I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen posts or tweets about breastfeeding over the past year that were not just touting the proven benefits of breast feeding, but taking a pointed, judgy stance on the issue. Statements about breastfeeding related facts might be buried in the article, but the hooks? the one-liners? they’re just polarizing rhetoric. They don’t come right out and state that you are a bad mom if you don’t breastfeed, but the wording draws the reader right to that conclusion. Some of the posts and tweets try to get funny with the issue, but they come across with the same message. They probably don’t even have a clue how their message is coming across.
There was another one today; this is an old one that makes it’s rounds every 4 months or so… “True Story: I don’t have to worry about toxins in breastmilk. And there’s never been a recall on my boobs”
My boobs were recalled while I was breastfeeding. And you can bet I lost a lot of sleep over how many cancer cells my baby ingested from breastfeeding before I knew I had cancer.
Don’t get me wrong. I am completely in favor of breastfeeding. I believe it is the best source of nutrition and immunity support available to a baby. But there are as many valid reasons for not breastfeeding as there are in favor.
There’s no way I could list them all here – there are too many stories out there, and no way I can know them all. Breast cancer stopped me. How about adoptive mothers? Sometimes the breasts just don’t work correctly, they’re not able to produce. Have you ever wondered why the role of wet-nurse was recognized in cultures all throughout history? The world is full of incorrect ideas about AIDS and how it is spread. We stupidly avoid handshakes and hugs, while we overlook the fact that breastmilk is a proven means of spreading HIV. What would you do if you were a breast feeding mother, and found out you might have been exposed to blood borne pathogens at work? Would you stop breast feeding? It has happened.
Breastfeeding in public? I did it for 11 months. Not one incident. I did make sure that I wasn’t flashing around body parts that I wouldn’t flash around if there wasn’t a baby attached. No one was cruel to me about breast feeding in public. I’ve heard it happens, and that’s really too bad. Any awkwardness I experienced was on my own part, trying to figure out how to get the baby attached with limited visibility, etc… It wasn’t about anyone else. No, the comments came after I was no longer able to breastfeed.
If you’re a new mom, you do what’s right for you and your baby. That’s your business, nobody else’s. If breastfeeding is right for you and your baby – do it! If it’s not, don’t.
Getting used to all of the people (even strangers) who suddenly thought my body and my baby were their business was the biggest adjustment for me through pregnancy, and motherhood. Just draw a bubble around yourself, and imagine all the comments and criticisms just bouncing off that bubble. You see, no one is really an expert. Parenting is on the job training, and the skills required are different for each child. That lady who just came over and said she raised 13 kids? She’s not an expert, either. Not an expert on your baby, anyway.
Love your baby. Wake up every morning, and try again. Everything is going to be ok.