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Jul 16, 2010

Different Stripes, Same Colours

Of late, I have been an avid reader of the Offbeat Mama / Offbeat Bride websites: both of which are AMAZING resources. They both promote and share the slightly offbeat wedding and parenting choices people from all over the world have made, and are making.

Recently, an article popped up on lotus birth and the choice this particular mother had made to create a kind of painting/print with the left over placenta. I was intrigued, mildly putting it, so I clicked over to her blog.

She is a proud homebirther, breastfeeder, unschooler, babywearer and feminist: all of which are admirable. I enjoyed reading through a number of her blog posts: they were a fascinating look at all the above things and how she incorporates them into her, and her child's, world. Those things by themselves can be seen to be quite positive things: I myself fully support a mother's choice (and right) to do all of those things (With the very mild exception of unschooling, but that is more because of my experiences with homeschooling).

But then I came across this blog entry: and was, well, startled!

She writes:
Not all books are as much fun as The Gruffalo, quite a few require editing, such as the following book. The entire book is about love, how it makes the main character feel, that it's nice to let other people know you love them etc. Quite nice messages, and then you get to the end page and the illustration teaching readers how to express their love for family members:
A fucking bottle! Not in this house, bub! In this house love doesn't involve evil multinational corporations profiting from the deaths of millions of children around the world. This is just one of the many ways breastfeeding is ostracised in Australian society and artificial feeding is normalised. A woman's earliest lessons about breastfeeding are learned through childhood play: acting out baby feeding, seeing it around her, reading about it in her picture books. Given the dangers of artificial feeding and the importance of breastfeeding I believe authors of children's books have a moral obligation to show breastfeeding imagery if ever they wish to show babies feeding. So this page was torn out of "the bunny book". Furthermore, WTF is going on in that bunny family?! The washing can wait, Bunny mum, your baby needs feeding and connection to you! That's why you have breasts!

Errr....wow, just wow. I can't imagine how hurtful that would be to read as bottle feeding mother: particularly if you couldn't breastfeed for a legitimate medical reason. Whilst I agree that breastfeeding needs to be more promoted and supported (I come from a very long line of breastfeeders, and was a breastfed bub), I don't think that bottle feeding should be demonized either. It is my personal belief that breast is best, and should be attempted and be a normal, accepted part of society, but equally, those that bottle feed should not be hated upon for not being able to breastfeed either.

To me, you cannot complain about being ostracized for breastfeeding, but then turn around and do the exact same thing to other mothers whom made different choices to you.


It reminded me that there are extremists on either end of society. I can clearly remember my mother "editing" sections of my books because they contained things she didn't agree with (eg. the Laura Ingalls's books mentioning Jack Frost). To this day, I still hate having my books messed with (eg pages taken out, or scribbled over). It had an impact on me: certainly not the impact my mother intended, but an impact nevertheless.



I have posted a followup to this post: Different Stripes, Sames Colours Part 2


Jo said...

I had this exact conversation with a pg friend of mine recently. Both she and I agreed we'd like to try breastfeeding, but if it didn't work out, then no worries either. I'm certainly not a BF Nazi!! I think there is room for both. Also, what about Dad bonding with baby? He doesn't have breasts, but he has an equal relationship, I would say.

If my time ever comes, I plan to BF -- and to pump, so that in the middle of the night, Mo can enjoy feeding our little one, too. And, if it doesn't work out (like in my sister's case with her daughter), then I'll be okay with that, too.

There are so many OTHER, actually life-threatening issues to get worked up about. Breastfeeding just isn't one of them for me.


S.I.F. said...

I agree with you 100% on this one lady! I simply do not understand why people can't understand that doing what is best for your family doesn't necessarily mean it is what is best (or even possible) for someone elses family. I could totally see her having a quick post about how a picture like that makes her sad, but to go off like that? You're right. It is equally hurtful to someone who bottle feeds for whatever reason....

Tristopher said...

Did you read anything about the breastfeeding kerfuffle a month or so ago? It revolved around one female columnist claiming she chose not to breastfeed because it felt creepy to have a baby "where only a lover has been before". Here are some links:


It's strange. :-P

Princess Jo said...

Yes, Tris I had heard of it...might do a followup post on that case as well!


Sazz said...
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Sazz said...

I'm glad you enjoyed other parts of our blog. the fact that this post upset you and your commenters reaffirms for me the importance of limiting what social messages get to my daughter about infant feeding (especially as someone so young).

The sad reality is that millions of children die every year because of ABM when they could have been breastfed. The children who don't die have much more frequent health problems and greater health problems than breastfed kids (same for the mothers). Meanwhile 98% of women could breastfeed their cihldren if they had adequate support and the right information. this is why 98% of mothers breastfeed in Norway. It's not that Norweigan breasts are special, or better than Australian or American breasts. It's that they have a decent support system.

What about those 2% you ask? With 98% of mothers lactating there is no shortage of milk for donation. Milk banks are the answer. ABM would not be needed at all.

I really resent avid breastfeeding advocats being called breastfeeding nazis. That is SO much more offensive than anything I've written or said! Nazis deliberately killed millions of people. Breastfeeders don't kill people. And breastfeeding advocates are trying to save lives. It makes more sense to call the manufacturers of ABM "nazis" because like the nazis they're work results in the death of millions.

Finally, it's a common mistake the one you've made: assuming I'm a hater of bottle feeders, but it's still a mistake. Breastfeeding advocates don't hate bottle feeders. We hate the society that failed those mothers and we REALLY hate the manufacturers and marketers who profited from swindeling those mothers and babies out of their health.

I hope this has shed some light on where I'm coming from and spurs readers on to look into the dangers of ABM and the importance of breastfeeding. This can start you off:










Sazz said...
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Sazz said...
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Sazz said...

Apologies for all the comments! My computer was playing up and telling me they weren't publishing when in fact they were :)

Anonymous said...

I do not have baby doll bottles in this house. Breastfeeding is normal here. Its not to say that I hate bottlefeeding mothers or children at all.
True support for breastfeeding in most Western countries is so limited and is often subtly or directly discouraged especially over a certain age. I feel like I am losing a war. I agree with Sazz, she has some very valid points.
It should be a rare thing for people to use formula but like many things its about money and corruption. Its fair to say its a most often a choice for a woman to make, to feed her baby or not but at the end of the day what is she really choosing? If she can feed and she chooses not to its the consequences she must be aware of.
Often I hear my friends say they stopped feeding because they were embarrassed. How unfortunate is that? Other times its because they don't have the support especially if they have to go back to work or they just have so much to get done. Like washing, cleaning, never saying no, being supermum.
I know, I feel it every day. Our society doesn't often respect or value that breastfeeding relationship... as PND is on the rise.....
There is a danger to bottlefeeding, we must be aware.

Kestrel said...

I find the comment breast feeding nazi to be incredibly hurtful.

How is promoting the natural, normal way of feeding a infant akin to a group of people who committed genocide on an entire race?

I don't understand the point of this blog post at all except that you are trying to be all things to all people. And we mustn't be mean to the people who choose to bottle feed.

I have never in my life called a woman who bottle feeds a nazi or any other hurtful appellation.

Breast feeding is normal, bottle feeding is not. In 98% of cases it is a choice. But in 98% of children's books we see bottles. This is normalising bottle feeding.

For what it's worth my husband has had no problems bonding with any of our four children despite lacking mammary glands or a desire to shove a plastic bottle filled with an artificial formula into our children's mouths.

Anonymous said...

Why are people who advocate for breastfeeding seen as extremists or worse, when this attitude is not directed towards people who advocate for other normal and healthy things?

If I said to you that I wished all children had access to clean, uncontaminated drinking water, or medical care when needed, would you assume that I hated parents who were not able to provide these things for their children? Or would you understand that I simply cared about the plight of those children?

As for removing pages from books, think about it another way. What if your child had a book that showed a toddler smoking? What if you bought 10 books, and found that 9 of them showed toddlers smoking? Would you be comfortable with your child seeing this and concluding that it was normal? The risks of not being breastfed are real and major risks, just as the risks of smoking are. Around 1.5 million children die every year because they were not breastfed. Millions more suffer unnecessary health problems.

As another commenter stated, the vast majority of women can breastfeed, and if we achieved the optimal rates of 98-99% of babies breastfed, it would be a simple matter to provide milk banks for those very few babies who cannot be fed by their mothers. The only reason artificial baby milk ("formula") is widely seen as an acceptable "choice" is because it is pushed by a multi billion dollar advertising campaign.

If the fact that I would like to save the lives of 1.5 million babies a year makes me a Nazi, then I suggest that some people need to learn a little history!

Jo said...

I apologize if my offhand comment offended anyone here. It wasn't intentional. I do, however, find your statistics a bit alarming. I've read the links provided, and it seems as though no conclusive evidence can be found that formula KILLS infants. And yet that's what you are claiming here.

My point was simply that what works for one may not work for another. And it's totally not my business to tell another woman what she should be doing with her breasts, or with her child.

I think a little more acceptance of others is what is needed, whichever side of the BF coin you fall on.


Princess Jo said...

I have done a more in depth post about my stance on this issue here:




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