08 August 2013

Another One About Breastfeeding

I've seen several posts/links in the past few days basically bashing World Breastfeeding Week for existing. As if the very idea that women need/want support for breastfeeding equates to hating formula, hating mothers who use formula, and probably hating puppies and Jesus, too.

Newsflash: Breastfeeding is not the opposite of formula feeding. They are not different sides of the spectrum, good vs. bad. It's not a contest. There are no teams. They are both ways to feed a baby.

But . . . (you knew that was coming, right?) . . . there are some truths about breastfeeding that folks simply don't like to hear.
The vast majority of women are physically capable of breastfeeding. As with everything in life, exceptions exist. However, they are not. at. all. as commonplace as we've been led to believe. (People really don't like this one. It makes moms, especially new moms, defensive and twitchy. But it doesn't make it any less true.) 

Just because most women can do it doesn't mean it's (necessarily) intuitive. There is a learning curve. How quickly you master that curve depends on a lot of factors, including the level of support (and the attitudes) of those closest to the mother.

We live in a society that doesn't bat an eye at a baby with a bottle but gasps at the sight of a baby on a breast, which is incredibly unfortunate. We are mammals, and as such feed our babies milk from the mother. Sometimes babies need to eat in the presence of other humans. I know, this is shocking information. 
Mothers are never asked to leave a public place for bottle-feeding. Nor are they ever offered a blanket or shown where the restroom is so they can bottle-feed in private and not bother any "innocent" bystanders. (Note: It is "legal" to breastfeed your baby anywhere you are legally entitled to be. The fact that this has to be pointed out to most people boggles me.)

Organizations dedicated to the encouragement of breastfeeding do not exist to make non-breastfeeders feel bad. They exist because mothers need them to.

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