How not to condescend to those who choose to formula-feed - Page 5 - Mothering Forums

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#121 of 185 Old 10-30-2007, 12:31 PM
 
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I can not be friends with someone who chooses to FF. I have tried, I really have. The first and most important reason why I can't is because if they are FF, then they are probably doing a lot of other non-AP things, as well. It's too hard to be friends with someone who does everything opposite of me. And honestly, I don't want a lot of non-AP around my baby. Maybe it's different when the kids are older, but right now I can't be around it. The other problem is that I don't know how to not condescend. They aren't doing what's best for their child; that's the bottom line. They have not tried to educate themselves and I don't know how to keep my mouth shut. :
exactly how i feel. my dd will already see enough of bottles and formula in her life without me adding any personal experiance by being around people who FF.
I couldn't disagree more. For the record, these two posts do not represent my views, and I would hate for anyone to think that this attitude describes lactivism.
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#122 of 185 Old 10-30-2007, 12:36 PM
 
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After 6 pages of us trying to figure out how not to be condescending to formula feeders, it seems like the only thing being discussed is how awful they are. Post after post I see such mean comments, and honestly, I can't understand how some of the posters think they will help anyone to come to the conclusion that breast is best. It sucks, and I hate to say it but I can now understand what women mean when they use the term ' breastfeeding nazi '. Doesn't that make some of you feel bad?

I guess I'm being a little confrontational, but I just cannot see how we are going to make breastfeeding widely practiced when we are thinking this way.
I also disagree strongly with this statement.

This thread contains many thoughtful, compassionate, and insightful posts that are written against any simply characterization of FFing mothers.

You do these posters a discredit by ignoring their -- our -- posts. Please, let's stay away from black-and-white sweeping pronouncements -- either about the topic or about the discussion it has generated. I'm getting worried, with the turn this thread has taken today, that the entire thread may be yanked as a UA violation.
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#123 of 185 Old 10-30-2007, 12:47 PM
 
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exactly how i feel. my dd will already see enough of bottles and formula in her life without me adding any personal experiance by being around people who FF.
*sigh* Why do I even bother to make a reprieve anymore. It's this type of attitude that breaks down the line of communication.

I guess I am one of those moms you would hate to be around then despite the fact that my 5th child is EBF. The other 4 were not and I am not rehashing why because to heck with people with this attitude, I don't have to defend myself or explain myself to anyone for any reason. I am tired of defending myself over stupid comments that are heartless and lack compassion.

Debate the debate not the person. Go after the people providing the misinformation, lack of support and trying to sabotage moms. Those that choose it are going to choose it regardless of what we do. Make BF'ing public, show the standard you want, be open and let the information - the correct information - flow freely but by love of whatever powers out there keep your judgmental comments to yourself because you don't know the how, why, when, and what (maybe even the where) or more accurately the history behind the choice or lack there of of choice.

And people wonder why FF moms don't want to listen, the more a person makes an unwarranted and crass judgment the more the person being judged closes up and is defensive. Sometimes it truly is better to catch more flies with honey than vinagar. Besides comments like these are useless in threads like this one.

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#124 of 185 Old 10-30-2007, 01:03 PM
 
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I agree with refraining from passing judgement on people you don't know, and I agree that it's crass and pointless and counterproductive to be snotty and cruel to formula feeders.

However, I disagree with what seems to be this presumption that once you've successfully bred, you're above reproach. Mothers make bad decisions. That doesn't make them bad mothers. Pretending there's no such things as a bad decision and effectively telling women they bear no responsibility when they chose to ff is incredibly insulting to me as someone who did make that choice.

It was a bad decision. I'm not a bad mother. I loved my daughter with frightening passion. But it was still a bad decision. Yes, it was influenced by myriad internal and external factors, but that doesn't change the fact that it was MY DECISION. A decision I regret deeply, but I own it non the less. I'm not some puppet with no control, and I'm really tired of this "Oh poor dears, they just don't know better" attitude. It is NOT any better than "Oh, what a stupid bitch!" (emphasis mine)

And believe it or not, there are people who DO know better and still choose to formula feed. Not everyone who ff is some damaged damsel in distress. (emphasis mine)

I know that no one said any of that outright, but it felt implied to me in some posts, and I just wanted to object and point out that it's really not a better attitude than the other side of the coin.
I like this post a lot, because it concisely addresses the very problem that spawned this whole thread (see here and here for the backstory).

Arguing if a woman formula-feeds for reasons that we either do not know or do not find convincing, then she must be lacking the proper information and support ... is potentially a very condescending position to take.

Sometimes, of course, that is a fair description of the situation. I know this experientially from my breastfeeding volunteer work -- I've helped so many mothers who say, "Oh, if I'd only known XYZ with my first baby, maybe I could have breastfed him too."

But sometimes, this assumption that a FF'ing mother "didn't know better" or "couldn't do better" is going to come across as arrogant (because we seem sure that we both knew and did better) and patronizing (because we are assuming that we know what would be better for HER.)

Basically, I think we have to find a way to do lactivism that doesn't seek to strip mothers of their free will and agency.

Rushing off to work now -- sorry if this is a bit garbled, or if I can't get back for follow-up for a while.
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#125 of 185 Old 10-30-2007, 01:41 PM
 
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I think it's unlikely that there's a lot of AP going on with mamas that FF for non-medical reasons. It's not a contest about AP holiness, it's about me wanting to be friends with mamas who treat their children with respect and dignity.
Your assumption that mothers who formula-feed for non-medical reasons are unlikely to practice other aspects of AP is wrong.

Your assumption that mothers who formula-feed for non-medical reasons are unlikely to treat their children with respect and dignity is wrong.

You will not win converts with these attitudes, and, in fact, will scare people away. All you can do is lead the horse to water. It's as simple as that. Why do you insist on leading her with a whip and a stick? That does "the movement" (however that is defined) and the women/babies it professes to help and support no good whatsoever.

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#126 of 185 Old 10-30-2007, 01:48 PM
 
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Your assumption that mothers who formula-feed for non-medical reasons are unlikely to practice other aspects of AP is wrong.

Your assumption that mothers who formula-feed for non-medical reasons are unlikely to treat their children with respect and dignity is wrong.

You will not win converts with these attitudes, and, in fact, will scare people away. All you can do is lead the horse to water. It's as simple as that. Why do you insist on leading her with a whip and a stick? That does "the movement" (however that is defined) and the women/babies it professes to help and support no good whatsoever.


I respect my child, so I struggled and suffered to give him the best. The best is NOT formula.

I can't really discuss bf with the moms who have called me gross for bf my son. I've never met an AP-er who chose to formula feed. I'm not saying they are not out there, I'm saying that it's not common.
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#127 of 185 Old 10-30-2007, 02:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I agree with refraining from passing judgement on people you don't know, and I agree that it's crass and pointless and counterproductive to be snotty and cruel to formula feeders.

However, I disagree with what seems to be this presumption that once you've successfully bred, you're above reproach. Mothers make bad decisions. That doesn't make them bad mothers. Pretending there's no such things as a bad decision and effectively telling women they bear no responsibility when they chose to ff is incredibly insulting to me as someone who did make that choice.

It was a bad decision. I'm not a bad mother. I loved my daughter with frightening passion. But it was still a bad decision. Yes, it was influenced by myriad internal and external factors, but that doesn't change the fact that it was MY DECISION. A decision I regret deeply, but I own it non the less. I'm not some puppet with no control, and I'm really tired of this "Oh poor dears, they just don't know better" attitude.

I started this thread, in part because of the notion that some of us, for lack of a better way to say it, "know better" about breastfeeding, and those who make a decision like that, if it is truly choice-based (and not physical impairment-based), don't "know better."

Did you know at the time that you made the decision that it was a "bad" one? Did you tell yourself, "I am making a bad decision." I don't think you did. Is it that much of a stretch to say that at the time, you truly didn't know better (even though you do now)? You may own the decision now (and label it what you wish), but at the time, were you fully aware of it?

I am not going to assume that women who choose to feed their children formula (for no medical reason) are doing it out of malice, but rather out of ignorance. I do not think women who make the decision to formula-feed are intentionally doing it to harm their children, but because they truly have no idea how potentially harmful it is. Is that condescending? Maybe. But that's why I started the thread, to find out ways to "enlighten" people without condescending to them.
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#128 of 185 Old 10-30-2007, 02:45 PM
 
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I respect my child, so I struggled and suffered to give him the best. The best is NOT formula.

I can't really discuss bf with the moms who have called me gross for bf my son. I've never met an AP-er who chose to formula feed. I'm not saying they are not out there, I'm saying that it's not common.
By implication, you think that those who chose, for whatever their personal reasons, not to bf do not respect their children.
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#129 of 185 Old 10-30-2007, 02:51 PM
 
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I think I've figured out why I feel sad when I see a baby with a bottle. It's the way they are being fed. It doesn't matter if it's breastmilk or formula if they are still strapped into their carseat and have no bodily contact other than the end of that nipple. That's what makes me sad. That's what makes my heartbreak for that LO and that's why I think babies should be held to be fed. Bottles make it way to easy to either prop it or have not contact whatsoever.

I formula fed my first b/c I was 19, ignorant and didn't realize that formula wasn't just as good as breastmilk. I did my research with my next ones and I do things differently now. The one thing I did do, even though now I still don't know why, was hold her in a cradle hold nursing position to give her a bottle. I'd rock her and sing and we'd just fall asleep like that. It was a wonderful time for just the two of us and I'm so glad that I fed her that way.

It also makes me sad when I encounter Babywise moms that have every second of their childs life scheduled. One of my former friends was a Babywiser and she only nursed her daughter every 4 hours. Poor little thing would start fussing at hour 3 and be nawing on her hands and trying to root on anyone holding her. I'd gently suggest that maybe baby was hungry and was promptly told "it's not time to feed her yet. She can wait. It's just a power play and I need to show her whose in charge here"

Feeding the baby like that broke my heart b/c even though yes, she was being nursed, it was so far out of my comfort zone that it felt alien to me.

When I see parents out and about that are bottle feeding I rarely see them holding and snuggling their beautiful children. I think that if that changed I wouldn't feel so sad for those babies.

Just my .02
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#130 of 185 Old 10-30-2007, 02:56 PM
 
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Did you know at the time that you made the decision that it was a "bad" one? Did you tell yourself, "I am making a bad decision." I don't think you did. Is it that much of a stretch to say that at the time, you truly didn't know better (even though you do now)? You may own the decision now (and label it what you wish), but at the time, were you fully aware of it?
Fully aware? I wouldn't say that, because I'm always learning, but I wasn't completely ignorant, either. But I definitely knew it was a bad decision. I was just sick of the pain and of trying and didn't want to deal with it anymore. I also chose to not educate myself better about the mechanics of breastfeeding and things like nipple confusion before hand. I was proactive the second time around.

The woman I lived next to formula fed all four of her kids even though she really did know how much better breast milk was. But she was the breadwinner and had to return to work shortly after birth and didn't want to pump. She loves her kids and works herself half to death to take care of them. I strongly disagree with her decision not to nurse her children (though me+WIC did convince her to combo feed for at least a couple weeks with her last), but she's a good mom.

I understand what you're saying, but it's kind of a pointless argument. You can argue that everyone who makes choices you disagree with just hasn't been informed enough. All of us are constantly learning, so that just doesn't mean much. I admit it's hard for me to understand how someone who understands the risks of formula could willing choose to use it, but that doesn't mean it doesn't happen.
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#131 of 185 Old 10-30-2007, 03:11 PM
 
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Wow! What an interesting thread, thank you everyone for contributing...even the ones I vehemently disagree with. lol

My story is that I tried to nurse, I have crazy hormones, and managed to do so for three months, but in the end, no amount of professional support, nutritional, homeopathic or pharmaceutical intervention stopped my milk from drying up. I was a complete mess and it contributed greatly to my PPD. Especially as there were people who suddenly turned when I went dry from being support to saying, "You're not trying hard enough!" "Your child is going to be sick, fat and not very bright as a result." or "why not just get the surgery you need so you can nurse" (It's pretty invasive brain surgery).

It's something very hard to get over and some days I don't think I'll ever be over the guilt, but I'm a bit more ready to speak of my experience and returning to my normal self am ready to deal with the barbs. So after three months, my son was FF. He's 2 as of yesterday, bright, healthy, a little on the skinny side and basically a normal toddler on par with his nursed buddies.

So here I sit on pregnancy number two, a lot of my hormone issues seem to have smartened up as this condition sometimes resolves itself with proper long term therapy, and am planning on nursing. But I am TERRIFIED of going out for support. And I'm a pretty opinionated obnoxious woman, because I cannot go through the kind of emotional whirlwind I went through before, I won't put myself through it again.

I'm an educated woman. A degree and two diplomas under my belt. One of them in feminist counselling and advocacy. I really appreciated song's posts and reading about lactivism on a grander scale. It's something I've pretty much hidden from because most lactivists I have come in contact with, were pretty much "Nurse, or you're a bad mommy, you're uneducated and you didn't try hard enough and we won't be your friend!" but I was really really encouraged to see many many posts on this thread.

For me, it pretty much comes down to respect for women. If you respect women, you can accept the fact that they make different choices. (Outside of abuse or extreme examples). You can disagree with them, but you can also come from a place that allows you to consider that they have qualities beyond that particular issue.

I also wanted to suggest to lactivists to really consider language. Anything that perceives me as less than knowledgable, or educated, or hardworking ticks me off royally (and I didn't have a choice). I'm a Capricorn afterall *g* and very proud of my accomplishments, all of which I had to fight tooth and nail for. In working in the anti-sexism/racism/homophobia fight, language is sooooooooo important, and I think we're just at the tip of the iceberg on that, so I really think lactivists really should consider jumping on that boat, it really does help, especially when working on a larger scale and hence more room for misinterpretation.

I don't know if I'll be brave enough to reach out for support (any chance of any of you guys living in Toronto? *g*) but it really does encourage me to take another step. Who knows, maybe one day I will join the ranks and provide whatever help I can.

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#132 of 185 Old 10-30-2007, 03:34 PM
 
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I haven't read all 7 pages, so I apologize if this is a repeat....


To me, the most important thing is to TRULY believe that in SOME cases, the risks of breastfeeding outweigh the risks of formula-feeding.

If a woman does not WANT to breastfeed, what is going to be accomplished by her doing it? Sure, her baby will get the proper nutrition. But, the mother may feel resentment toward her baby, she may end up suffering from PPD, she may hate motherhood, and she will likely tell other moms-to-be how horrible breastfeeding is!!

Why should we expect a woman to do this to herself AND her baby? The baby is going to suffer because its mothers is so unhappy. That's not right...


I encourage everyone to breastfeed, for sure, but if they CHOOSE not to, I trust that they are capable of making that decision for themselves and their child, and that they know what is going to work for them. It may not be a choice that I would ever make, but it's not my place to judge.

My biggest concern is getting CORRECT information out there about breastfeeding and formula-feeding. If a woman doesn't know ALL the facts, then she can't make a truly educated decision about it. But, if she knows that there are risks to formula-feeding (and acknowledges that there are risks), then I think that most mothers will not take the decision to formula-feed lightly.

I know full well that, these days, most women who choose to formula feed do NOT have all the facts. But, I subscribe to the idea that you are "innocent until proven guilty" so when I meet a FFer, I assume that she DOES know what she's doing, until I find out otherwise! Even then, I also know how hard it can be to actually FIND correct info about breastfeeding unless you actively go looking for it, and I recognize that many women don't realize that there is info out there that they don't know, so I can't judge those women either!


I am a huge lactivist, and I can't imagine ever choosing formula for my child. But, until I have walked in someone else's shoes, I can't begin to imagine what they feel like, and I can't judge their decision.

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#133 of 185 Old 10-30-2007, 04:58 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Joyster,

Thank you SO much for sharing your experience...

I want to highlight what you said here:

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For me, it pretty much comes down to respect for women. If you respect women, you can accept the fact that they make different choices.
...because it's what I feel too. And, on a larger scale, respect for people in general, for having reasons (reasons they feel are valid, even if you don't) for doing what they do at any given time.

Thanks again for sharing.
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#134 of 185 Old 10-30-2007, 05:01 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I know full well that, these days, most women who choose to formula feed do NOT have all the facts. But, I subscribe to the idea that you are "innocent until proven guilty" so when I meet a FFer, I assume that she DOES know what she's doing, until I find out otherwise! Even then, I also know how hard it can be to actually FIND correct info about breastfeeding unless you actively go looking for it, and I recognize that many women don't realize that there is info out there that they don't know, so I can't judge those women either! [emphasis mine]
The part in bold is very nice. Wise words. Right on! (That whole paragraph is really good, too.)
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#135 of 185 Old 10-30-2007, 05:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I understand what you're saying, but it's kind of a pointless argument.
I don't think so.

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You can argue that everyone who makes choices you disagree with just hasn't been informed enough.
Yes! Exactly!


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All of us are constantly learning, so that just doesn't mean much.
Actually, it means EVERYTHING. It is the whole point. The whole point being: have compassion for those among us that are not quite there yet, and yes, this means even for those who may never get there.
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#136 of 185 Old 10-30-2007, 05:31 PM
 
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wow... I have many friends, almost none breastfeed. What a sad life I would have if I ditched all my friends because they chose to formula feed. Frankly they are all great moms and good people. Maybe they didnt know the benefits of breastfeeding, maybe they made a selfish choice (I guess people here havent ever done that?), maybe its none of my business. No wonder people think BF moms are judgemental.
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#137 of 185 Old 10-30-2007, 06:42 PM
 
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I'm just very glad this thread started. Prior to this, anyone I've come across who has wore the lactivist badge has not been very nice to anyone who has fed forumula, whether by choice or need. So I've been a little gunshy, but it's great to come across really nice examples of women who are devoted to the cause, but are also devoted to women and mothers. I think with this combination, there is the best chance in rallying more members and getting your goals accomplished. Which I hope that with people like some of you women at the healm, will come to fruition.

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#138 of 185 Old 10-30-2007, 07:23 PM
 
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The whole point being: have compassion for those among us that are not quite there yet, and yes, this means even for those who may never get there.
But MamaBear, doesn't this attitude put us straight back into the condescension trap? Sounds too much like "Poor dear, she doesn't know what she's doing" to my ears.

Let me put it this way: can you name the "there" in your phrase above ("not quite there yet ... may never get there?") What is this "there" place that you stand in, and from which you feel compassion for the many who haven't reached it and maybe never will? I challenge you to call this "there" something that doesn't imply that it's a place every woman ought to be headed whether she knows it or not.

I'm much more comfortable with simply refusing to make it my business to puzzle out or judge why another mother doesn't breastfeed. If she wants to breastfeed, then I've got information and support for her. If she doesn't, it's not my problem.

My problem is her cultural, social, political, and economic environment, and the ways in which it has created conditions that make formula-feeding into a rational and acceptable action for so many people. This is not a "poor dear, poor damsel in distress" position. This is simply an acknowledgment that as the world changes, people's choices may also change.

I see this issue as one of reproductive rights. Just as I trust women to decide for themselves whether and when to have children, I also trust women to know -- provided their environment isn't hostile to their knowing -- whether and for how long to breastfeed.
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#139 of 185 Old 10-30-2007, 07:27 PM
 
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How does one figure out how best to go about promoting breastfeeding without finding out what stands in the way of mothers breastfeeding? It's one thing not judge, another not to ask at all. Lactivism is about promoting breastfeeding, not about sitting on our hands waiting for people to come to us seeking information.

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#140 of 185 Old 10-30-2007, 08:08 PM
 
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wow... I have many friends, almost none breastfeed. What a sad life I would have if I ditched all my friends because they chose to formula feed. Frankly they are all great moms and good people. Maybe they didnt know the benefits of breastfeeding, maybe they made a selfish choice (I guess people here havent ever done that?), maybe its none of my business. No wonder people think BF moms are judgemental.

SOOOOOOOO true.

 

 

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#141 of 185 Old 10-30-2007, 08:08 PM
 
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How does one figure out how best to go about promoting breastfeeding without finding out what stands in the way of mothers breastfeeding? It's one thing not judge, another not to ask at all. Lactivism is about promoting breastfeeding, not about sitting on our hands waiting for people to come to us seeking information.
We already know what stands in the way of breastfeeding. Unnecessary childbirth interventions, mother-baby separation, ignorant healthcare providers, formula marketing, lack of maternity leave, cultural norms, etc etc. There's no mystery about this on the macro level.

On the micro level -- the level of the individual woman who either breastfeeds despite obstacles, or tries and fails because of obstacles, or never tries for whatever reason -- it is impossible to know precisely why any given individual does or doesn't, or what change in her environment might have led her to breastfeed.

To effect any substantial improvement in breastfeeding rates, we have to address the structural issues that impede breastfeeding. If those structures change for the better, more women will breastfeed. This is documented by quite a few programs and studies already (implementing the BFHI protocol, for example.)

Getting into individual FFing mother's faces and telling them things we are sure they must not have known, or asking them to justify their infant feeding method so that we can judge whether they have a valid reason, does not promote breastfeeding. It promotes resentment and defensiveness, and it promotes the already widespread image of breastfeeding advocates as arrogant judgmental know-it-alls.

As I explained upthread, breastfeeding support (aimed at individuals) and breastfeeding advocacy (aimed at institutions) are two different things, requiring different approaches. We're fooling ourselves and wasting our efforts if we believe otherwise.
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#142 of 185 Old 10-30-2007, 08:11 PM
 
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How does one figure out how best to go about promoting breastfeeding without finding out what stands in the way of mothers breastfeeding? It's one thing not judge, another not to ask at all. Lactivism is about promoting breastfeeding, not about sitting on our hands waiting for people to come to us seeking information.
How about starting at the beginning? Why not make LC visits the norm for ALL mothers. At the hospital I gave birth in, there was an LC, who I saw, but, apparently, she was only sent to visit with those mothers who declared they were breastfeeding. She gave me scads of info and sat down with me and observed a nursing session from start to finish, and all that good stuff. Sadly, I got the feeling she didn't really have a lot to do that day. But, why not make it the norm to get an LC in there just to drop off the info, ask if the mom has any questions, ask if she can show her how to latch her baby if she'd like. I'm sure there probably ARE people who might want to try to breastfeed but don't know HOW. It's not like 200 years ago when everyone breastfed, and there would be three women from your family there during/after birth and they could show you how because THEY had done it...why not immediately provide that sort of opportunity? What's the worst that can happen?

I didn't do prenatal classes, so, I don't know...do they have LCs go to those? That would be even more valuable...potential moms could discuss issues they expect to face (going back to work, their mom had low supply, anticipating a c-section, etc.) and the LC could discuss how to surmount those potential obstacles, separate fact from fiction...at least get them thinking about it.

I'm sorry, but once the baby has been born, there really isn't that much time to change someone's mind about it for that baby, and to keep berating someone (inwardly or outwardly) for a decision they made weeks/months ago (and you never know all the factors that went into another person's decision, whether subtle or overt - they *themselves* might not even recognize all the factors) really seems like an attempt to raise oneself up at the expense of others ("Well, I'm not that ignorant"..."Thank God my baby's mother isn't as selfish as her"..."At least *I'm* willing to make sacrifices for my child"). The action has to be before or *right* after the baby is born or it really doesn't have a point other than inducing guilt.
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#143 of 185 Old 10-30-2007, 08:15 PM
 
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Yes, but you also say this:
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I'm much more comfortable with simply refusing to make it my business to puzzle out or judge why another mother doesn't breastfeed. If she wants to breastfeed, then I've got information and support for her. If she doesn't, it's not my problem.

My problem is her cultural, social, political, and economic environment, and the ways in which it has created conditions that make formula-feeding into a rational and acceptable action for so many people. This is not a "poor dear, poor damsel in distress" position. This is simply an acknowledgment that as the world changes, people's choices may also change.
and I guess this is where we part ways. If my daughter, my cousin, my sister doesn't breastfeed, I want to know why. Not because I want to judge another woman and make her life hell, but because that child is also someone I love and care about, and because every baby deserves to be breastfed. And if I don't ask, how will I ever know if I could have been of help? Not stepping in assumes that every mother is on a level playing field when it comes to breastfeeding information and support, and I just don't think that's true. I think there's room for both global lactivism and personal support, and I think in my viewpoint, the lines are not as distinctly drawn as they are in yours. Which is fine. The purpose of this forum isn't for me to convert everyone to my own particular line of thinking.

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#144 of 185 Old 10-30-2007, 08:18 PM
 
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How about starting at the beginning? Why not make LC visits the norm for ALL mothers. At the hospital I gave birth in, there was an LC, who I saw, but, apparently, she was only sent to visit with those mothers who declared they were breastfeeding. She gave me scads of info and sat down with me and observed a nursing session from start to finish, and all that good stuff. Sadly, I got the feeling she didn't really have a lot to do that day. But, why not make it the norm to get an LC in there just to drop off the info, ask if the mom has any questions, ask if she can show her how to latch her baby if she'd like. I'm sure there probably ARE people who might want to try to breastfeed but don't know HOW. It's not like 200 years ago when everyone breastfed, and there would be three women from your family there during/after birth and they could show you how because THEY had done it...why not immediately provide that sort of opportunity? What's the worst that can happen?

I didn't do prenatal classes, so, I don't know...do they have LCs go to those? That would be even more valuable...potential moms could discuss issues they expect to face (going back to work, their mom had low supply, anticipating a c-section, etc.) and the LC could discuss how to surmount those potential obstacles, separate fact from fiction...at least get them thinking about it.

I'm sorry, but once the baby has been born, there really isn't that much time to change someone's mind about it for that baby, and to keep berating someone (inwardly or outwardly) for a decision they made weeks/months ago (and you never know all the factors that went into another person's decision, whether subtle or overt - they *themselves* might not even recognize all the factors) really seems like an attempt to raise oneself up at the expense of others ("Well, I'm not that ignorant"..."Thank God my baby's mother isn't as selfish as her"..."At least *I'm* willing to make sacrifices for my child"). The action has to be before or *right* after the baby is born or it really doesn't have a point other than inducing guilt.
I think these are great ideas, and I do agree that once the baby is here, the time for promoting breastfeeding is past. I disagree that there is no other point to advocating breastfeeding to all mothers, including moms who formula feed except to induce guilt. I know lots of moms who didn't/couldn't/had no support in breastfeeding a first, second, even third baby, and then went on to successfully nurse the next.

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#145 of 185 Old 10-30-2007, 08:25 PM
 
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Maybe we're even both arguing the same thing, . I am in no way advocating berating, condescending, belittling, ostracizing, name-calling, making fun of or putting down moms who formula feed for any reason. But I am getting the impression that some people feel that lactivism in and of itself is offensive and condescending, and this is what I disagree with.

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#146 of 185 Old 10-30-2007, 08:29 PM
 
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I think these are great ideas, and I do agree that once the baby is here, the time for promoting breastfeeding is past. I disagree that there is no other point to advocating breastfeeding to all mothers, including moms who formula feed except to induce guilt. I know lots of moms who didn't/couldn't/had no support in breastfeeding a first, second, even third baby, and then went on to successfully nurse the next.

I'm not quite saying that...I should explain myself a bit more. I don't see how it benefits to sit there and tell someone what a horrible choice they made formula feeding that baby, that breastfeeding is soooo much better, how they're ruining the baby's life, etc. (And, yes, I know that's the extreme). But, I really think the "kinder, gentler" approach is going to work better than the full-on hard-sell. If it's your sister, friend, cousin, you will probably know when they are expecting their second/third/etc. And that is an opportunity to step in and say something along the lines of, "Hey, I know you didn't breastfeed Baby One, and I was wondering if there was a specific reason (or reasons) you decided that way. You know how important I believe bf/ing is, so, if there's anyway I can support your attempt at bf/ing your new little one, I'd love the opportunity to help. I also have some books/pamphlets/info/numbers of LCs if you'd like to look at some other info or get some help from other people."

Or something similar if they've started bf/ing but are talking about quitting...

If it's a stranger...well, then I'm not sure...then I think it goes much more toward institutional reform.
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#147 of 185 Old 10-30-2007, 08:33 PM
 
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Oh, katheek77, we're agreeing then. I was getting the feeling that any sort of advocating of breastfeeding at all that was aimed towards an individual was condescending and infringing on her personal rights, and that is what I was having trouble wrapping my brain around.

I can't even imagine a situation where it would be appropriate to approach a stranger and give them unsolicted advice on anything, let alone breastfeeding.

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#148 of 185 Old 10-30-2007, 09:05 PM
 
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I frequently tell pregnant women whom I happen to encounter (if the topic of their pregnancy or baby stuff comes up in our conversation):

"By the way, I don't know if you're planning to breastfeed or not, but I can recommend our local LLL as a source of accurate information and support."

Then, if they give me any indication that yes, they are interested in breastfeeding, I've even been known to give them my card. And my LLL group does as much outreach work as it can. If people don't know what their choices are, they don't have any.

I'm not arguing against proactively spreading the word about sources of breastfeeding help. I'm arguing against the attitude that I or anyone else reading this thread needs to know why any given woman does or does not breastfeed her baby. I think that whole endeavour is an exercise in futility and breeds resentment and misunderstandings.

If it's my sister, my cousin, my daughter -- if we have any relationship at all, then they already know that I encourage breastfeeding and why. I have no business staging a breastfeeding intervention on them if they go another way, and frankly I don't see how it helps their baby if I piss off the mother by implying that she did the wrong thing or can't make good decisions. I'll save my ire for the hospital that probably sabotaged her, the marketing that probably shaped her subconscious, etc.

I don't feel I have to "convert everyone to my particular line of thinking," as you say ... but I do need to correct misreadings of my own ideas. You implied that I am "sitting on my hands" and calling it lactivism. This is incorrect.
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#149 of 185 Old 10-30-2007, 09:51 PM
 
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The person who helped me the most on my breastfeeding journey was a single mother who could not breastfeed her daughter. She had to work long hours to care for her children. We were hanging out and I was trying to "wean" my 2 month old baby onto a bottle and he wasn't having it. She just looked at me and said "look at him, he's hungry and he wants YOU. If you are lucky enough to be able to breastfeed, do it." And so I did, for 18 months and was able to breastfeed all of my children because of her pushing me to do it the first time.

I'd NEVER judge her for using formula. She could have had an abortion and her life would have been easier. She knew that having her child was going to be difficult and she did it anyway, knowing that she'd have to use a lot of childcare and be away from her baby much longer than she would ever want. I have it made and I know it. I'm very lucky there.

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#150 of 185 Old 10-30-2007, 11:31 PM
 
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How does one figure out how best to go about promoting breastfeeding without finding out what stands in the way of mothers breastfeeding? It's one thing not judge, another not to ask at all. Lactivism is about promoting breastfeeding, not about sitting on our hands waiting for people to come to us seeking information.
: The issue that some of us run into is how to be able to to promote breastfeeding without sounding like we're bashing formula users. To talk about the benefits of breastmilk without talking about the risks of formula really waters down a lot of the information. But a lot of people will take it personally if you talk to them about the inherent risks of using formula. That's one of my challenges at work. I'm not allowed to tell mothers about the risks of formula unless they ask. I know, I know... I'm in a unique position since part of my job is to ask why moms aren't interested in breastfeeding now or didn't in previous pregnancies.

On the other hand, there is more to lactivism than just talking to moms about their choices. I've been reaching out to physicians and other health care professionals in the community to try to get them involved in promoting breastfeeding. Ok, so some of this is for my own benefit, but I think that if we start looking past just the mother as the person to educate and advocate to, we might get better results.

Anna
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