A little post about Piri Weepu and breastfeeding advocacy gone wrong

Did you hear the one about the rugby star who dared be filmed bottle-feeding his baby daughter as part of a New Zealand anti-smoking campaign, and found himself the accidental poster boy for the breastfeeding backlash?

There’s no punchline, unless you can find some sort of dark humor in this egregious comedy of errors. Piri Weepu, who is supposedly somewhat of a folk hero for the Kiwi set, was shown feeding his kid in a PSA, and the images were cut after LLL, the New Zealand College of Midwives and a local health organization called Plunket decided that they would be “contradictory” to the nation’s breastfeeding initiatives. An uproar ensued. Twitter exploded with people defending Weepu; the rugby star himself spoke his mind (and made himself a bit of a hero in my eyes, too, as he stood up for formula feeders everywhere); arguments flooded the feeds of nearly every bottle-feeding- and breastfeeding-related Facebook page – including my own.

Some folks pointed out the breastfeeding advocacy groups were maligned unfairly in the press. Others said that the critics were overreacting; that this was simply a case of one public health campaign infringing on another. More than a few explained that showing an image of a father bottle-feeding would harm efforts to normalize breastfeeding and perpetuate a bottle-feeding culture. After all, they could have shown Piri bathing or cuddling his child if they wanted to make it clear that he was a doting dad – was the bottle really necessary?

I’ve heard lots of good points during the past few days, but no one has been able to clearly answer what I believe is the real question: Exactly how is showing a MAN feeding his baby sending a message that WOMEN shouldn’t breastfeed?

Yes, it is true that men can induce lactation, but in most cases, men are clearly incapable of providing breast-to-mouth nourishment for their babies. They must feed their children pumped milk from their partner’s mammary glands, or formula. Both of these substances must be fed through a bottle (cup or syringe-feeding, while less controversial methods of feeding babies in the breastfeeding advocacy camp, are certainly feasible alternatives for short-term situations, but they are not practical for most people and regardless, I’d think they are still “contradictory” to the normalization of breastfeeding if we’re operating on that assumption). In other words, if you are male, the only choices are a) feed your baby with a bottle or b) don’t feed your baby at all.

I understand that the fear is that an impressionable young woman who sees this ad will think “oh, look, a big time sports hero is using bottles – bottles are cool!” and this would make her not want to breastfeed. But I think this argument would be a lot more plausible if it had been a supermodel, actress, or female sports hero with bottle in hand. And what about the positive influence this image could have? What if we have an impressionable young man in place of our hypothetical young woman – maybe he’d get the message that real men take care of their children.

But, wait. Breastfeeding is supposed to be a family affair, right? Men should be helping their female partners lactate, not demanding that they take part in feeding themselves. What if that boy watching Weepu grows up, has a kid, and talks his wife out of breastfeeding because he wants to take part in the feeding?

I guess that could happen. Still, isn’t it a less hysterical interpretation to think that he’ll still support breastfeeding (if that is something his wife wants to do), but that he would ask her to maybe let him feed a bottle of pumped milk every now and then (or god forbid, a bottle of formula, if they are combo-feeding)? Frankly, I think that is 100% within his rights. Men should not be deprived of the feeding experience just because they don’t produce milk. Once breastfeeding is established, there is no medical reason that pumping a bottle or two a day is going to disrupt the breastfeeding relationship. (Not to mention that for any woman who goes back to work before her baby can use a sippy cup, bottles are probably going to come into play.)

I doubt that this incident would have caused such fury had it been a woman holding that bottle. I think most rational folks would understand that if the government is promoting breastfeeding, all government programs should be on the same page. But this is beyond ridiculous, and all it has served to do is provoke a massive breastfeeding backlash – something that we have been seeing more and more of in the past three years. When I started blogging, Hannah Rosin had just made headlines for her courage to to speak up when no one else would. Then Joan Wolf took it to a whole new level. A whole bunch of us have followed suit, some more radically, and some more moderately, than others.

I believe in breastfeeding, and the last thing I want to see is a backlash so extreme that it ends up discouraging women from nursing. At the same time, if raising breastfeeding rates means losing all modicum of common sense, engaging in censorship, and throwing us back into the dark ages of gender discrimination… well, I can’t say I want to see that, either.

So please, powers that be, take a breath and see where your actions are taking you, before you do more harm than good. I know it’s hard, but man up.

Literally.

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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43 thoughts on “A little post about Piri Weepu and breastfeeding advocacy gone wrong

  1. fvck damnit. ill never try to breastfeed because i saw a man use a bottle!
    i swear all the “pro breastfeeding” stuff i see turns off more mothers than it inspires mothers to breastfeed. its like “hey all women can do it and if you cant you suck at life” so it's like why try and fail when you can just not try and go for a bottle without the guilt of being of a “failure” because breastfeeding is soooooo easy, obviously.

  2. It's an overreaction for one simple reason: did he say what was in the bottle? Did it show him making it? As far as I know, it was just a dad feeding a bottle. It could have been breastmilk, formula, or white liquid for all anyone would know.

  3. But I think this argument would be a lot more plausible if it had been a supermodel, actress, or female sports hero with bottle in hand. And what about the positive influence this image could have? What if we have an impressionable young man in place of our hypothetical young woman – maybe he'd get the message that real men take care of their children.

    YES. I know too many otherwise decent guys who view managing their children as “women's work.” More young men need to see men being responsible for their children, and that includes feeding.

    I hadn't heard about this, but the whole thing absolutely boggles. I can sort of understand how it's being seen — this idea that people ought to see breastfeeding in situations unrelated to breastfeeding, but do go so far as to completely remove images of bottle-feeding is doing it wrong. Doing it very, very wrong.

  4. People are nutty.
    I'm EBFing Charlotte and my husband has given her a few bottles. Some of expressed milk and some of *gasp* formula. I have plenty of supply but sometimes I just don't flippin' feel like pumping. I pumped for 15 Godforsaken months for Robbie but crap I still hate it! And sometimes I want to leave the house. Without her. Of course, I'm sure that makes me a terrible mother, too.
    At some point Im going to need her to take a bottle because I'm going back to work so right now I just need her to remember how (and be willing to do it) when it's necessary.

  5. The idea that men should be participating in feeding their children is so…twenty-first century! Anyone who believes that a woman should do other than stay home from paid work for two years to breastfeed her child so the poor little thing never has to have an evil bottle cross his/her lips is in the grasp of the evil media/advertisers/bottle-industrial complex! (I've always thought the extreme of lactivism was a bit reactionary on gender norms but in this case they make Victorians look like hairy-legged purple-wigged feminists)

  6. The more extreme of the bunch do not believe in pumping/bottle feeding breast milk. It doesn't matter if the nectar of the gods is in that bottle; if you are not attaching that baby to your boob, you are not breastfeeding, period, end of story.

    Point being, there still would have been a backlash even if it was breast milk in the bottle and if it was communicated to be such in the ad.

  7. Ugh, what bullshit. I agree–it is showing a man being involved in raising his child. That is certainly an image that should be promoted. Why does breastfeeding and Dad helping have to be mutually exclusive? And yeah, any woman going back to work (which is a majority of new mothers, at least in the USA) will need to have her child bottle-fed. That's reality and trying to pretend that bottles don't exist is stupid.

    If a woman really wants to breastfeed she will/try regardless of what ads she sees. Same the other way around. You know why I wouldn't breastfeed if I ever had another baby? Because it didn't work out the first time, I hated pumping and formula was fine. It doesn't matter how many people I see breastfeeding or bottle feeding—it's a decision entirely based on previous experience.

  8. Who do you mean by “the more extreme of the bunch”, mamagamp? Can you point me to anything written online by these extremists? I would have to say that this must be a very tiny group, because most of those I know who would be regarded as extremists here are supporters of milk donating networks (I'm referring to lactivists who are more extreme than middle-of-the-road me), which involves, of course, the pumping and bottle feeding of breast milk.

    If there had been breastmilk in the bottle, it would still not have negated the point that was being made, which was that the image of bottlefeeding per se in a health promotion advert, particularly by someone who has an enormous amount of influence, could be regarded as out of place. I would also say (although this might be paternalistic) that it was a good idea to leave the bottlefeeding shot out of it to avoid the breast/bottle controversy that arose as a result of the NZ Herald's reporting of this issue, with its false statements and incendiary language. It's brought home to me once again how difficult it is to believe anything you read, see or hear about in the media or in comments online. Some of the statements made about La Leche League have been truly ridiculous. I totally understand why this call was made and I have seen it give rise to a lot of hysteria, defensiveness, jumping to conclusions and unjustified name-calling (not necessarily on this site, but on other sites where the issue has been raised.) The backlash was not the decision not to include this scene, but the furore that is being kicked up about it.

  9. Exactly how is showing a MAN feeding his baby sending a message that WOMEN shouldn't breastfeed?

    There is plenty of evidence that giving bottles to babies (whether by mum or dad, whether breastmilk or formula) can interrupt the breastfeeding relationship. It's really not rocket science.

  10. I think I clearly stated that this is not a problem after breastfeeding is established- do you have any citations for studies proving the occasional bottle is detrimental after supply and latch is securely in place?
    And regardless, bottles have to be a part of a woman's life if she is going to be employed outside the home- don't you agree?

  11. Ugh. Highly annoyed by this. I mean come on, why can't dads be involved too?

    I remember when I was still in the hospital and was trying to breastfeed, I brought up to the LC about getting a pump and having Dad help feed his son. She was utterly aghast and told me not to even consider it for SIX WEEKS and strongly urged me to avoid it. It still pisses me off thinking about it.

  12. Yeah, I'm pretty put off by the whole “incident”, too.

    I'm one of two regulars on this site– to my knowledge– who don't have kids yet. The idea of being the only one who could feed my kids for the first month or two of their lives is one of the things that might scare me away from BFing.

  13. Dara – I was told not to pump for several weeks too and it made life more difficult, and ironically made it more practical to include the occasional formula bottle. I really wish LCs had a set of protocols that could be adapted to different needs, e.g. for those who are going back to work quickly. A friend of mine listened to the stuff about not introducing the bottle for fear of nipple confusion (she pumped) and when she went back to work her baby basically went on a hunger strike while at daycare because he did not want to take the bottle. There's the “ideal” scenario and there's reality. If you don't adapt to women's reality you lose the ability to influence them re: BFing, I think.

    In response to Rina's question above on the “no bottle” folks, there was an infamous article about how “just one bottle” was the first step on the road to perdition that was heavily promoted on Kellymom a few years ago when I was starting the process. I think they've taken it off now and their articles include more pragmatic ones, but every now and again you see so much fearmongering about nipple confusion that people can't quite figure out what they are supposed to do if they cannot be attached to their babies 24/7 for several months.

  14. I can't figure out the extreme breastfeeders. I nursed 4 babies over a 9 year period all over the East Coast. I nursed at schools, airports, restaurants, parks, stores, etc. and I was never once ridiculed, glared at or asked to leave. I was discreet but never hid in a back room or used a nursing cover. From time to time, an older woman might say something like “nursing is a wonderful thing – it is so much better for the babies.” I would take that complement with a grain of salt because those 4 kids were sick as often as any other kid in town! My last baby has been formula fed – and after living through my experience with a nutty lactation consultant I've been paying more attention to the extreme nursers. Why are they so angry and threatened by everything? I almost wonder if they equate better parent with being enraged or playing some sort of “mama bear” character. It's too bad because it really kind of turns me off to the whole breastfeeding propaganda.

  15. As the other regular without kids yet, I have to completley agree with you here, Bethrnich! This is one of the main reasons I will not even consider EBFing-I REFUSE to be the only one who can feed the baby for any amount of time. My ideal would be to combo-bottle feed, meaning bottle feed with both formula and pumped breastmilk. But if this doesn't work out then no worries. I do not care to nurse directly and it's not my goal to avoid formula. So all of the nipple confusion/ruining breastfeeding scare tactics that LCs seem to commonly use won't work on me since there will be no nipple confusion to be had and it is most certainly NOT my goal to avoid formula. Joke will be on them!

  16. Right on, Perfesser. I agree that standards for different situations that an LC can use to help more people in the best way possible should exist.

    I remember in the hospital, I think on the 2nd day after the babies were born, I asked about pumping. A nurse?LC? was surprised I hadn't been doing it, and gave me a crash course. They seemed to encourage it, to help milk come in (mine didn't until day 4 pp).

    I don't think BFing would have worked for me anyway, but it would be nice to have the “mother going back to work in 3mos” lessons vs. the “mother staying home for 5yrs.” ones.

  17. One of my LCs (who hosted LLL meetings in her boutique) was very anti-pump. She made no bones about the fact that any form of bottle feeding was inferior. You just didn't get that bonding experience, according to her, and pumped milk wasn't as nutritious. My goal, according to her, was to get off that pump because there's no way to maintain good supply with one. Plus, she said pumping was exhausting and a lot of work (gotta give her points for honesty on that one) and that lots of women are booby trapped not by formula but by pumps.

    The Herald's reporting was at least somewhat accurate, there has been some evidence that at least some LLL members embarked on an email campaign to get that part of the ad removed. I linked it on FFF's page. We haven't gotten the true story to see if other groups did what the group I found did, but the tone of that group's involvement is, I suspect, an indicator of why other people have come down hard on LLL in this.

    But, even when you take ONLY what was in LLL NZ's press release (ignoring ANY media reports), you still have a breastfeeding organization saying that an image of a bottle is contradictory to public health messages about breastfeeding. I realize that in practicality, many LLL groups provide support for moms who need to use bottles. But LLL's statement contradicts its own support. For working moms (and so many others, but let's go with a majority of breast-bottle-feeding moms for the sake of example), it is simply impossible to keep breastfeeding without bottles. Period. I feel some of the furor over LLL's response is justified because instead of taking a black-and-white approach, they could have used a more nuanced approach to bring everyone to the table and talk about how best to support breastfeeding for those who can/should/want to do it–which often includes bottles. The potential for a pro-feminist response here was incredible–they could have easily used this to highlight the importance of workplace pumping, for example.

    Frankly, if I were a member of LLL after this incident who used bottles in any capacity, I think I'd feel like a second class member. Here I'd be, trying to give my baby what everyone says is best, with other members of my local group probably being supportive of me just getting breastmilk into my kid's mouth, and the overall organization is telling me essentially that images of bottles are inconsistent with health messages. Should I leave my group, for fear that the bottles in my diaper bag are going to be an insta-booby trap for any new mom joining it? That's the message that has been sent–women can't handle even the slightest hint of a bottle.

    I would think LLL's response only makes it HARDER for them to attract the very people they might be trying to serve–those who might be struggling to breastfeed. It seems such a missed opportunity, but then, that is much of militant lactivism to me. Folks getting so wrapped up in the ideal that they harm the reality.

  18. Hi Teri,

    I agree with you that there might be more to this than meets the eye, although you can't blame LLL for a link to an email campaign posted on the page of one of its groups by someone who isn't an official representative. There definitely have been mistakes made by LLL here (including giving people besides administrators, i.e. LLL leaders, the ability to post on their facebook page – that is something we avoided when we started a facebook page for LLL Montreal, because we wanted control over what was posted.) I think that there has been a vicious cycle of mistakes that have been made on all sides, as a result of assumptions made on the basis of what people THINK other people said. It's totally gotten out of proportion.

    I think you've clarified megacamp's comment. I once heard of someone in Canada saying about pumping, “Why would you want to do that – we have a year's maternity leave.” As this is someone who promotes milksharing, I would say that the point wasn't that this person doesn't believe in pumping, but that they were railing against the idea that pumping is a necessary, integral part of breastfeeding. Still, I thought it was pretty insensitive.

    I do think it's important to stay away from absolutist statements when we're discussing these issues, as these are the ones that come back to bite us. For instance, you said, “For working moms…it is simply impossible to keep breastfeeding without bottles. Period.” Just for the record, I went back to work, as a teacher, when my eldest son was 5 months old and he NEVER received a bottle while at the daycare. This was because he refused to drink from one. I know my experience wasn't typical, because he was older when I started working and I was able to take breaks at least every 4 hours to go feed him at his daycare (except for one day a week when I was away from him for 5 hours) and he started solids at 6 months and took a sippy cup at 7 months. I do also know a lot of women who worked outside the home as mothers of young babies without resorting to bottles (including a Canadian member of parliament whose case hit the Canadian news yesterday.)

    Yes, most mothers who return to work, particularly under the conditions in the USA, need to use bottles. However, you're making a blanket statement that is just as black and white as those of your anti-pumping LC. I'm not being anti-bottles myself, but it can be a bit frustrating sometimes to see how ubiquitously the image of a bottle is associated with babies, particularly in contexts where there is no logical reason for this. For instance, I recently saw an episode of Dr Who, where a woman who was a colonist on Mars was talking to her daughter back on earth (on a video screen) who had her own baby daughter on her lap. On the table in front of her was a bottle. If I, as a breastfeeding expert had been asked for my input on that episode, I would have said the same thing that LLLNZ did with the Smokefree ad. You don't need the bottle – you already have a mother with a baby on her lap. I don't think this is terribly militant, but I'm sure that's where we differ.

    As for fear of having to leave a group because of the worry about your bottles booby trapping someone else, it's already been pointed out that there's never been an issue with LLL groups having bottle-feeding mothers, mixed-feeding mothers or mothers feeding expressed milk in a bottle, whether full-time or otherwise.

  19. FFF, see my comment to Teri above – it's the “have to be” I just don't agree with 😉

    I think that the “after breastfeeding is established” that you're talking about here is the same “6 weeks” that other people are complaining about from LC's. Not that it could be before 6 weeks, because we might know more at later stages than we did before, but there is a reason, even though these LC's might not have communicated it very well.

  20. Even stay at home mothers may not really have the time to devote to nursing a baby in an extreme manner. I pumped exclusively for my first son but when nursing did not work out with the other kids I did not have the time to devote to pumping because I had other kids to take care of and wanted time to take a shower and eat the occasional meal.

  21. Guess I am not a “real woman” any more as I cannot nurse.. physically I cannot do it. Nurse your children if one desires and is able. I combo fed my middle child and to be honest it was sheer misery when I nursed. I had mastitis badly.. so at 7 months I stopped all together and went entirely to formula. My eldest and youngest FF from day one… ironically they are the healthiest of my children. My son is in the army and will graduate from medical school this year.. not bad for a sick, dumb FF baby.

  22. Glad to hear I'm not the only one who feels that way, Kristin. It will probably be several years before I'm in a position to bring little people into the world… so I could certainly change my mind when the time comes. But I think for me the infant feeding question will be whether to try combo feeding or go straight to exclusive formula feeding.

    I have a few medical conditions that might make BFing difficult or even impossible for me. These conditions may get worse in the few months following pregnancy, too. And it may be best for me to have c-sections. (I have vulvodynia. There isn't a lot written about how to approach childbirth in this situation. Some women decide not to, err, um, pass a baby through a part of their body that already suffers chronic pain.) So I might really need some help when my kids are born. I need to know that someone else can feed my child. If combo feeding from day 1 causes nipple confusion and/ or supply problems, “Que será, será”. Exclusive formula feeding would be better for my family than exclusive breast feeding. And yes, there's a good chance I'll decide not to even try BFing/ combo feeding– I might cope better that way.

  23. Ah, I'm usually better about avoiding absolutist statements; all I can say is I'm definitely not at the top of my game at the moment given that my family's going through grieving the loss of a loved one. I typically like to avoid absolutism when it comes to infant feeding, and will gladly acknowledge my mistake there. I'm sure there are examples of moms who work and maintain exclusive breastfeeding with no bottles. I just don't believe that's the experience of the majority of working women, which means I believe that overall, my points remain.

    That said, say we edit what I said to be that most working women have to pump. Some percentage, who knows how many. I have yet to see anyone who's defending LLL in this flap to truly address my main point instead of missing the main point for minor details: how is LLL's response not contradictory to its own messages about supporting working women, and bottles in general? Either bottles are healthy or they're not. Either it's a booby trap to show a bottle to a nursing mom or it isn't. After hearing that, why would any mom who bottle-feeds in any capacity while looking for breastfeeding support go to them? Why risk screwing someone else's life up, if other moms are that fragile?

    LLL's statement is saying they're contradictory to other health messages. Meaning that bottles are contradictory to the message that breast is best. Except that bottles are often the only way that moms can maintain breastfeeding (playing devil's advocate here–wouldn't bottles therefore be celebrated for enabling women to keep at that “liquid gold?”), not to mention the fact that for a goshdarn lot of people, bottle-feeding is hands-down the healthiest way to feed their kids.

    Shouldn't LLL's response to this therefore have been far more nuanced? And do people not have the right to be angry with them for not taking that more nuanced approach? Frankly, their response only adds fodder to my feeling that some of the biggest booby traps come not from formula companies, but breastfeeding support resources that let their view of what is perfect become an enemy of their view of what is good.

    While we're at it as far as absolutism goes, I can't agree that all LLL groups are in support of bottle-feeding. Or even just other styles of parenting other than things typically associated with attachment parenting. Just a quick google search turned up a few examples:

    http://www.circleofmoms.com/debating-mums/la-leche-league-637573
    The comments ^ show a wide variety of experiences, from down-right anti-formula LLL chapters to wonderfully supportive ones. To say that ALL–as in every single last one–of the LLL chapters out there are supportive of bottle-feeding frankly seems a little unrealistic.

    http://www.proteacher.net/discussions/showthread.php?t=378035
    ^ In which someone is advised to try a different group, as they're all composed of individuals and some are a better fit for certain people than others.

    http://thelittlehenhouse.com/2011/02/09/the-la-leche-league-revisited/
    ^ One woman's recent experience with her local LLL

    http://www.salon.com/2000/03/31/laleche/
    ^ Older, but an interesting take.

  24. “It can be a bit frustrating sometimes to see how ubiquitously the image of a bottle is associated with babies” – why is this a bad thing necessarily? I find this to be like saying it's frustrating to see how often non-organic food or prepared food is associated with children – we all recognize it's less than “ideal” but heck most parents at some point or other in their lives cannot do the “ideal.”

    The only reason to want to ban or severely limit images of bottles with babies is if you think Bottles Are Bad. It's a really Big Brother-ish approach, and it's what puts people off LLL, no matter how you try to show that some/many LLL folks can be reasonable. Also your work situation is prob

    ably shared by about 0.1 % of working American women with young babies – I taught while BFing and did not get to live close by enough to campus or arrange my own schedule in a way that allowed me to schedule feeding sessions (plus my baby needed to feed every two hours). To give someone grief for generalizing if they don't take an extremely rare and felicitous set of circumstances into account seems a bit over the top. It's the kind of thing I hear a lot from LCs, this business of “I had an extremely easy baby and ideal work situation and I made it work without bottles and so everyone can.”

  25. (Though I should say that I agree with you that in many ads and visuals a bottle may seem gratuitous – but then so do I find it gratuitous to show, say, young children with juice boxes in films. Doesn't mean I launch a campaign against it as evil)

  26. See, there you go…another situation that might not get covered in the “one size fits all” support that seems to exist in many places. That's something I hadn't even thought of (forgive me, I have twins, so I know nothing about adding children to the family one at a time)…how having older children will affect how the new baby is fed (or anything else for that matter).

  27. I think the reaction in NZ to this was over the top – we need images of men caring for their children, and that includes men feeding their children. I also have a hard time believing that increasing breastfeeding rates at this point in time in developed countries (with clean water and high levels of literacy) where breast feeding rates are high, is really the best use of resources. There's something called diminishing returns – where the more effort exerted to achieve a goal, achieves ever smaller amounts of the desired effect and at some point might even be detrimental to the goal being sought. It's like drinking beer 1 beer is good, 2 is better, 3 is great…but eventually that beer will make you sick. I think that's the point where we're at – we've exceeded the optimal breastfeeding rate and now it's just making us sick (psychologically and physically)….

  28. Quite a few “extreme breastfeeding advocates” are basically anti-bottles; see here http://forums.joyousbirth.info/forumdisplay.php?f=29&order=desc&page=5 and here http://www.thealphaparent.com/2011/12/beware-anti-breastfeeding-books.html for example. Also, a lot of books qualify any talk of bottles with lots of stuff about “If you MUST leave baby for any amount of time…” and talk about the joys of cup, dropper and syringe feeding, and even spoonfeeding of milk (the funny thing about a lot of crunchaloons is that they are against spoonfeeding of solid foods, yet think spoonfeeding breastmilk is awesome. No, I haven't worked that one out either). Cecile refused bottles from 3mo so when I left her with grandma/dad from 3-6 mo we HAD to do all this spoonfeeding breastmilk nonsense. Let me tell ya bottles are easier and less messy!

    Another thought: could all the allergy to bottles be part of the reason why in some crunchy circles there now seems to be such a thing about getting babies from bottles to sippy cups as early as possible? Like there is a stigma attached to bottles per se. I moved Cecile to a cup ASAP because she wouldn't take bottles, but I get the impression that a lot of people are using cups from an earlier stage these days, among both FFers and BFers whose babies will take bottles just fine… Or it could just be that sippies are better designed these days.

  29. To be fair, mom25, some of it might be a regional thing; I know that in many parts of the US, breastfeeding is a non-issue or gets only nice reactions, while in some conservative areas women really do get harassed. I totally agree with you, though, that some women seem to be looking for things to get outraged about.

  30. “The only reason to want to ban or severely limit images of bottles with babies is if you think bottles are bad.”

    Exactly. I realize the New Zealand government wants to encourage breast-feeding. Some parenting experts recommend co-sleeping (which can mean in the parents' bed or with the child in their own bed in the parents' room– some experts consider bed- sharing dangerous. I'm not sure what the official stand on co-sleeping is in New Zealand.) Suppose the camera crews got some nice footage of Piri Weepu putting his daughter to bed in her own room. Would co-sleeping advocates say that footage shouldn't be included in the PSA? I guess it's possible. But I'll bet nobody would have batted an eye. Because doing so is not considered dangerous or bad– even though co-sleeping might be better for the baby.

  31. Whenever I hear a story of some poor new mom being told by an “extreme breastfeeding advocate” that she should be using spoons, syringes and supplementary nursing sytems I feel like that must be the “sentence” that has been imposed upon her for the “crime” of not nursing. When I became an official “bottle feeding mother” for the first time earlier this year after many years of being a “nursing mother” I was pleasantly surprised by just how much the baby and I enjoyed it. Maybe the extremists are afraid the joy of bottle feeding could become common knowledge…..

  32. True, I think I probably do live in an area where nursing is very common and the norm for the first few months at least. But I think being discreet and not having the attitude of “Look at me, I am nursing – please acknowledge my good parenting!” goes a very long way in preventing confrontations and hostility.

    **Please note that by discreet I do not mean hiding or ashamed! Like almost everybody else who visits this site I believe breastfeeding is wonderful and should be promoted when it works for the baby, the mom and the whole family!!

  33. I love “crunchaloons” and may steal that expression from you. I do wonder how much of this perversity about rejecting the easiest way of doing things as necessarily wrong stems from a desire to feel one is different, special and enlightened (“look at me, I'm wearing a pricey sling from a small boutique meant to look like an African one instead of your Mainstreamy Baby Bjorn that doesn't allow True Bonding!”)

  34. I understand the concern of nipple confusion, but don't infants need to/like to suck? Isn't sucking is a comforting thing for them?
    I have never tried spoon feeding or syringe feeding (other than giving acetaminophen). Do these methods provide enough comfort in addition to the nurishment the infant will receive?
    Just curious…?

  35. Some folks have to pump in order to maintain their supply–before or after the magical 6 week mark. Plenty of moms of preemies pump. That's the only way their kids get breastmilk. Plenty of kids born with jaundice don't nurse well/right away, so what are their moms who want to breastfeed supposed to do, just let it dry up and let the kid starve till s/he figures out breast = food, and then try to relactate? Maybe not every single last working mom doesn't have to pump but hey, there's still a freakin' ton. Sure, we can avoid absolutes, like “working mom = must pump” but we can sure as hell acknowledge that even if only some small percentage of women have to pump at work, even if it was the norm to bring baby to the office or restaurant or construction site or wherever they work, they're still worth supporting.

    I still have not had a single LLL defender explain to me how LLL's statement does anything other than discourage these moms from feeding their kids with breastmilk. All I'm seeing are people nitpicking minor things without answering the main question. I'm starting to think there IS no good answer, because LLL, Plunket, and the College of Midwives were just plain wrong on this one.

  36. Yup, thanks for pointing that one – I guess I should have worded that differently too. It does show how these things can get out of hand and I think that what escalates these conflicts is when people don't acknowledge their mistakes.

    BTW, I've been thinking about the sad time you're going through at the moment and I was really admiring your spunk, even when I'm disagreeing with what you're saying.

  37. I'm sure it does..some of the women who insist on doing things the hardest way possible, are using that to justify what they are doing and lord it over women who things by the easier method.

    By justify, I mean they'll claim that their (hard) way is the best way, and that no one else could do that job (parent her child, possibly not even dad).

    Then, they'll basically say that they love their babies more than you do because they take the long and sacrificial way and you take short cuts. Then they claim to be sad for your child.

  38. From the (thankfully few) people I have come across who are this way, I get the impression that they actually have pretty easy, non-demanding babies – hence all the time to experiment with different slings, only-organic-homemade foods and so on – and that they are people who find it difficult to think that what they are doing, i.e. raising a child, is a mundane, largely manual task that equalizes parents of all backgrounds, and they need to feel they are carrying out a social mission or changing the world somehow with their parenting. To some extent we all fall prey to that but I see the “child-rearing as statement” approach a lot more among academics/activists who are not quite used to their days being filled with something that doesn't make them feel intellectually and socially on a mission.

  39. (easy/non-demanding babies)–that's a good point. If their babies were difficult,they wouldn't be able to believe they were “doing everything right.” I know one person who does “child-rearing-as-a-statement” and she totally fits your description.

    Thankfully, I haven't come across many like this in real life either. Most of the people I work with 1)have two parents working in the family (and therefore less time for the long way) and/or 2)have never heard of attachment parenting (as an ideology).

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