Maybe that title is a little misleading, because I am not going to be discussing abortion today. My feelings on that conversation aside, I have a serious thought that I need to share.
I really don’t care if you breastfeed your baby. I don’t care if he is born via planned induction or c-section. I don’t care if you vaccinate, or feed him cereal at 6 weeks old. As long as you are making an educated decision and you are happy with it, rock on. And let me, having made an educated decision I am happy with, rock on, too.
How does this fit in with the fact that I am a crazy homebirther lactavist? I think it meshes pretty well actually… but we’ll get back to that.
Redbook released an article that has the breastfeeding community a little perturbed.
No, You Don’t Have to Breastfeed the title screams. Actually, a doctor screamed that at the author who was thankful to hear it. So she switched to formula and is thrilled.
Now, the comments vary a lot, and the tempers are flaring. I guess I can appreciate that perhaps Redbook is owned or supported by the evil Nestle (which I do try to avoid their products, and Gerber too, since I think they now own it) although I have somewhere to be in an hour and I am not going to fact check. Redbook itself appears to be pretty anti-breastfeeding, which is worth them not getting my $$, and maybe even a snippy email. But author Erin Zammett Ruddy I am cool with.
She is right – your baby won’t die if you formula feed. It will be good enough. For me, in my house, we actively avoid doing something that is “good enough”. Frequently I fall short, even trying to excel nutritionally for my baby – I am a serious cola addict, so I guess in that sense I am doing what is “good enough” by my standards. Even as a BFer I have been judged for that, so how can I judge someone else?
But that’s our choice.
When I was considering home/birth center/ natural birth, there were three types of people who I encountered. Those who had done it, or seen it done, and encouraged me. Those who had not, and freaked out that my baby would die, and I might not survive (or at the very least would be emotionally scarred for life from the unbearable pain).
And those who thought it was a little odd, but asked a lot of questions. That last category of person deserves a medal. Or a Starbucks gift card at least. Those were the people who were thought-provoking.
Even if they found my choice disdainful, they were calm in asking about it, they asked honest, probing questions. Their questions made me evaluate why I was making my choice. Was it to be a supermom? What it to be different than the norm? Or was I truly swayed by the mountain of factual and anecdotal data that statistically and spiritually I had a chance at a better birth experience going this route? Okay, that last question was loaded.
I’ve been a crazy lactavist longer than a crazy natural birther type. I had an epidural induction in 1996 at age 19 and was a crazy lactavist within a couple of months. It’s great for baby, better for me. I hate washing dishes. I hate cooking (any part of it, the mixing, the measuring). Even if I had bought ready-to-feed formula, those darn bottles wouldn’t have washed themselves. I was actually in the minority in my social circle then. I was a little weird among the mommies, and even weirder around similarly aged peers. But I believed it was my choice, not theirs on how I fed my baby. Not my mother-in-laws. Not my neighbors.
I was horrified to learn that people think they have a right to tell you how to parent, what to do, and to criticize you if it isn’t what they did. What about this “It takes a Village” crap? What about working together to support mothers and daddies and babies?
Our egos and belief that we know what is best for other families is what keeps us apart as a community.
It isn’t about formula or breast milk or cosleeping or crib sleeping. It’s about supporting one another to create an environment conducive to learning and sharing and growing. Encouraging one another to do our own research and our own developing is the greatest gift we can give. Sharing our own testimonials about life choices without shaming those who choose differently fosters positivity and growth.
I realize that I am being idealist. But I am realistic that my reach and my influence will not impact every child born. But it might impact one, or two, or twenty, because I will try to listen more than I talk, and choose my language carefully when I do. I will still screw up and offend people – but at least my heart will be in the right place.
I will still defend breastfeeding to “the man” when we are kicked out of a clothing store. It doesn’t make me a bad lactavist to believe others have rights too.
So feed your baby however you see fit. And let me feed mine. Don’t curl your lip that I am nursing my 15 month old. Or handing her a whole slice of tomato at 6 months (that was a whole different ball of dirty looks/ fascination)… Don’t think that because I choose to cloth diaper I think disposables are wrong and horrible. They are wrong and horrible for my baby, but it might be that laundry makes you really cranky and a cranky mommy washing diapers would be wrong and horrible for your baby.
I believe in tolerance and being educated. I believe in being pro-choice (in the true sense of the word).
I think the article could have been better written. I suspect maybe they knew the way it was written would bring an enormous amount of traffic to their site. But Redbook isn’t known as an authority in medical advice or even in education.
If someone is choosing how to feed their baby with no other input than Redbook, well, that kid probably has bigger problems than bottle or breast. But then we get into eugenics, and everyone agrees that isn’t acceptable right?
p.s. Sorry if this is rambling on… it just had to escape my brain.