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June 21, 2006 / allyo

That thing everyone is talking about

When I was born, my mom received a shot to dry up her milk. It was standard operating procedure in that particular hospital at the time (1970) and she doesn’t recall anyone asking her if she wanted the shot or mentioning breastfeeding at all. It was assumed she would formula feed and they just gave it to her. When Jamie was born, my mom loved to watch me nurse him and even would watch me pump. (I asked her not too, I felt like a moo-cow already, and besides, we’re not that close. Really.) She was fascinated by the whole process, loves how comforting it is for Jamie, and as a nurse, is completely on board with the health benefits. The fact that her very first decision as a mother, of how to feed her child, was taken away from her makes me seethe. Not for my own lost health benefits, not even for hers, and our family history is such that we both could have used whatever percentage points we could gain. No, what makes me angry is that the medical establishment decided that science could create a better source of nourishment than a woman’s body and imposed its will upon so many mothers.

For me, breastfeeding advocacy is about empowering the mother. It’s about women having the information, resources, and support to breastfeed successfully, to use our bodies to their fullest potential. If a woman doesn’t want to breastfeed, that is her choice. That doesn’t mean that exposure to the benefits of breastmilk and advantages of breastfeeding might not change her mind, but for me, it’s the women that want to breastfeed and fail because no one told them it might take a week for their milk to come in or that it might come in so fast and so hard that their baby might have problems latching. Or because their pediatrician told them their milk was too thin, or they didn’t have enough, or that a perfectly safe medication meant they had to wean. Or because their husband thought it was icky, or their workplace refused to let them pump. The denial of the desire to breastfeed, the emotional fallout it causes, that’s what pisses me off.

And when women turn on each other instead of demanding their doctors and insurance companies and workplaces give them the support and respect they deserve, well, that makes me sick to my stomach. Because the only ones who are benefiting by the crap we sling at each other from both sides of this debate are the formula companies. And that’s just bullshit.



Leave a Comment
  1. Kelly / Jun 22 2006 9:31 am

    Excellent post! ITA.

  2. j / Jun 25 2006 4:44 pm

    I think I love you. That was so well written.

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