Extreme viewpoint

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-11-2006
Extreme viewpoint
5
Thu, 02-07-2013 - 1:45pm

I consider this to be the extreem pro-formula viewpoint. How about you? Does it seem one sided to you?

Having breastfed both of my children for different lengths of time, you cannot tell me that doing so generates nothing but positive feelings.  You just can't.  There are times when you're exhausted and the last thing you want to do is breastfeed, especially in the middle of the night and the baby takes an hour to do it because he/she keeps falling back asleep.  Or, conversely in the middle of the day or early evening, when you've got dinner to make for other kids, you haven't showered yet,  the house is a mess, and you're tired, breastfeeding is not exactly what you want to do.  Or maybe it just hurts like hell.  You can't tell me that there aren't times when negative feelings about it creep in.  That's just natural.  Yet you never ever read anything that suggests breastfeeding is nothing but a joyous experience.  You never read about the hardships of breastfeeding.  Somehow that is kept out of the picture.  So much for balance.
Many activists suggest that breastfeeding is natural.  So can childbirth be natural.  But if you ask me, in childbirth it's natural to ask for an epidural!  Joking aside, what does natural really mean?  The word "natural" has all sorts of underlying and nuanced meaning.  It's natural for us to want our children to be themselves.  It's also natural for us, as parents to help them be what they can be.  It's natural to be naked.  It's also natural to put clothes on every day.  We have to be careful, because by saying that breastfeeding is "natural" one is implicating that using formula is an unnatural act, when in reality, it's healthy for our babies and might be the natural thing to do given everyone's unique family circumstances.  Suggesting that only breast-feeding is the natural way to feed a child, implicates that you're being a bad mother if you choose not to. 
Hospitals have jumped on this somewhat political bandwagon.  Many call themselves "baby friendly" because they only promote breastfeeding.  What about family friendly?  What about a woman's sanity?  Is that not important?  Most women are led to believe that, no matter what, they can breastfeed.  It's simply not true.  There are many women who can't breastfeed no matter what a lactation consultant tries.  Hospitals and politicians shouldn't take on the ethics of breastfeeding.  It's not for them to decide.  The choice is a personal one and should be encouraged and supported no matter what.

http://www.momsfeedingfreedom.com/blog/item/531/breastfeeding-and-ethics-guilt

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-20-2008
Wed, 02-20-2013 - 10:34pm

" It implies that, unlike formula feeding, breastfeeding prevents women from sleeping, from showering, from cooking and from cleaning the house. "
Well, that was true for me.  Maybe it was for her as well.

I think the problem is that some people interpret comments like her's that talk about sleeplessness, nipple pain, a dirty house, lack of showering, etc. as a normal part of BF'ing rather then simply something that some BF moms experience. Also, I think some people can get the false impression that whenever such problems arise, there is little that can be done about them, other then stick it out, grit and bare it, live in a dirty house, etc. Sure, in some cases, little can be done to resolve the problems other then to quit BF'ing or put up with it till the issue passes. I just think that too often for many BF issues, moms get the false impression that there is little or nothing that can be done resolve or avoid them when that may not be the case. It seems some people think successfully BF'ing is more about luck then preparation, getting good support postpartum, and so forth.

"It's extreme because it says that people (presumably Lactivists) make claims such as: there is nothing difficult about breastfeeding, each and every mother can breastfeed and breastfeeding is idyllic producing only good feelings. (They don't)."
I think your "presumably" might be an error.  Not everything is an attack on "lactivists."  For someone (like you) steeped in breastfeeding literature and issues, it's obvious that lactivists don't hide potential breastfeeding problems.  But when I was a pregnant woman who was NOT steeped in breastfeeding literature, but rather talking to my doctor, taking hospital birth prep classes, reading pamphlets, etc., I got the distinct impression that breastfeeding was natural, easy, and joyous, and that any problems would almost certainly be quickly corrected.  Which was wrong, and which made me pissed off--not at lactivists, but at my doctor and hospital.

The author of the piece does indeed some to imply that if  you read most BF literature that you won't hear a peep about the potential negative aspects of BF'ing. While I would agree that some BF literature and some BF advocates may paint a all to rosy picture where BF issues don't exist or are always easy to overcome or where all moms will enjoy BF'ing and so forth. But I'm just not seeing in general, the spreading of the misconception that BF is easy and any problems that arise should be easily solvable by all moms. Sometimes, BF advocates assume the existence of ideal conditions for the mom trying to BF and fail to take into account the fact that so-called boogie-traps exists. Even under ideal conditions, problems can arise for which nothing could have been done to prevent them, but I believe the number of moms who fall into that category is nowhere near a majority, even if still statistically significant. I think part of the issue here is a disagreement over how to describe the potential problems a BF mom can experience, with BF adovactes not wanting to paint to much of a doom and gloom scenerio while formula defenders want to portray the potential BF issues more negatively and frankly then BF advocates see as necessary. Part of it likely stems from misconceptions among some formula defenders as to why many moms don't succeed at BF'ing and thus perceiving certain major BF issue as being unavoidable for many moms rather then the product of poor preparation, bad BF support, bad advice, etc. We need to find an appropriate balance where we are honest about potential BF problems that could arise but don't portray them more unavoidable or normal then they really are. For example, crack and bleeding nipples as the result of poor latch or tongue-tie are only common becuase far to many BF'ing moms are not given good info and advice on proper latch or help with diagnosing and fixing tongue-tie. But common is not the same as normal.

"It's extreme because it says: saying breastfeeding is "natural" is code for those who do not breastfeed are bad mothers."

She does suggest that suggesting breastfeeding is the only natural way to feed a child implies that you're being a bad mother if you don't.  I don't necessarily agree, but I can see her point of view. 

I really hate the notion that saying breastfeeding is natural and formula is artificial, which by the dictionary definitions of those two words they are, is like equivalent to saying that mother's who FF are bad moms. No one gets upset over calling a prosthetic limb an artificial limb so why can't we just accept that natural and artificial by themselves do not dictate the line between good and bad mothering. 

" . . . "baby friendly" and "family friendly" do not coexist,"
She does not say that.  I read it as saying that what's "baby friendly" (e.g., breastfeeding promoting) is not necessarily the same as what's "family friendly," in all circumstances.

She does seem to imply that they do not coexists to me. I disagree, baby-friendly hospital policies, are even not family friendly, in most cases. Maybe in a small number of cases you cold make that argument. But I think that we have to look at what serves the greater good overall both for society, moms, and babies in general. If unfortunately, there are some cases where the baby-friendly and family-friendly collide when it comes to hospital policies then I believe that baby-friendly should win out. The families in those cases can overcome what issue baby-friendly hospital policies may cause for them once they are out of the hospital. We must remember we are only talking about policies that apply to the hospital not once the mom is at hone with the baby and the rest of her family.

" . . . . breastfeeding is painful (as hell)"
She said "maybe it just hurts like hell."  Not a blanket statement that it's always painful.  And for me, it did hurt like hell.

I think there is unfortunately a belief among many that BF'ing hurts like hell for most, that little or nothing can be done to prevent it or resolve it postpartum and that the only answer in most or all cases is to either grit and bare it till it your nipples toughen up, or give up and switch to formula. So while it's true her statement is not a blanket statement it always being painful, I can see how lactivists might be concerned about people misinterpreting what she is saying.

" . . . NIP is akin to running around with no clothes on."
I don't know where you got this from.

She was talking about two different meanings of the word natural. She mentions it's natural to run around naked which using the word in the sense of "existing or cause nature rather the man-made." as in we are born naked not with cloth on. The she talks about it being natural to wear cloth, as using the word natural in the sense of "occurring as a matter of course and without debate", which for most people is true. So yes, I would agree that it's a bit of a stretch to infer that she thinks NIP is akin to running around naked since she never mentions NIP in her discussion about the different meanings if natural.

" . . . "many" women can not breastfeed"
That is absolutely true.  Even if only 1% of women cannot breastfeed, that is "many women.

Technically, you are correct since even 1% qualifies as many given that many simply means "a large number of" and what qualifies as a "large number" is subjective. The problem I have with the author saying that many women can not breastfeed is that in my experience far to many people will interpret to mean that a majority or near majority cannot BF even though technically it could mean just 1%, for example. I think using the word significant would work better IMO since it doesn't imply a majority to near majority the way the word many seems to, just a statistically significant number.

" . . . and that it is unethical to promote breastfeeding in hospitals."
She does not say that, actually.  She says hospitals should not take on the ethics of breastfeeding but should rather stay out of it, which is a different statement.  And maybe one you could disagree with, but not particularly extreme.


I see the hospital as having an integral part of how a most new mom feeds her baby, given that most most gives birth in a hospital. There are various policies that effect whether and how a mom BF's or FF's. While the hospital could theoretically stay out of promoting BF or FF and remain completely neutral when it comes to what they tell new moms, what policies they implement in their maternity wards still have an effect on the initiation and success rate of BF vs FF. I don't believe that it's wrong for hospitals to promote BF anymore then I think it's wrong for governments to do so though I do see having certain ethical rules they should operate under as a good idea.

Photobucket

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-20-2008
Tue, 02-19-2013 - 9:47pm

Having breastfed both of my children for different lengths of time, you cannot tell me that doing so generates nothing but positive feelings.  You just can't.  There are times when you're exhausted and the last thing you want to do is breastfeed, especially in the middle of the night and the baby takes an hour to do it because he/she keeps falling back asleep.  Or, conversely in the middle of the day or early evening, when you've got dinner to make for other kids, you haven't showered yet,  the house is a mess, and you're tired, breastfeeding is not exactly what you want to do.  Or maybe it just hurts like hell.  You can't tell me that there aren't times when negative feelings about it creep in.  That's just natural.  Yet you never ever read anything that suggests breastfeeding is nothing but a joyous experience. You never read about the hardships of breastfeeding.  Somehow that is kept out of the picture.  So much for balance.

I don't no where she is reading about breastfeeding but the better sources of info on breastfeeding do mention that problems can crop up and that it's not always smooth sailing. That being said, there is a good reason to not focus too much on the the penitential problems people can have when promoting breastfeeding because you don't want to create the impression the the worst case scenarios represent normal breastfeeding for many even under ideal conditions. We need to emphasize hat many problems with breastfeeding that mom's experience result from poor support and bad advice, among other things. We to strike the right balance so we don;t paint an overly rosy picture nor a overly doom and gloom picture. If you read about BF on the web, it's very hard not to find people sharing doom and gloom accounts of breastfeeding so If she is only seeing stuff about breastfeeding that suggest is nothing but a joyous experience then she needs to expand her elections of sources for BF info. Even looking at popular BF books and websites, I can find info that suggest it is not always a joyous experience. I think what is lacking in some cases though is an acknowledgement that some of the potential negative aspects of breastfeeding can either be resolved with good support or work around so their less of an issue. Whether intentional or not, some sources paint BF'ing as full of pitfalls for which little or nothing can be done about and thus create the false impression that successful BF is all too often more about luck then good preparation and good postpartum support. Yes, it's true that some BF advocacy sources paint an overly rosy picture of BF under the misguided belief that talking about the potential pitfalls of BF might scare some women off BF. The problem is that not being honest about the potential downsides of BF will lead some to not be a prepared to BF as they should be and may turn moms who are unsuccessful at BF the first time around  to not even try with future children.  

Many activists suggest that breastfeeding is natural.  So can childbirth be natural.  But if you ask me, in childbirth it's natural to ask for an epidural!  Joking aside, what does natural really mean?  The word "natural" has all sorts of underlying and nuanced meaning.  It's natural for us to want our children to be themselves.  It's also natural for us, as parents to help them be what they can be.  It's natural to be naked.  It's also natural to put clothes on every day. 

It is natural in the sense of not being a manmade product unlike formula. It may not be natural in the sense of being easy to do in general. I don;t really think it matters if saying BF is "natural" creates the impression that formula is unnatural. That fact is formula unnatural. Unnatural is defined as "Not existing in natural, artificial".

We have to be careful, because by saying that breastfeeding is "natural" one is implicating that using formula is an unnatural act, when in reality, it's healthy for our babies and might be the natural thing to do given everyone's unique family circumstances.

Well formula is an artificial manmade product that does not occur in nature. It may involves natural ingredients but that have to be modified and added to in a factory to create the product we know as infant formula. Absent the existence of formula, babies would in most cases be naturally breastfed. I don't think you can call an act natural if you have to have to use artificial manmade products (formula & bottles) to do it. So in a sense it not a natural act. This does not mean that simply because it's not a natural act that it's wrong. Getting around in  wheelchair, using glasses to see, a hearing aid to hear, a seeing-eye dog to get around, or a wig/toupee to compensate for hair loss, are all unnatural acts but no one thinks of doing those things makes one a bad person. We do however recognize that those practices are not as desirable as being fully able-bodies, fully sighted, of good herring, or with a normal head hair. The fact is that formula is not as healthy as breastmilk but that does not automatically mean it's wrong or that one is a bad mom for using it. Dialysis is fully recognize as a less then ideal substitute for failed kidneys but we also recognize that it's the best alternative we currently have for cases kidney failure (until and if a liver transplant becomes an option for that person). The fact is that saying formula is "healthy for our babies" implies that it's equal to or close enough health-wise to breastmilk when no reliable studies do not support that claim. Yes, for most babies in developed countries, it is good enough health-wise that they will survive and grow on it but that does mean I would call it healthy, giving the connotations that come with that word. Now the idea that formula might be might be the natural thing to do given everyone's unique family circumstances, can be considered true in the sense of " a thing that is particularly suited for something" but you could also say a wheelchair is natural in case floss of the use of one's legs or dialysis is natural in the case of kidney-failure but neither is considered ideal or desirable. Having to use formula due to unique family situations is does not change that health implications of using formula even if other concerns justify using formula. If there is a way to deal with these other concerns that are unique to your family and still be able to give your child BM then that to is the best choice health-wise.

Suggesting that only breast-feeding is the natural way to feed a child, implicates that you're being a bad mother if you choose not to.

Like I said above, some practices like having to use a wheelchair use or dialysis are not ideal situations but are better then the alternatives so we accept them. We don't generally look down on people who need to do those sort of things even though we fully recognize that they are not natural. The same applies to BF vs FF. Sometimes there can be valid reasons to choose the unnatural option and besides, whether one is a good mother or not is not predated solely on how one feeds their infants, provided one is not feeding their infants foods the baby cannot survive on.

Hospitals have jumped on this somewhat political bandwagon. Many call themselves "baby friendly" because they only promote breastfeeding.

Actually it's a bit more complicated then that. They call themselves "baby-friendly" because they have completed the requirements to be certified as "baby-friendly" under the WHO's Baby-friendly Hospital initiative. it is not simply a label the hospital's self-apply. The requirements go beyond simply promoting breastfeeding. The requirements are designed to create a hospital environment that is most most likely to ensure that mom who wish to BF will leave the hospital exclusively BF'ing (unless that is impossible for medical reasons) which is the best thing health-wise for the baby. . Contrary to the belief of some, these policies are do not prevent moms who wish to FF from doing so nor do they put any major hurdle to FF'ing by choice in their path, even though they do requite moms planning to FF to bring their own formula and bottles. They also do not prevent any baby who has a genuine need to receive formula for medical reason from doing so. They are mainly aimed at preventing babies from are being BF'd from being given formula unnecessarily. No one os prevented from bringing their own formula and feeding it to their baby completely by choice. I believe that if your going to choose teed your baby formula for a year by choice then you can ought to be able to provide a few days worth of formula while in the hospital. If that's not possible then how are you going to be able to do so for the rest if the baby's first year.
 
What about family friendly? What about a woman's sanity? Is that not important?

The Baby-friendly Hospital initiative is not "family-unfriendly, especially since it's policies only applies to mom and her babies time in the hospital. It is also not about preventing women who wish to FF from doing so. If a mom decides she would prefer to FF while in the hospital despite going in with the plan to BF then she is free have her DH/S.O. bring formula and bottles and feed her child that way. These policies do not force moms who want to FF for their sanity to BF. The reality is IMO that many cases of a mom wanting to switch to FF'ing due to her sanity could be avoid with better support and advice about BF'ing. For those for which no solution other then switching to FF is available then by all means use formula as this initiative does not to prevent you from doing so.
 
Most women are led to believe that, no matter what, they can breastfeed. It's simply not true.

Who is do telling women that that can BF no matter what? I have met few people who actually claim that and all of them where just eponymous posters to the internet. No credible BF expert that I have am aware of makes that claim. Even if their are self-proclaimed BF experts who make such a claim, they do not represent the majority from my experience. What I do hear allot is doctors, nurses, FF'ing moms, and others talking as if a very large minority or even a majority of women cannot inherently BF no matter what. Yes, I agree that some moms simply cannot BF for medical reasons and thus you can't assume any particular mom will be able to BF but you also can't assume they can't. I would assume they likely can successfully BF unless evidence suggests otherwise.

There are many women who can't breastfeed no matter what a lactation consultant tries.

I agree that the number of moms who can't BF no matter what is likely a significant number even if it's only a 5% or less. However I disagree that it is a majority of moms. I would not use the term "many" in this context however because to me it implies that a majority (or very significant minority) can't BF inherently, for which I have seen no evidence to support.

Hospitals and politicians shouldn't take on the ethics of breastfeeding. 

It's long been decided that it's acceptable in this country for doctors and governments to advocate actions by parents that promote good health in their children such using car seats, feeding healthier diets, vaccinating, etc. Promoting healthy policies in our populace has long been an acceptable policy of local, state, and federal government for a long time now in the U.S. Since BF'ing has proven benefits health-wise for babies and mom, and financial and other benefits for society as a whole, I see no reason why infant feeding should be excluded from areas in which governments are allowed to promote healthy behaviors. As such, I feel that justifies promoting BF'ing by governments, doctors, and hospitals. No one is trying to prevent moms who wish to FF by choice or need to for medical reasons from doing so. It is an unproven claim that policies like the baby-friendly hospital initiative unfairly infringe on FF'ing mom's right to FF. While their might be some cases where the rights and benefits of BF moms and babies may conflict somewhat with those of FF moms, I don't believe the inconvenience to the FF mom in these cases does rises to the level that she is prevented from properly  and safely FF by choice or need.  When rights conflict between two different groups, you have to evaluate which side suffers more from having their right necessarily infringed and whether society benefits from favoring one side or the other.

It's not for them to decide. The choice is a personal one and should be encouraged and supported no matter what.

Like I said before, they are not deciding whether any mom can BF or FF but merely putting policies in place to encourage they BF and to help those who choose to BF avoid potential pitta;s that can make it harder or impossible for them to BF. While the choice may be personal that does to mean the government has to fully support moms who choose to BF in the same way they support BF'rs. While I believe that FF'ing moms deserve some degree of support in FF'ing safely and finical support in the form of WIC if they choose to BF but cannot afford to do so, I believe in that for largely pragmatic reasons. From a purely philosophical perspective, I not connived their FF'ing should be a human right on the same level as free speech, right to be free from torture, right to fair trial, etc, etc. Ultimately I would like see every mom who can BF do so. Pragmatism leads me to recognize that some moms ail not BF no matter what and that ail lead them to feed unsafe substances if safe formula-feeding is not an option for them. What I support moms right to choose FF is they want, I don't believe doctors or governments should have to a mom's choice to FF fully as if they are always making the right choice simply because it was their choice. In other words, doctors and medical professionals should not be forced to act as if they believe FF is the right choice for particular mom when they don't so long as they otherwise support her in FF'img safely and don't otherwise try and prevent her from FF'ing. A FF'ing mom does not need a BF advocate to agree with their choice to be able to freely FF.

Photobucket

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-16-2010
Sun, 02-10-2013 - 10:12am

" It implies that, unlike formula feeding, breastfeeding prevents women from sleeping, from showering, from cooking and from cleaning the house. "

Well, that was true for me.  Maybe it was for her as well. 


"It's extreme because it says that people (presumably Lactivists) make claims such as: there is nothing difficult about breastfeeding, each and every mother can breastfeed and breastfeeding is idyllic producing only good feelings. (They don't)."

I think your "presumably" might be an error.  Not everything is an attack on "lactivists."  For someone (like you) steeped in breastfeeding literature and issues, it's obvious that lactivists don't hide potential breastfeeding problems.  But when I was a pregnant woman who was NOT steeped in breastfeeding literature, but rather talking to my doctor, taking hospital birth prep classes, reading pamphlets, etc., I got the distinct impression that breastfeeding was natural, easy, and joyous, and that any problems would almost certainly be quickly corrected.  Which was wrong, and which made me pissed off--not at lactivists, but at my doctor and hospital.


"It's extreme because it says: saying breastfeeding is "natural" is code for those who do not breastfeed are bad mothers."

She does suggest that suggesting breastfeeding is the only natural way to feed a child implies that you're being a bad mother if you don't.  I don't necessarily agree, but I can see her point of view. 

" . . . "baby friendly" and "family friendly" do not coexist,"

She does not say that.  I read it as saying that what's "baby friendly" (e.g., breastfeeding promoting) is not necessarily the same as what's "family friendly," in all circumstances. 

 

" . . . . breastfeeding is painful (as hell)"

She said "maybe it just hurts like hell."  Not a blanket statement that it's always painful.  And for me, it did hurt like hell.

". . . breastfeeding causes insanity,"

No, she did not say that.  She suggested that a woman's sanity may be in tension with breastfeeding, which is true in some circumstances.  As it was for me with my first.

" . . . NIP is akin to running around with no clothes on."

I don't know where you got this from.

" . . . "many" women can not breastfeed"

That is absolutely true.  Even if only 1% of women cannot breastfeed, that is "many women."

" . . . and that it is unethical to promote breastfeeding in hospitals."

She does not say that, actually.  She says hospitals should not take on the ethics of breastfeeding but should rather stay out of it, which is a different statement.  And maybe one you could disagree with, but not particularly extreme.


iVillage Member
Registered: 01-04-2002
Fri, 02-08-2013 - 1:36pm
I can see your points. I didn't think it was extreme - I think saying breast-feeding is gross or anti-feminist is more extreme than this article. It's odd that she says "you never read anything that suggests breastfeeding is nothing but joyful" - there is PLENTY out there that says just that and gives advice on how to get through the tough times or how to trouble shoot problems. I'm not really clear on the link between a baby friendly hospital and a woman's sanity. That was a bit over the top!
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-11-2006
Fri, 02-08-2013 - 11:01am

It's extreme in spite of: pleasant tone, filled with pleasant words such as positive, joyous, balance; author breastfed

It implies that, unlike formula feeding, breastfeeding prevents women from sleeping, from showering, from cooking and from cleaning the house.

It's extreme because it says that people (presumably Lactivists) make claims such as: there is nothing difficult about breastfeeding, each and every mother can breastfeed and breastfeeding is idyllic producing only good feelings. (They don't).

It's extreme because it says: saying breastfeeding is "natural" is code for those who do not breastfeed are bad mothers, "baby friendly" and "family friendly" do not coexist, breastfeeding is painful (as hell), breastfeeding causes insanity, NIP is akin to running around with no clothes on, "many" women can not breastfeed, and that it is unethical to promote breastfeeding in hospitals.

It implies that breastfeeding is not an important or a public health issue. It implies that it takes a certain type of person to breastfeed and not every mother fits the (rigid) breastfeeding mother mold and that Lactivists tell other people how to feel and meddle in others' personal business.

When I read it, I feel a deep sense of being put-upon by those who promote breastfeeding and a sense of being overwhelmed by even the thought of breastfeeding. In all seriousness, I think the goal of the piece is to link that negative feeling to breastfeeding. As I said, an extreme viewpoint, IMO.