It’s not about you

11 Aug

If you are a woman who chose to feed her children formula, then listen up: it’s not about you. I promise. I mean, yes, this specific post is about you, but that’s it, okay? Are we cool now?

Here’s the thing: every single freaking time I participate in an online discussion about breastfeeding, it ends up being derailed by people who want to complain about how badly they’ve been treated because they chose formula for their children instead of breastmilk. Look, I’m sorry someone was mean to you on the internet about how you choose to parent (because that doesn’t happen to any of us, ever!), but that doesn’t mean that every time breastfeeding is brought up, it’s a slight against you.

At this point, I should mention that I’m not talking about women who want to share their experiences of trying to breastfeed and being unable to do so for whatever reason, or even women who chose formula from the very beginning and want to talk about why they made that choice – those are all valid issues regarding breastfeeding and how we raise our children in general. The people I’m referring to here are those whose only contribution to the discussion is to bemoan the fact that someone (usually an online someone) said something shitty to them about formula-feeding.

It’s not about you. It’s not. Seriously. Get over it. Or, start your own discussion about how mean the internet is. Whatever. But for the love of God, please stop derailing the conversation – I JUST WANT TO TALK ABOUT BOOBS IN PEACE, OKAY?

I am just so tired of the fact that every time I talk about breastfeeding, it turns into me feeling like I have to apologize for the entire breastfeeding advocacy movement and/or prove that I don’t think formula is evil.

First of all, please realize that in any movement there are going to be zealots who a) are bigoted and ridiculous, and b) do not speak for the entirety, or even the majority, of the movement.

Second of all, formula is fine. Formula-fed babies turn out great (see: me!). You don’t need to feel bad for giving your kid formula. I don’t judge you. I promise.

That being said, I do firmly believe that breast milk is nutritionally superior to formula, and I do believe that there are advantages to breastfeeding. No, I don’t think that my kid will turn out to be a super genius because at 18 months old he’s still a boob fiend, nor do I think that he’s more attached to me than any other kid is to their parent, or anything like that. I don’t think that breastfeeding makes me a better mother than you. BUT, I am super happy that breastfeeding has been such a big part of my journey as a parent so far, and I want to encourage women who WANT to breastfeed to do so.

I also believe (and I have statistics that support me) that formula-feeding is still the status quo in North America today. There aren’t a whole lot of people who would give someone the side-eye for whipping out a bottle in public, and most people don’t think that bottle-feeding is “weird” or “icky”. So hearing criticism about formula when you’re out and about, just trying to feed your kid in peace, probably isn’t the norm for most people. On the other hand, a total stranger recently saw me breastfeeding my son, asked me how old he was and then declared, “he’s too old for that!”

And, finally, I believe that there is a serious lack of education about breastfeeding, both among parents and health professionals. A lot of women end up weaning based on misguided notions about breastfeeding, or bad advice from a doctor or nurse. When we talk about breastfeeding, it is often an attempt to help educate people who want to learn about it; it’s not an attempt to shame or blame anyone.

Look, as women, we ALL face a ton of criticism about how we parent our children. We’ve all been bullied by someone over some issue or another. And it hurts to be treated like that – I’m not saying that it doesn’t. What I am saying is that it would be really great if we could all work together to defeat this bullying. It would be extra awesome if we could all just be super supportive of each other’s choices, instead of looking for hidden criticism. And then maybe we could hold hands and sing kumbaya. Please?

Oh, and the next person who says “boob nazi” gets a punch in the face. Just sayin’.

Nursing my son

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8 Responses to “It’s not about you”

  1. Angele Bignell August 11, 2012 at 9:24 pm #

    Great post! I’m happy that my discussions about trying to breastfeed and not being able to 100% (or for as long as I’d hoped) wasn’t seen as a complaint πŸ™‚ I also believe that it’s up to each individual what they choose or choose not to do when it comes to the way they raise their kids. I love to hear yours and other peoples views on breastfeeding, and what worked/didn’t work for them πŸ™‚ You have had a great breastfeeding experience and I can only pray that I have such an experience the next time around!

    • bellejarblog August 13, 2012 at 4:37 pm #

      Oh man, of course it didn’t come across as a complaint! I love discussing any and all aspects of parenting with you. I wish you’d had a better breastfeeding experience, but only because I know that’s something you really wanted. You are a fantastic mom and you have a fantastic kid.

  2. Meaghan August 12, 2012 at 8:00 pm #

    I love this post! So accurate….

    Also, I’ve been called a Boob Nazi many, many times. I am not a nazi, boob or otherwise.

    • bellejarblog August 13, 2012 at 4:35 pm #

      I really wish that people would realize how incredibly offensive it is to refer to someone as a nazi (unless you are, you know, referring to an ACTUAL NAZI).

      Also I think you are a fantastic breastfeeding advocate and you have never come across as judgmental or proselytizing.

  3. The Laotian Commotion August 16, 2012 at 7:42 am #

    Yes. So much THIS. Love it!

    People think I’m being show-offy because I succeeded at breastfeeding or that “I’m lucky.” luck had nothing to do with sore nipples or nursing strikes or engorgement or low weight. I know breastfeeding is best and superior to formula so why should that make me feel guilty because another person was guilt-tripped (which is self-induced, in my opinion).

  4. shannon August 30, 2012 at 3:36 pm #

    This was the best post I’ve read on breastfeeding. Ever.

    • bellejarblog August 30, 2012 at 4:44 pm #

      Thank you! I am pretty passionate about boobs.

  5. Le Clown January 6, 2014 at 3:22 pm #

    Anne,
    I see Cristian Mihai stopped by… He is my favourite serial liker, and one I like to antagonize any chance I can.

    Great first post.
    Le Clown

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