Thursday, March 12, 2009

Breastfeeding Backlash

My husband set me up with a slew of crap to read and view on my lunch break about all this unreasonable pressure on women to breastfeed their babies, not to mention the guilt they are made to feel for choosing formula over breastmilk. I mean, gah, it’s so unfair!

Shut up. Shut the hell up. Why are doctors and scientists and mothers trying to rationalize breastfeeding? Why does the debate continue to rage? It couldn’t be simpler. You carry a baby for nine months, you give birth to said baby, YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO THAT BABY DOES NOT END THERE. If it did, your boobs wouldn’t fill up with milk three days later.

We don’t need to understand breastmilk on a molecular level or to conduct long-term studies of breastfed vs. formula-fed children to decide what the best food is for a baby. Common sense tells us that a mother’s body, which has been nurturing and growing a baby during gestation, will produce the perfect food on which her baby will thrive. Her body knows more than a crapshoot of chemicals in a can. True, a formula-exclusive diet will not kill a baby…anymore…unless you live in China…but it’s not the best diet. It says so right on the can of formula.

Of course there are circumstances in which mothers are unable to feed their infants, and they have every right be pissed at getting the stink-eye from strangers for whipping out a bottle of formula. Let me be clear: it is the unwilling, not the unable, who rub me the wrong way. Women who are unwilling to breastfeed argue that breastfeeding is awkward, weird, inconvenient, painful, shape-altering, and difficult to continue while working. Yes, it is all of those things. It is also many wonderful things, but I won’t enumerate them because, apparently, that propaganda keeps getting shoved down our throats.

Breastfeeding isn't a trend; it's the next fundamental step after giving birth. A mother who chooses not to bother for only selfish reasons is shirking her duty. And her complaints of being made to feel guilty for putting formula on her baby shower registry? Well, maybe she should feel guilty. I can’t say this enough: If you are going to have a baby, HAVE a baby. Otherwise, what’s the point? You will have sore nipples, you will be sleep-deprived, you will get peed on. It is all part of having a baby, YOUR baby. You would lay down your life for your baby. You won’t lay down a boob?

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