How not to condescend to those who choose to formula-feed - Page 3 - Mothering Forums
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#61 of 185 Old 10-28-2007, 06:16 PM
 
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nak In response to the OP: I try hard to turn off my judgment, realuze we're all human and give every situation the benefit of the doubt. I offer information as devoid of judgment and emotion as I can only when it is warranted and wanted and I try to concentrate my energies on helping those who want help and wish to breastfeed. otherwise, i keep my mouth shut unless mistruths and myths are being spread or bf is being maligned. i then speak up, but only to correct and again w/o juuudgment or emotion.

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#62 of 185 Old 10-28-2007, 07:07 PM
 
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I'm like a previous poster, I have a *really* hard time befriending those who choose to formula feed. And living in the Midwest I do run into this. Both of my SIL's stated during pregnancy that they would not breastfeed. Period, end of sentence. One had her little boy just over a year ago, and true to her word she never once tried to breastfeed. Not once. Her reason? She wasn't comfortable with the idea and happy mama=happy baby.

She then went on to do a lot of other parenting things I seriously disagree with (physical punishment with her 15 month old, CIO from a young age, secluded sleeping in another room, early solids etc) so I honestly have zero in common with her WRT parenting and find myself with very little to say. Therefore we are not friends, probably never will be. My other SIL is due early next year and is already stocking up on formula and has stated she will not breastfeed at all. Her reasons? She just can't see herself doing it. I'm not betting she'll even try either.

I tried to educate them both. SIL#1 had a brother die of a form of leukemia at a young age. Even me stating that breastfeeding reduces baby's risk of leukemia didn't sway her. SIL#2...her brother, my husband, is Type 1 diabetic...even me stating that formula feeding raises your baby's risk of T1 diabetes by 40% did nothing to sway her. Her reasoning there? Well DH is just her 'half brother' so the risk only applies to MY children...not hers.

I've talked to girls I went to HS with that now have children. Most agreed that they didn't even try to breastfeed. Only a handful said they 'tried' but I'd guess 75% of them 'didn't make enough milk' the rest either had latch issues or something similar.

As for how not to be condescending to these mothers...well I can't. I simply don't discuss it and go out of my way to AVOID their friendship and avoid being around them as parents. I have two friends that are similarly minded to me and I gravitate toward them and ignore everyone else. I honestly have no desire to befriend the rest.

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#63 of 185 Old 10-28-2007, 07:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Yeah ... y'know what? ... this whole thread is SOOOO not going the direction intended by my two comments in the OP's linked thread. Lemme see if I can rephrase and redirect.

Hard truth time -- hope everyone is sitting down: I think we are fooling ourselves if we think we can solve our society's breastfeeding problems by persuading, convincing, or inspiring individual women to make the choice to breastfeed, through one-on-one encounters wearing our little lactivist hats and being rah-rah cheerleaders for the glories of breastfeeding.

Can that stuff make a difference for that one individual woman? Well, sure -- maybe. Or maybe it will just piss her off. Or maybe it will go in one ear and out the other. The truth is that nobody really has a clue what goes on in the heads and hearts of mothers that leads them to decide how to feed their babies. We have tons of studies that link infant feeding choices with a slew of different demographic or attitudinal factors ... but that only tells us which types of women are most or least likely to breastfeed. It doesn't really tell us why any individual does or does not breastfeed.

The inner workings of the human psyche are still very much a mystery. People very often do not themselves fully understand why they make the so-called choices that they do. If you ask them to explain their reasons, they will tell you what they currently believe their reasons to be ... but even this is not a reliable window into the thought or emotional processes that determined their actions. The truth of the matter is that most of us are really lousy eyewitnesses, even for our own lives! We change the story as we go to make past events make sense in the context of the present. It's more than hypocritical rationalizing -- it's meaning-making. That's how we humans do this self-aware sentient thing we have going on.

So what does this have to do with breastfeeding advocacy? This: STOP trying to persuade or convince individual women to breastfeed. The one-to-one approach doesn't work. It doesn't work because we're operating in the dark when we fiddle with a human being's decision-making processes.

What we need to do is to change the damn culture. To change the culture, we have to do more than "rescue" one woman at a time from the tidal wave of breastfeeding hostility and sabotage. In fact, most such women will find the notion that they need "rescuing" in the first place either laughable or insulting. Condescending. Patronizing.

Now, don't get me wrong -- one-to-one support and information for those mothers who ALREADY want to breastfeed is a lifesaver. It very often makes the difference between success and heartbreak. Individual or small-group community-based breastfeeding support is key to the whole process ... but if you look, for example, at the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative, this key step is only one of TEN key steps -- and it's the one that comes LAST on the list. This is because a lot of good things need to happen for those new mommas and babies before they get anywhere near a LLL group, if that encounter with breastfeeding support is going to do any good on a broad scale.

Do you all get what I'm saying here? Breastfeeding advocacy is NOT the same thing as one-on-one breastfeeding information and support. It does NOT help the cause to do advocacy one woman at a time. Advocacy -- lactivism -- needs to be about the bigger picture, about the structural forces, the powerful institutions, the culture-making processes that influence everyone's priorities, beliefs, goals, aspirations, assumptions, habits, and lifestyles.

This is what I believe, and I've come to that belief over the course of six years of involvement with breastfeeding support AND advocacy (because, you know, we can all walk and chew gum at the same time. It's not either-or.) I've developed this perspective also with reference to my scholarly training in feminist theory and sociocultural anthropology. And one fundamental lesson I take from feminist anthropology is that women are NOT the same everywhere in really any sense at all. Assuming we understand what is best for other women, because it's what is best for us, is an act of shocking ignorance and arrogance. Listening to other women's voices is a great and valuable thing to do, but even this is insufficient if we seek to really understand their world, their lives. I believe we have to respect the individual AND critically analyze her contextual surroundings -- her culture, the building blocks of her reality -- if we're going to get anywhere with this project.

So, for the love of all that is holy and just in lactivism ... PLEASE stop debating whether any given mother, actual or hypothetical, made a good choice or a bad choice or had a good reason or a bad reason or was well-informed or ill-informed or is a good mother or a bad mother or someone you could be friends with FOR THE WAY SHE FEEDS HER BABY. If you're not her co-parent, her baby, or (stretching it here) her doctor or social worker, how she feeds her baby is none of your damn business. If you're a lactivist, your business is how the world supported or sabotaged her in breastfeeding. That's it. That's more than enough, really.
I think this is worth reposting.
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#64 of 185 Old 10-28-2007, 07:25 PM
 
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I've only read the first three pages of this thread, so forgive me please if I say something that has already been stated...

I do have a natural repulsion whenever I see a baby FFing unattended. It is possible to FF while maintaining the mother/child bond. I also know that any mother on this board, whether FFing or BFing, is most likely an attentive and caring mother. But the MDC community is not mainstream, unfortunately. Just the fact that a mother is on the Mothering board means that she takes her role as a mother seriously. But there are a lot of women who don't.

I have a feeling that most mainstream mothers know the benefits of BFing and make lame excuses about why they didn't BF (if they didn't think BFing was beneficial, why try so hard to justify FFing?). By the way I have NEVER asked a FFing mother why she didn't BF, I am just attacked by explanations when they discover that I practice extended BFing. The most common is "my baby was two days old and starving and my milk hadn't come in yet, so I had to formula-feed." That's just not correct, I don't care what anyone says. I do know a woman who survived a near-fatal motorcycle accident that crushed most of her bones and destroyed nearly all of her milk ducts. This woman genuinely tried BFing and it just didn't work. Should her efforts be put on the same level as someone who "tried" FFing or "had" to FF? I don't think that would be fair. I would have a lot more respect for the FFing community if someone, anyone, would just say "BFing just gives me the heebie-jeebies" or "I did the research and I just preferred FFing" or "I tried it and just didn't like it so much." If I ever got reasons instead of excuses, it would be fine with me.

This issue is kind of similar to the c-section issue. It takes a lot for a woman who endured a medically unnecessary c-section to say, "my c-section was not necessary and I'm mad as hell." Most mainstream c-section mothers I know say "oh, there's definitely a problem with the c-section rates. So many unnecessary c-sections, but mine was necessary" when you know that's most likely not the case. The same with FFing "Oh, BFing is so great, and so good for the child, but I just couldn't BF, I had to FF." Sorry, I don't believe it. Not for a minute. I know that there are women on this board who genuinely attempted BFing and couldn't for one reason or another, but the women on this board are not the ones I'm talking about.

I also realize that I had a strong BFing role model in my mother, who BFed my two youngest brothers past age three (these brothers are quite a bit younger than me, so I remember this). I grew up thinking this was "normal" and was expected of me. I had no decision to make, I knew I would BF. I didn't have to convince anyone or explain my choice to anyone. So I realize that my views and opinions could have easily been drastically different had I been raised in a different environment.

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#65 of 185 Old 10-28-2007, 07:35 PM
 
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I think it's probably safe to say that you don't like these moms because you think they're bad moms, not necessarily because of their feeding choice. That you notice they also formula-feed for reasons you don't think are justified, that's supplementary to the main issue at hand: you think they aren't good moms. But the converse isn't necessarily true. Their choice to formula-feed doesn't make them bad moms. They were bad moms to begin with (in your opinion), and it just so happens that one of the "bad mom" decisions they made involved feeding their child formula when you thought it was unnecessary.

Please correct me if I'm wrong.
I don't think they're bad moms, I don't think I said that... I do think some decisions that some people make are stupid. I don't even think FFing makes someone a bad mom. Heck, if I did then I would be saying that I'M a bad mom. That I don't love my DD. Sorry if it came across that way...
I do think that they're reasons aren't justified. Who doesn't do something because their baby might get too attached? WTF is that? Or, my favorite- "my boyfriend doesn't want me to".
I am basing my opinions on the people in MY life- since they're the ones I see.
There are no sweeping generalizations here and even if there were- I'm not a company hiring people based on whether they BF or not. I thought we all had a right to pick who we want to be friends with based on whatever we want to base it on.
What can you say to someone who tells you they don't want to BF because their baby will get too attached- even though they know how much better it is? Of course your baby will be attached... they should be no matter what your feeding choice.

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#66 of 185 Old 10-28-2007, 08:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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O.K., I'll make it simpler (emphasis mine):

Quote:
Originally Posted by Songbh
Assuming we understand what is best for other women, because it's what is best for us, is an act of shocking ignorance and arrogance. Listening to other women's voices is a great and valuable thing to do, but even this is insufficient if we seek to really understand their world, their lives. I believe we have to respect the individual AND critically analyze her contextual surroundings -- her culture, the building blocks of her reality -- if we're going to get anywhere with this project.
Ramama:

I totally agree with this quote, and I have struggled with breastfeeding like you have no idea -- and failed. I, a person who struggled longer and harder than most people I know at this -- and still failed, don't really think it's fair to judge another woman for choosing to formula-feed for any reason, nor do I think I'm the be-all, end-all judge to determine whether or not a woman tried "hard enough," mainly because I am NOT any other woman. I am me, and I cannot know with any certainty what another woman's real motivations are for making the infant feeding decisions she does are -- she may not even be fully aware of them! (As Song also pointed out; her whole post is really quite brilliant.)

The best response to this is to change the structure of society, but while you do that, an attempt should be made to make a connection with someone who is different from yourself, because those are the very people that need the connection the most... If all the formula-feeders and all the breastfeeders self-segregate, you'll end up with fewer formula-feeders learning from what breastfeeding moms can teach them, and more segregation, more division among all moms because of something as ridiculous as their infant feeding choices. This practically guarantees formula marketing a victory over breastfeeding advocacy, because it perpetuates the ignorance and bad feelings against lactivism onto the next generation.

How do we reach out and connect? Someone posted earlier, and I didn't acknowledge her post, but it was very apt: we need to connect with these moms as human beings first and foremost, regardless of what their feeding choices today are. Judging them, rejecting them, and ostracizing them is NOT the answer. Connecting with them is.
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#67 of 185 Old 10-28-2007, 08:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I don't think they're bad moms, I don't think I said that... I do think some decisions that some people make are stupid. I don't even think FFing makes someone a bad mom. Heck, if I did then I would be saying that I'M a bad mom. That I don't love my DD. Sorry if it came across that way...
I do think that they're reasons aren't justified. Who doesn't do something because their baby might get too attached? WTF is that? Or, my favorite- "my boyfriend doesn't want me to".
I am basing my opinions on the people in MY life- since they're the ones I see.
There are no sweeping generalizations here and even if there were- I'm not a company hiring people based on whether they BF or not. I thought we all had a right to pick who we want to be friends with based on whatever we want to base it on.
What can you say to someone who tells you they don't want to BF because their baby will get too attached- even though they know how much better it is? Of course your baby will be attached... they should be no matter what your feeding choice.
This is a good question ("What can you say to someone who tells you they don't want to BF because their baby will get too attached."). You know what I would probably do? I'd probably ask her, "What do you mean?" I would want to find out, from her, without making any generalizations or assumptions, why she feels her baby "getting too attached" might be a bad thing. Maybe she herself hasn't thought about it! Maybe it's just something her mom once told her, and she just integrated it into her opinions without really thinking about it... There could be any number of reasons why someone would say something like that.

As for the "my boyfriend doesn't want me to," I'd wonder why he didn't want her to. If she were a close friend, I'd ask her, "Hm. I wonder why he doesn't want you to. Do you know why?" And then I'd say, "Do you want to?"

What I'm saying is that there could be any number of reasons why people would be motivated to make the decisions they do... If there's anything I've learned from listening, truly listening to people and what they tell me, their struggles, their stories, their many colorful anecdotes, etc. it's this: The decisions you make when you're X age aren't necessarily decisions you'll agree with at Y age. People have regrets, and your friends may never regret their decisions to formula feed their children, or they may and just never share that regret with you... But regardless, you might want to ask more questions to the people you know instead of saying you won't be friends with moms who formula feed.
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#68 of 185 Old 10-28-2007, 08:58 PM
 
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I have a feeling that most mainstream mothers know the benefits of BFing and make lame excuses ... If I ever got reasons instead of excuses, it would be fine with me.
Who is asking for your approval or your opinion?

When I have heard mothers explain, without provocation, why they couldn't or didn't breastfeed, I have usually heard a lot of pain and unresolved grief underneath their words. If you stop listening like a cross-examining attorney to their statements, and listen instead for -- and affirm -- their emotions, you may often find a world of pain, self-doubt, and envy in these mothers. Try to imagine how much raw pain someone must be in, that the mere sight of a happily-nursing baby in his momma's arms could lead her to respond as if to an attack.

I'll follow Mamabear's lead and (sheepishly) re-quote a relevant passage from my long post upthread:

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PLEASE stop debating whether any given mother, actual or hypothetical, made a good choice or a bad choice or had a good reason or a bad reason or was well-informed or ill-informed or is a good mother or a bad mother or someone you could be friends with FOR THE WAY SHE FEEDS HER BABY. If you're not her co-parent, her baby, or (stretching it here) her doctor or social worker, how she feeds her baby is none of your damn business. If you're a lactivist, your business is how the world supported or sabotaged her in breastfeeding. That's it. That's more than enough, really.
So if you want to think of yourself as someone who is working to make our world more breastfeeding-friendly instead of the nightmare of catch-22s, guilt trips, structural sabotage, and general misogynistic hostility that currently defines most mothers' breastfeeding experiences, stop wasting your moral energy condemning other mothers and start looking sympathetically and with outrage at the conditions that lead so many of them to formula-feed.
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#69 of 185 Old 10-28-2007, 09:12 PM
 
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I do think that they're reasons aren't justified. Who doesn't do something because their baby might get too attached? WTF is that? Or, my favorite- "my boyfriend doesn't want me to".
Yeah, well, there's that culture thing I was talking about upthread.

Our culture tells us that babies can be spoiled by too much loving attention. Our political economy routinely separates mothers from very young babies for the purpose of earning a living. There are a million reasons someone might feel that her baby being closely attached to her is a bad thing. Are they valid reasons? In our culture, for some people, they are almost rules for survival. Not everyone has the luxury of being counter-cultural. Not everyone has the privilege of enough education and life experience to know that the world isn't like this everywhere, and that the culture could be changed.

Same thing with "my boyfriend doesn't want me to." That speaks VOLUMES about the power inequality in many heterosexual relationships. Keeping her boyfriend happy may well be more important to this mother than feeding her baby in the most normal and statistically safest way. Maybe she's in an abusive relationship, or maybe she's just generally internalized the misogynist message this culture conveys, that as a woman she's only worth as much as the man she is with. This mother didn't invent sexism; why do you fault her for following its rules?

I feel kind of silly for quoting myself, but this passage is relevant to my point, and I spent a lot of time yesterday writing that long post, and I'm getting the feeling that not everyone who is posting today has seen it.

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What we need to do is to change the damn culture. To change the culture, we have to do more than "rescue" one woman at a time from the tidal wave of breastfeeding hostility and sabotage. .... Advocacy -- lactivism -- needs to be about the bigger picture, about the structural forces, the powerful institutions, the culture-making processes that influence everyone's priorities, beliefs, goals, aspirations, assumptions, habits, and lifestyles.
Try listening to these women's voices, not so much for what they say about their own ideas, but for what they reveal about their lived reality, about the forces that shape and constrain their choices. Listen compassionately instead of judgmentally, and listen for the big picture. I think you will find it worthwhile.
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#70 of 185 Old 10-28-2007, 09:17 PM
 
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.

So what does this have to do with breastfeeding advocacy? This: STOP trying to persuade or convince individual women to breastfeed. The one-to-one approach doesn't work. It doesn't work because we're operating in the dark when we fiddle with a human being's decision-making processes.

What we need to do is to change the damn culture. To change the culture, we have to do more than "rescue" one woman at a time from the tidal wave of breastfeeding hostility and sabotage. In fact, most such women will find the notion that they need "rescuing" in the first place either laughable or insulting. Condescending. Patronizing.

Now, don't get me wrong -- one-to-one support and information for those mothers who ALREADY want to breastfeed is a lifesaver. It very often makes the difference between success and heartbreak. Individual or small-group community-based breastfeeding support is key to the whole process ... but if you look, for example, at the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative, this key step is only one of TEN key steps -- and it's the one that comes LAST on the list. This is because a lot of good things need to happen for those new mommas and babies before they get anywhere near a LLL group, if that encounter with breastfeeding support is going to do any good on a broad scale.

Do you all get what I'm saying here? Breastfeeding advocacy is NOT the same thing as one-on-one breastfeeding information and support. It does NOT help the cause to do advocacy one woman at a time. Advocacy -- lactivism -- needs to be about the bigger picture, about the structural forces, the powerful institutions, the culture-making processes that influence everyone's priorities, beliefs, goals, aspirations, assumptions, habits, and lifestyles. ... <snip>

So, for the love of all that is holy and just in lactivism ... PLEASE stop debating whether any given mother, actual or hypothetical, made a good choice or a bad choice or had a good reason or a bad reason or was well-informed or ill-informed or is a good mother or a bad mother or someone you could be friends with FOR THE WAY SHE FEEDS HER BABY. If you're not her co-parent, her baby, or (stretching it here) her doctor or social worker, how she feeds her baby is none of your damn business. If you're a lactivist, your business is how the world supported or sabotaged her in breastfeeding. That's it. That's more than enough, really.
Bold mine : : Amazing post. I agree 100%.

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#71 of 185 Old 10-28-2007, 09:18 PM
 
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dp

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I think people who replied to me didn't get what I was saying. I can't be friends with someone who CHOSE formula. If your bm was going to kill your child, or you had a reduction or implants or adopted, that's not what I'm talking about. Jeez. Read more thoroughly, people. I'm talking about people not educating for the sake of their child.
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#73 of 185 Old 10-28-2007, 10:07 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Yeah, well, there's that culture thing I was talking about upthread.

Our culture tells us that babies can be spoiled by too much loving attention. Our political economy routinely separates mothers from very young babies for the purpose of earning a living. There are a million reasons someone might feel that her baby being closely attached to her is a bad thing. Are they valid reasons? In our culture, for some people, they are almost rules for survival. Not everyone has the luxury of being counter-cultural. Not everyone has the privilege of enough education and life experience to know that the world isn't like this everywhere, and that the culture could be changed.

Same thing with "my boyfriend doesn't want me to." That speaks VOLUMES about the power inequality in many heterosexual relationships. Keeping her boyfriend happy may well be more important to this mother than feeding her baby in the most normal and statistically safest way. Maybe she's in an abusive relationship, or maybe she's just generally internalized the misogynist message this culture conveys, that as a woman she's only worth as much as the man she is with. This mother didn't invent sexism; why do you fault her for following its rules?

I feel kind of silly for quoting myself, but this passage is relevant to my point, and I spent a lot of time yesterday writing that long post, and I'm getting the feeling that not everyone who is posting today has seen it.



Try listening to these women's voices, not so much for what they say about their own ideas, but for what they reveal about their lived reality, about the forces that shape and constrain their choices. Listen compassionately instead of judgmentally, and listen for the big picture. I think you will find it worthwhile.
:


OMG, Song. You are on a ROLL!! I didn't think you could top yourself; your original post was solid gold, but my GOD, woman!! Your thoughts are very, very wise. You manage to articulate everything SO WELL.

Rock on.
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#74 of 185 Old 10-28-2007, 10:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I think people who replied to me didn't get what I was saying. I can't be friends with someone who CHOSE formula. If your bm was going to kill your child, or you had a reduction or implants or adopted, that's not what I'm talking about. Jeez. Read more thoroughly, people. I'm talking about people not educating for the sake of their child.
Honey, I think you need to read Song's original and subsequent posts. I think you may have missed the point.

The point, in case you miss it again, is that a lot of women who say they chose formula may not have had much control over that choice, even if they think they do. There are forces at work in their lives so powerful that they themselves may not even be aware of them...

You know what? I can't even do a fraction of what Song did in trying to explain it... Just read what Song wrote; she does it much better. Peace.
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#75 of 185 Old 10-28-2007, 10:47 PM
 
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Who is asking for your approval or your opinion?

When I have heard mothers explain, without provocation, why they couldn't or didn't breastfeed, I have usually heard a lot of pain and unresolved grief underneath their words. If you stop listening like a cross-examining attorney to their statements, and listen instead for -- and affirm -- their emotions, you may often find a world of pain, self-doubt, and envy in these mothers. Try to imagine how much raw pain someone must be in, that the mere sight of a happily-nursing baby in his momma's arms could lead her to respond as if to an attack.
Sorry, speaking from personal experience only, I have NEVER heard a FFing mother explain why she couldn't BF with grief or remorse. Sorry, but I can't invent a story about something I've never experienced. I'm not saying that those situations don't exist, because they do, but I have never experienced them in real life.

My main point is why we're trying to make life easier for poor FFing mothers who chose, without medical reasons, to FF? I never initiate conversations about BFing v. FFing. It's none of my business how someone choses to nourish their child. But when they bring up the topic, and they always do, I apologize for not being a fountain of sympathy. And I'm not sorry if my happily nursing baby causes a pang of regret for a FFing mother who never tried to BF. What am I going to do, nurse my baby in the bathroom so that I don't cause a stranger undue pain? I don't think that's what lactivism is about.

Why do I have to prepare myself with research studies, nutritional information, developmental studies, BFing laws in whatever state I happen to be in, just in case I'm challenged about my right to BF wherever I am? And FFing mothers think that they are above speculation, that they should never have to explain their choices. Makes no sense to me.

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My main point is why we're trying to make life easier for poor FFing mothers who chose, without medical reasons, to FF?
How is trying to connect with them as human beings "making their lives easier?" What's the alternative? Should we, as responsible lactivists -- as responsible human beings -- make their lives harder? Is that the way to be a good lactivist? Do you think that'll convince them that breastfeeding is the way to go? I'm not getting what you meant by this first sentence. At. All.


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I never initiate conversations about BFing v. FFing. It's none of my business how someone choses to nourish their child. But when they bring up the topic, and they always do,
The part in bold here (my emphasis) tells me that everything Song is saying is something you should probably re-read. These women in your life are going out of their way to tell you about their choice because they must know somewhere deep inside that their choice does not align with yours, but for whatever reason, they can't make a better choice at the time. Maybe this is their way of asking for your support, or at least acceptance (as a human being, if not for their choice). Who knows? This may be their way of asking for your help!

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I apologize for not being a fountain of sympathy. And I'm not sorry if my happily nursing baby causes a pang of regret for a FFing mother who never tried to BF. What am I going to do, nurse my baby in the bathroom so that I don't cause a stranger undue pain? I don't think that's what lactivism is about.
NO ONE is asking you to do this, and I think you know that. Breastfeeding in the bathroom is very anti-lactivism, as far as I'm concerned. Nobody wins by doing that. No one here would ever ask you to do that, so please don't even bring that up.

What I'm hearing you say is that it angers you that they made the choice to formula-feed, and that you believe they made this choice knowing full well what they were doing, and that it's a bad choice, an irresponsible choice, etc. I GET that. I've GOTTEN that from the beginning. I think the part you are continuing to ignore is that these people you are talking about are PEOPLE first, formula-feeders second. You are rejecting these PEOPLE because you feel your choice was better. I think that is a bad idea, and in the long run, if you reject enough people for this reason, you will be hurting lactivism and all lactivists in the long run.

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Why do I have to prepare myself with research studies, nutritional information, developmental studies, BFing laws in whatever state I happen to be in, just in case I'm challenged about my right to BF wherever I am? And FFing mothers think that they are above speculation, that they should never have to explain their choices. Makes no sense to me.
I didn't understand this last paragraph at all. You prepared yourself with research studies, nutritional information, developmental studies, and BF Laws because you understood that these things were important in ensuring your breastfeeding success... You also understand now how important breastfeeding is. You have the privilege of understanding what you do. It is not a privilege everyone has access to, even if it may appear to you that they do, even if these moms you know say "breast is best." Whatever convinced you breastfeeding was important, for whatever reason, didn't convince those moms you know, and that doesn't necessarily mean they are bad people or unworthy of your friendship. It just means they weren't convinced. I think if anything, we should work on finding out why they weren't convinced and work on that, instead of rejecting them for not being convinced by the same things we were...

It is starting to make sense now? Maybe just a little?
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#77 of 185 Old 10-28-2007, 11:26 PM
 
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Sorry, speaking from personal experience only, I have NEVER heard a FFing mother explain why she couldn't BF with grief or remorse. Sorry, but I can't invent a story about something I've never experienced. I'm not saying that those situations don't exist, because they do, but I have never experienced them in real life.
Fair enough.

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My main point is why we're trying to make life easier for poor FFing mothers who chose, without medical reasons, to FF?
We're not. We're trying to change the world to make it more likely that more of those mothers would choose to breastfeed. I'm arguing that the way to do this in no way requires or involves passing judgment on the reasons that mothers say they did not breastfeed. Their stories (which you have judged "lame excuses") are in many ways smokescreens for the larger, structural issues that are real obstacles to normalizing breastfeeding in this society.

I'm not urging you to make life easier for mothers who formula-feed. I'm urging you to stop wasting energy on the fruitless and damaging project of judging who has "reasons" and who has "lame excuses" for not breastfeeding. Free up your energy for lactivist work that will accomplish something.

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I never initiate conversations about BFing v. FFing. It's none of my business how someone choses to nourish their child. But when they bring up the topic, and they always do (emphasis mine)
OK, let's stop and speculate for a minute. WHY do they always bring up the topic? What could possibly compel a mother you barely know to explain to you, with no provocation, why she didn't breastfeed? This, in my experience, is the line of questioning that led me become aware of the hidden and unacknowledged pain that underlies many mothers' stories of breastfeeding failure.

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... I apologize for not being a fountain of sympathy.
Do you? Because I'm getting the clear impression that you are rather proud of it, actually.

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And I'm not sorry if my happily nursing baby causes a pang of regret for a FFing mother who never tried to BF.
Yup, like I said -- proud of it. What do you gain by being so stingy with your compassion?

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What am I going to do, nurse my baby in the bathroom so that I don't cause a stranger undue pain? I don't think that's what lactivism is about.
No, of course not. I haven't suggested hiding your breastfeeding to protect anyone's feelings. I've suggested letting go of your own defensive judgmentality so that you can be more open to what these encounters with mothers -- who are trying to tell you something that is important to them -- might teach you about their social and cultural reality, the very one that we all know impedes successful breastfeeding in countless ways. That is what lactivism is about, IMHO.

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Why do I have to prepare myself with research studies, nutritional information, developmental studies, BFing laws in whatever state I happen to be in, just in case I'm challenged about my right to BF wherever I am?
You have to do this because we live in a society that is hostile to breastfeeding in countless ways. But the mothers who are coming to you with their stories about not breastfeeding did not create this hostile society. You're fighting the wrong enemy.

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And FFing mothers think that they are above speculation, that they should never have to explain their choices. Makes no sense to me.
If they think they don't have to explain their choices, then why do they keep explaining their choices to you?

Clearly, they DO feel they have something to explain, something to defend or rationalize or propound. Why is that? I'm going to hazard a guess here and say that these women aren't hunting you down just to get a rise out of you and kill your oxytocin buzz while nursing. THEY HAVE SOMETHING TO TEACH YOU. Even if they themselves aren't completely conscious of or cannot articulate what that is.
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#78 of 185 Old 10-28-2007, 11:56 PM
 
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It's really hard for me sometimes not to be condecending to formula feeders because it's in my face every day at work. Then again, the FF is just one in a long line of parenting choices these moms are making that make me want to scream at them asking why they kept the baby if only to treat it the way they do.

That being said, I'm in the business of direct marketing of breastfeeding to individuals. It's part of my job to do individual education and support of pregnant and new moms. We do have things that generate talking points, like a questionnaire that asks some true false things about breastfeeding and their interest. I ask the experienced moms why they haven't breastfed in the past or are not interested. If their t/f sheets are indicating they don't have the correct info on benefits, then I give them the correct info and let them know that breastfeeding for any amount of time is worth it to try.

I've also heard it all as to reasons moms have for not even trying.
- It hurts (even though they've never done it)
- I don't want the baby to get too attached (mom wants to go out and party or Grandma is going to be primary caregiver)
- My BF/husband/partner doesn't want me to
- I'm too shy
- I'm going back to work anyway, so why bother
- Formula is just as good
- I can't drink
- I can't eat whatever I want
- They eat less with formula
- The daddy/grandma/aunt/friend wants to feed the baby too
- That's just gross
- My breasts will get saggy
- My mother didn't make enough milk, so I won't either
- I smoke

These are just the most frequent reasons I hear. So, yeah, I get a little irritated when a stay at home mom wants an electric pump just so she doesn't have to, ewww gross, put the baby to the breast even though there's a waiting list for the working mothers that need one because they're away from their babies and getting bye on manual pumps because they can't afford a rental elsewhere or a consumer grade electric pump. And then get offended when I offer them a manual pump. Or the women who haven't even had their babies demanding an electric pump months before the baby is born because their doctor told them they needed one. But the other part of my job is to smile and see what I can do to make breastfeeding, even partial, work for them and their families.

As to lactivism and reaching the broader population, I post every breastfeeding promotion poster I can at the health departments and clinics I work at. I work with the health clinic staff to educate them about breastfeeding and even offer them some of the samples of breast pads and lanolin I get to pass on to their patients. I set out coloring sheets in the waiting areas that have breastfeeding themes for the kids to color. I breastfeed wherever I happen to be when DD wants to nurse, pregnant belly and all. That too will be part of my job again once the new baby arrives. I'll get to sit in the waiting rooms at the clinics and health departments and breastfeed to help normalize it. Outside of my job, I write my elected representatives about breastfeeding issues. I talk to other moms about their breastfeeding experiences and congratulate them for any breastfeeding at all because not everyone has the self esteem and/or support that some of us are lucky enough to have.

I do like the previous poster that suggested a way of talking about it to FF moms is to put it in terms that they may have been lied to about the risks/benefits of FF vs BF by friends, family and medical care providers. That takes some of the "tisk tisk bad mommy" aspect away and can lead to a more compassionate and informative conversation.

For moms I run into that have medical reasons not to breastfeed, but would otherwise, I tell them about milkshare, alternative medications and offer our copy of Hale's to check current meds, offer SNS for moms that have had surgery, and generally don't press the issue too hard. I had two moms in my prepared childbirth class that can't BF due to medical problems (high risk pregnancy due to these medical problems too) about milkshare as an option since they seemed really sad about not being able to have breastmilk as a possibility. It's a really hard line for me to walk some days because I do the research and for me it's a no brainer. It's hard for me to give lip service to moms at work that choose to spend money they don't really have to get the latest gadget or designer this or that for themselves or their babies, but won't give them the most optimal start in life even though it's free.

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#79 of 185 Old 10-29-2007, 12:14 AM
 
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Anna, you're in the trenches, dealing with all this stuff up close and personal. My hat is off to you, and it will always be off to you. Please understand that you have my respect and gratitude for the work for you do and also for your willingness to share your perspective here.

Having said that -- what do you think of my argument in this thread that mothers' spoken reasons for not breastfeeding need to be viewed a) compassionately and b) as primarily driven not by individual character flaws or bad priorities but rather by broader societal and cultural forces?

In other words, can you see the world through your clients' eyes, such that a statement like, "I can't eat whatever I want," or "Grandma wants to feed the baby," would make sense as a reason not to breastfeed?

I'm thinking that, if a woman has been told the benefits of breastfeeding by someone as knowledgeable and dedicated as you are, but she nonetheless is able to say that stuff and mean it ... she must have a very different perception of motherhood than I do. What is it about her local culture (which may differ from mine primarily in terms of social class) that produces this version of motherhood?
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#80 of 185 Old 10-29-2007, 12:23 AM
 
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Yeah, well, there's that culture thing I was talking about upthread.

Our culture tells us that babies can be spoiled by too much loving attention. Our political economy routinely separates mothers from very young babies for the purpose of earning a living. There are a million reasons someone might feel that her baby being closely attached to her is a bad thing. Are they valid reasons? In our culture, for some people, they are almost rules for survival. Not everyone has the luxury of being counter-cultural. Not everyone has the privilege of enough education and life experience to know that the world isn't like this everywhere, and that the culture could be changed.
These things boil down to lack of self esteem, skewed priorities, and if they have any contact with WIC what so ever (and I know it varies from state to state) willful ignorance. The self esteem issue is a whole other bag of worms that I know at least in my community, there are programs that are addressing that in both teens and older moms. Having to work, ok I'll give that to the single mom, but I made sure to set our priorities such that I didn't have to go back to work unless I wanted to, which I didn't until DD was 9 months old and I got to bring her to work with me. Yes, we didn't have a lot of luxuries, but we didn't want for the necessities. And WIC in VA gives you enough literature on breastfeeding to choke a landfill, let alone the nutritionists talking it up if there is no peer counselor on duty.

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Same thing with "my boyfriend doesn't want me to." That speaks VOLUMES about the power inequality in many heterosexual relationships. Keeping her boyfriend happy may well be more important to this mother than feeding her baby in the most normal and statistically safest way. Maybe she's in an abusive relationship, or maybe she's just generally internalized the misogynist message this culture conveys, that as a woman she's only worth as much as the man she is with. This mother didn't invent sexism; why do you fault her for following its rules?
And I hear this a lot. I try to ask more about what all is going on, or if he said why he doesn't want her to. I have offered information for the local shelter and abuse hotlines. I've given the info for dads and let the women know we have videos just for dads about breastfeeding. Then I ask if there is anyone in their life that is encouraging them to breastfeed and if that person would make a difference in dad's opinion. Finally, I ask them to at least try it in the hospital so the baby can get some of the colostrum.

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I feel kind of silly for quoting myself, but this passage is relevant to my point, and I spent a lot of time yesterday writing that long post, and I'm getting the feeling that not everyone who is posting today has seen it.
I read what you said, but I don't necessarily agree with everything you said. You do have some good points though, but you make a lot of assumptions about the rest of us here as if we lived in an ivory tower or had never thought of the issues you present.

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Try listening to these women's voices, not so much for what they say about their own ideas, but for what they reveal about their lived reality, about the forces that shape and constrain their choices. Listen compassionately instead of judgmentally, and listen for the big picture. I think you will find it worthwhile.
That's what I do for a living. My job is to listen to what these moms are saying so that I can help them overcome barriers to breastfeeding even if it's just partial breastfeeding that works for them or to help them wean gently and without endangering their own health. But you know, I'm human too, with my own flaws, weaknesses and prejudices, and there are some days I need to blow off steam about hearing the same old excuses or reasons, if you please, day after day. I know that not every mom is going to be able to overcome those barriers, or not even want to put forth the effort to try. The only thing I can do is listen, give them good information and let them know help is available a phone call away if they decide to give it a try. As far as the self esteem issues go, all I can do for that is to raise my children to know better and not accept less for myself as their example.

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This is a little off topic, but a PP said that she had never heard of a formula feeder never having remorse for not breastfeeding, and I thought I would share this recent experience:

I was at a get together on friday night (first real night away from baby) and a girl that I know showed up. She delivered her baby about 3 weeks after I did, and we talked mostly about natural birth and a little about Bf while we were pregnant. She over heard me telling one of the other party-goers about my daughter and my BF support group, but left before I could say hello and ask about her LO. After the party my best friend came up to tell me that the girl came to her practically crying because she was worried that I thought she was a crappy mom for not BF. She explained that she had a 3rd degree tear and she had no support from her family and eventually gave up because of the lack of support and the painkillers. I wish so much that I had talked to her that night because she OBVIOUSLY was sad that she didn't successfully breastfeed, and I really feel that I could have encouraged her for her next child.

Maybe that was off topic, but you know, women face so many challenges in life. Unexpected pregnancies where theres no support from the beginning, to awful birth experiences to controlling boyfriends that they CANNOT stand up to and a million and one other circumstances. Its already been said so much more eloquently, but NOT being friends with some one who uses formula is an ignorant, mean and tacky thing to do. Its so hard for me to understand how someone would turn away a possible friend, maybe you have differences, but why not help each other out?
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#82 of 185 Old 10-29-2007, 12:45 AM
 
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So if you want to think of yourself as someone who is working to make our world more breastfeeding-friendly instead of the nightmare of catch-22s, guilt trips, structural sabotage, and general misogynistic hostility that currently defines most mothers' breastfeeding experiences, stop wasting your moral energy condemning other mothers and start looking sympathetically and with outrage at the conditions that lead so many of them to formula-feed.

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#83 of 185 Old 10-29-2007, 01:04 AM
 
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I can't take back anything that I have already posted, and when you get right down to it, I still stand by what I have posted. That is simply how I feel about the situation. Perhaps I was a little raw and not as diplomatic as I usually am.

I have very little tolerance for people who aren't independent thinkers, people who are easily swayed by images of pop culture and fall for slogans and advertising ploys. I recently lived in a community where 75% of the population qualified for WIC and free formula, and I heard a lot of "we FF because it's free." I see baby bottles everywhere. Recently, my daughter found one of the bottles I used ages ago during my pumping days and began feeding her baby doll with it. And that KILLED me.

I myself was FFed, as was my next youngest brother. After my brother's birth, my mother regretted not BFing and tried to start when he was almost a month old and couldn't restart lactation. She never expressed remorse over this to me, but perhaps I should have been sensitive enough to be aware that such feelings were probably present. My two youngest brothers were extensively BFed and this was my model. My mother became a lactation consultant and LLL leader, the meetings of which I attended without fail. I am very aware that it could have turned out differently, that I could have been raised with a FFing model. And who knows what I would have chosen.

It just upsets me when FFing mothers start justifying their choices to me. It just rubs me the wrong way. I see it as a judgment on MY choice to BF, like BFing is so weird and out-of-the-ordinary that they have to offer support. Like when people say "I'm not racist, I have a black friend."

But where do we go from there? I don't know. If we stop making free formula available to families, are we effectively forcing them to BF? I'm not for that either. I just try to nurse as openly as possible, so that BFing becomes normalized. Or give a mother BFing a newborn a smile and a thumbs-up from across the airport. I resent having to justify by choice to BF, so I find it very difficult to find sympathy within myself for FFers who feel like they're put on the defensive.

I'm not a crier, and I'm not a hugger. But people tend to open up to me and it makes me uncomfortable. But I can't change who I am. Perhaps mothers have been trying to confide in me about their choices to FF and I have just not been receptive to it. I'll admit that that's a possibility.

After putting the girls to bed I took the opportunity to re-read my posts, and I thought they were rather bitchy to be honest. My views have not changed, but I do not want to be offensive or close-minded, so I apologize for that.

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I pretty much just focus on what a lazy-ass I am and how great it is I never have to get up or cook anything. Just pull up my shirt and pop 'em on!!

AND I get to sleep while they nurse HELLO!?!??!
AND it costs ZERO money so I might be able to actually get an eyebrow wax every now and then!!
AND I never have to worry about the baby getting hungry when I'm out and about..or a bottle warmer.
AND there's nothing extra to stack in the dishwasher.

Believe me, to a tired pregnant mom...BF sounds like heaven when you describe it like that. AND IT'S ALL TRUE!
This sounds just like how I describe it. I did it because it was obvious and easier.

I also ususally mention to my friends/family who do FF that I have to admire how they are willing to give up so much time and money for something they don't have to do because they love their children so much, since it's so HARD to FF, and so exspensive, what with finding the right formula and bottles and pacifiers...

It probably helps that my grandmother was talked into FFing in the 50's because it was the Time of Better Living Through Science (even though her own mother BFed 8 kids and was a midwife) and if it's brought up she complains ENDLESSLY about how she hated the hassle of FFing and wished that she had had the sense to BF like my mom did. And it's been 50 years since she went through that...

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#85 of 185 Old 10-29-2007, 01:22 AM
 
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Anna, you're in the trenches, dealing with all this stuff up close and personal. My hat is off to you, and it will always be off to you. Please understand that you have my respect and gratitude for the work for you do and also for your willingness to share your perspective here.

Having said that -- what do you think of my argument in this thread that mothers' spoken reasons for not breastfeeding need to be viewed a) compassionately and b) as primarily driven not by individual character flaws or bad priorities but rather by broader societal and cultural forces?

In other words, can you see the world through your clients' eyes, such that a statement like, "I can't eat whatever I want," or "Grandma wants to feed the baby," would make sense as a reason not to breastfeed?

I'm thinking that, if a woman has been told the benefits of breastfeeding by someone as knowledgeable and dedicated as you are, but she nonetheless is able to say that stuff and mean it ... she must have a very different perception of motherhood than I do. What is it about her local culture (which may differ from mine primarily in terms of social class) that produces this version of motherhood?
I see what you're saying about broader society and cultural forces and social class, but that only goes so far with me. I try to respond with compassion to their situations, but sometimes there is no way to sugar coat that these are decisions they are making and need to own. There comes a time when you have to make a choice of going along to get along or taking responsibility for yourself and your own choices. My family was poor when I was growing up. I grew up in a mixed neighborhood that was a government low income home ownership project designed to get families out of the city. (and we had the sticks on three sides of my neighborhood so there was nothing do do once we got "old enough" to "get into trouble" if you catch my meaning) Excepting that I was smart enough to pay attention in sex ed to not get pregnant myself, I'm genuinely amazed more of my classmates and neighbors didn't end up teen mothers and fathers. I did see a lot of us get into bad relationships and base our self worth on what the boys said or thought of us. However, I also got over that and started taking responsibility for my own choices even if it was admitting I was letting someone else choose for me. I also encouraged my peers to stand up for themselves, let them know they were strong enough, and were worth more. So with the young moms I work with, I pass on this message. Even some of the older ones are open to it, but the majority of moms that are totally against even thinking about breastfeeding have chosen to accept the lies they've been told about not being able to get along without a man's approval. By default, I work with low income moms, so social class has a lot to play into the attitudes that I encounter. That's another thing that burns me up (from being on the receiving end as well) is the paternalistic attitude that poor women get just because they're poor when they reach out for help and the low expectations of us intellectually and morally. It's so hard sometimes to convince some of these women that I'm not rolling in the dough, but the government cheese just like them, just because I'm white, well spoken and work for the government. Sometimes I have to explain that the nice clothes I wear are from the crisis pregnancy center or freecycle, and that I can only work a max of 25 hours a week, but usually can only get in less than that. I have to explain that it's ok to read and research and ask questions until you get a straight answer. I let them know what other community resources are out there to help make their lives better that I take advantage of myself. And finally, yes, some of this requires a little effort, but is well worth it in the long run, as does anything worthwhile. (including breastfeeding) Sometimes this means talking about things outside of my professional scope, and I have to tell them I'm taking off my WIC lady hat and that I'm now just another WIC mom or I could loose my job. You probably wouldn't believe some of the wild stories I've heard when I take off the WIC lady hat. :

I'm sure to tell moms that they can eat whatever they want unless they see signs of allergic reactions or they have a family history of food allergies in which case they probably don't eat those foods out of habit anyway. As to others wanting to feed the baby, I point them to the section of the dad's pamphlet that talks about ways to spend time with the baby and help with feedings without offering bottles or formula and how these things are just as important as the nutrition at the breast. I also tell them that there are things that it's important for moms to do, such as breastfeed, and that if others really want to help you be successful as a mom, have them run a load of laundry, vacuum or wash dishes. If they want it to involve the baby and free you up, have them hold the baby while you get a shower or bath. If they still insist that bottle feedings will be necessary to appease family, I encourage them to pump or to supplement with a little formula for those occasions, but not to give up on breastfeeding all together.

As to what their perceptions of motherhood are... Sometimes I get the feeling they think they don't have any choice over their bodies, their sexuality or their lives in general. Motherhood is just something that happens as a part of life if they want it or not. They don't see even the most basic choices that they do have, let alone the ones they might have to fight for.

Here are some of the sick and disturbing things I've seen done:
- A baby as a way to keep a man, even if it's not a man you really want.
- A baby as a status symbol for some even if they don't want the responsibilities.
- A baby as a way to work the welfare system and not have to take responsibility financially. (Even if they're not getting Food Stamps, Medicaid, TANIF, etc, due to fear of fraud charges, they're the ones that get abusive when they get told they're over income when they have to bring in total household income even if they are unmarried and aren't working)
- A baby as a way to control others (read: shock value, emotional blackmail, other head games)

Some people don't want to know about the world outside their miserable little corner of it. It makes me want to bang my head against the wall, but there is nothing I can do about it unless they are truly putting themselves or their babies in danger.

Sorry I roared at you earlier. Breastfeeding and lactivism are very near and dear to my heart, so it's hard to hear someone talk as if everyone made certain assumptions before approaching change with the methods I tend to use at work and otherwise. And it's going to kill me to leave my job here in a few months when we move. Hopefully we'll be able to find a replacement and get her trained before I have to go. I did some scouting out of the WIC office where we'll be moving, and they only just got a peer counselor a few weeks ago. If nothing else, I'll volunteer.

Anna
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#86 of 185 Old 10-29-2007, 01:33 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Song for President! .
:

And, I never get tired of quoting her, so here is another great quote (emphasis mine):

Quote:
Originally Posted by Songbh
You have to do this [go out of your way to educate yourself on breastfeeding] because we live in a society that is hostile to breastfeeding in countless ways. But the mothers who are coming to you with their stories about not breastfeeding did not create this hostile society. You're fighting the wrong enemy.
Also, I feel I should say this explicitly: lactivism is not a license to reject or mistreat those who don't breastfeed (for whatever reason). You can (and should) reject formula marketing and cultural institutions and ideals that make it harder for women to choose to breastfeed, and fight to change these realities but it is not the same to reject those who do not, for whatever reason, make the choice to lactate (whether these moms choose to not continue lactation after birth or choose not to induce lactation for an adoptive baby).

Rejecting formula-feeding moms not only needlessly hurts the feelings of the mothers who formula-feed, it also hurts the lactivism movement by further segregating lactivist moms from formula-using ones. It creates a destructive "us" vs. "them" mentality which results in everybody losing (except for the formula companies, of course -- they love this division among mothers and exploit it every chance they get). So, even if it's just for purely selfish reasons (keeping the lactivism movement healthy), don't give formula-feeding moms a hard time for formula-feeding (no matter what their reasons for formula-feeding are -- even if it's purely for elective, non-medical reasons). I would even advise you to befriend them. If your views on breastfeeding are solid (and I would hope they would be, if you're posting on the Lactivism board), it is no threat to you or your breastfeeding conviction to interact with those who formula-feed. If anything, your very presence is an education for those who may not be used to the sight of a breastfeeding mother.

For those of you that are frustrated by people who formula-feed by choice, please remember that education takes time. At one point all of us here did not know all that we know now about lactation/breastfeeding. For some of us, learning all this and accepting the value of lactation has been pretty effortless (if not the breastfeeding journey itself). For other people, it's going to take longer, and there's not much we can do other than just listen, be sincerely compassionate (even if it just means being compassionate inwardly that these people have not been blessed with the inclination to educate themselves as most lactivists have been), and continue doing what we know is best for our babies and the lactivism movement. It costs us nothing to be compassionate, and there is so much to gain by it!
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#87 of 185 Old 10-29-2007, 11:36 AM
 
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IMHO there is always need to be cautious with our viewpoint...

A dear friend lost her life just 8 hours after she gave birth to her beautiful baby boy, his father FF him.

My own DD breastfed for two months, she kept saying something is wrong with the baby she looks like she is losing weight...she had lost two pounds. We have a close friend that is a LLL Leader and they tried everything possible to get her milk production back up. It never happened...

Of course we all know the benefits of BF vs FF, and it does bug us when we see a FF baby, but maybe the next time we see a tiny babe with a bottle, we should consider the other side of the coin.
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#88 of 185 Old 10-29-2007, 12:02 PM
 
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IMHO there is always need to be cautious with our viewpoint...

A dear friend lost her life just 8 hours after she gave birth to her beautiful baby boy, his father FF him.

My own DD breastfed for two months, she kept saying something is wrong with the baby she looks like she is losing weight...she had lost two pounds. We have a close friend that is a LLL Leader and they tried everything possible to get her milk production back up. It never happened...

Of course we all know the benefits of BF vs FF, and it does bug us when we see a FF baby, but maybe the next time we see a tiny babe with a bottle, we should consider the other side of the coin.
Do you really see anyone who says that a baby without a mother should not be FF? Obviously, if it's a matter of life or death, no one is going to say that a baby should starve. These kinds of posts are irritating.
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#89 of 185 Old 10-29-2007, 12:17 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Do you really see anyone who says that a baby without a mother should not be FF? Obviously, if it's a matter of life or death, no one is going to say that a baby should starve. These kinds of posts are irritating.
I think the point she may have been trying to make is that just seeing a baby being formula-fed doesn't tell you enough about the baby's situation to warrant judgment. On these boards, I've read several accounts of people stating that when they see a baby being formula-fed, it makes them sick to their stomachs or repulses them in some way... While those feelings are only human, what does it tell you about the assumptions people sometimes make?

If you saw a baby with his father at a museum, for example, and the father took out a bottle of formula and fed him, would it repulse you? You don't know anything about the baby; you don't know if he even has a mom or not. All you know is the information you see. Would it repulse you? Probably it still would. It would only be after finding out the baby has no mother that you would realize your repulsion wasn't really fair, if that makes sense. You would probably still feel bad that the baby isn't getting breastmilk, but suddenly that feeling would be pure compassion and not repulsion. ... But here's the thing... It's not the father's responsibility or obligation to tell you his life story to ameliorate any feelings you might have at seeing his son be formula-fed. And that's the main point: it's not the obligation of anyone to justify their reasons for formula-feeding to you or anyone. If they go out of their way to, well, it's nice of them to share... But nobody who makes that choice needs to justify themselves to anyone.

It's our job as lactivists to give the benefit of the doubt that individuals do the best they can with their situation (which is not OUR situation), with the information they have at the time (not the information WE have at the time).
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#90 of 185 Old 10-29-2007, 01:46 PM
 
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What about the fact that sometimes you don't even KNOW what's in the bottle? How do we know it's not Breastmilk instead of formula? Especially a bottle that isn't clear plastic?

Does one snear at the EP'er who uses bottles in public because "we" think it's formula? Do you walk up to a daddy with a bottle of EBM and ask? Just assume?

Assumptions are what kill off any productive, informative conversations defeating the purpose (in this context of lactivism) of lactivism all to gether. Knowing the what is as important as knowing the why.
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