This week I will be doing a series of posts on breastfeeding.
And as you can see from the title — I’m sure you know where I’m going with this.
My feelings on breastfeeding are a bit complicated. I nursed my first two successfully for well over a year. And I was quite smug about it. Things changed with baby number three. It was a struggle that made me re-think my entire philosophy on breastfeeding and how breastfeeding is yet another guilt – inducing choice that women have to make. And the conclusion I came to when I went through my breastfeeding hell with my third baby was this:
Breastfeeding culture is not friendly to women — it’s coercive.
And here’s where it gets complicated — because I’m not anti-breastfeeding. I’m a breastfeeding advocate. A breastfeeding advocate who thinks it’s a woman’s choice as to whether her breasts will be used as a feeding device. And perhaps the term “feeding device” is not correct — because the breasts are also a source of nurturing for the infant — an experience — that if it all goes smoothly — is actually quite lovely.
But when it’s not a lovely experience, then the whole nurture aspect goes out the window. If mommy is stressed, then baby is stressed.
A woman should not have to make excuses as to why she’s not breastfeeding. A woman doesn’t “give up”. She comes to the conclusion that:
- It’s not for her. Period.
- She gave her body up for nine months and for the love of god she just wants it back.
- It’s none of your damn business what she does with her boobs.
- She gave it a go but complications arose and life is too short to worry about feeding her baby from her boobs when there’s a perfectly acceptable alternative — formula.
The F word.
Formula. It ain’t poison. It’s food. And whether you believe it or not — if prepared correctly — it is a perfectly acceptable and nutritious alternative to breast milk.
For the next week I’ll touch on how my idea of breastfeeding has evolved from a you-must-breastfeed-your-baby-even-if-it-means-martyring-yourself mentality to the idea of breastfeeding as it relates to feminism, choice and Total Motherhood.
Total Motherhood being an ideology held up by society that is, according to Joan Wolf a professor of Women’s Studies at Texas A&M University, a “moral code in which individual mothers are ultimately held responsible for any harm that befalls their children.” A code that, essentially, expects women to anticipate any and all harm that may befall their children, and eradicate it. If a mother fails, then she is made to feel guilty — perhaps not directly, but indirectly in the form of mommy blogs, articles, and mommy forums that reflects a general message pervading our society:
That mothers hold the key to our children’s well being, and if we choose not to breastfeed, we are throwing away the key. An idea so fucking backwards that it essentially throws women under the bus all over again.
I mean, really. Don’t you think women have endured enough? Aren’t you tired of being made to feel guilty about every decision you make?
Tomorrow I’ll touch on my past beliefs on breastfeeding and the difficulties I faced with a baby whose hunger for life literally mangled my breasts — and how a certain blog helped me through it.
Until then, may you feel empowered with every decision you make!