, unlike every breastfeeding book I seem to encounter which assures me in the most flowery language possible that breast is best and women having been doing it since the dawn of time. Which is nice, except they’ve also found 3000 year old bottles in archeological digs, too.
So why do it?
The allergist convinced me. The husband has SEVERE allergies, to the point where he spent his whole childhood sick because his house was trying to kill him and no one could figure out what it was that was making him so sick. The culprit? Dust mites. We have leather couches, and use covers on all mattresses, pillows and go so far as to travel with the covers as well. Personally I have seasonal allergies that kill me from April until July. Fucking trees. He explained that our child had a stastical probability of 75% or better that she’ll develop allergies to something in her life. He said that considering that, I should strongly consider breastfeeding for the first 6 months at least, if not the first year to help reduce her chances of getting allergies of that magnitude. I thought about my Mother In Laws descriptions of what it was like to watch the husband be so sick, and I just couldn’t stand it. If I could make them even a little bit better, I wanted to try.
However, this decision did not mean I was necessarily thrilled at the idea. While I have zero modesty and zero problem with the idea of publicly breastfeeding my child, I wasn’t thrilled at the idea of having to cart her around all the time so that her food source would always be readily available. I wasn’t thrilled at the idea of having to get up in the middle of the night for EVERY single feeding with no option to outsource one of them to my husband. For that matter, I wasn’t thrilled that the husband would miss out on the chance to feed our daughter. I worried about never having the time to do the kind of intricate cooking that I love and find relaxing because some of my dishes take HOURS (not that I think I’ll have a LOT of time to do this, but that I couldn’t ask my husband to watch the baby for however long it would take to do it for a break of me time).
I think that breastfeeding is feminist. I also think that bottle feeding is a feminist choice. In a first world country like the US, I also think that formula is healthy enough as is our water supply that it really is a choice that every mom/family needs to make on their own.
And here is where the wheels fell off the wagon.
Because I have run into rabid breast-feeder after rabid breast-feeder who now is telling me I should feed my daughter for AT LEAST two years or I’ve failed. Because I’ve run into breastfeeding nazis who tell me that pumping and giving my daughter to my husband for a feeding or two a day means I don’t love her enough. Because I’ve run into online groups who say if you want to join this group, you need to agree that breastfeeding IS NOT a choice.
How dare they judge an individual mom’s choice on ANYTHING.
I’ve gotten judged for my desire for a medicated birth without anyone stopping and asking me why I need one…and the answer is that I had back surgery two years ago and my back could very well herniate another disc in my back from the pushing without the help of an epidural. That the right choice for me may very well be an elective C section. Beyond that…maybe I’m just done with being in deep pain after spending two months unable to walk without a walker or get around without a wheelchair because of the pain my back caused me prior to the surgery.
Breastfeeding is painful and it’s not easy…no matter if it is the biologically “natural” way to do things. Plenty of mom have tons of trouble with latching, and it not like anyone went into your womb and explained how to latch and suck properly to the baby. It’s a learning process, and not the easiest one in the world.
Breastfeeding isn’t compatible with every job…and assuming you’re not in the middle/upper middle classes, working probably isn’t a choice. As a former teacher, I was shocked to find out that a female dominated profession like teaching is inherently breastfeeding unfriendly. Many jobs that will at least agree to let you breastfeed don’t provide you with a place to do it (and under your desk or in the bathroom isn’t a great choice). The few that do provide rooms or are labeled breastfeeding friendly, aren’t, necessarily (See the book “The Milk Memo’s” for more about this). I can hardly blame a working mom for going the easier route.
In their zelousness to get us all to breastfeed, the nazis have gone so far as to make me (I’m sure among others) so annoyed with them that I’m almost (ALMOST) considering feeding my baby formula in protest. But I know that is a juvenile move and accomplishes nothing but the equivalent of sticking my tongue out, which is nowhere near as important as the allergy protection I might be able to give Emby.
I get that when you’re fighting for a cause, you have to push that cause for all you’re worth. But I don’t think that pissing off your allies is the way to do it.
Why is it that whenever women try to band together on an issue, we end up fighting amongst ourselves? Why not fight against the three states without breastfeeding laws (I’m looking at you Massachusetts, North Dakota and West Virginia. I know you have a bill in the Senate, MA–let’s see you pass it before the session is over)? Why not fight to make employers with more than X number of employees responsible for providing a breastfeeding room that is NOT in the bathroom? Why not fight to make breastpumps covered by medical insurance for all women (instead of specific cases), or at the very least a flexible spending account (they’re not covered by mine)?
Why is it that we must attack one another and create dichotomies and insecurities?
The second wave of feminism was about CHOICES.
Staying home and working are both valid choices–stop trying to claim you’re better than the other.
Breastfeeding and Bottle Feeding are both valid choices—stop trying to say Breastfeeders are BETTER.
I realize it’s along the lines of “Can’t we all just get along?” but seriously…
Can’t we all agree that we love our children and want to make the best choices for them.? That the best choices for our families may not be the best ones for our friends families? And especially let’s agree that we don’t know what’s best for strangers families.