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Jul 24, 2010

Different Stripes, Same Colours: Part 2

Hmmm, well my breastfeeding post certainly has garnered some interest, hasn't it?!?

Sazz, I for one, am glad that you came over to express your side of the story.

But I will reiterate a couple of things, that seemed to have been lost here. One, I come from a long line of breast feeders. My mum, grandma, and nearly all my aunts and cousins breast fed. Like I said, I strongly believe that breast is best, and should be attempted with each and every baby. I agree that breastfeeding isn't very well supported in the general community here. As a childcare worker, I have seen the difference between breastfed bubs and bottle fed. As for myself I plan to extend breastfeed/child led weaning, if I am able (and if we get a baby!), and I see no reason why I couldn't achieve either. I have already spent extensive time in preparing (read fighting) my anti-extended breastfeeding in-laws over it. So you are really talking to the converted here! :-) (I also plan on cosleeping, babywearing and I would love to have a homebirth, although, due to my medical problems, and a bowel resection (not keyhole), I don't think I will get that!)

I think we have safely established that breast is best, and should be supported and happening more often. But life doesn't often work out that way: the ideal and the reality don't often happen the way they should. Does that mean I judge the women whom tried and failed to breastfeed? No. Does it mean I feel sorry for them, or that they are some what 'less than'? Depending on their reason for not breastfeeding, I do not. They made that choice for their child, whether it was properly informed or not: it was their personal, parenting decision. Just it was their decision to own (or not) a pram, and co-sleep (or not), etc. But it is their choice. For me, it isn't a matter of sitting on the fence, it is just that I respect a parent's right to choose (just as I would expect my parenting choices to be respected), particularly in light of the current climate. That being said, even I will admit to disagreeing with mothers that don't even try breastfeeding, or don't breastfeed because it somehow interferes with their sexuality. But ultimately, it is their choice, and I respect it.

As for taking the page out of the book: it isn't something I support, mostly because I had personal experiences with having my books interfered with as a child: and it wasn't a positive thing for me. In fact, it made a bigger deal out of something that I hadn't noticed until that point.

In your case, as a child, I don't think I would have even noticed the bottle. Children don't read into things the way we do: their biggest influence is you and your actions, not a picture in a book. Whilst my mother's focus was not on breastfeeding, I still managed to grow up with a very positive perspective on it: because I was surrounded by women whom either had, or were, breastfeeding. Heck, I even remember breastfeeding my doll: and bottle feeding her too, but I can never remember thinking bottle was better, or even worrying about where the stuff in the bottle came from! . From what I can see, your children get to experience those things too. Leaving a page with a different perspective in a book isn't going to change those positive, natural experiences.

However, what are they learning if you teach them to deal with things you disagree with by tearing out pages in a book? 

Your post reminded me of how my parents talked: (about different topics, but with the same passion and zeal, definitely): which was why I decided to post about it. I wouldn't even say I was upset...concerned about the way it was presented, absolutely.

And also, I would like to point out that I did not call anyone a breast feeding nazi. And to those that did get worked up about it, I would like to gently say to pop over to the other Jo's blog, and offer her some positive support. Her experiences with breastfeeders up to this point, for all you know, may have been negative. As it is, she is going through a really tough time right now, and I don't think picking on her choice of words is a particularly nice thing to do.



Laura said...

I absolutely despise Mommy Wars, and usually stay out of them to the best of my ability. There is enough lack of support for mothers out there without us jumping down each others' throats for the non-abusive things we decide. It is appalling to me when a breastfeeding mom makes it sound like non-breastfeeding moms are abusive (and I have heard that word thrown around). It is equally appalling to me when a non-breastfeeding mom harasses a breastfeeding mom for doing so in public. And on and on and on. I think it's a result of being spoiled by a society that has the luxury of making those choices. 100 years ago, we would have been grateful that our child had food, and hell, survived past the first year. Let's get some perspective, folks. We do what is best for our own families. I do not appreciate people who claim I am a bad mother simply because I read different scientific studies than they did.

End rant.

Jo said...

Thank you, Jo, for your kind words. I'd like to apologize again for my poor choice of words. What I should have said, and what I meant, is that while I am pro-breastfeeding for MYSELF, I am in no way fanatical about it. (And please don't read into THAT statement either, and tell me about how fanatics and Nazis are related. I'm a teacher who has taught the Holocaust in depth each year for six years and I am well aware of the history and how horrible it truly was.)

The bottom line is that I said something without thinking, something I am quite guilty of in real life, too. I'm human. So are all of you.

To make it clear, I think breastfeeding is awesome. I want to try it, and hope that any woman in the world who wants to do it is able to. But the bottom line is that not everyone can. My mother couldn't (my sister was allergic to her milk), and my sister couldn't (her daughter refused after being in the NICU and on a feeding tube immediately after birth). Does that make either of them bad people? Should either of them have been shamed because they weren't able to feed their babies from their breasts? And does it matter that my sister pumped for six months and fed my niece breast milk from a bottle? Does that lessen the good effects in any way?

I agree with Laura. The decision to breast-or-bottle feed does not amount to abuse, and so should be a matter of personal choice. I know that the statistics being thrown around are scary: 1.5 million babies die from formula a year? Unfortunately, the evidence is non-conclusive, unlike that from smoking (which was mentioned as an equivalent earlier).

I don't mean to go on a rant, here, Jo, honestly I don't. I guess I just feel passionate about a woman's right to make her own decisions for her children, and to be supported by other women, and not looked down on, which is the point I think you were trying to make in the first place.


shadowspring said...

Leaving a page with a different perspective in a book isn't going to change those positive, natural experiences.

I loved this sentence, Jo. Exactly. Love your children, nurture them, and teach them to be gracious to people who live differently from your family. It's easy and gentle and models the right way to relate to one another.

If my child notices that another family does things differently, I just casually explained that different families have different rules.

My children took it all in stride and went right on living by our values. Positive, natural is the
way to go.

Princess Jo said...

Well said Laura. I totally agree with everything you have just said.

And well, Jo, you are just a bit fabulous in my book and I have a lot of admiration for what you have survived. (and that goes for you too Laura!)

My point has always been that I try to respect a parent's right to choose.


studentrntiffany said...

I love that you have already started working with your inlaws! I had to start with my own family recently as they are anti breast.

Good for you!!

Happy ICLW

Liddy said...

Wishing you the very best with your inlaws.

An ICLW Visit from #107 (mfi, speedskating, strength)
liddy @ the unfair struggle

Janey981 said...

Thanks for your post. For what it's worth, I exclusively breastfed for the first 8 days of my baby's life, but she ended up in hosptial with a tube feed due to weight loss. Tried again, but an infection meant I had to take antibiotics so stop breast feeding for a week. After that, we doubled-up for 12 weeks (breast and formula) and then moved to formula only. It took me a long time to get over the 'guilt' of 'failing'. But in the end I realised my actual job was... to feed my baby. In whatever way worked best for us all. I think breastfeeding is fantastic. But when it doesn't work out or people make other choices, to me that's not a big deal.

Sophie said...

I think we should not forget "our bodies our choice"

I think that breastfeeding is great although I like to remind I was bottle fed (mom had no milk) and I turned out ok.

I saw a friend of mine having raw nipples, getting blood out and I'll never ever judge a woman not even want to try for whatever reason. If after 9 months you'd like to regain control of your body, that's your choice too.

our bodies our choices.

don't let yourself be beat down by people who like guiltying others.


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