January 3, 2010

First Rant of the New Year

I've become a bit of a birth junkie since Charlie was born. I actually care about home births and birth centers and VBACs and unmedicated childbirth now. I do subscribe to a few birth blogs and follow some other birth junkies on Twitter, and most of the time I appreciate what they have to say.

The past couple of days, however, I've seen some really ridiculous (and even hateful) things floating around.

First of all, there was a discussion about bottle feeding in a Zales commercial. A blogger was/is upset with the fact that the baby is being bottle fed in the commercial and thought that it'd be a good idea to let Zales know about it.

My initial response to this was, "Really? Seriously?"

And it still is, kind of.

I do understand where she's coming from. Bottle feeding is being passed off as the thing to do for babies, but breast feeding will always be the absolute best way to feed your baby. There's no arguing with that.

I also understand that commercials like this may make it even more difficult for breast feeding to be accepted as a natural and non-sexual thing to do.

However, as a mother who formula feeds her baby (and yes, suffers immense amounts of guilt over it), I feel personally attacked by such a strong stance against bottle feeding. Choosing to give up pumping and breast feeding was so, so hard for me, but ultimately it ended up being the best thing for our family at that time. I feel guilty about formula feeding every single day because I know that it is in fact inferior to breast milk.

However, we had good reasons for switching over entirely to formula, and that is not something I should feel guilty about. I've learned from this experience and am planning to breast feed whatever other children we may have. I think breast feeding is a wonderful thing, and it'll probably always sting a little that I wasn't able to nurse Charlie. And stuff like this does not help.

Mothers need support to succeed at breast feeding, not judgment. I so just want people to leave their rhetoric at the door and focus on ways to help mothers breast feed their children (if that's what the mothers want).

(You can see the Zales commercial in question here.)

And now, for the mega-offensive blog post.

Long story short: A baby died after his father propped a bottle on his chest. The father accidentally fell asleep, and the baby choked on the formula. Very, very tragic. And you can bet that the father will never forgive himself for what happened.

I guess some people think that in a situation like this, it's okay to say: "Breastfeeding saves lives. I am very sad for this family and for the loss of their baby. Those who argue that formula kills babies are wrong, though. If this baby had been breastfed, he would be alive today." That second-to-last confusing sentence aside, I think what this person is saying is fucking appalling. Way to take a tragedy and use it to the advantage of her agenda. It's pretty similar to what Jerry Falwell said after 9/11. These parents just lost their child, and all this person has to say is "Oops! Shoulda breastfed your baby! He'd still be alive if you'd done that." That is just mean and hateful.

I am so sick of all this breast feeding vs. formula feeding stuff. I'm bound to run into it often being as other birth junkies are passionate on this subject. (I am, too, but I'm passionate about not making mothers feel bad about choices they make. I mean, being a parent is hard enough as it is!) I think it's safe to say that most parents make decisions that they feel are best for their family. Why people feel the need to constantly berate others for making different parenting choices is beyond me.

And now, the obligatory cry of desperation: "Why can't we all just get along?"


Jessica said...

Another of the zillion reasons I am on the fence about children...all I see everywhere I look is women tearing each other down about their own choices.

Everyone does what she thinks is best for her own family. You shouldn't have to justify your formula feeding of Charlie to anyone. And you shouldn't be made to feel bad about it by these people. (I know you aren't taking these crazies super-seriously, but still. Blah.)

I think you are awesome. :-)

kim said...

Dude. People need to get over themselves. And stop taking things so damn seriously. Seriously. It sort of makes me laugh how crazy people get about things...

Leslie said...

Hey Jessica, thanks. :) You're right, I don't take them super seriously, but at the same time, when I read stuff like this, I do feel defensive, like I have to justify my choices. It sucks, but I think it's part of the parenting thing and I'm getting better at having a FRO attitude. Everyone seems to think they know what's best for your kid and your family, apparently.

Kim - Yes, I agree. Breast feed your baby or formula feed, I really do not care and will offer support either way. #1 priority is to actually feed the baby.

Nanette said...

I am pro-breastfeeding, but I'm also pro-feeding-choice. I definitely don't judge moms who either have to or willingly decide to give their babies formula. And I think those bloggers/twitterers getting their panties in a bunch over that Zales commercial need to back off. Like another commenter said, that's awesome that they showed dad being involved. And, hell, that could have very well been breastmilk in that bottle. Lame dash o, I say. Lame dash o!

That other post was lame dash o, too!

alejna said...

Hmmpf. It is ridiculous the way people make judgments about feeding choices. The Zales commercial seems pretty innocuous to me. Positive, even, what with showing a father being involved in parenting.

Did you ever see the pro-breastfeeding commercial with a pregnant woman riding a mechanical bull? It basically compared using formula to putting the baby's life in danger. It still makes me angry.

(That is a tragic story about the baby dying while being fed. I just don't want to think about how that poor dad must feel.)

sherthebear said...

As long as a baby is being fed and cared for, isn't that all that should really matter? Yes, breastfeeding is best and should be supported as much as possible, but people have to do what is best for their family. There are different reasons why mothers much formula feed. Why must we argue about things like this, breastfeeding vs. formula, working vs. staying at home. Ultimately, as long as parents are doing the best they can that is all that matters. We do a dis-service to each other by judging. What women need is to be supportive of each other. Motherhood is hard enough and riddled with so much guilt no matter what choice we make. It is like we can't win either way.

Sarah Elizabeth said...

I just looked at the commercial via your link and realized I have seen that one about a MILLION times!! I never even noticed the dad bottle feeding the baby in the background! Some people need to get a life! I think it's great he's doing it! Feeding a baby is a HUGE part of bonding and I think it's JUST as important for the father to do it as the mother and that obviously means using a bottle!

I already feel guilty enough for not pumping for longer than the 3 months that I did. I just have to keep reminding myself that a happy mommy = a happy baby and women who have NOT walking in my/our shoes should keep their mouths shut!

rant over (sorry)

Bex said...

What Kim said. Some people really need hobbies. I just think its cool that the DAD is feeding the baby!
As for the other story, so very sad. And it has nothing to do with bottle/breast feeding - more so to do with being educated on child safety.

staciemarie said...

my first thoughts is: who's to say that isn't BM in that bottle? That's what my DH does here when I'm not around to BF. Also, regarding the child who died - would've been the same if it were BM in that bottle and not formula. Very sad, but Formula wasn't the cause.

Tiff said...

I think people forget that every year babies die from the mom falling asleep WHILE breastfeeding in bed and laying on the child. They also die from co-sleeping. People are stupid.

amber said...

"I think it's safe to say that most parents make decisions that they feel are best for their family. Why people feel the need to constantly berate others for making different parenting choices is beyond me."

Wow, I pretty much say this at least once a month verbatim while in a child-rearing discussion with friends/family. Great minds and all that. ;) But in all seriousness, it preplexes me why we can't just let everyone make the best decision for *their* family and leave it alone. Ugh!

Anamika said...

I'm really late with this, but I gotta tell you: Stay off the forums dude. No, seriously. I was obsessed with a little place called Cafemom. I did make some really great friends there, but ultimately got tired of the constant tearing each other down.

Oh and nipple Nazis can kiss my big, fat ass. :)

tiger said...