Guys, I cannot apologize enough for my lack of blog-responsibility as of late. I know there have been some major events in the infant feeding debate lately… a few studies, the Surgeon General’s Call to Action on Breastfeeding, some fallout on Joan Wolf’s book… I am currently in colic hell, and I just can’t find the time or brain power to blog right now. But I will be back – colic ends at some point, right?
In the meantime, I asked Devon over at AccustomedChaos.com if I could reprint this post here as a guest blog. I love how she is encouraging her fellow breastfeeding advocates to inspire and help rather than patronize and judge. I wanted to post this here because it’s easy for us to forget that there are wonderful women like Devon (and others who have visited this blog in the past and offered support or interesting, non-judgmental points of view) who fall under the label “lactivist” – I don’t ever want to make the mistake of lumping all breastfeeding advocates into one negative, stereotyped group. The history of breastfeeding advocacy is rooted in empowerment for all women, and while some folks out there seem to have a misguided interpretation of what that means, others are truly “in it” for beautiful reasons, and I want to applaud them for that. For all the women who want to breastfeed and need help, advice, and encouragement, I am grateful that there are people like Devon out there in the blogosphere.
Breastfeeding Advocacy vs Formula Bashing
If you ever want to see my panties get into a bind there is an easy way
to do it. Call yourself a breastfeeding advocate or ‘lactavist’ but spend most of your “education and informational” time bashing formula and women who use it.
We know my stance on the marketing of formula
and the companies themselves. Something really needs to change in THAT aspect, but you wont ever read me bashing formula itself and will for sure NEVER see me refer to it as poison or cast judgments on women who need to OR choose to use formula.
Breast is ideal. Nothing manufactured can come close to breast milk. It is incredible. It is however sometimes not possible for women or babies for many reasons that are really our none of our business. What is our business is to be an advocate for the rights of breastfeeding women and families, to protect our rights to feed our children and to not have our confidence undermined or to battle against Booby Traps
. To be there for women struggling and confused and to promote correct information about breastfeeding. Support – NOT fear mongering – is what breastfeeding advocacy and lactivism is about.
In a perfect world there would be no need for formula. Women would not have their confidence undermined or be thrown judgments. Doctors, hospitals and families would be armed with the correct information about breastfeeding and be supportive. There would be milk banks in every city that is affordable, covered under insurance and never at danger of closing. There would be no such thing as galactosemia
, casein intolerance, latch problems, every work place would be supportive in breastfeeding, women would have adequate maternal leave and women wouldn’t have to choose between breastfeeding and taking a non compatible medication to save their life. Breastfeeding would come easy to everyone and no one would be looked at when breastfeeding in public or asked to leave or cover up.
We do not live in this world. It would be amazing – but we don’t.
If you hate formula and think it is evil and poison and should be banned – take a look at your life. Did you ever have to struggle at breastfeeding? Did it come easy to you with no booby traps
and tons of support? Are you healthy and don’t have to choose between breastfeeding and your life? Do you have to be separated from your child? Are you able to afford and have access to breast pumps or milk banks? I can bet I know the answers to these questions…
Fear mongering and scare tactics are not conducive to POSITIVE lactivism.
Think about who needs your help the most? Is it the woman who has all the support in the world and none of those barriers? Is it the woman who is fully aware of the barriers and has all the support to overcome them? NO. It is the woman who has no support, is surrounded by barriers and difficult issues who’s confidence is undermined.
If you ever want to see change you need to be approachable. No one is going to “listen to your message” if it is full of hate and judgment and fear mongering. Calling formula “poison” shuts that communication down completely – bashing women who use formula shuts the communication down completely.
If you spend most of your time bashing FORMULA (not their marketing); the women who use it (without EVER taking the time to listen to THEIR story) you are NOT a breastfeeding advocate. You make life harder for those who are BREASTFEEDING advocates.
Educate yourself not only on the ‘dangers’ and inferiority of formula but on the barriers of breastfeeding. Listen to stories and stop the judgments. Be thankful if you did not have any barriers.
Think about who your message is intended for. Are you trying to promote change or rally with the other ‘formula bashers’. Which is more conductive to your time?