The whole reason I started this blog was to stand up for formula feeders, since not too many people are doing so. The thing is, I really appreciate all the people talking about formula feeding on their blogs – I think it’s cathartic and wonderful – but so many of us feel like we need to defend our choices, tell why we couldn’t breastfeed, and reaffirm our dedication to nursing our future children. As if this kid, this experience, was a “one off”. I do it myself, to some degree.
But the more I entrench myself in this battle of breast vs. bottle, the more fired up I get. Just because it was the formula companies who used the concept of “choice” to defend their capitalistic marketing schemes does not negate the fact that it IS about choice. I know, lactivists, I know… your argument is that child endangerment is not about choice, and formula is poison, so therefore you need to declare out-and-out war on formula, regardless of the casualties. I am not qualified to debate the merit or statistical significance of single or meta-studies, as I was so kindly reminded by lactivist blogger Nursing Birth in her epic response to a comment I left on her blog about formula causing PPD (an issue that is close to my heart, for obvious reasons). However, I have set out on a journey to interview and discuss these issues with some amazing minds who are more than qualified to weigh in on the debate, and so far, one thing is abundantly clear: the facts are nowhere near as black and white as we’ve been led to believe.
But I digress. I spend the 12 hours a week that I am not with my son writing and researching on this topic, and in the process, I come across a lot of blogs, articles, and forum posts. A lot of them scare me. Or anger me. Some, I choose not to even “go there” with – like these idiots on Facebook – but when the author seems like a reasonable, authoritative voice on the other side of this debate, I often get the urge to respond. (This is the beauty of the Internet – all of us can spew our opinions wherever we like, without waiting for an editor to publish our comments).
What I’ve learned is this: it is no fun being on the minority side of public opinion. The lactivists love to position themselves as “victims”, but guys, this is so played out. I realize that some ignorant assholes still get pissy when a woman nurses in public, and that is just plain wrong. But in terms of the medical community, and the mom community, breastfeeders are held up on a pedastal. Formula feeders are villified. And yet you don’t see many “formula feeding support groups”. I am one of only two women in my Southern California mom community (over 50 people) that is formula feeding. This qualifies as a minority. But I’m not holding myself up as a victim. I own my choices and do not claim that advertisers, a corrupt medical field, or anyone else is “at fault” for my breastfeeding failure.
As I’ve said before, my stance is ardently pro-breastfeeding – when it is right for mom and baby. I don’t see supporting formula feeders as hurting the rights of my breastfeeding sisters. I would be happy to campaign on your behalf – I would gladly attend a nurse-in and flash my non-lactating breasts in support of you all (hell, I have flashed them for far less noble causes) – but the extreme faction of your group has alienated me to a point where I feel like I need to equally militant to defend my formula feeding sisters. It’s like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but over milk instead of land. (Although isn’t that “the land of milk and honey”? Hmm…)
I have never heard any of the Fearless Formula Feeders (or not-so-fearless, closeted formula feeders) I’ve talked to disparage breastfeeding in any way. All they have expressed is support for breastfeeding rights with the caveat that their choices be respected as well.
One last thing- Nursing Birth questioned my educational background, so I’m going for full disclosure. I have a Bachelor of Science in Speech from Northwestern University. I’m the former editor of a local parenting magazine. I write about health, wellness and women’s interest issues for a variety of online and print publications. And I’m a mom. That’s it.
And that’s all I’m saying about that.