The Giant Misunderstanding Behind Breastfeeding “Guilt”

The blog war over breastfeeding advocacy and the “guilt” it heaps onto formula feeders rages on…

I recently got on Twitter (I know, I’m like 10 years behind the times, but I’m a Gen X-er, we’re slackers) and found that if you search “breastfeeding”, you can find links to all sorts of interesting sites. I’ve been commenting on a lot of these, trying to offer another point of view. I’ve noticed that only people who agree with the blogger tend to comment on many blogs, which is why I am so happy when someone of an opposing opinion makes their way over here – what’s the good of a debate if we never hear the other side?

For example, in reading some of the recent blog posts about breastfeeding advocacy and how it makes formula feeders feel guilty, I’ve learned a lot. I never really thought about why lactivists got so incensed by the guilt argument. On my end, my anger came from this article on Kellymom.com by Jack Newman MD (I love this man. I really do. He inspires me to write like no other, because every time I read anything he writes, the feminist, factivist, and human sides of me get so fired up that the words come pouring out…),where I felt like he was essentially making my argument for me, even though his intent was the polar opposite.

He says:

Finally, who does feel guilty about breastfeeding? Not the women who make an informed choice to bottle feed. It is the woman who wanted to breastfeed, who tried, but was unable to breastfeed who feels guilty. In order to prevent women feeling guilty about not breastfeeding what is required is not avoiding promotion of breastfeeding, but promotion of breastfeeding coupled with good, knowledgeable and skillful support.

Notice the bold text. The woman who wanted to breastfeed, who tried…. she’s the one who feels guilty. 

That is the crux of our argument, lactivists! We’re not mad that you are promoting breastfeeding- that is great. More power to you. Seriously. But if the only people who are feeling guilty are the ones who tried what you wanted them to try, and failed for whatever reason, then why the heck wouldn’t you care that those women feel guilty? They’re in your camp! They did what you thought- what they thought- was best. Mission accomplished. In some cases, better support might have helped; but in others, breastfeeding is filed under “things that weren’t meant to be”.

Encouraging breastfeeding does not have to make anyone feel guilty. You know what made me want so badly to breastfeed? The bonding benefits. The idea that I could be my child’s only food source. That sounded pretty darn awesome. If you believe in the inherent goodness and intelligence of womankind, then I think that stressing these things would work wonders. Using scare tactics is not the way to go. I recently talked to a fascinating woman who studied guilt appeals in advertising, and she explained to me that when you go too far in an ad, scaring or guilting someone into buying your product, there is a “boomerang” effect – the consumer gets angry. Not only will she avoid buying your product, but she also might boycott your company altogether. I think this is similar to what is happening with the breastfeeding “backlash”.

So guys- please listen. Here’s what does not make us feel guilty:

  • Empowering women, encouraging them to breastfeed, or informing them, in a non-judgmental manner, of the facts (but with the caveat that these facts are really facts, not just hypotheses gleaned from one or two observational studies that show something you want them to show.  

  • Talking about how much you love nursing. I love watching my friends nurse, hearing how rewarding it’s been for them. It makes me happy as a friend and a woman. It’s amazing what our bodies can do.

  • Proudly nursing in public. You should have this right, and I will gladly kick anyone in the shins who stares or makes you feel bad about it.  

What does make us feel emotions like guilt, and anger, is:

  • Telling us we are bad mothers for not breastfeeding. 
  • Preaching to us when we have already made our decision (or had it made for us, depending on the situation). We might feel 100% confident in our choices, but having to constantly defend those choices gets tiresome. Maybe guilt isn’t the result, maybe it’s anger. And maybe that anger makes us protective of other women who may be in our position in the future, thus making us sensitive to actions that might induce guilt in other moms.
  • Overstating study results and then telling US that we are distorting the “facts”. Who does this help? It just makes you look desperate, rather than providing an intelligent, balanced argument for why we need better support for nursing mothers.

    I also think “guilt” has been used as a blanket term, when maybe some other emotions are coming into play. Anger, like I just said. Fear, when we think that maybe breastfeeding could become a mandatory, government-controlled act. Or that our employers could have a say in how we feed our kids. Sometimes the actions you take, or the statements you make in your zeal, suggest that this is the world you want to live in. That sounds scary to some of us.

    None of this means you should stop advocating for breastfeeding. But please, don’t lump us together as some weak, needy, guilty group. That’s not who we are. All we want is to be able to feel happy with our choices without you telling us that we have chosen wrongly. That’s all. I believe that as women, we are strong enough, smart enough, and sensitive enough to find a way to achieve our goals without putting each other down.

    PS:  I had to rewrite this entire post this morning, Lesson learned? Don’t ever blog past midnight when you’ve just spent 4 hours on a plane with a 10-month-old. Apparently, I write like a fifth grader under those circumstances. Yikes.

    Suzanne Barston is a blogger and author of BOTTLED UP. Fearless Formula Feeder is a blog – and community – dedicated to infant feeding choice, and committed to providing non-judgmental support for all new parents. It exists to protect women from misleading or misrepresented “facts”; essentialist ideals about what mothers should think, feel, or do; government and health authorities who form policy statements based on ambivalent research; and the insidious beast known as Internetus Trolliamus, Mommy Blog Varietal.

    Suzanne Barston – who has written posts on Fearless Formula Feeder.


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    26 thoughts on “The Giant Misunderstanding Behind Breastfeeding “Guilt”

    1. The thing is you only picked one very small piece of a larger article to write about.

      Also If you are fine with formula feeding why would you feel Guilty? No one can make you feel guilty other then yourself. So if you feel guilty I would suggest that you look inside yourself not pawn it off on other people or group of people.

      Also the facts are facts no matter if you try to distort them…”Breast is not only the best it is the Biological norm…it is what we were meant to feed our children”

      My favorite quote…”Breastfeeding may not be right for ever mother but it is right for ever baby”…It is their birth right to have the best start in life.

    2. Nichole,

      I'm not sure what you are referring to regarding the article I wrote about – I am assuming the excerpt from Newman? Perhaps my sarcasm was too subtle there, but Newman is a renowned hater of bottle feeders, as well as working women, and I don't tend to agree with him on most things. I selected that piece of the article as an example of the hypocrisy so prevalent in this “guilt” argument – my point was that, if you are making women feel guilty who have done everything in their power to nurse and for whatever reason were unable to, then that is just bullying, in my opinion.

      I think perhaps you are missing the point of this blog post, but from the tone of your comment I feel like you've made up your mind, so it's probably pointless to argue at length.

      One last thing though – your quote about breastfeeding being right for every baby? That is probably the most ignorant thing I've ever heard. My child was allergic to milk. Breastmilk made him horribly, horribly sick. There have also been babies who have been brain damaged due to insufficient milk syndrome, and fatally dehydrated due to latching issues. If this is your favorite quote, you might want to do a little more research before repeating it to other women.

    3. It is quite possibly the most ignorant thing (it's a tie with the cheetohs and pizza comment!). My son was STARVING because of all of the information about Breast is Best that I had heard over and over again. I wouldn't even consider formula until I had to because it was that or allow him to absorb the steroids I HAD TO TAKE. Once he had formula in him, he almost immediately got back to the 50th percentile for weight (he had dropped from 50-5th and was about to fall off the charts).

    4. I could not agree more with your post, as well as your response to Nichole's combative, ignorant comment. I learned the hard way that breast is not best for every baby. My daughter's bloody diapers, failure to grow, and refusal to eat proved that beyond a doubt for me. She was allergic to my milk (a renowned lactation consultant confirmed that this is rare, but happens). My baby is the one who told me very clearly that breast was not best for her. After much effort and giving up dairy and soy, and pumping around the clock for two months, I gave up breastfeeding, and Stella began to THRIVE. I should've listened sooner, but voices like Newman's and Nichole's prevented me from being able to let go until all hell broke loose, and Stella wound up with a feeding tube.

      What gets me most about Nichole's comment is the arrogance. To presume to know what is best for every mother and baby is just astounding. To show no sensitivity to moms trying to feel good and at peace with informed choices genuinely made in the best interest of mom and baby is also unfortunate.

      Side note: Last year, I was actually in touch with Newman via email as I tried to figure out what was wrong. Again, due to voices like his and Nichole's, I was convinced I was at fault. I wasn't, but before I realized that, I engaged in a stunning email correspondence with Newman. He was at times incredibly insulting, and dismissive of my very legitimate concerns. Never once was he encouraging or understanding, even to a woman who was doing everything she possibly could to nurse her baby. It was unbelievable! He and Nichole should get together–they'd have a lot in common.

    5. Nichole,

      Breastfeeding is not right for every baby. My son has galactosemia. Breast milk or any animal milk for that matter would cause him brain damage and death. So, your definition of “birth right” would give my son the absolute worst start in life.

      Also Nichole – Yes, some women feel very guilty that, despite all their efforts, they were unable to breastfeed. They may unfairly blame themselves for something they had no control over. People do that to themselves about all sorts of things. In no way is guilt a definitive indicator that they've done something wrong and they have to “own it.” It just doesn't work like that.

      However, Nichole, there's another facet to this issue that you seem to be missing. It involves shame. I think FFF is tapping into the fact that some individuals out there shame mothers who do not breastfeed for whatever reason – like with comments about how they are “poisoning” their baby, that they didn't “try” hard enough, that the fact that they were unable to breastfeed means that “nature” was telling them they were never “meant” to have children. People have had friends, family members, coworkers, strangers, and people on the internet say such things to them. Speaking up about that has nothing to do with not “looking inside yourself” and “pawning it off onto other people.” Do you also find it acceptable that complete morons shame mothers for nursing in public? That some idiots think breastfeeding is perverse? Do the women subjected to those kinds of comments need to look deep inside themselves and not pawn it off onto other people? Of course not. Why do there seem to be different rules out there for women who formula feed?

      Just because Eleanor Roosevelt made some stupid comment about how “no one can make you feel guilty without your permission” doesn't make it true. People just seem to like using that saying so that they can avoid taking responsibility for making abusive, judgmental, and mean comments.

      Thank you FFF for taking the time to discuss all these complex issues. Like you, I completely agree that breastfeeding should be supported and encouraged – and that it certainly can be done without shaming mothers who cannot or chose not to breastfeed.

    6. Nichole, I suggest you go back and read your Darwin. Breastfeeding was not designed by nature; it is the consequence of random mutations that happened to produce mammary glands in mammals. Like anything else in nature, its subject to a myriad of things that can go wrong. It wasn't “meant” to be, any more than we were “meant” to have birth canals situated between two waste discharge portals, or “meant” to have upper respiratory systems that are subject to congestion and infection.

      Do you live in a heated house with plumbing and electricity, Nichole? Why? Weren't you “meant” to live out in the elements? Isn't that the biological norm?

    7. As a pro breast feeder I don't believe that the goal is to make bottle feeders feel guilty. What is the point of that? What we want you to do is make an informed choice. If you have chosen to formula feed it would be very difficult to return to breast feeding. What we do want you to know is that Breast feeding is supply and demand system. If your baby latches on properly then he will be able to get way more milk than you could ever pump. If you give your baby a bottle, then your body will adjust the amount of milk it makes and your supply will diminish. If your baby is 'allergic' to your milk then you may need to change your diet and giving up dairy products is very common. I want you to know that breast milk is easier to digest especially for preemies. I want you to know that breast milk has the mother's antibodies so can help your baby avoid getting things like H1N1, even if the rest of the family gets it. I have never bottle fed my children so perhaps my opinions are bias, but it seems way easier to stick a boob in a baby’s mouth than it does to sterilize bottles and heat formula.
      My 3rd child was born in the 50th percentile, by the time he was 6 months old he had dropped to the 5th percentile. But this didn't concern me as he was already speed crawling and had reached all his other developmental mile stones, was happy and healthy and was gaining weight just not percentiles. He was checked out by a specialist to ensure that there were no underlying diseases such as cystic fibrosis which is a cause for lack of weight gain. But other than that, I just continued to nurse him. I love nursing my children and breast feeding came easy to us so I consider myself lucky. I like to think that all moms do the best that they can for their children and their families and if bottle feeding is what you believe is best for your family then you have no reason to feel guilty.
      Sarah

    8. I love this blog but I don't know if I can read it anymore because of comments from people like Nichole and Sarah, who seems really dismissive and know-it-all in attitude. Did you not read the other comments? Thanks for putting the word allergic in quotes and dismissing the fact that sometimes giving up just about every food STILL doesn't help. I saw several lactation consultants and don't need your stupid “breastfeeding 101” instruction–I am very well informed (as are many formula feeders) and tried everything to make nursing word, thank you very much. Ugh. Now I just feel angry. I applaud the author of this blog (you're the best)! But I can not stand listening to preachy, holier-than-thou breastfeeders, who have not been forced to experience the other side, who think they KNOW EVERYTHING. I'm glad breastfeeding worked for you–but you have no idea what I, and many others, have been through. SUCK IT.

    9. Sarah,

      Thanks for the comment – I think your type of breastfeeding advocacy/support is wonderful.

      The only thing I would say is that in my case and the case of many other women I've talked to, elimination diets didn't work. It can be really frustrating as the common wisdom is, as you said, that no baby is allergic to breastmilk. All I know is, no matter what I cut out, my kid suffered…

    10. Amber-

      I will be heartbroken if you let the insensitive comments people make on this blog lead you to stop coming here. I totally understand it though, b/c I get pretty upset about it too. I've had to emotionally disengage to some degree or I never would be able to continue with this blog.

      I always post every comment I get b/c I think it's so important to respond to these people and also to showcase some of this to those who don't fully understand the severity of what formula feeders have to contend with. Often the comments are so poorly worded that I think it just strengthens our case, since so many of you then come on and respond in such profound and eloquent ways.

      I completely understand if you decide not to visit the blog anymore, but I will miss seeing your wonderful comments… and I promise that no matter what, I'll keep fighting the good fight, ok?

    11. I wanted to address Sarah's comment above about breast milk's antibodies protecting a baby against H1N1 even if the rest of the family gets the disease. That isn't true.

      The body makes antibodies when it is exposed to viruses. If the mother has not been exposed to H1N1, she won't have any antibodies against the disease and her breast milk won't protect the baby against infection.

      Breastmilk has many advantages, but I find that many breastfeeding advocates ascribe magical properties to breastmilk that simply aren't there.

    12. I saw your comment on my friend Alex Elliot's blog, Formula Fed & Flexible Parenting. Just want to offer you support and wish you the best! I think you are doing a great job with your baby.

    13. Sigh. I really don't know how you do it, the disengaging I mean.
      I have to say I feel a little like Amber right now.

      I'm sick of being bullied. And I'm starting to loose motivation to stand up for myself anymore.

    14. “I wanted to address Sarah's comment above about breast milk's antibodies protecting a baby against H1N1 even if the rest of the family gets the disease. That isn't true.

      The body makes antibodies when it is exposed to viruses. If the mother has not been exposed to H1N1, she won't have any antibodies against the disease and her breast milk won't protect the baby against infection.”—Quoting Anonymous

      I have to point out that you kind of got this mixed up…You pointed out that if the mother has never been exposed to the H1N1 virius then she would not have the antibodies in her milk to protect the Breastfeeding child…but you just said they whole family was infected so wouldn't that include the mother. So in order for the mother to get sick with H1N1 she would have in fact benn exposed and the antibodies would be in the milk. Also many people come in contact with the virus and never know it and just fight it off there by building the antibodies.

      Also most Breastfeeding mothers (and all moms really) are with their children as much as they are able to be…so what ever the child comes in contact with so does the mother. I do not leave my kids period…but I am blessed to not have to work outside the home..even if my child was in childcare I would more then likely be exposed also when droping off/picking up.

    15. Anonymous (the one directly above this – you all need to start commenting with names or this is gonna get confusing!!):

      I think you missed the point of the person you quoted. She was wisely reminding us that just because you breastfeed, does NOT mean that your child is immune to H1N1. The whole breastmilk/immunity thing does seem to be statistically relevant; however, I think the commenter was correct about breastmilk being ascribed “magical” properties, and that is dangerous (see my last post on breast cancer for more on this).

      I believe you caught her in an honest mistake, regarding the “whole family being infected” slip. I took her point as being that if the REST of the family was infected, if the mother herself did not have H1N1, then the baby would not get immunities transferred to him/her.

      Also, immunity transfer is a complicated, oft-misunderstood thing. Breastfeeding is far from a 100% foolproof method of protecting a baby from sickness – one look at my group of friends' babies (all exclusively breastfed, and all of whom have been sick with the same thing their mothers have had or not had, depending, at various times in their first year)gives perfect anecdotal evidence of this.

    16. FFF, I'm the Anonymous who made the post about a mother's antibodies not automatically protecting the baby against H1N1 and you clarified my point perfectly. Thanks!

      And just to be nitpicky and further clarify the point I made about the whole family being infected: if a breastfeeding mother comes down with H1N1, her body is not going to be able to manufacture antibodies and then transmit them to the baby quickly enough to prevent the baby from getting sick. That's the main point I was trying to make. As FFF said, breastfeeding is not a 100% foolproof way to keep your kids from getting sick.

      –Not that Anonymous, the other Anonymous

    17. Yes I do realize that the mother would have to have H1N1 to produce the antibodies for her baby to be protected. My baby does often get sick with what ever I get sick with, but it tends to be milder. Like when I get a fever and a cough, he may only get a runny nose. If I am puking for a couple of days, he only gets loose stool for one day.
      And yes, a dramatic drop in weight over 4 weeks is signifigant and should be monitored by a Dr. I wasn't comparing my child to yours, I was just sharing some of my experiences. My baby only lost percentiles and didn't lose weight, sounds like your baby actually lost weight.

      Instead of the word “Allergic”, I should have said “Sesnsitive” for when adjusting the mother's diet can help with the baby's reactions.
      If my baby was pooping blood then I would certainly make dramatic changes in his diet as well.

      I am sorry that I offended some. That certainly wasn't my intent. I was giving you an idea of what has happened to me.
      Don't take what people write on this site to heart. They don't know your case history. Just because I believe that Breastmilk is the best for my family doesn't mean that I don't believe it is the best for your family.
      It sounds like most of you tried Breast Feeding and it didn't work for this child. Does that mean you are anti BreastFeeding? Would you try again for the next baby?
      Sarah

    18. Dear Sarah,

      Thank you for clarifying some of your prior comments. Carrying on these kinds of dialogues over the internet is never easy/simple and a lot can get lost in the translation. Things can come across with a negative tone when, in fact, no negativity was intended. I obviously won't speak for all the other posters on here, but, I'm certainly not anti-breastfeeding. And it's really hard to imagine that any of the other posters are “anti-breastfeeding” – given that many (if not all) went through significant difficulty with their attempts to breastfeed. Perhaps, we are all anti-sanctimommy (which comes in all stripes and is clearly not limited to the breastfeeding debate) I think breastfeeding is great – which is why I took breastfeeding classes, intended to breastfeed, etc. But my son was born with galactosemia. If the situation were different, would I have breastfeed? Sure. (I'm not having another baby, so I can't give you an answer about that) I (and I think the other women on here) are wanting lactivists to focus on giving accurate information and support to women about breastfeeding without slamming formula-feeding mothers. I'm just so tired of hearing the nasty comments, online and IRL.

      I really wonder if there must be some regional differences with these experiences about breastfeeding and formula feeding. It's really clear that a number of women who breastfeed are surrounded by women who formula feed and feel very alone and unsupported. And it's also clear that there are a number of women who live in areas with very high breastfeeding rates, who formula feed. And those women also feel very alone and unsupported. I live in a college town on the East Coast. Everyone I know breastfeeds. I'm the odd man out.

    19. No, of course I'm not against breastfeeding. My philosophy of parenting is thus: if it's not immoral, dangerous, or illegal, the only relevant question is: DOES IT WORK? If breastfeeding works for you, go right ahead. I won't say a word. Just don't expect me to bow down and worship you, or give you a medal, or strike my breasts as I recite the confiteor, La Leche edition.

      I'm another mother who tried breastfeeding, but my baby would not latch on. She just pushed away and screamed. I consulted the lactation consultant at the hospital where I gave birth (part of one of the biggest health systems in Michigan, BTW) and got no useful advice. Only a lot of lecturing, and sermonizing, and a “supplemental feeding system” that only left me and my baby more frustrated and exhausted. I was rapidly sinking into severe postpartum depression. The consultant blamed me, lectured me, and never once acknowledged any of the PPD red flags. Bottle feeding was the obvious solution, and one I embraced without guilt, albeit with plenty of anger at Ms. Better-Dead-Than-Bottle-Fed. (I'm not even getting into how this affected my relationship with my husband, who completely surrendered his sense of judgment and loyalty and sided with the Lactivists.)

      So would I try again? Absolutely not. Now that I know my own susceptibility to PPD, it would be downright reckless for me to risk another round of depression, anxiety, bullying, and harassment for the marginal empirical benefits of breastfeeding. (I'm an INTJ personality-type: I do not go in for either sentimentality or voodoo statistics.) I do not intend to have any more children (anyway, I'm 43 now), but if I did, it would be my duty to avoid the pitiless, useless, lactation zealots in order to keep myself mentally and physically fit for maternal responsibilities. The whole breastfeeding debacle was one of the lowest points of my life. I could not risk a repeat.

      Michelle S

    20. I really like this blog. I applaud you for bringing up some important information and for providing much needed support.

      What I find as a practicing nurse practitioner, who works with new moms, is that women deserve to be supported no matter what their personal situation or choices are.

      Often we don't know what someone else is experiencing until we see it up close and personal or experience it ourselves. I've known many sanctimonious, intolerant colleagues and patients who thought they knew what was best for everyone else to do as new moms until they themselves had an experience of “the real world” and that sometimes, despite all of our best efforts, things don't always work out the way we plan.

      Acceptance and support are key, please keep up the dialogue. I also blog about supporting moms at http://www.momsfeedingfreedom.com

      Be well,

      Nurse Barb

    21. This was a great post!

      I am coming late to the party, but thank you so much for saying valuable things that lactivists should take to heart.

      One thing. You wrote “[fear] … our employers could have a say in how we feed our kids”. By and large our employers ARE already having a say; most jobs today make it way more easy to formula feed than breastfeed. As someone who worked her ass off to breastfeed while working as an engineer, some acknowledgement of that reality would be appreciated.

      Thank you so much for a great article.

    22. Hi, I know this comment is years late, but I was surfing around for information on PPD and followed a link here from PostPartumProgress.

      I am a new, first time mom of a 2 month old, and I do…some weird halfway thing between breastfeeding and not, I have no idea what it’s called, I pump milk and feed it to him through a bottle, and sometimes supplement with formula if he’s extra hungry and I run out. I’d been inundated since forever about how not only breastmilk is best, but also feeding at the breast is essential for bonding and the child’s mental health and whatever….however when he was born he had his cord wrapped around his neck and so his APGAR score was very low, and his blood sugar was crashing due to stress during delivery, so he was formula fed for the first couple days to keep his sugar up. In addition to that i wasn’t producing any milk (at any rate, not enough colostrum to sustain him) and he had a weak suck and also little patience to keep going at a breast that wasn’t giving him much. That first week I was convinced he was going to starve — he lost a pound of weight, at the borderline of what is normal for a baby to lose in that period, plus he got jaundice, and he was of course screaming all night because he was hungry. It was a terrible time for all involved, and finally we gave in and gave him formula. After that things went more smoothly but I felt incredible guilt for not breastfeeding because “Breast is best!!”. We continually went back to the hospital to consult with lactation consultants and tried over and over again to get him to breastfeed but he wouldn’t latch, partly because I have small/flat nipples (yay) and also he was used to bottle nipples by now, and after a certain he refused to take the breast even with a nipple shield.

      I cried the entire night I decided to give up and just pump milk and feed it to him that way, because I felt like I’d failed as a mother, and now I was just relegated to the status of milk cow — seriously, why did he even need me around anymore?! I still cry sometimes about it and feel incredibly guilty — nothing went the rosy, happy way they tell you it will in pregnancy classes — and every time someone asks if I breastfeed I feel like I have to justify why I say no because there is so much judgement and “you just didn’t try hard enough!”.

      Even before I got pregnant I was always a believer in women knowing best what works for themselves and their babies, be it breast or formula feeding. However, I feel that in society there’s an assumption that women who don’t breastfeed do so out of stupidity, vanity, or total ignorance, and so society, through shaming and tons of ‘research’ and articles on the subject, must educate these morons into seeing the light!!

      So thank you for this blog — you have made me feel a lot better about the choices I was forced to make.

    23. “So guys- please listen. Here’s what does not make us feel guilty:

      (…)

      Talking about how much you love nursing. I love watching my friends nurse, hearing how rewarding it’s been for them. It makes me happy as a friend and a woman. It’s amazing what our bodies can do.”

      My experience has been that gushing about how much I love nursing is only safely done in select company that also had the same experience. People get defensive and/or aggressive about that, as if my joy is personal criticism of them even when I don’t even know who they are, let alone their choices or circumstances in which they made them. You may not, FFF, but there are definitely people out there who do and start accusing you of being insensitive or guilt-tripping others or doing something else clearly negative when you say you love nursing and that it is easy for you. In fact, that seems to be more incendiary than talking about the benefits of breastfeeding or something like that. It’s as if the fact that I exist is a problem to be squashed. I may not love breastfeeding. I must have more problems with it somehow, in some way. It can’t be that easy and enjoyable. I must suffer to breastfeed, or at least feel like my life is entirely organized around breastfeeding, or have to quit my job to do it or something. It’s really hard not to feel like it’s just other people’s unresolved issues around breastfeeding that’s surfacing, others wanting to resolve their feelings of guilt and/or anger about their breastfeeding issues by trying to convince themselves that nobody has my experience – where it’s easy and pleasurable, fast and convenient, both at home and at work.

      Now I feel like someone’s asking my what I think about the latest candidate to declare a candidacy for president without knowing their political opinions when someone asks me how breastfeeding is going or whether I’m breastfeeding. It’s a minefield and no matter what I say, I can insult someone without harboring any ill intent, even when only speaking about my own subjective experience in response to a direct question about myself.

      • And the point of your reply is …? Whining about your being unable to shout from the rooftops your love for breastfeeding is but a microscopic fleck of insignificant “suffering” in comparison with the real suffering that other mothers go through here.

        Just go away already.

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