An opinion piece in Mother & Baby Magazine written by deputy editor Kathryn Blundell has the blogosphere with its collective knickers in a twist. Blundell writes that she never wanted to breastfeed and gladly offered her children formula from the start.
Her reasoning? ”I wanted my body back. (And some wine)… I also wanted to give my boobs at least a chance to stay on my chest rather than dangling around my stomach… They’re part of my sexuality, too – not just breasts, but fun bags. And… seeing your teeny, tiny, innocent baby latching on where only a lover has been before feels, well, a little creepy… [T]he convenience and supposed health benefits of breast milk couldn’t induce me to stick my nipple in a bawling baby’s mouth… I often wonder whether many of these [other] women, like me, just couldn’t be fagged or felt like getting tipsy once in a while.” She goes on, but that’s the gist of her message: She simply didn’t find breastfeeding worthwhile. Her statements chafe for a number of reasons. And it’s not because she chose to formula feed. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, even if others think it’s completely wrongheaded (see Flat Earth Society). But in just a few short quotations, she manages to offer grievous misinformation and a snide attitude towards both breastfeeding and formula feeding mothers.
1) “(And some wine)” The truth is that alcohol consumption and breastfeeding are not entirely incompatible. La Leche League recommends no more than 1 drink per day, and also cites material from two of the foremost experts on breastfeeding, Dr. Jack Newman and Dr. Thomas Hale, who both agree that sensible alcohol consumption is compatible with breastfeeding. A small amount of alcohol does pass into the milk; however, the doctors note that reasonable maternal consumption will not have a negative effect on the infant. So breastfeeding moms can feel free to enjoy a glass of wine or a beer and not have to maintain their pregnancy teetotaling status.
2) “give my boobs at least a chance to stay on my chest rather than dangling around my stomach” Patently false assumption here. In fact, breastfeeding does not affect whether a woman’s breasts will sag. As recent research demonstrates, breast sagging is correlated with the number of pregnancies as well as smoking status.
3) “They’re part of my sexuality… baby latching on where only a lover has been before feels, well, a little creepy” So body parts can never have “dual use”? Does it also feel creepy to have a (male) lover at all, since penises are also used for urinating as well as intercourse?
4) “supposed health benefits of breast milk” ”Supposed” health benefits? Really? I think Ph.D. in Parenting puts that one to bed pretty well.
5) “women, like me, just couldn’t be fagged [bothered] or felt like getting tipsy” The author couldn’t be bothered to breastfeed, and would rather get drunk than breastfeed, and thus speculates that the majority of other formula feeding mothers are also of her same mindset. Is this a tactic to make herself feel better? It sounds pretty insulting to formula feeding moms, who may or may not have attempted breastfeeding, and ultimately chose formula for a variety of reasons that don’t include laziness or inebriation.
Honestly, everything about her position, including the article’s title (“I formula fed. So what?”) sounds defensive. If she truly owned her choice, she wouldn’t be backing it up with illogical and/or false ideas. All she had to say was, “After considering both breastfeeding and formula feeding, I chose formula because that is what worked best for me and my family.” But then there’s no article to write, is there?