Thursday, June 11, 2009

"Breastfeeding? I have better things to do with my time!"

Audrey shared this article, titled "The Case Against Breastfeeding", with me. She warned me that "it might make your blood pressure go up", and if you are a breastfeeding supporter, it probably will indeed. However, I was tempted to read it, and once I did I couldn't pass without reviewing this masterpiece. So, go ahead and read the original article if you have the time - I'm warning you, it's long, and you might have steam coming out of your ears by the time you finish.

Summary: Hanna Rosin finds out that breastfeeding takes time, effort and patience, becomes frustrated, and attempts to prove that it really isn't worth the trouble by pointing out the lack of clear-cut scientific evidence. I think the following statement reveals the true spirit behind the article:

"Being stuck at home breast-feeding as he [the husband] walked out the door for work just made me unreasonably furious, at him and everyone else."

While discussing the possible long-term health benefits of breastfeeding, the author says:

"The past few decades have turned up many promising leads, hypotheses, and theories, all suggestive and nifty but never confirmed in the lab."

Researching breastfeeding is difficult, because virtually all we have to rely on are observational studies. We cannot take a group of mothers who would be of the same age, ethnicity, social background, lifestyle and many other variables, and tell one half of them to breastfeed their babies and the other half not to. That would be unethical. So researchers find mostly correlations, and that's something that's easy to second-guess, especially if you're skeptical in the first place.

This kind of ambivalence in research findings is typical in anything that has to do with nutrition, because it's always so complex and involves so many interactions. That's why there are so many fads, trends, and hysterical claims that such-and-such food is a killer or otherwise the ultimate remedy for anything and everything.

But you know what? I don't need scientists to tell me breastfeeding is the best thing for my baby. I'm sure research of breastfeeding will continue, and perhaps revolutionary findings will be revealed, but regardless of whether or not this happens I know my milk is the perfect food, because God made it. Formula can never measure up. It's not only about the milk, either; it's how the babe is nestled in its mother's arms, skin to skin, the naturally longer, more relaxed feedings, and the entire comforting nature of it all.

And yes, it makes me sad and angry when someone flippantly dismisses the rich blessings of breastfeeding and at the same time blames it for the difficulties of the adjustment period that comes with new motherhood:

"And in any case, if a breast-feeding mother is miserable, or stressed out, or alienated by nursing, as many women are, if her marriage is under stress and breast-feeding is making things worse, surely that can have a greater effect on a kid’s future success than a few IQ points."

Right. Just mix a bottle of formula, and there will be no more stress, no night feedings, no challenges of transition to life with a new baby. And above all, we will be equal, because then the father can feed the baby too, and isn't that the most important thing?

I'm not saying all this to inflict guilt, pain or shame upon mothers who for some reason couldn't breastfeed. Not breastfeeding doesn't make anyone a bad mother. Maybe there were medical reasons, maybe the mother didn't have the knowledge, help, support, or whatever it was needed to make breastfeeding successful. Truly, there should never be shameful remarks directed towards any mother who is committed to doing the best she can with what she has. But in love, and only in love, my heart aches for every mother and baby who could have enjoyed the wonderful, miraculous, sweet relationship that breastfeeding is, and for some reason did not.

Breastfeeding is not egalitarian - God, in spite of what would have been politically correct, only gave milk to mothers. Breastfeeding requires patience - you aren't going to be in peace with it if you are constantly on the run, impatiently tapping your foot while your baby is nursing. No, it doesn't fit into the mold of modern life, but it fits perfectly into God's plan for mothers, babies and families.

"Recently, my husband and I noticed that we had reached the age at which friends from high school and college now hold positions of serious power. When we went down the list, we had to work hard to find any women. Where had all our female friends strayed? Why had they disappeared during the years they’d had small children?"

Now we are starting to really get to the point: poor women didn't reach their full potential, because they were brainwashed and allowed themselves to be enslaved by breastfeeding. How unjust and oppressive!

"It [breastfeeding] is a serious time commitment that pretty much guarantees that you will not work in any meaningful way... This is why, when people say that breast-feeding is “free,” I want to hit them with a two-by-four. It’s only free if a woman’s time is worth nothing."

Because nursing a baby isn't meaningful work, you know what I mean? You should only do it if you have nothing better to do with your time. Such as going out there to "hold positions of serious power" (anywhere but in your own home).

Like Audrey said, I feel like my blood pressure is going up indeed. And that isn't good for me or my baby girl. So I'd better get up from the chair now and do something cheerful, productive and relaxing. Shira is asleep, but soon she will wake up looking for Mommy's milk.

And I will hold her, and nurse her, and rock her. Cuddle her and play with her, and comfort her, and make her laugh and laugh with her. And I will be forever thankful. Thank You, God, for giving us such a precious baby, a bundle of pure, sweet joy. Thank You for giving me milk to nourish her, You made it and I hope I will have plenty for my baby. It's rightfully hers and I will continue giving it to her with much love for as long as she wants.


Anonymous said...

I have read your blog for a long time, but have never commented before. But I found that this post related to a case which was in the media here in Denmark a short while ago. The case was of a woman, a journalist, who wrote an article wherein she explained that she, an expectant mother, had absolutely no plans to breastfeed. She'd made this decision while still pregnant. As I remember her reasons were many of the same you list from that article:
a) she saw no reason why bonding couldn't take place with a bottle instead of a breast.
b) and of course (she wrote), if a mother breastfeeds how will the father manage to bond with his child? No that can surely only be obtained if you refrain from breastfeeding and use a bottle instead.
c) she had seen no proof that breastmilk was superior or better than formula.
She didn't clarify whether she intended to pump her breastmilk or use formula, but I think her intention went towards formula because her final reason for not breastfeeding was so that she would have no delay in going back to her career. She also had one reason which I found absolutely ridiculous: she meant that if she breastfed it would inevitably be her who had to fix her child's food for school etc. She had made all of these decisions, before even giving birth, before even giving it breastfeeding a try. I'm not a mother or a wife, but I believe we have instincts and surely a new mother feels a very keen instinct to breastfeed her child. If she can't, due to various reasons, she can't and that's the way that is. But I don't understand how a pregnant mother can sit down and ultimately write a list of the things she can't do, before she has even tried. I hate to say it, but in this case, it rang selfish and lazy to me. I don't mean any judgment, I don't mean any offence to anyone who reads this but this particular case made me think this woman was selfish and despairing in her relationship with her child. Of course the media heren in Denmark, being a very pro-breastfeeding country, picked up the story and a brouhaha was caused over it.
Finishing up, I just want to remark that while I didn't understand her reasons for not breastfeeding, I most of all didn't understand why she chose not to try; why she chose to believe it had no "real" benefits, without even trying it.


CappuccinoLife said...

Oh my, yes, blood pressure up. :(


Although, she probably feels like she's defending her side of "The Mommy Wars" against wicked breastfeeding mommies who hate bottle-feeders. Because we're like that you know, just soooo mean and evil. :/

Sad that she felt she needed to "deconstruct" breasfeeding and turn it into something oppressive and bad, rather than just explaining that it didn't word for *her*.

Lily said...

What a truly horrible article and opinion that woman had! Breastfeeding being a waste of time is just such utter nonsense!!!! I would have dearly loved to be able to have done that for my son. He was 6 weeks early and my body just wouldn't produce the milk, even with the almost hourly pumping to increase my supply I was only able to get 2 ounces a day! I mourned for that lost connection with him. I have noticed though that the 'liberated woman' often feels that the things that are so beneficial for children waste their precious and valuable time. Probably why there aren't more stay at home mothers in the first place. I truly feel sad for this person that she can't see her true value and worth. and that it isn't all about how much money she brings in or what her job title is.

Morag said...

This is the culture of the machine. Taking the time to enjoy simply being human and cultivating human relationships is unproductive. How sad. Why would we choose the machine mindset over being human?

Anonymous said...

Hi Anna,
It's good that you have shared this article with us.

First, I think it's so sad that women who embrace the attitude of the author will be missing out,not just on health benefits for their babies, but also for themselves! Breastfeeding leads to reduced rates of breast cancer. Also, the prolactin that is released into a woman's body during breastfeeding is a wonderful, calming hormone that makes mothers more mellow,less stressed, and gives them extra hormonal support for the rigors of motherhood. The women who reject nursing for these selfish reasons are bringing greater grief upon themselves.(As an aside, I know that some women truly cannot breastfeed, although they would like to. I think God gives extra grace to these women who are not acting from selfish motives.)

As to her comment about how people at her stage of life are coming into positions of "power", and her dismay that these "powerful" people are all men...She is losing sight of the fact that while these men might in fact have "power and influence", they are just like their wives in one major respect: They Cannot Have It All. Have these men had the precious privilege of carrying a little one inside them? Do they have the special knowledge and intuition about the children that their wives do? No, of course not. None of us can have it all! I hope this author will be able to let go of her bitterness, and to embrace the special calling she has as a mother.

Oh, and one final thought. I hope this author realizes that she holds a position of great influence herself! Being a mother is the greatest, most influential position in all the world! Imagine...a sweet baby who is designed to cling to its mother, and to yearn for her when they are apart...motherhood is a precious opportunity and privilege for those who will embrace it. It is a position of great influence...disguised in diapers!
--Lisa B.

missylou said...

What a selfish woman. I pity her.

Persuaded said...

ok anna, i was all set to click on the link and give this author the respect of at least reading her article, but after reading the snippets you posted, i think i will spare myself the aggravation. yipes!

honestly why do some people even have children? personally, i don't feel there is any dishonor in saying, "i choose not to have kids, i don't want to make the necessary sacrifices, i like the way my life is now." but to *choose* to have children and then resent what they require of one is just so puerile. just my 2 cents.

and anna, thanks for reading this sort of drivel so we don't have to;)

Anna said...

As if studies are needed to prove that breastfeeding is best for babies!
Foolish people. So many scientists dismiss God's creation as meaningless, not useful and out-dated until some "study" proves otherwise.
Of course breastfeeding is best! It has worked perfectly since the beginning of time. What more proof is needed?

Heather said...

Please do remember that there are those of us that prayed that we would have been able to breastfeed and instead were unable to. I was one of those woman and I have had those remarks and looks while I fed my sons a bottle. They are all just as happy and healthy as any other child that I know that was breastfed.

Mrs. Anna T said...

Heather, I understand that it can happen, and I mentioned it in my post as well.

Kyle, Amanda, and Tobias said...

Oh wow! I don't think I will read that article, I may become too angry.

I think this mother has simply bought into all the current feminist myths concerning motherhood and what is valuable. A career outside the home is not the only valuable way to contribute to the world and certainly caring for your own children in the best way you can is of immeasurable value.

I never found breastfeeding to be all that difficult as far as time. I researched ahead of time, used the experience I'd gained as a nanny, and started off well. We always had a flexible routine and avoiding bad nursing habits like always nursing to sleep. I feel truly blessed to have had the opportunity to nurse my son and although he's weaned now I still miss it sometimes. I look forward to nursing my second child whenever that may be and actually hope to nurse even longer now that I have more knowledge and experience and am looking forward to it.

Last time I dreaded it because of all the things I'd been told about breastfeeding. I was told my breasts would leak milk everywhere in public if a baby cried near me, that I would have to feed constantly, and that my baby could never possibly sleep through the night since "breastmilk is digested faster". I'm so glad I ignored people! None of those things were true at all! A simple cloth nursing pad caught any small leaking in the first few months, my son ate at regular intervals (probably 2.5 hours as a newborn and up to 4 hours by 6 months old), and he slept through the night with no interventions by me at 8 weeks old.

I feel sorry for this mother who bought into the myths that she must ignore what her body is biologically made for (bearing and nursing children) in order to feel valuable. But in the end each experience is what you make of it. If you are willing to put in the necessary hard work at the start, be proactive, and keep a positive attitude, breastfeeding can be just as rewarding for the mother as it is nutritious for her baby.

Susan said...

Well I read the article AND watched the video with the author and her friends. While I don't appreciate some of her more over-the-top sarcasm or conflating her experience as a big city NYC mother feeling pressure to breastfeed to everyone else in the world (I certainly live in a small city with a medical community that is NOT supportive NOR informative) I do think she makes a few good points.

Overstating the scientific benefits of breastfeeding doesn't do anyone any good. The benefits of breastfeeding in my experience goes far beyond the "magic milk." I think that is wny I've found pumping so dehumanizing and avoid it when possible. That said, I pumped like a fiend when my youngest was in the NICU.

I'm off to a LLL meeting this morning. I go in part to commune with other breastfeeding moms but also to reassure moms about their own decisions regarding breastfeeding--whatever they may be. It isn't an exaggeration to say that there are some women who judge and berate mothers who choose not to breastfeed regardless of their reasons. Enough with the judging, I say! Want information about breastfeeding to support you? I'm there. Want me to make the decision for you or to "persuade" other moms what to do? Not for me.

Mary at Civilla's Cyber Cafe said...

I, too, was unable to breastfeed because I'd had surgery on one of mine a few years before and the scar tissue prohibited it. I also noticed that the nurses at my hospital were single ladies who didn't care and gave no instruction or support anyway. I tried to breastfeed but had to give it up due to failure because of the scar tissue.

To compensate, I made sure that I never propped a bottle, but always held my baby. We bonded perfectly and my children are very healthy.

I feel bad for women who want to breastfeed but have no support from the medical community, etc.

Alicia said...

How can there even be a question that breastmilk isn't the best thing for babies? That's how our bodies were made!

To be honest, I'm worried about that woman's kids. Why did she even want to become a mother, when all her kids do is hold her back from the equality and the career she really wants?

I feel like there's a confused - almost defiant undertone in that article. She desperately wants the feminist ideal of "equality" between her and her husband, her and the workplace... and yet she's not able to completely renounce womanhood. Even after such a horrible article, she closes by saying that breastfeeding "is much too intimate and elemental" and that it's "probably my last chance to feel warm baby skin up against mine."

Anonymous said...

I am respectfully of the opinion that we shouldnt be so fiercly against those who breastfeed or those who dont. This is what divides Christians, and women.
Breastfeeding topics on blogs are something that should more times than not, be left alone. Let each person do as they need to when it comes to breastfeeding. Lets not make such a huge issue about it.

The thing that most people dont realize, I think, is that breastfeeding is a sensitive topic to an extreme. And it hurts peoples hearts and feelings when they read comments from other women who are sooooo pro-breastfeeding. Some people dont understand how hard it makes it on your sister in the Lord who cant or didnt breastfeed. Its one of those sensitive topics that no matter how delicate one tries to make their point, it will always be a source of controversy and hurt one way or the other.
I cant even express enough how very much it hurts me.
And probably by me even saying this, will cause numerous comments against me or that my comment wont be published, possibly but maybe not :)
So I say all that just as a idea for us to think about leaving this issue alone.
As Christian women, sisters in the Lord, theres so many other topics we can actually all band together on with regards to the home and family and motherhood.
Kindest Regards.

Mrs W said...

I think "breast is best" BUT I also think that it is overrated. I bonded with my bottle fed babies just fine. And you know what? No matter HOW hard I TRIED to nurse, all the nursing nazi's could do was tell me I didn't try hard enough. They weren't here to see what happened so maybe they should keep their mouths shut.

Why would women want to breastfeed when everywhere they go it has to be hidden as unnatural and immodest? Why should I have to go into another room and shut myself in to feed baby while I'm amongst family (yes, my MIL actually thinks it's immodest and that her 13 year old boy doesn't know anything about the difference between boys and girls).

Mrs. Anna T said...

Mrs. W,

I really don't see any reason why you might NOT bond with your boys. You are their mother. You tend to their needs every day. You stay home with them. Are adoptive mothers unable to bond with their children? Of course not.

Lauren Christine said...

I so appreciate your pro-breastfeeding blog entries. It breaks my heart when I hear about the 'anti breastfeeding' attitude a lot of our culture has. May we all change that attitude slowly and humbly by our example, Lord willing! :)

Lauren Christine (38 weeks pregnant today, thanks be to God!)

Whitters said...

Heaven forbid she should have a little patience! Breastfeeding bonds your baby with you and how is it worthless to care for a little life???

mary bailey said...

Wow. I'm blown away by how articulate the author manages to be with her obviously conflicted feelings.

Breastfeeding, indeed, requires a huge commitment. I think a lot of women aren't prepared for 10 half-hour nursing sessions a day. They think something is wrong, that their baby couldn't and shouldn't possibly need to nurse that much. I've seen too many women chalk it up to "I must not be producing enough milk" and then they quit.

I encourage all women to STUDY books on breastfeeding while you are pregnant so you will know what to expect.

I guess this is a divisive topic, but I hope others realize that you are not condemning anyone, Anna. You are simply writing your own personal opinion, on your own personal blog, about a subject that is very close to your heart.

Not speaking for others, but for me and my baby, breastfeeding was best. He is happy, healthy, and extremely well-adjusted, all of which I attribut to breastfeeding.

Gombojav Tribe said...

Tell it, Anna!

Besides breastfeeding, there are lot of things in the years spent raising children that may be seen as a "waste of time." But, we do them joyfully. Why should breastfeeding be any different? We (at least I) spend time finger-painting, reading to them, listening to them ramble about what happened at their friend's house, etc. None of this mothers get paid to do. But, that does not mean it's a waste of time.

Breastfeeding (as well as other motherly arts!) is not just free, it's priceless!

L Fabjanska said...

I think that these ladies want the same things that you do: they want to raise the best children they can. Granted they are postmodern women, but they want to raise their children. I watched the first video and they seemed to be articulating the desire to breastfeed, but if it was not possible because of health, they were still going to be good mothers.

Interestingly enough, some of their expressions, were some that you expressed in an earlier post: about not having the support of their doctors.


Purple Envelope Project said...

This is so hard for me to write, because it was hard for me to even admit to myself, but I think it is important.

My son was born 9 weeks prematurely. He couldn't nurse, so I pumped my milk and we tube fed him. He nearly died of NEC, a condition where his little intestines were dying off. The only thing that could save him was breast milk. Thankfully mine lasted until his intestines were healed.

Unfortunately, my milk dried up around that time. I did everything in my power to keep up a supply, but it got to the point where I'd pump all day and get less than an ounce. A milk bank was an alternative that I would have used if we had still been in the NEC days, but since the imminent danger was behind us, we switched to formula.

I remember those days of feeding my little one his bottle. First of all, let me say that it is much more work to make a bottle than to breast feed. My husband and I shared the "duty" but I was still exhausted.

Now here's the part where I'm ashamed. I remember being so impatient with him as he ate. I held him, and nurtured him, but it just was not the same as it is with my breast fed daughter.

My daughter started out her nursing carrer very poorly. She was tongue tied and nursing was very difficult. The hospital wanted me to suppliment her feedings with formula, but I asked to pump instead. They gave me the pump, but also gave her a bottle of formula. She promptly threw it up!

Finally, someone realized she was tongue tied and gave us a referal to an ENT doctor to cut the tie. Since then she has been nursing like a champ!

As I nurse her, I feel so sorry for my first born. Nursing is such a wonderful, bonding experience for my daughter and me. It is so much different than feeding my son his bottle ever was. I wish that my son had been able to have that special time.

Though I most cetainly snuggled him outside of feeding time, I feel like he missed out on something special.

I am now a huge advocate for breastfeeding. It is something special.

I'll leave you with one more story.

My grandmother raised her children in the 40's/50's when breastfeeding was discouraged. She didn't nurse her oldest children. Finally, when her youngest was born, nursing was again slightly encouraged.

She was able to nurse her little one. She was the first person to come to me and encourage me to nurse when I began having my own children. She told me her most cerished memories are of her youngest looking up at her and smiling while nursing.

Yes, a bottle fed baby will also look up and smile during a feed, but there is just something very special during the nursing relationship.

My heart breaks for the other mother's who are unable to nurse for some reason.

MamaF said...

Blood pressure rising here too. Articles like this put salt on an open wound for me. I couldn't breastfeed none of my children. When my first doughter was born i was 24, no internet at that time ( 9 years ago )i could just believe doctors and nurses. Nine years ago in Italy there was no culture of breastfeeding. Nurses and doctors warned me to put my baby on a scale, naked, before and after every nursing session, and eventually to give her formula if she didn't take enough of my milk. And of course they warned me to feed her only every 3 hours and only 5 minutes for breast. Can you believe this ? Anyways, being the only doughter of a feminist i had no support or family experience on breastfeeding (i've been formula fed 33 years ago )so i just did everything they told me trying to do my best for my little one. After 2 months i switched to formula, i think i lasted even too long, weighing her 2 times every 3 hours, nursing her and then also giving a bottle, that was crazy. 2 years later my twins were born,preemie, and i had no experience in breastfeeding, and they've been in hospital for couple of weeks where they were formula fed and bottle fed, so again i gave up. When my youngest was born 1 year and half after twins, i was better prepared, but still very unexperinced in breastfeeding, again she had to stay in hospital for 10ish days with formula and bottles and again i gave up. Well i still regret all this so so much.So when i read an article like this well, really makes me mad. I wish i had someone supporting me at the time.This article not only makes me mad, also sad. Sad for where women are going.Feeding and caring and nurturing your precious baby is now considered wasting time. How how sad.

Sorry for the long message Anna, as i said breast feeding is a hot topic for me.


Carol said...

"This is the culture of the machine. Taking the time to enjoy simply being human and cultivating human relationships is unproductive."

How true! It's so sad that facebook, myspace, and other social sites are taking over true face-to-face friendship. What is this teaching our children?

I just spoke with a mother saying she doesn't have the time or worry to breast feed. She literally said that she doesn't want to be bothered with what she could or could not eat, breast pumping when she was away, hiding out to feed her baby, etc. She stated, "I was pregnant for 9 months and had to watch what I ate. I'm not going to drive myself nuts for another few months just to breast feed." She didn't even try. It's her decision, but to not even attempt to breast feed her baby is disappointing.

Sadly, this is the world we live in. Busy, busy, busy all the time. It's heart-breaking.

Autumn said...

I can't wait to breastfeed my future children. It is so sad to hear of people who don't enjoy it.

Betsy said...

To women like this who speak so passionately for or against something, I have to simply laugh. Responding is only going to raise both her blood pressure and mine, and it's not going to change anybody's opinion because she's so clearly entrenched in hers, and I'm pretty darn sure of mine too. So I just have to laugh. Being cheerful and choosing not to engage in pointless banter will probably get more respect from her than arguing will, and it's a good witness too (as you said just a few posts ago, Anna). I also agree wholeheartedly with what Anon said - "This is what divides Christians, and women." Shop talk is dangerous territory, and leaning too hard or dogmatically one way or another is sure to lead to strife. Breastfeeding, natural birthing, etc are beautiful and admirable things that women should strive for, but if it can't be done then it can't be done. As long as we are loving our children in principle and practice and to the best of our abilities, that is all we can do, and may God bless us all in it.

Harper said...

Having had trouble with breastfeeding, and having had to fight tooth and nail to keep my milk in my baby's diet, it angers me when others take their ability to breastfeed for granted.

That said, clearly this women doesn't understand the phrase, "The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world."

Anonymous said...

Hi there- just wanted to say, as a mother of five, I can totally get some of the authors points.

I admit that by my fourth and fifth babies, I too said that I planned to only nurse for a few months. It ended up being about 6 months each. I have always supplemented after 4 months and I have had great success. It has helped my husband share in the feedings (something he really enjoys), and it has allowed my energy level to come back up a bit quicker.

I have had 5 babies in 6 and a half years (all singles), and at times when chaos has abounded, mixing a bottle to sooth my littlest one while helping my oldest with his math homework and quieting an argument between my two middles, feeding my 18 month old her baby food and making dinner, I realize that I do the best I can. Isn't that what it's all about?

God has blessed us with these lovelies, and he also blessed us with mothers milk and formula (thank you Lord!) and all of this helps us grow our babies.

I also find that it's natural and human to feel emotional, exhausted and resentful about breastfeeding at times. Trust me, when I had only one and then only two babies, I was all over nursing. I was crazy about it, and the as our family grew more and more reality set in and I relaxed my high standards. I think that's normal.

Just another opinion.
Have a great day!

Sarah said...

I may be mistaken, but I think what this lady is trying to express is her frustration with the 'must breastfeed' lobby. Don't forget she's talking about nursing her third child. It's not all sitting quietly for hours on end, drinking glasses of water and staring at your baby's head when you get to three, or is wasn't for me, particularly as my three are close together (20 months each time). She's passing on the guilt she piles on herself for not breastfeeding when it doesn't suit her, and we're all getting so wound up about it, we're making her point for her. Who are we to tell anyone else how to raise their child? This is simply an extension of the idea that no woman can do it right at all. Any decision she makes (to work or not? Breastfeed or not? Keep house or hire a housekeeper? Homeschool or formal education? Conventional school or Steiner / Montessori / whatever? Music or sport? and so on) will be wrong in someone's eyes and a section of society will condemn her. She does it herself - "the circles were redrawn such that I ended up in the class of mom who, in a pinch, might feed her baby mashed up chicken McNuggets". Can you not feel the judgement in that sentence?

I breastfed all of my three, in the teeth of considerable problems - one premie who had to have breast milk through a tube until he was big enough to suck; one with a bowel abnormality who was Nil By Mouth for a month after two emergeny surgeries, during which time I pumped every three hours until the freezer could hold no more; and one full term, healthy baby who realised as soon as she could focus that being buried in my armpit meant she couldn't see what was going on around her, and so refused to feed for any length of time unless it was dark and silent (difficult at midday).

I don't think Hanna Rosin is actually telling anyone not to breastfeed per se; I think she's telling mothers not to be browbeaten into it by society. I believe very much you should if you can, but I wouldn't tell anyone who hated it or couldn't do it for any reason (social or medical) that they were parenting badly. What might they think of my 10 minutes on the web composing this while my children entertain themselves?

Audrey said...

Thanks for taking the time to read and respond! I was definitely looking forward to your opinion on that article.
As for mine: My blood pressure CERTAINLY went up when I read it. I'm a pretty laid back person, but it angered me. To speak so avidly against something so important, so beneficial to everyone involved, makes me very angry. And sad for her that her perception is so skewed by this feminist society that she can't see her true value, or that of her children.

Breastfeeding is certainly a touchy issue, and I feel for those who can't or didn't, for one reason or another. I love reading any and all your posts on breastfeeding. It's YOUR blog, and in the season of life you're in, I would expect no less from you than many posts on the subject. Nursing is all-consuming. When I nursed my oldest, I loved nursing her. I nursed her as often as she wanted, public or private, despite the dirty looks. And when she wasn't nursing, I thought about nursing. How amazing it is to nurse my baby, how I can improve our nursing relationship, how I can make it easier without sacrificing the quality, how can I support those who are entering a similar season in life... nursing consumed me for that time. It consumes your life, why shouldn't it consume your blog?
Once again, thanks for taking the time to read the article and respond! I enjoyed reading your opinion, and I'm glad I'm not the only one who was outraged. :)

Lydia said...

Please allow me to give you my perspective on this difficult topic. I too was one of the women who tried so hard and could not breast feed when I stayed at home when my babies were born. My milk just dried up because of medical reasons. I've felt like a failure and cried myself to sleep. And because I chose to go back to work I've had the judgement thrown at me. I would have given anything for some sympathy and a hug on some days. But my children are healthy and happy today. I prayed so hard for that and I so thankful for that.
I just wish women would stop judging each other so much. Stay at home mothers and women who work outside the home. And support each other more. For we are women. And mothers. We all make our own choices. We make them based on life circumstances, culture, values and other things. We should not have to apologize for them. And justify them to anyone. Our choices may be different, but all of us are united as mothers in this. We will do everything we can in our power to have happy, healthy, educated children and do our best to raise them into responsible adults and with prayer.
I am not an American by birth. I am an American by choice as a citizen. I am a christian from a non-christian country. I have been repeatedly judged by the way I dress which is mostly in pants, for working outside the home, for not home schooling my children. And I am sad because of it. I don't have my family here and I wish I could rely on women around me for help and advice. But I feel unwelcome because of my choices. I don't know what feminism is, but I wish women especially mothers help each other and share their knowledge even though we don't make the same choices. Is that so bad to wish for ?
As always, I hope I got my point across respectfully as you Anna.

Thank you and God Bless you.

Anonymous said...

Let's not be so quick to judge the author. I think the thing this author is railing against is the lack of support for each other as mothers, and the incredible guilt we experience and put on others for no good reason. Perhpas if she didn't feel judged by those other playground moms, she would not be so bitter. I don't think it's bad to acknowledge our limits as mothers. And if we know that we can't stand breastfeeding any longer, that it's literally driving us crazy, then we shouldn't be made to feel any more guilty than we all ready are to decide to quit breastfeeding. And I think that's what she's mad about.

While I don't agree with a lot of what the author of the article wrote, I could sense the hurt and strain in her words. She said she had nursed babies for 28 months and counting! I'm sure many of you have done it for longer. She's tired folks! I could hear the tiredness in her voice because I am tired too, and only after two months. I feel incredibly guilty for not being more excited about breastfeeding, but I'm just not. I don't know why it's a sin to not enjoy breastfeeding. I know that there are many benefits, so despite my lack of enthusiasm, I plan to breastfeed for at least six months and hopefully a year because I feel it is best for my son. However, in the long run, it seriously is not the end of the world if I chose not to, and I should not be made to feel like a child abuser if I decided that.

I am currently breastfeeding my 11 week old son. While I do believe "breast is best", I think anybody who acts like it is easy and enjoyable 100% of the time is not entirely truthful and doing harm to other mothers or potential mothers. Yes, it can be nice to snuggle with your baby, but let's not pretend that many of us don't actually resent it during those first 8 weeks when the baby is fussy again for the 100th time at 3 in the morning. Is that enjoyable? No. Is feeding or pumping 10 - 12 times (or more) a day enjoyable? No. Give me a break.

This is a divisive issue for mothers, when as mothers we should be supportive of each other as opposed to looking down at each other.

Thank you for your blog, Anna!

Anonymous said...

I do think breastfeeding was more difficult in the beginning that I anticipated, but I have really enjoyed breastfeeding. (Although I do agree with the article that it is a lot of work...I just think it is worth it). (and yes, even though I work, my baby has never had to have formula).

Nurse Bee

jAne said...

sigh. I do believe this woman's attitude will go far in making her child(ren) feel unloved and nothing more than a nuisance. How very sad. How tragic that the author is (in my opinion) missing out on the joy of motherhood - forsaking her children for the desire of career...not to mention her opinion (ignorant) of breast-feeding.

While I would have loved to breast-feed, it was medically necessary for me to bottle-feed. I **never** propped a bottle. The closeness was precious and serene and something that cultivated an even more intense love for my child.

jAne at tickleberry farm

Dirtdartwife said...

Wow... I actually feel sorry for the author of that article. When women are that angry and hateful about nursing, it makes me wonder why they feel that way. It's one thing to just disagree with nursing and say you (3rd person) doesn't care to nurse her children, but it's totally another to be so hateful and link nursing to "submission".

Kelsye said...

That is so sad. I am not a mother or a wife. But I know that God gave women milk to feed their baby's. But I do know one thing. God never makes mistakes. So If you weren't able to breastfeed for medical reasons. It's not your fault. God had that planned for you. If you were able but chose not to, you just chose a different way to bond with your child. As for me, I will breastfeed my future children if its Gods will. God bless,

Homemakers Cottage said...

I didn't take the time to read the author's article, but I certainly detected the spirit of her argument in your post. I have three children, two of whom I breastfed for 16 months each, and one who is still nursing at 13 months old. That translates to nearly 4 years of nursing babies so far in my motherhood "career".

I will be the first to admit that breastfeeding isn't always an easy "job", but I certainly haven't "missed out" or wasted my time, energy, or brain cells while doing it. :o)

It's quite apparant that the eloquent albiet misguided mama is ignoring some pretty powerful (and obvious) benefits of breastfeeding. I won't bother going into all those details when that isn't really the point. Forget the scientific "evidence" and all that yadda. It boils down to the fact that said mama doesn't WANT to nurse her baby.

Front Porch Society said...

A very touchy subject indeed among women of all faiths and walks of life. It is too bad so many are of either extreme rather than embracing the fact that each mother has different circumstances and must make their own personal decisions about such topics.

PS. I posted some more pictures that you will enjoy. :) Been trying to work on getting my photos uploaded on the computer and start sharing them on my website.

Jennifer said...

I consider every precious moment I spent nursing my three children to be time perfectly spent. I wouldn't take back a single second. I will always be very grateful that I was able to breastfeed my children until they were ready to stop on their own. It is not a burden to women; it is God's amazing gift. I feel sorry for the woman who wrote this unfortunate article. She has no idea what she's missing, and what a unique blessing she is refusing.

Enjoy these very special days with your baby. They fly by much too quickly.

Gombojav Tribe said...

You certainly stirred up a lot with this post! :-) I bet you knew you would!

I just wanted to post a second response because several commenters have mentioned that after nursing several children they could see how it could get harder and you may want to stop sooner.

I speak from experience--I have been nursing for eight years straight (minus a four month break last year), six kids--that I have not found it to get more difficult. Nor have I felt the need to wean any of them early because I'm tired of it. Maybe God has just blessed me with extra seratonin (LOL!) but nursing does not stress or bum me out!

If one believes that breastmilk is the ideal food and the best thing you can do for a child, why is a sixth child entitled to only 5 months of it as opposed to the first child who got a year of it? You know?

Just a little encouragement, Anna, from a mother who has been there and done that. If the Lord blesses you with many children in quick succession (my oldest is 8 my youngest is 5 months) you can still have total joy in nursing--just like you have now with Shira.


Lillian the Ponderer said...

WOW! I can't believe that someone could be so dissmissive about the benefits of breast-feeding even reading studies about the benefits she comments along the lines that they show "two steps forward one step back" - you are still going forwards. If it were possible for man to make a perfect copy of breastmilk - including all the "local" antibodies, I am quite sure that it would have already been done. Being free to work on your own business instead of caring for your child first was clearly this woman's objective - being equal with her husband etc.

Honestly I have only ever had one friend who didn't breastfeed, and EVERYONE in my family was breastfed. In fact recently I saw a woman from another department come for a visit with her 3 or 4 month old baby and I was shocked that she hadn't lost more of her baby weight - this lady was naturally slender, - then later I realised why, when I saw her making up a bottle of formula. Now I don't know this lady's circumstances (I am certainly not judging her) but I do know that breastfeeding has health benefits for the mother as well as the infant and this was a stark reminder to me of one of those health benefits that I had never thought much about before.

Mrs. Anna T said...


When I read about how nursing gets more difficult with each child, my first thought was of you, because I know you have nursed/are nursing all your 6 for extended periods of time.

I do believe it's possible and can be done, and joyfully.

Joslyn said...

Interesting article and comments. This sentence from the article was telling: " a serious time commitment that pretty much guarantees that you will not work in any meaningful way." So she does not categorize breastfeeding as meaningful work??? I'm not a mom, so I probably have no right to talk, but I found that sentence to be ironic.

However, I have to agree with her that some mothers (not you, Anna) seem to turn breast feeding into another weapon in the mommy wars. If I am blessed to become a first-time mother at 42, I will certainly try to breast feed. But I am not so afraid as others might be that my child would be unhealthy or feel unloved if breastfeeding weren't possible.

My opinion about this may be influenced by the fact that I was fed with formula. I'm a child of the late sixties, and my stay-at-home mom said that the doctors told her formula was just as good. (I know that's not what they say now.) All her friends did it, the docs pushed it, so she did it, especially since she had two children close together. In her part of the US, using formula was just one of those things most suburban moms did in the late wearing earth tones and driving station wagons!

I always felt very loved and nurtured by my non-breastfeeding mom. My brother, me, my husband and virtually all of our friends were formula fed and we were all healthy. Now the medical community knows more about the benefits of breast feeding, and that's a good thing. I'm just letting other women know that if you can't breastfeed, your kids can still feel loved by mom, barely ever get sick and be ahead of their peers in academics. That was the case with me and my brother and most of our friends as well. Granted, that is NOT a statistically significant sample! :)

As I said, I would try to breast feed now, if I had a baby. But if I couldn't breast feed for physical OR emotional reasons (say, if lack of sleep was contributing to post-partum depression), I hope I would not feel like a failure or be judged by other moms.

The playground environment the author described sounded eerily familiar. I used to live in the upper West Side of NYC and had a friend there with a baby at the time. (Incidentally, she breastfed her child.) We used to talk on the playground bench sometimes with her baby on her lap and just soak things in. Let me tell you, those other Upper West Side moms could be scary with their snide glances, designer jog strollers, "Mommy and Me" yoga and gourmet toddler snacks from Dean & Deluca. Sometimes my friend and I got the feeling that moms were just as concerned with competing against other moms as they were with caring for their children. When breastfeeding becomes a lens through which moms can judge other moms, I think something is wrong.

(I am not implying that you do this Anna, but even I, someone who is not a mom, have picked up on some judgmental vibes from blogs, things I've heard or seen in public, etc. I just get a little concerned when I see moms thinking that their babies will feel unloved if they aren't breast fed.)

Samantha said...

I think this may be my first time commenting on your blog, Anna.

I nursed my baby girl for nine months and then stopped because I ran into some difficulties. I admit I didn't obsess like a madwoman to try and make it last longer. I do have incredibly fond memories of nursing my baby though. I wouldn't trade that for anything!

I have to say, I don't remember stressing out over switching to formula. I'm not completely convinced children turn out physically healthier due to breastfeeding. That's just my .02 cents though. I respect those who disagree.

The tone of this article could have been gentler, that's for sure. I just don't understand how this is such a hot topic among mothers. Where I'm from, families just weigh the pro's and con's and try to make the best decision.

The medical community offers a lot of support for nursing mothers, but don't shame mothers for using formula. It's really a non-issue. Love God, then your family, and be peaceful. I guess I'm just a big hippie momma!

Serena said...

So glad to read Daja's comments!

I read this article a few weeks ago and was very upset by it.

I think that with the proper support and knowledge, many more women that don't/couldn't breastfeed, could. That is what bothers me the most, I think, even more than the author's selfish attitude: that some women could have breastfed their babies if they'd had more support and knowledge. I think part of the problem is that it's automatically regarded as a touchy subject..."Whoa! Whoa! Breast is best of course, but let's not judge her because she used formula!" Who says I'm judging? I want to help women so that they and their babies aren't just healthier, but also so that they have that bonding! No, it's not always easy, but it IS worth it. I don't believe many things in life are easy--labor is a very good example of something that's NOT easy. ;)

I feel compelled once again to address one of Mrs. W's comments: If a woman knows that what she's doing is best for her baby, why would she care what others think of how she feeds her baby? Who cares if someone gives you a dirty look while you're breastfeeding? (And you know this could also apply to formula-feeding.) Are we to base our actions on the judgements of others? They do make nursing covers for modesty. This is entirely personal, but I am an introvert and when we're at a family gathering I actually enjoy being able to go into another room to, I mean nurse my baby. I guess I just don't see the big deal about "having" to go into another room.

Mrs W said...

Serena, the dirty looks aren't a big deal. What is a big deal is having your MIL tell you that you are immodest, and that you had better feed baby in another room because she doesn't want her 12 year old boy to know that women have breasts!!!

However, she won't let me out of the room if I'm leaking milk either (and I'm ALWAYS leaking milk...I wear TWO breast pads on each breast and ten minutes after I've changed them out my shirt is soaked) because her son would also realize the milk is coming from somewhere and would *shock horror* realize women have breasts (he knows already, she just doesn't know he knows). I'm actually treated like I'd be sexually violating her boys and girl if they saw me breastfeed, even with a cover.

And, she expects the same when she comes to my house. I can't even be a proper mom in my OWN house (because she will pull the "you have to show me deference" card, and the "honour thy father and mother" card). It's so bad I can't even tell her 18 year old girl my birth story because she doesn't think that her daughter knows anything about it (lol her daughter does).

And since my MIL wants to see the baby a lot when it is born, well, you see where this is going...

I've also had nursing moms tell me right after I've had my baby that I don't deserve to have my baby because I'm ABUSING my baby by feeding it formula.

And I'm not supposed to care that someone accuses me of child abuse and says I'm not worthy of my baby just because I'm trying to keep him healthy?

Nursing moms just need to get off their high horses is all.

Pom Pom said...

Power. What is power anyway?
I wouldn't trade the moments of connection when my babies stopped sucking to look up at me and smile as their tiny hands patted my breast. That's power.

Serena said...

Mrs. W~ Yeah, it doesn't sound like you could really shrug your mother-in-law off. I'm so sorry. And the remarks about abuse are just ridiculous. I can't believe some people actually have the nerve to say something like that. I'd care, too. That's just over-the-line. That's a bit different than what I was thinking of (that part wasn't addressing your comment).

Gothelittle Rose said...

You know what, all this time the part of it I haven't understood is how you can't do any serious work when you're breastfeeding.

Sure, you can't dig a ditch while baby is feeding.

But I repair computers as a part-time job, and you know what? You can latch the baby on and still use the mouse. Nursing isn't a two-handed job. At least it hasn't been for me past the first about four weeks or so.

My mother nursed all of her five children and homeschooled. While she was reading a schoolbook or doing sums or whatnot, the baby would start to fuss, and she'd just latch him/her on and never miss a word.

More experienced women can actually learn how to nurse with a sling, so that they can actually reposition a baby and latch him/her on in the sling while WALKING THROUGH THE MALL.. and nobody ever knows.

I suspect life was more like this in previous centuries and is like this in more "primitive" cultures. The nursing mother simply latches the baby on and goes back to whatever she was doing.

For middle-of-the night feeds, I enlist my husband's help. Nowadays, I get up, change the baby, nurse her (in bed, side by side), wake him up, and hand her over. He burps her and pats her back until she goes to sleep again. Before, he used to change her and bring her to me as well. Midnight feeds aren't so bad when all you have to do is wake up enough to latch the baby on and doze until she's had her fill.