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**ROAR** on Breastfeeding Guilt

10_Lioness-with-Cub-Feeding

(Image found at Google Images)

**ROAR**

The Mommy Wars over feeding babies continue..I guess it won’t ever be truly over. I’ve been following a discussion over at NursingBirth on  “Why Educating Our patients is a Professional Responsibility and Not about Guilt.”

I thank her for quoting me and including thoughts I wrote on what I have learned over the years talking to, educating and helping mothers.

I have re-posted this earlier segment  “Breastfeeding, Bottle-feeding and Somewhere In-between… Why the Guilt?” This post is about what I have learned speaking from a professional point of view. As a professional, it is inappropriate for any of us to imply directly or indirectly to any mother trying to make feeding choices that breastfeeding and formula feeding are equal.  They are not. Human milk is the superior species-specific food for Human infants. The recommended feeding hierarchy from the experts (AAP,CDC, WHO) is Breastfeeding, expressed mother’s milk, expressed donor milk then properly prepared infant formula. That’s why NursingBirth’s post is so important to understand. Reading the comments……

There are STILL moms out there confusing the issue.

All or most of this discussion is NOT directed at any mother who tried to breastfeed under any circumstance and wasn’t able to at all or wasn’t able to fulfill her individual goals. I applaud all your efforts for trying to give your baby the best food you could. I am so sorry that you experienced the difficulties you have. Your situation is not what this discussion is about. I think it’s very possible that advocates and some professionals lack sufficient skills to help you deal with the loss of a breastfeeding relationship. If breastfeeding is important to you then you would truly go through a grieving process and guilt would most likely come into play somewhere along the line. We do that to ourselves a lot as women anyway. I did personally experience that guilt. I had wanted to breastfeed my last baby for a full year and was unable to because of personal health problems. I had a lot of guilt. This discussion is NOT about these situations. Let’s stop making it about that. Please!

This mommy war guilt discussion as I see it is one where a mother who chooses to formula feed defends her choice and lays claim that those who are promoting or advocating breastfeeding make her feel guilty.

Guilt comes from within an individual if they feel they haven’t done what they “should” or wanted to. Guilt is a very strong emotion. NursingBirth has a great description of guilt as does The Feminist Breeder in “Mommy Guilt- Its all about Perspective.” It would be a good idea for guilt-ridden moms to read these articles. Those professionals or advocates who I have mentioned here or in my re-post are trying to do a good job of making sure people have the information to make educated decisions about health care issues.  Any professional who intentionally tries to make a mother feel guilty isn’t being very professional. If there is an advocate out there continually finding moms feeling guilty, perhaps you should change how you deliver the message. I said in this earlier post about how one single word can make a difference:

“She needs to be comfortable and confident with her decision. Perhaps her guilt comes from how one single little word or sentence was said, even if what was said is accurate and true. Perhaps her guilt is coming from her own internal struggles. I don’t know.  She needs to come to terms with that herself,  and not punish herself and or publicly criticize the advocates saying they are causing the guilt.  Although there are some very zealous advocates out there, I feel in my heart they are not trying to make any individual mother feel guilty. I read a comment from a mom somewhere that said something like… “perhaps if moms knew it wasn’t all or nothing, maybe more would try breastfeeding.”  My first thought was..why do they even think that..are there really mom’s who feel it has to be all or nothing? Is this causing the guilt because they don’t think they can breastfeed exclusively for the first 6 months as the experts recommend??”

None of this changes the facts. Like it or not, breastfeeding is and will continue to be a major Public health Issue to the point of a public health crisis! As professionals and advocates, our work is not finished. I think sometimes that those speaking out against advocates get in the way of facts and put their personal opinions or views out in front and totally distort the issue. I read on someones blog this week (TFB) a great quote by Daniel P. Moynihan: “You are entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts.” and I loved it!

According to this article from the American Journal of Public Health:

“Today’s medical community recognizes what their
predecessors knew a century ago—that the
American propensity to shun human milk is
a public health problem and should
be exposed as such.”

I am still going to promote breastfeeding. I am still going to provide appropriate factual information to the mothers in my care and support whatever feeding decision they make. I will never be pushy. I will gently encourage those on the fence to give breastfeeding a try. I always support the mother.

But more people need to talk about the importance of breastfeeding.

Because it is

Important.

Don’t be guilty

Stop it

*ROAR*


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30 Comments Post a comment
  1. Amen

    October 16, 2009
    • StorkStories #

      😉

      October 17, 2009
  2. “as I see it is one where a mother who chooses to formula feed defends her choice and lays claim that those who are promoting or advocating breastfeeding make her feel guilty.”

    That bothers me too!

    Thanks for that post…made me smile

    October 16, 2009
    • StorkStories #

      😉

      October 17, 2009
  3. I like the roaring. It’s just the right touch.

    And I agree. We need to be able to move past an individual’s situation. We also need to support mothers better, and that includes being stronger advocates for breastfeeding, providing better information and support to mothers who are struggling, and being present with individuals who are grieving. But the fact that some are grieving does not mean we shouldn’t do the other two.

    October 16, 2009
  4. I’m assuming you are at least partly referring to my comments on Nursing Birth’s blog, so I want to reiterate for the umpteenth time where I stand on all of this. I feel like my stance (and the stance of those who feel similarly) has been grossly misinterpreted.

    First of all, regarding the “guilt” issue – I do not feel that true breastfeeding advocacy needs to coincide with making formula feeders feel guilty. For the record, I was one of those who tried and failed, heartbreakingly, to nurse. But I do not feel guilty about my choice; that is not what my anger is about. If it was just that, then the fact that my child is the healthiest, cuddliest, happiest and most developmentally advanced of his (all breastfed) peers would have made that guilt go the way of the Dodo bird, and I wouldn’t be blogging infant feeding.

    I just don’t understand why an effort to make nursing be seen as an empowering and healthy choice needs to be equated with portraying formula as the devil. It’s not about the Mommy Wars – that is a concern on a social level, yes, but my concern is more with the way I think things are going on a governmental, health policy, laws-on-our-bodies level due to the cultural climate.

    The internet is abuzz with pediatricians stressing that while breastfeeding is, on average, a healthier choice, formula is a PERFECTLY ADEQUATE choice, one of many that a parent will make. I know that there are studies proving a higher rate of gastrointestinal issues and ear infections among formula fed kids, but as far as true “public health” threats like childhood leukemia, the studies have only shown a slight (possible) increase in risk with formula feeding. As Rebecca Goldin so wisely put in her assessment of some of these risks on Stats.org, you take a far greater risk putting your child in a car. You don’t see public health campaigns telling us not to drive (I guess it could be argued that we are encouraged to properly install and use carseats, but I am pretty sure her statistical analysis considers cases where safety precautions were taken). The quote about “your own facts” was directed towards me in Nursing Birth’s rebuttal to a comment I made on her blog. I love that quote. Because from where I am standing, I am seeing a lot of people reframing the facts to fit their personal beliefs.

    I don’t see how arguing that we (formula feeders) don’t have a right to feel marginalized or saddened by the way society is viewing us (some of whom have “legit” reasons for formula feeding, some who don’t, but who are any of us to judge?)is at all beneficial to breastfeeding advocacy. I think our time would be better served simply stressing all the wonderful positives of nursing rather than “comparing” it to formula feeding. If you feel that formula is such a substandard choice, why even give it the time of day? The big bad formula companies (I doubt you’ll get much sympathy for Abbot Labs from any mom, formula feeder or not – big corporations are evil, we all know this) might be a factor, but I think at this point WHO code has effectively clipped their wings – when is the last time you saw an ad for formula on TV (not sure where you live but here in the US I haven’t seen one in ages), or bought formula that didn’t have “breast is best” written prominently on the label?

    I think what you have outlined in this post here is a great way to approach things – you said that you would urge someone who is on the fence to nurse, and that you would always support the mother. I love that. I don’t mean to sound so militant here, but I feel like our feelings are so often misunderstood and I want you all to understand where the formula feeding “guilt” argument is coming from. Encouraging people to breastfeed is GREAT. Telling them about the benefits is WONDERFUL. But twittering and blogging and campaigning against those who have been informed and still make a different choice SUCKS. (Not that you are doing this – but that is where the conflict is coming from, not from the well-meaning people like yourself who just want to make the world more breastfeeding-friendly.)

    Even if all the propaganda is true and breastfeeding is someday proven to be the cure for all of society’s ills, that doesn’t change that we all make choices as parents, and make them with the information we have here and now. We need to protect that. It is not child abuse, it’s nutrition. I don’t start preaching to all my (breastfeeding) friends now that we’ve started solids and they aren’t doing organic, making their own food to stay away from preservatives, or feeding them a mostly vegetarian diet, even though these things are all proven (at least in a fair amount of studies) to be healthier choices, and I make an effort to do them. My child eats a heck of a lot healthier than theirs are, now that they are all weaning, anyway…. but I honestly believe that these parenting peers are making choices that work for their families and love their kids and in the end, I think that is what matters.

    October 17, 2009
    • StorkStories #

      @FearlessFormulaFeeder
      I have seen some of what you have have written over at NB’s blog and on yours….but not everything. I see that you struggled yourself and I’m sorry you had to go through that. I can see that you have a lot of passion for your views and I appreciate your thoughtful replies all the kind things you have said about my approach or some of my “lessons learned” so to speak. I find a great deal of things are quite dependent upon the approach.

      This post was started in my mind more as a response to those individuals in the category of a women who was feeling guilty after not feeling successful at breastfeeding. I want all those women to feel proud and not intimidated by well meaning people who promote the value of breastfeeding. It turned into a *Roar* towards those individuals who are claiming other’s breastfeeding promotion and education “causes” them guilt feelings.

      I feel this topic has gone thru the spin cycle of a washer. I almost find myself not knowing what else to say to help people understand my point of view.

      I am wondering if the terms “risks” and “hazards” are big triggers for the upset over that part of the education process. The expert recommendations for this type of education regarding feeding come from a GLOBAL perspective… not merely the developed world, North America, my neighborhood in eastern PA or yours in California. It’s worldwide. So we are included. So do you see it IS a governmental health policy issue. It simply is. I hope you can see that. I have 3 World Health references which discuss some of this:

      1) INNOCENTI DECLARATION 2005 http://www.innocenti15.net/declaration.pdf.pdf
      2) Global immunization strategy from the 61st World Health Assembly http://apps.who.int/gb/ebwha/pdf_files/A61/A61_R15-en.pdf
      3) The World health Assembly updated it’s Q&A paper about the CODE in 2008. One of the questions dealt with education regarding feeding:
      “Q. WHAT DOES THE CODE SAY ABOUT INFORMATION AND EDUCATION
      ON INFANT FEEDING?
      The Code and subsequent relevant WHA resolutions call upon governments to ensure that objective and consistent information is provided on infant and young child feeding, both to families and others involved in infant and young child nutrition.
      Informational and educational materials should clearly state the benefits and superiority of breastfeeding, the social as well as financial costs of using infant formula, the health hazards associated with artificial feeding and instructions for the proper use of infant formula.”
      Full document: http://whqlibdoc.who.int/publications/2008/9789241594295_eng.pdf

      So~ on point to a few things you say in your response here:
      ~ I am concerned by this statement “I do not feel that true breastfeeding advocacy needs to coincide with making formula feeders feel guilty”. You are right! But you look at it differently than I do. True advocacy is very important and those who make informed choices to formula feed SHOULD NOT FEEL GUILTY because of that. that’s who I’m roaring at to stop it!
      ~ I feel it’s irresponsible to promote formula feeding in a positive way from a platform where the consumer feels the information may be coming from an expert… You said something about writing or reviewing health and wellness or something… The average consumer/reader isn’t likely to make that distinction in my opinion. You also said you were in advertising and you feel women are smart enough to resist the pull of advertising. You know that is one of the problems identified by the CODE. They aren’t resisting.
      ~ “I just don’t understand why an effort to make nursing be seen as an empowering and healthy choice needs to be equated with portraying formula as the devil” Formula is not the “devil”. It is a life saver for infants who truly need it and an acceptable feeding choice for those with access to clean water and appropriate amounts of the formula. These mothers should still have adequate information to make a true informed choice. It’s not child abuse to choose formula when you have the resources!!! Come on! This is an example I feel you are misunderstanding. It could be neglect, abuse or downright dangerous IF formula is fed improperly (diluted, dirty water etc..) Having ALL the info including superiority of human milk and risks of formula constitutes fully informed. Understanding something clearly should empower an individual. Again… The approach in discussing this is crucial here. Make a decision and move on.
      ~ Judgment passed upon any one individual for their choices made regarding feeding their infant or formula feeders as a whole is inappropriate. Agreed! I think that geographically, individual experiences vary in that respect. In my neck of the woods, bottle feeding is a norm and breast-feeders are a minority. I’m working on changing that. (HP 2010 to HP 2020.)
      ~ Talking about the “big bad formula Co.” is part of talking about the CODE and the global climate of protecting and promoting breastfeeding. Last I checked…the USA has NOT fully endorsed the CODE so the wings are not fully clipped here. You will see ads, maybe not everywhere but you will see some.
      ~ I have a lot of trouble with this comment….. It’s the word propaganda….. “Even if all the propaganda is true and breastfeeding is someday proven to be the cure for all of society’s ills…….”

      I hope you read over my re-post, I hate guilt. I have had it over the years for lots of things. Breastfeeding included. I don’t want to patronize you at all, and maybe I’m wrong, but I feel you still have some unresolved guilt. For whatever reason. To me, as a health-care professional… it shows in your written word. I’m sorry, it does.
      Someday, maybe we can have a healthy debate in person. I actually can’t see the computer screen anymore. We may have to agree to disagree on some of these points. Thanks for all your time.

      October 19, 2009
      • I agree that we will have to agree to disagree. 😉

        I don’t ever hold myself up as an expert; I think I’m pretty clear about that on my blog. I’m just a journalist (and yes, my general expertise is in health/wellness, but as I said, that’s only from a journalist’s limited knowledge base; I also had a brief foray into advertising early on in my career, as I mentioned) and a mom. I actually brag about this layperson status quite a bit, since I believe it gives me an interesting perspective on the debate, as most moms are laypeople themselves.

        I am glad that emotion is coming through my writing; I intend for that to happen. However, I found it interesting that “guilt” was the word your chose… I would have agreed wholeheartedly if you’d said I sounded angry, because I am indeed angry about the way this breastfeeding vs bottlefeeding battle has been approached. By both sides, for the record! As for guilt, the only guilt I feel is for not resisting my pre-programmed upper middle class white Jewish guilt, and not listening to what my infant son was trying to tell me – breastfeeding was not the right choice for him. I essentially tortured him for a month. I do feel very guilty about that.

        But ROAR on! I’m all for breastfeeding advocacy, so good for you. Stay strong!

        October 21, 2009
  5. Daniel P. Moynihan: You are entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts.

    I THINK… not certain because it’s been used quite a bit.. i.e. I’m quite sure you’re ok to use it without credit 🙂

    Pierrette

    October 17, 2009
    • StorkStories #

      Thanks so much! I will add the credit in the blog anyway!

      October 19, 2009
  6. Thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you THANK YOU! You write, “All or most of this discussion is NOT directed at any mother who tried to breastfeed under any circumstance and wasn’t able to at all or wasn’t able to fulfill her individual goals. ”

    I COMPLETELY agree! That is exactly what I was trying to get across with my post. Thank you for stating it so perfectly. After that post was written I was flooded with comments from mothers that were like “I did everything I could to breastfeed exclusively and ended up having to supplement from “X” months on with formula.” Etc Etc. And all I can think of is “YOU ARE AWESOME! You gave your baby everything you had and more. But with all due respect I am NOT talking about you!”

    I am going to link to this post at the end of my post as a “For more reading on this check out Stork Stories” because this post is so good.

    And I LOVE the way you ended the post:

    Don’t be guilty

    Stop it

    *ROAR*

    Love this blog, love you, wish we could work together. I could (and do) learn SO MUCH from you!!!

    ~Melissa
    aka “NursingBirth”
    http://www.nursingbirth.com

    P.S. I saw that quote on the Feminist Breeder’s blog. Its a quote from a Senator. I loved it too!!

    October 17, 2009
    • StorkStories #

      We think alike about a lot of things! you are very welcome! Thanks so much for the link and the info about the quote!
      The other Melissa 😉

      October 19, 2009
  7. Elita @ Blacktating #

    I want to know where you live, where formula feeding moms are made to feel like outcasts, because honestly, after 2 months, breastfeeding moms are in the minority. We are harassed, judged, discriminated against at work, made fun of, called disgusting, selfish and worse for nursing our babies. And God forbid you choose to nurse in public or past age 1. Bottle feeding moms are still in the majority and bottle feeding is still the norm.
    As far as guilt goes, guilt is an internal thing. I can’t make you feel guilty with my actions unless you are already unsure or unhappy with the decisions you’re making. I had to supplement my son with formula after I returned to work. I didn’t feel guilty because I knew I had done the best I could to provide him the milk he needed, I just couldn’t pump enough. Was I angry? You betcha. I wanted to be at home with him so that I wouldn’t have to worry about pumping. But I didn’t direct my anger at the people working hard to ensure babies get the breast milk they deserve.

    October 17, 2009
    • StorkStories #

      @Elita I have some of the same stats here but breastfeeding seems to be a minority after 2 weeks 😦 Very real statement about guilt. I think we all need to continue to do our best with promotion and support and keep sensitivity in mind with our approach as we forge ahead!

      October 20, 2009
  8. threegirlpileup #

    Thanks for this post.

    Sometimes I think that it’s almost reflexive that as moms we feel guilty, and are hyper-sensitive–if a comment can be construed as criticism, then we take it that way! And feeding choices are so intensely personal and emotional that it’s a particular hot button.

    That being said, I work in breastfeeding promotion, and I find that the focus of the work is not about convincing mothers to breasfeed as much as improving systems to provide mothers with better support. An overwhelming majority of mothers plan to breastfeed, but are thwarted by a lack of support or information or education that they need to breastfeed successfully. If every mom were able to fulfill her breastfeeding intentions, the culture surrounding breastfeeding in this country would be transformed. And the things that will make this happen will be systemic improvements, from better education of health care providers to longer maternity leaves and increased support in the workplace.

    Which is what makes me crazy about this “debate”! Somehow it always comes down to individuals promoting their own choices, when what we really need to be doing is advocating the systemic changes that will help ALL mothers make informed choices and be able to follow-through on them.

    October 17, 2009
  9. thefeministshopper #

    “when is the last time you saw an ad for formula on TV”

    Are you serious? About ten minutes ago. And then another one about ten minutes before that. Oh, and right before that, I got some free formula coupons on the mail (and I never formula fed my second son, so WHY are those being sent to me?) and then every time I open ANY parenting magazine there are infant formula ads claiming to be “just like breastmilk” on every 3rd page, and then I ask my doctor for some breastfeeding help and because he’s a moron without an IBCLC certificate he just gives me some formula instead of helping me, and then I turn on the TV when I come home and BAM! – more ads for formula.

    Give Me A Break. NO ads for formula in the U.S.? Yeah… tell me where this magical place is and I’ll move there. Stop lying to women.

    October 17, 2009
    • StorkStories #

      @FeministShopper You are right..there are a lot od ads for formula in the USA. WE have not fully endorsed the CODE. Even some companies who used to “claim” they honored it are now advertising directly to the consumer.
      I’m sorry you experienced what most young women today experience when they ask their pediatrician or even their OB for breastfeeding help. many communities have little or no professional lactation help available and some doc’s don’t utilize the help that is there..even mother to mother support. :-/

      October 20, 2009
  10. StorkStories #

    Thanks to all the thoughtful replies. I am digesting and will respond. I will get back to this ASAP but early sleep and a very busy work weekend continues for 12 hrs tomorrow.. It is about all I can do at the moment. Thanks!

    October 17, 2009
  11. “Where is this magical place?” It’s called California. Maybe you’re watching different channels than I am, feministshopper. I’m not sure where your vitriol is coming from, but I’m very sorry that you feel so much anger! I am not “lying to women” – why the fark would I do that?! I honestly have NEVER seen a formula ad on TV. I also did a YouTube search (you can usually find commercials on there) and I couldn’t find any recent (I mean from the past 5 years) American formula ads. If you can direct me to one, I would really appreciate it – I’m so curious…

    I have definitely seen formula ads in parenting magazines. I hear you on that one. Maybe I’m just a snob about advertising as I spent a number of years in that industry… I give women more credit than most, I guess… I feel like we are all smart and strong enough to resist the pull of advertising. I mean, I see like a gazillion ads a day for fast food and I haven’t so much as gone into any fast food establishments (other than to use their bathrooms) in 15 years… When I went to pick a formula, I went on my pediatrician’s recommendation, and I needed prescription stuff anyway b/c my son was allergic to ALL milk (including my own).

    Also, blacktating… could you not pump at work? That just sucks. I totally think that we need better maternity leave and childcare rights in the US.

    For the record, I also did everything I could to breastfeed my child. Including spending over $1000 on lactation consultants, hospital grade pumps, nipple shields, and surgery to correct a latching issue for my week-old son. He was fed breastmilk for a month. Then it was discovered that he had a severe milk protein allergy. Formula saved his life. So that’s where I’m coming from.

    October 18, 2009
  12. Thank you so much for this article. As an avid breastfeeding advocate who still nurses her almost 3-year-old, I can’t tell you how many times I come across the argument that bottle-fed children are just as well off as breastfed children. They are not. But I guess moms who chose not to breastfeed or were not able to breastfeed they children (very much) want to believe this. I can’t blame them, they also want the best for their children.

    I will continue to educate moms on breastfeeding via my blog and hope to encourage many more moms to try and stick with breastfeeding, for the sake of their babies’ and their own health.

    Best,
    Dagmar
    http://DagmarBleasdale.com

    October 19, 2009
    • StorkStories #

      @Dagmar You do a lot of really good work! Good points! Keep it up! I am happy that you have stopped by 😉
      Thanks!

      October 20, 2009
  13. StorkStories #

    @Amber, YES I agree. Well said! I had a fellow nurse from a different unit tell me something the other day that I had never really thought about. We play a lullaby song when a baby is born in the hospital. She told me it bothered her immensely every time it played since she had suffered a fetal loss. I hadn’t thought that it would affect someone like that so many years later… Should we not celebrate a birth because some women in the world have a hard time bringing babies into the world?

    @threegirlpileup, You write very well and I appreciate your view and comment. It is this statement that speaks to me the most and the one which reiterates the reasons i feel all the work breastfeeding advocates do is so very important! You say: “An overwhelming majority of mothers plan to breastfeed, but are thwarted by a lack of support or information or education that they need to breastfeed successfully. If every mom were able to fulfill her breastfeeding intentions, the culture surrounding breastfeeding in this country would be transformed.” The system does indeed need improving and breastfeeding needs help to be normalized in our society. 🙂

    October 19, 2009
  14. Gayle #

    As always, you are able to discuss this subject with great sensitivity. I’m so glad we have your voice here in cyberspace. 🙂

    A couple of thoughts:
    -I know that I personalize breastfeeding. I think it’s next to impossible not to. And to an extent, I still do feel like I’m a failure for not being able to ebf. (Gradually, though, I’m becoming more proud that I am still bf’ing under less-than-ideal circumstances.) To some degree, I have felt remorse/guilt that my babe isn’t getting more breastmilk. But I know rationally that we’re doing what we need to thrive. However, in overzealous debates, that whole feeling of failure comes rushing back again. And it makes me angry that anyone should have to feel like that, which leads me to my second point…
    -There are definitely triggers that set things off. You discuss the words “risks” and “hazards” in one of your comments. I do think that those sorts of words can be a bit of a shock to some people. I understand that the dialogue has been evolving to using those words rather than benefits in a bid to establish breastfeeding as the biological norm. And I can see how working to change people’s perspective in this way is a valid perception. I’ve heard before from people “Oh, I was raised on Carnation milk and corn syrup — can you believe it?! How horrible!” Somewhere in the last 20 years or so, we have begun associating that with a high degree of risk, but formula with a low degree. It’s really quite interesting…I’m sure there’s other things that have changed in that time frame, like the degree to which your meat has to be cooked (my mom’s is always overdone, but I’m sure it was a risk to her to cook it less).

    Anyways, I’m totally digressing. So while I do think it’s fair to reframe the conversation in that way, I think that it also only fair to consider the impact that it will have on those who do use formula…and I’m talking exactly about the first group, who have really tried to make things work. While that may not be whom the conversation is directed towards, it is a) the group who will likely be the most sensitive to it and b) impossible to direct who reads what. It is FABULOUS that you (directed to you, not you general) clarify your intent, but not everyone does. Should everyone need to clarify, tread on eggshells for fear of hurting someone? I don’t think they should, but at the same time, I think that they should be prepared to discuss the issues with those who are hurt by their comments.

    Which leads me to my final part of this point: I believe that there are triggers that are unnecessary. Phrases like “artificial feeding” and comparisons to cigarette companies. People can couch these in many different kinds of semantics, but in the long run, it becomes a game about how they can be PC while still making the term because of how they see it as being factual. Well, what’s the point in winning that game if the end result is zero dialogue? Sometimes I feel that some of the heavy-duty activism is very self-centred and uses jargon and phrases that are supported by those insiders, but forgets that a lot of people aren’t as fervent about this particular cause and loses perspective. Then it’s only the loud and noisy ones (like me 😉 ) that get talked to about different viewpoints, but others walk away, taking the experience with them in a way that might not be beneficial to anyone.

    To sum up (and I apologize for such a long, rambling every which way comment!), I feel that there are many different kinds of conversations we can have regarding breastfeeding. Some are friendly and supportive, others can be adversarial and challenging. If we simply walk away from the adversarial and challenging conversations, we lose a lot. Those are where we have the most opportunity to grow. But it’s sometimes hard to talk when you’re angry or to a person who is angry. And that is one of the things that I love about you. You always take the time to engage the *person* rather than just arguing the point…both so important to do.

    And that is all from me. I really need to get to bed, so I’m signing off now and hoping that some part of it makes sense!

    October 20, 2009
  15. StorkStories #

    @Gayle….. Personalizing breastfeeding is next to impossible NOT to do… that so true. Decisions a mom makes regarding her feeding choice are very personal..it may really account for some of the guilt and anger out in the world over this topic. People can fiercely defend their choices on any matter….whether it’s infant feeding, parenting, religion, politics…etc!
    I DO feel it’s some of the terms like risks, hazards and artificial that set off streams of emotion… anger and guilt being some…. When I first rec’d the ILCA “Summary of the Hazards of Infant Formula” paper back in the early 90’s, I was horrified myself! I read more and more and learned about the organizations which were monitoring the Code and commercialization of infancy in general. I was encouraged to make sure parents knew facts about breastfeeding and facts about formula in order to make informed choices. I was all SO VERY into this at first and stepped back to realize that that approach wasn’t always best especially if I only had a few minutes with a mom…as is often the case. What I said in the re-post is that:
    “# The first approach is probably the number one factor in gaining a mother’s interest in what you have to say.
    # The education process to a mother needs to be in small doses, sensitive to her unique learning abilities, her cultural beliefs and practices and most importantly, her choices and individual breastfeeding goals.”
    So I adapted and evolved my approach and continue to do that!
    Thanks for your kind words to me! You have an excellent perspective and a great way of voicing your thoughts on paper or into the written word.
    I do agree that engaging in healthy discussion on these issues helps us all to grow.
    Thanks so much for the love.. Right back at you!!!
    😉

    October 20, 2009
  16. I love this post. And I think you’re bang on.

    It’s so hard to know how to talk about breastfeeding. But we need to be able to talk about it. Sensitivity and acceptance are required, absolutely. We need to acknowledge every mother’s experiences and struggles, and provide better resources and support. But in the end, if we want to create a breastfeeding culture (and I certainly do) it needs to be OK to say, “Formula milk is not as safe for infants as breast milk.”

    September 13, 2010

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